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Pittsburgh-Area Lenten Fish Fries Becoming More Popular, Competitive Than Ever

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MEADOWLANDS, Pa. (KDKA) -- In the CCD building behind Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Meadowlands you will find a fish fry quickly making a splash in the deep fryer oil.

Cod, big enough to need its own zip code, is clearly the marquee player on the menu as it comes out of the kitchen steaming hot.

"It is outstanding," says Dan Liberatore of Canonsburg. "I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish it, it is so large."

But the massive fish sandwiches are only the beginning. 'The Strip' is a fish fillet nestled under cole slaw and French fries on a bun. (Sound familiar?) And behind the fish on the popularity list are the Lobster Rolls.

"They're flying out of here," says Jim McClory who runs the volunteer powered operation.

It was the seafood pizza that caught Jean Luoni's eye, "There's lobster, there's shrimp, lots of cheese and white sauce."

Also on the menu you'll find jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, tuna melts, and, of course, Mac & Cheese, and halushki.

Betty Sebastian, who lives nearby in Meadowlands, was in the opening hour crowd.

"I had the fish, and I had the cabbage and noodles, they were both good," she said.

McClory concedes stocking the kitchen for such a wide variety of offerings can be financially risky.

"But everything sells," he says, "So it's not a lose-lose proposition. It's a win-win. We do well."

And as the church's top fundraiser of the year, the Ash Wednesday and Friday Fish Fries through Lent need to do well. The church budget depends on the events bringing in thousands of dollars.

The event is so crucial, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is even advertising on the radio. McClory says the ads, and the diverse menu, are working. It was the menu that brought Gilbert Haney over from his home in Wolfdale.

"They have such a great selection compared to some of the other fish fries that are pretty much fish," he said.

It's that kind of reputation that McClory hopes will keep people coming back every Friday till Easter.

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