Tag Archives: pizza

The Upper West Side: OK, It’s Not All Bad

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Even though I’m thinking of moving all my restaurant reviews to Yelp, I figure I at least owe you this post. And by “you” I mean both my readers (are you still here?) and my neighborhood.

Ready? Let’s do this.

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Food on Film: What Chunk Ate

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Is there any movie more purely enjoyable than The Goonies?

While I love the whole adventure, it’s characters like Mouth, Data, the Fratellis and Sloth that really make this film an undeniable classic.

But there’s one character I hold closest to my heart: CHUNK. The food-obsessed klutz has some of the best lines, by far the most memorable facial expressions and a charm that shines through even the most serious scenes.

Of course, Chunk’s most famous quality is his ability to eat in the face of danger. For a rundown of his edible conquests, keep reading…

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A Mano: good pizza but where’s the gnocchi?

Now that I’ve shamelessly lifted this great pic from Jason Perlow’s in-depth review of the pizza restaurant, A Mano, I’m not sure I can add anything of value to what seems to be an extremely well-covered dining experience.

But then I read about a huge change to the eatery that occurred six months previous to my arrival in North Jersey: the original pizza pioneer left and the menu was retooled to become more America-friendly. Evidently, the well-regarded Roberto Caporuscio was let go for making pies that were a little too authentic.

What?

If you go back to that first review, which is pre-menu-change, you’ll see some pretty convincing evidence that Roberto was serving one of the most authentic (and by all accounts tasty) Neopolitan pizzas around. That the management felt this uniquely Italian food was off-putting to much of its New Jersey clientele seems to me to be completely insane. But, hey, they own a restaurant and I don’t.

So, being that I did not have the opportunity to try the original Roberto pies, I figured my little review here might provide some insight into what the A Mano experience is like to a newbie, ignorant (at the time of dining) of the menu shenanigans that took place not seven months earlier.

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The most disgusting thing ever (updated)

Wow, take a gander at this monstrosity. Only in Japan, a land virtually untouched by obesity, can the marketing wizards at Pizza Hut peddle a 646 calorie per slice (per slice!!!) food to kids without the least demonstration of conscience or remorse.

According to Gizmodo, Pizza Hut’s “exclusive” Double Roll pie includes bacon-wrapped wieners, mini hamburgers, pepperoni, three kinds of cheeses, and a few veggies.

And because that’s not hurl-inducing enough, how about adding a little ketchup and maple syrup? Because, ya know, that other stuff just doesn’t have the thick, viscous quality that’s driving all the kids nuts these days.

Honestly, when food becomes this kitschy, it’s more sad than cute.

Thanks to Meghan for the heads-up on this article.

Update 5/9/08

More crazy Asian pizza crusts here!

Best pizza ever?

First of all, a big thank you to Foodaphilia for the photos I forgot to take, even though I actually had my camera.

Second of all, wow.

Tacconelli’s serves easily the best pizza I’ve had in Philly, and probably the best thin-crust pizza in the land. Could it be the best ever? We’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the most interesting, and debated, aspects of the Tacconelli’s experience is the requirement that you reserve dough at least one day ahead. This does not mean, however, that you’re expected to make your own pie out of a pile of raw pizza dough. Far from it.

This policy is simply a means – and a quite effective one at that – of quality control. Tacconelli’s, a “one-man, one-oven operation,” does not (and will not) use refrigerated or frozen dough. They only make as many pizzas as there is dough to make them. Sound logic if you ask me.

The place itself is fairly dumpy. You got a few chairs, a few tables, a linoleum floor and some lights. It takes “no frills” to an almost ludicrous level, with only paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cups for your beverages – which, as you might expect, are BYO.

But mamma mia, what a pizza pie! From the first crunchy-soft bite to the last, this was the very epitome of good eats. Though I never got to see the actual menu (a small laminated thing tossed haphazardly around the table), I counted at least four different types of pies:

  1. Tomato Pie – the White Stripes of pizza is just crust and thick sauce
  2. Margherita Pie – add a few razor-thin slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkling of fresh basil to the tomato pie and bang! another winner
  3. Regular Pie – resembles your average pie, with a nice sheen of cheese (although still less than most). Ours was topped with sausage and shrooms.
  4. White Pie – “consists of salt, black pepper, cheese and plenty of garlic.” We got this one with tomatoes and spinach, which were piled so high as to completely obscure the “whiteness” 

I must have had at least six slices out of the five pies we ordered. On a good night, I’m guessing I could probably down a whole pie myself. It’s really that good.

