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Tabelog Reviewer burgerdogboy

Posts Tagged ‘Pizza’

Minneapolis, MN – Patriot Cafe at the VA Center

The head of the Minnesota Burger Posse, Kawika, hit the Patriot Café at the VA center in Minneapolis today, in hot pursuit of their made to order pizzas.

From their own description: “We serve a 16” pizza made fresh daily, whole or by the slice. We use the highest quality sauce, meats, cheeses and toppings. Daily offerings include cheese, pepperoni, sausage, combination and vegetarian on wheat crust.”

Kawika went with the personal sized pepperoni, and he said that the pie was loaded with pepperoni, but it was hiding under the cheese. At $3.69, he was happy with the product.

Canteen services are apparently part of the group that operates retail shops, emergency mobile food units for disaster relief, and a wide range of other services in VA centers, from barbershops to dry cleaners to florists.

Map of where the VA is located in Minneapolis:


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Richmond Hill, GA – Gianni’s Pizza

This was close by a motel I was camping out in, online reviews were mixed, but I’m all for the mom and pops, and gave it a shot.  It was definitely “New York Style” as advertised, that means a thin crust, but not so crispy it can’t be “rolled” or “folded” by the slice for less messy consumption.

I ordered a medium, with sausage, pepperoni, and green olives, my standard ‘salt bomb’, the sausage was definitely  in the style of New York pizzerias, every time I’ve experienced that, it was like this, link Italian sausage sliced at a thin bias.   The toppings at Gianni’s were pretty unremarkable, otherwise, and kinda skimpy.   They were using an old two deck gas oven, which may have become slightly deficient in its aging (who hasn’t?), because the pie took a fairly long time to cook.

Table toppers and other posters advised that the shop only uses Grande Cheese, a special blend from a small processor in Wisconsin.  If you’re fascinated enough with that to want to learn more, here’s the poop on them.  Gianni’s has a fairly large dining room, if you’d like to eat in.

It’s located at the end of a strip mall on US Hwy 17, between Richmond Hill and Savannah, keep your eyes peeled or you’ll miss it.

giana

 

giannis front

Gianni's on Urbanspoon

Frozen Pie Smackdown – Home Run Inn vs Reggio’s

Years ago, when I lived in Chicago, Home Run Inn or Reggio’s was my choice of frozen pizzas.   Which one I picked up just depended on what the store I was visiting, was carrying.  I always considered them equals, and among the best of the best in frozen pies.

The taste and appearance are similar, as are the value. (weight v price).  Usually one or the other is on sale.

Both companies started as single pizzerias in the Chicago area, with Home Run Inn predating Reggio’s by a few decades.  Both pies tout a “butter flavored crust” and both (in the classic line) would be defined as “Chicago thin crust”, which is my personal favorite.

I think they products have a similar taste, tho I prefer the sausage on Reggio’s, it is more flavorful;  Home Run Inn is more generous with their toppings.

The verdict?  For me, it’s a tie.  I’ll keep on enjoying both.

Home Run Inn Classic Sausage

 

Reggio’s Class Sausage

 

Van Nuys, CA – Lido Pizza

Some little known facts about Mrs. Burgerdogboy:  she was raised by gypsies in the San Fernando Valley; because her family were travelers, there was no pizza place that could deliver, and, when G’ma wasn’t baking up mounds of from scratch Neapolitan style pizzas, Lido Pizza in Van Nuys was the family’s preferred provider.

Long story short, Mrs. BDB decided to surprise me with a Lido pie recently.

It’s a crust on the thinnish side, which I always prefer, crispy around the edge, nice and chewy as you work inward.

She took it upon herself to devise a combo she thought I would like, sausage, salami, meatball, and black olive, and it was superb.

The cheese was what struck me, tho, over the top in quantity and quality, the kind that stretches a foot when you lift a slice out of the box.

Thank you Mrs. BDB, I think I’ll keep you, as long as we can return to Lido next time we are in L.A.

Lido Pizza has locations in Van Nuys, Saugus, Canyon Country, Simi Valley, and Northridge.

Van Nuys, CA Lido Pizza

 

Lido Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

Renton, WA – Vince’s Italian Kitchen

I’ve had awfully “good luck” ordering from d-dish.com in Portland, one of those restaurant home delivery marketing companies. Delivered Dish signs up restaurants, supplies back end ordering/menu software, and arranges delivery of restaurant menu items direct to your house for a small fee.

