Monday, July 29, 2013

John's Grille

116 S Monroe St.
Media, PA 19063
(610) 565-8251

If you follow this site, which I am assuming you do (since you are currently reading this), you know that we really like greasy, blue collar, out-of-the-way type places. John's Grille is the type of watering hole where a twenty spot will get you drunk and get you fed. That's the kind of place I prefer to frequent.

The have a different domestic beer special every night, where $2 buys the daily offering. If you are feeling rich, you can pick a "non-special" domestic, and still pay no more than $3. Ah, the suburbs.

The food prices are unbelievably reasonable. For example, where else can you get a near perfect cheesesteak for $4.50?

They use a perfectly chewy, slightly crispy roll (Amoroso's). Nothing too special, just a really solid delivery vehicle for your meat and cheese package.

If you notice a dingy tint on these photos, it's because the view inside is like an Instagram filter called "seasoned".

The cheesesteak is really, really, good. It's got a generous amount of steak and cheese, is well seasoned, chopped finely, and a STEAL for under $5. This is one of my favorite cheesesteaks around. No hard seeded rolls, no dry aged meat, just a cheesesteak at its most basic, which is the reason they are so good. Good meat + plenty of cheese + a roll that holds it all together without being too tough = cheesesteak perfection.

The sweet fried onions carry the flavor of a 'decades-aged' grill, and are not to be missed.

The chicken cheesesteak is another favorite of mine. Add a side of buffalo and chunky blue cheese if you want to "gourmet" it up. It uses chipped chicken, which is specified on the menu, and again, a healthy dose of cheese and fried onions.

This is one of my favorite bars in the greater Philadelphia area, and you will often find me here watching the Phillies lose on a Thursday night. Which makes the $2 beers all the better, because I find my ability to drink cheap beer is exponentially increased when we are on a losing streak.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Joe's Shanghai

9 Pell Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 233-8888

I recently had some house guests down from NYC and I took them out to one of my favorite spots, Dim Sum Garden, for soup dumplings. He told me that Joe's Shaghai was his favorite, and raved about the thinness of the dumpling skin. I had to give it a try.

Like every good spot in Chinatown, Joe's was nothing fancy inside.

I couldn't decide what to get, so I went with pickled cabbage, cold sesame noodles, pork soup buns, and crab soup buns.

The sesame noodles were exactly as you would expect. Nutty, slightly spicy, and had a great chew to them.

The pickled cabbage was perfect for the warm weather. Cool, tart, and crunchy, it was a surprising underdog.

The pork juicy buns were bursting with meat, salty broth, and the skins were as thin as I had been told. They survived a bike trip over the Brooklyn bridge intact, and I was indulging in far more than a fair share of dumplings.

The meatballs were incredibly tender, and the juice just right. However, I would have to say while the edge in wrapper goes to Joe's, the winner on flavor is my hometown Dim Sum Garden. I may be wrong this time, but it's never happened yet.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pappone's Pizzeria

1145 W. Baltimore Pike
Media, PA 19063
(484) 442-8782

One thing about the Philadelphia suburbs is that the average pizzeria is significantly better than every corner pizza shop in the city. All around the city, many shops roll out "Greek style" pan pizza shit. This is the East Coast. We want our pizza thin, slightly crispy, and with foldability.

I was recommended Pappone's by a couple of people, so I figured it was worth a try. Not wood fired, no organic flour, no cheese from a cow with a lineage much more impressive than my own. Just cheap, thin crust, seasoned sauce, pizza.

The staff here is about as DelCo as it gets, and I love it. No nonsense, polite, but would not hesitate to drag you out by your ear.

I ordered two pies to get a feel for the place. The large cheese was perfect. Again, nothing fancy, just a thin pizza, well cooked, with a slightly sweet sauce, and perfect amount of cheese.

They use Grande brand mozzarella and it tastes like there's a little prov in the mix - there's a welcome sharpness that you don't find on a usual pie.

The cheesesteak pizza (one of my guilty pleasures) comes with steak, sauce, fried onions, and fried long hots! I am not sure if I have ever seen this before, and while I am usually not a huge fan of the whole roasted pieces (I prefer my peppers to be cut up so I am not pulling a whole pepper out with one bite or trying to gnaw through it awkwardly with a hoagie dripping down my hands) they worked pretty well in this application. It definitely gave the pie a smokey, sweet, and spicy zing. Big fan.

Pappone's is not the best pizza I have ever had. But it is EXACTLY what I am looking for on a night when you just want to order in and watch TV/sports and mow down some slices. I ate almost a whole pie in one sitting.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pizza Brain

2313 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 291-2965

I was reluctant to review this place at all because I am fundamentally opposed to the idea of hipster pizza. Not just a generalized, younger person, hipster-run place, but a place where they might be wearing My Little Pony pajamas (with footies) while they cook. I hate that shit.

I was invited there for an event, however, and I begrudgingly went and ordered some pizza. See below for what I am talking about.

I DID like the pizza art, I must admit.

Below is Brian "Pizza Brain" Dwyer, who is the mastermind/pizza Nazi behind this whole ordeal.

When I got inside, I was comforted by the fluidity of operations, and the professionalism of the staff. I started coming around.

Luckily I had some cans of Bud heavy (which I shared with the staff), while I waited for my slices. This pizza is THIN. Good sign.

The "Wendy Wedgesworth" boasted mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, arugula, and honey goat cheese. The crust was quite spectacular, and the ingredients were none too shabby. Light and easy to eat, I imagine the veggies go nuts for this stuff.

The "Jane" is the plain slice, though it touts mozzarella, aged provolone, Grana Padano (a less sharp parm-style hard cheese), and fresh basil. This was probably my favorite slice. Simple, with a well seasoned sauce and nutty flavor from the cheese, I could eat this one on the regular.

The "Lucy Waggle" came with mozzarella, Grana Padano, pine nuts, fresh thyme, sweet dates, crisped prosciutto, and arugula. The salty ham was great with the fresh arugula, and the dates added just enough sweetness.

There was a hell of a lot of care put into this place, and the pizza really shows it.

Bottom line, don't let the hipster fool you, they really make some of the best pizza around right here on Frankford.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sottocasa Pizzeria

298 Atlantic Ave
New York, NY 11201
(718) 852-8758

Sottocasa is a little underground hole-in-the-wall pizza place in Brooklyn. They make some amazing pizza, and are priced within the thresholds of Philly Phoodie's strict guidelines that fluctuate according to my whims.

The oven was pretty amazing, with a hot wood fire, and what I imagine is proper ventilation.

I started with the special burrata appetizer, an Italian specialty. The blend of mozzarella shell with cream and mozzarella inside gets me every time. It was served simply over some quartered cherry tomatoes and arugula.

I also had to try the olives with pizza bread. The bread had olive oil, sea salt, and fresh rosemary. It was fantastic. And a perfect precursor to the the pizza to come.

The margarita was an exercise in simplicity. Sweet tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil worked together in an extremely pleasant manner, with the pock marked charring of the dough creating a crunchy yet tender vessel for delivery.

I also tried that same pizza with a spicy sausage addition that was just fantastic. The sausage elevated this pizza to amazing heights. I really like the margarita, but I LOVED the spicy sausage. Again, nothing was over the top, it was just perfectly executed. Without a doubt, some of the best pizza I have had.

The crumbled, spicy meat pieces were not overly greasy, and they added the perfect kick to an already great pie.

If you find yourself in Brooklyn and craving a thin, crispy, fresh pie, this is the spot.