However…

I just can’t bring myself to rate it above Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Although they’re both in somewhat remote parts of their respective cities – Tacconelli’s in Port Richmond, about 20 minutes north of Center City; and Grimaldi’s in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge – and both pride themselves on the freshness of their dough and other ingredients, Tacconnelli’s strikes me as too much of a specialty pie.

I’m fairly certain the thin crust is closer to what’s made in Italy, but pizza is as American as it is Italian. And the gold standard of this mixed tradition is still Grimaldi’s.

Sorry, Philly. If it makes you feel any better, you’ve got Boston pizza beaten by a mile!

It Exists! A How-To Guide for Free Lunch in Philly

Unlike Sasquatch, the grassy knoll shooter and a satisfying version of the third Godfather movie, the ever-elusive “free lunch” actually exists. If you’re in downtown Philly, here’s how to get one:

1. Get a job that provides you with copious amounts of business cards.

2. Find a plastic fishbowl, preferably with a sign that urges you to deposit a business card “for your chance to win a free lunch for you and 5 to 10 of your co-workers!”

3. Deposit your business card into said receptacle.

4. Wait.

5. Win. You’ll know you’ve completed this step when you receive an enthusiastic, congratulatory phone call from a financial services representative. Act happy.

6. The financial guy (and it’s always a guy) will make restaurant arrangements and send you a sign-up sheet and menu for your convenience.

7. Your office-mates will debate whether they can escape work for an hour next Tuesday. Mass indecisiveness will cause your sign-up sheet to resemble one of those declassified military documents.

8. On the day of the lunch, the procrastinators will finally sign up and the last of the guilt-ridden (or truly busy) people will drop out, leaving a (surprisingly) manageable number for lunch.

9. At the restaurant, the affable financial guy will take your order sheet and hand it to the waiter. From this point until the food arrives, you’re his.

10. He will talk about the market. He will talk about insurance. He will talk about retirement. You will blink and nod occasionally. Do not speak – this will prevent you from transforming into a “lead.”

11. The uncomfortable silence that accompanies the “Anybody have any questions?” portion of the pitch will end when the food arrives. At this point, the financial guy stealthily acquires your contact information, disingenuously tells you to enjoy your lunch and departs.

12. Eat your lunch – every. last. bite.

13. In a day or two (standard call-back time in financial circles, as well as social), he will attempt to contact you and gauge your interest in his or his organization’s services. Ignore this call at all costs.

14. Ignore all follow-up calls. If you accidentally answer the phone, hang up immediately. If this is not possible, avoid the following subjects: Roth IRAs, debt consolidation, saving for college.

15. Find another fishbowl lunch contest. Repeat.

This guide was based on a recent lunch won at Qdoba , paid for by Ameritrade and furnished by Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizza.

Potluck Thanksgiving

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Welcome back, constant readers. Or semi-constant readers. Or even first-time readers. Or whomever you are.

I’m sure you’re all dying to know how the pizza appetizers turned out. In a word: excellent. Everyone seemed to really dig them… although it was a particularly sympathetic audience.

Next time, however, I’m going to do some things differently. Because the cuts were so sloppy (making for big pieces), I’m going to chop up the pre-cooked crust into smaller pieces, and then top each piece separately. I think this will make them easier to handle and more like true hors d’oeuvres.

As far as the rest of Thanksgiving dishes (made and assembled in various kitchens), here’s how it broke down:

  • Turkey with gravy (natch)
  • Mashed sweet potato (in hollowed-out orange halves)
  • Corn bread
  • Stuffing (made by a butcher, with nice pieces of sausage)
  • Zucchini pie (made by Mom)
  • Apple/cranberry crisp casserole
  • Cooked corn

And for dessert:

  • Carrot cake (another Mom specialty, pictured above)
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
  • Macadamia cheesecake
  • Pumpkin/ginger mousse (a Mom experiment that didn’t really come together)
  • Pecan/chocolate chip pie

Good stuff.

I hope your holiday was just as tasty!