Monday, November 29, 2010


3370 Tilton St.
Philadelphia, PA  19134
(215) 423-1707

When approaching Czerw's (pronounced shev's), it looks like someone opened a Kielbasa shop in a North Philly garage. Well, that's pretty much the case, except it happened long ago, and they crank out (no pun intended) some of the best meats and pierogies I have ever tasted.

I was originally expecting a takeout kind of place, and although that may be the case, it sure didn't seem to be the day I meandered in. No big deal. I went with the cheesesteak pierogies, buffalo chicken pierogies, hot sausage sticks and traditional kielbasa.

The inside of this place is bare and utilitarian, with a healthy smattering of old-school Polock. I loved it. The guy working was friendly and recommended the piergoi's (cheesesteak and buffalo chicken) while I picked out the meats. He said those were the most popular 'rogies, so I figured they were worth a shot. They also happened to be filled with two of my favorite ingredients, so I was secretly happy to try such new-fangled stuffings, of an old Polish treat without feeling guilty for passing on the sauerkraut and potato, etc. (which I also love and will be back for).

Since we couldn't eat this things immediately, we retired to the Polish fortress of solitude, aka New Wave Cafe. Once here, we immediately ordered a round of Lech, some white borscht (so, so, good) and what else, kielbasa!

They deep fry their basy, which renders it crispy, dark and absolutely delicious. Served with a few fried onions, some Polish mustard and a couple slices of rye bread, and I was in heaven.

The pierogies, ALMOST made it a full 24 hours (I was eating mounds of Thanksgiving leftovers), and then they were fried up with some onions and spicy beef stick, in a healthy smattering of butter. All I can say is, wow. The dough was terrific, light, fluffy and a perfect vessel not gluey and heavy like can often happen with these delicate dumplings.

The buffalo chicken pockets, consisting of ground chicken and buffalo sauce were dipped in blue cheese dressing, and a bit of my own buffalo sauce. While the cheesesteak version, which contained steak meat, cheese and, a bit of onion, were served with a side of fried onions and ketchup. Delicious.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend Riding

Great to work off some of the Thanksgiving trimmings this weekend. Saturday at Belmont, Sunday at White Clay. Good times.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Philly Luncher

A big thank you to Midtown Lunch Philadelphia for my "Luncher" profile yesterday. You can check it out here. Also, I got a new toy, and I will be hosting my first Thanksgiving. Guess who is grilling the turkey?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Primanti Bros.

830 Clairton Blvd., Rt. 51
Pittsburgh, PA 15236

Primanti's is a staple of our Western brethren. It's their local sandwich, and they are darn proud of it. When I was asked to go for a road trip out there last weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. My only stipulation, we had to get a sandwich from Primanti's. Before you jump on me for going the tourist route, we weren't stay in Pittsburgh proper, but rather a town of 350 people, the real salt (and coal) of the earth. Plus, I hadn't had one of these sandwiches in about four years, so I was more than due. Look at the beautiful Pittsburgh sky below.

Primanti Bros. is now a chain in the Pittsburgh area, and you can even get your fix in Florida. Although their history sounds suspiciously like the history of the hoagie, but I suppose throwing things between two pieces of bread is human nature (for good reason, it's delicious).

After ordering a 23oz. IC Light, I went to work picking out which variation of this classic Steel City sandwich would fall victim to my hunger. I went with the traditional Pitts-Burger Cheesesteak. I had eaten this sandwich before, so I would have good grounds for comparison. Now before I continue, I must clear up the name. This is possibly the most egregious misuse of the term cheesesteak that exists in the modern world. There is nothing cheesesteak about this sandwich. It consists of a sirloin beef patty that is quite similar to Salisbury steak. I knew this going into it, but it could obviously be confusing to diners from the more gastronomically inclined side of the state. Of course, not leaving well enough alone, I ordered a double meat sandwich with a fried egg and fried onions. Go big or go home (quite possibly in an ambulance in this case), I always say.

This sandwich is HUGE. It is stacked about eight inches high, and piles on two patties, provolone, fried onions, vinegar based sweet and sour coleslaw, tomato, and fresh cut french fries. It is truly a challenge to eat based on size and the average persons capacity for food intake. Luckily, my strength/affliction is not knowing when to throw in the towel. Below is one half of the monster.

I ate the whole sandwich. Which is pretty impressive. But when I say that, I mean I even ate the french fries and coleslaw that slipped out of this behemoth, and then proceeded to eat half an order of the boneless buffalo wings. I am not proud of my actions, but hey, I was on vacation. The worst part? The boneless wings were just okay, and I still put them down after my sandwich.

The pastrami was a good variation to the cheesesteak and I actually helped polish that thing off later, after a long night getting to know the intricacies of a town where beers were $1.25 and mixed drinks were $1.50. For shame.