Most large cities have a similar service, and on a business trip to suburban Seattle recently, I checked out their version, 2 Go Services.   I don’t know if there is any relationship between the Portland and Seattle outfits, but they do use the same “back end” and your sign-on will work with either service.

In Seattle, we tried our luck with Vince’s, a 50 year-old Italian restaurant and pizzeria.

Our interaction with the delivery service went as easily as when we use the Portland company.  Quick ordering, no mistakes on the order, delivery received within a reasonable amount of time.

We ordered a pizza, the half/half pasta (ravioli/spaghetti) with a meatball, and accompanied by a side-salad, and an appetizer of cheese/potato croquettes.  I had hoped to ‘surprise’ Mrs. Burgerdogboy with the croquettes, give her a little taste memory of her favorite junk food in Amsterdam, but the similarity ended with the name.  In this instance, they are Vince’s version of fried cheese sticks, and while good, they bear no resemblance to their Dutch namesake.  No matter.

The pasta was good, and the meatball exemplary.  For the money, I personally thought the serving size could have been ramped up a bit.

The pizza, however, is one of my new favorites, and I’d order it again, given the opportunity.  I went with a medium size sausage and pepperoni, and the crust was Neapolitan style, hand-made, crispy outee, chewy innee.  The sausage was a similar recipe to the meatball, hand-pulled small chunks, and the pepperoni was small diameter thin-slices, with a nice smoky flavor.   The entire pizza experience gave me the impression of “old-timey” pizza, and I don’t imagine the recipe or prep method has changed much in Vince’s 50 years.

On the “Worstpizza.com” scale of 1 to 8 slices, this is a solid 7.

Vince's Italian Restaurant Renton Washington

Vince's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Camas, WA – Twilight Pizza Bistro

The Big Schmear

I’m not a very disciplined writer.  Well, I’m not very disciplined at anything, actually.  Point being, when I set out to have an experience, and subsequently write it up, I don’t have a structure or point in mind ahead of time.   I write about what moves me (or doesn’t) at the time of the experience.  It’s based on emotion, only, rather than fact;  I don’t take notes, and I’m a lousy photographer, so my pix never adequately describe my experience, either.

I’ve never been to Camas before, never really had a reason to head in that direction.  Though I had heard good things about Twilight Pizza Bistro, there didn’t seem to be any reason to make the trek from Southwestern Portland.   I was wrong.

Last night, owners Don and Morgan invited a friend and I to sample the “best Italian food in Clark County,” as they and hordes of their customers describe the fare.

Opened in 2007  in a historical building in downtown Camas; Camas is situated near  the north bank of the Columbia River, approximately 20 miles East of Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA.

The owners wanted to create a “family-centric’ dining establishment, with a full-service menu serving Italian style cuisine and pizza.   Appetizers include a variety of twists concocted from pizza dough, as well as steamers and wings.

The soup and salad choices are lengthy, and gluten-free choices are available as well.

Our “over the top” server Tim showed us to the table and explained the menu choices.  It was a Monday nite, dinner time, and every table was full. (They are moving to a new, expanded location in the Spring, (watch their website or follow them on Twitter for updates).

If I was writing this piece from the heart, I’d tell a tale of a young newlywed couple that created an establishment five years ago, built with equal parts of love, restaurant knowledge, family recipes, and hospitality-centric personalities.   But if I wrote it that way, I doubt I would motivate you to try Twilight, and this morning, that’s my goal – to get you in there.  If I can get you in their front door, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll return over and over again.

Don and Morgan visited our table several times to talk about their passion, their methods, their ingredients, and their hopes and dreams for the future.  My dining companion for the night was our dear family friend Gigi Petery, former personal chef and future psychologist.

One of the things I carped to Don about, in general, is my annoyance with people that get into the “hospitality” business, but ‘aren’t.’   This can’t be said for Don and Morgan.  They DO get it.  They DO understand why people come to their restaurant, and do everything they can to make the experience a great one.

There’s an old-timey restaurant on the way to the bayous and swamps out of New Orleans, a dated Italian joint, one of my favorite places in the world; it’s called Mosca’s.  Some say the original family cooked for Al Capone, and headed out for New Orleans when that stage of their career ended.  “Insiders” walk into Mosca’s, and decline a menu, giving the waiter the simple instructions of “feed us.”