Overall, the sandwiches are pretty good, in a novelty kind of way. They are more about the experience than the actual taste/logistics of eating one. It makes me thankful for a real cheesesteak, but gives me something to crave until the next time I find myself ensconced in the Steel Curtain.

My gracious host below.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Golden Nugget

433 New Freedom Road,
Berlin, NJ 08009
(856) 753-1402


Okay, the sign says Country Music and chicken wings, our specialties. How can it not be good? That coupled with the fact that it's in the middle of nowhereville New Jersey, seems like a win-win. Oh, and it is. Although I went for the wings, I could certainly not pass up a high class appetizer, like pepperoni, cheese cubes and saltines, right? I knew I was in for a treat when I walked in, and this basket of comfort only solidified that feeling. The biggest surprise? How good the honey mustard was with it.

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures, but the place is a hazy, nothing too fancy spot, so it kind of fits.

The bartenders are nice, attentive, and honest. I asked if there were any beer specials (on a Monday night), and he said, "well, our beer is already really cheap so there is no need for it." Touch̩. If you look closely, you will see that the wings are $5.50 for ten, all the time. Insane. In Philly you often end up paying up to $12 for eight "gourmet" wings, that are okay, but let's face it Рwhen I want wings, I want cheap, crispy and tasty. That's it. Nowhere in Philly proper meets my standards. PLEASE correct me if you think I am wrong. Anyway, this place is known for wings, and music, so let's talk wings, at least (live music only on the weekends).

An order of twenty sets you back $10.50. Wednesday and Thursday nights, it's all you can stomach for $7. I will be back for that, you can count on it. The wings came out quick, hot, and incredibly crispy. The flavor was well developed and I tasted both garlic and I believe chicken bouillon in the sauce. Seriously. There was a nice layer of heat, and the crispiness was just perfect. No lie, these may be my favorites ever.

The blue cheese is extra, but at these prices, who cares? It's also nicely chunky, and a perfect complement for the crispy, tender fried chicken masterpieces.

The butterflied shrimp were also delicious, and although nothing fancy, they were fried just right.

Oh and as if that all wasn't good enough, since it was Monday night, it was ONE DOLLAR all you can eat pizza. Seriously. The pizza was meh, but far be it from me to not eat my fill for a buck. They bring it around every fifteen minutes or so, and you can just pass whenever you want, and take a slice when you wish. Amazing. Couple all of this with incredibly cheap beer, and I have a place to which I wish I lived closer. That still won't keep me away, however, and I now have a new place to satisfy my awesome-wings-from-the-burbs cravings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tacconelli's Pizzeria

2604 East Somerset Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134-4733
(215) 425-4983

I know it's sacrilegious to follow up the last post with the best pizza ever, but what can I say, I like pies in all of their many forms. So this is the famous Tacconelli's, where you have to call ahead to reserve your dough, they only offer three styles of pizza, and you can get soda to go with it. Bring your own beer or wine (or both!) and come hungry.

The menu is a lot like the restaurant, faded and well weathered. But this place is like the girl at the dance who lets her hair down (when the pizza comes out) and suddenly there is no one more beautiful. The typical slice-joint booths, tile floors and a welcoming but hurried attitude are trademarks of experience. The whole shop turns around one man, and one oven. This translates to, 'your order will come when it comes.' Which is fine. It leaves plenty of time to enjoy that ice cold beer (I went with Budweiser to show my true patriotism) or wine, and speculate on how good the upcoming meal is going to be. We ordered three pies for four people, and although I strongly believe I could have eaten everything, my often broken good sense told me not to. It was a close decision.

First up was the Margherita pie. Fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and a healthy dose of that utterly perfect pizza sauce. My obvious first mistake, burning my mouth on the first bite. My second mistake, burning my mouth again within fifteen seconds, because I was so excited to get this pizza into my stomach. The crust on all of these pizzas is served well done, and wafer thin. There is no folding involved. It is like perfect pizza ingredients on a perfectly yeasty cracker. The immense heat it undergoes really makes the crust sing, and I was barely able to wait to shove another slice down my throat. It's that good. The simplicity of the Margherita pie really lets the superior ingredients and attention to detail shine.

The next pie up was the the White Pie, which housed salt, black pepper, cheese and a whole smattering of garlic. We added onions and sweet peppers. This pie was also incredibly good, and the peppers and onions were plentiful, and delicious. The garlic really shone through, but was not overpowering and the oil in the cheese helped wilt the onions slightly while the sweet peppers added a vinegar tinge to the pie. Delicious.

Last but certainly not least, came the Regular Pie, little cheese and sauce. On this one, we went sausage only. Not too much, but a little extra fat to balance out the light cheese. It was perfect. Once again, the sauce is just too good. It's just what I want on a pizza, and reminded me of a place I used to eat at as a kid, which is no longer with us. I got a side of the hot peppers ($.75) but they weren't really necessary. With a menu this small, I don't think you can go wrong. Just remember, cash only, bring your own beer or wine, and CALL AHEAD to reserve your dough!