I’d be VERY comfortable doing the very same thing at Twilight.  In fact, we glanced at the menu, but told Don our personal likes and dislikes, and asked him to prepare what he thought best.

When our food was brought to the table, I had a second realization about Don.  HE CAN READ MINDS! He knew exactly what would please both of us, instructed the kitchen in those points, and delivered the goods.

We started with the crostini plate, which they call “The Big Schmear.”  A sliced toasted baguette, accompanied by a whole roasted head of garlic (which I hogged, sorry Gigi), whipped butter, and a ramekin of oil and balsamic vinegar. OMG, as you hipsters would say!  It was delicious.  The garlic was done perfectly, roasted to the point to where you can squeeze a clove onto a baguette piece, and have a “died and gone to heaven” smile on your face with every bite.  Mrs. Burgerdogboy (she was under the weather last nite, at home with chicken soup), roast a bulb a couple times a week, it’s easy, delicious, and garlic is good for you.

We both were in the mood for pizzas, and we weren’t disappointed.  Don and Morgan thought their ‘T-Rex” was the way to go for me, and the Tree Hugger was the choice of Gigi.  AGAIN WITH THE ESP!

Twilight starts with fresh made dough, a base of basic red sauce they have seasoned to perfection, and the finest quality meats and vegetables.

Pizzas come in five sizes, which range from “individual” to “BurgerDogBoy” size (16″), which their menu describes as serving 5-6 people.  Or me.  Atop the fresh crust and red sauce, the T-Rex has hand-pulled chunks of Italian Sausage, Hormel Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, and Andouille (“on doo eh”) (a spicy French sausage popular in the Southern US).   Although not on the menu offering for the T-Rex, on my version, Don threw on a few more whole, roasted garlic cloves.  Nice touch!

Gigi’s Tree Hugger was a vegetable lovers delight.  Mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, sweet onions, zucchini, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Server Tim suggested a few fresh sliced tomatoes as an accompaniment for Gigi and it was a great suggestion.

Cooked in a standard Baker’s Pride pizza deck, the pies do take some time, and the menu cautions you about that.   How much time do they take to bake? Exactly the right amount, judging from the results.  The pies are baked perfectly, and come out to the table with there being no doubt in your mind that this pie was prepared fresh and is ready to eat.  The crust is only very slightly browned, there’s no charring, the outer rim is slightly crispy, and the chewy factor increases as you work your way to the center of the pie.

Look at the bottom of a pie, and you will get a sneak peak into the fastidiousness of the owners, recognizable by the appearance of the bottom of the pizza.  No oven residue, no charred spots.  Perfect.

The owners of Twilight did their research when it came time to select what toppings they were going to offer.  Most of the meats are from the acclaimed Chicago purveyor Fontanini.  I have had NO BETTER Italian sausage in Portland than this.  One only need look at my waistline to know just how much Italian sausage I’ve consumed, and in fact, Twilight’s food is in the negative calorie category(1) for those of you concerned with such matters.

On my next visit, server Tim suggested I try their most interesting pie, so interesting that he ordered it seven times in a row, as a customer, before he came to work at Twilight.  The “Southern Comfort” adds a hint of bbq sauce to the red, and adds chicken to a variety of meats. Sounds wonderful.

Having no room for dessert, naturally our hosts insisted we try them, and we shared the creme brulee, and a rhubarb crisp, topped with creamy Tillamook vanilla ice cream.  They were both superb, and I hogged the crisp (sorry again, Gigi!).

The menu is chock-a-block full of things I want to try:  steamers, pastas, and a salad or soup or three I’m interested in.   While Twilight is quite a distance from my house in SW Portland, I will happily find an excuse to get back to Camas for more, and soon.

Thanks, Don, Morgan, and Tim for a superb experience. You deserve all the success and kudos you have received, and best wishes for achieving even greater heights when you move to your new location!

The T-Rex

Tree Hugger

(Ed. disclaimer as required by law):  Twilight Pizza Bistro comped out meal).

(1) I am teasing of course.  There is no such thing as “negative calorie’ food.

Twilight Pizza Bistro on Urbanspoon

Your Last Meal Request?

Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe
Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe

(Short link to full story for mobile readers) From time to time, someone writes an article about “oddball” last meal requests by condemned prisoners.  It was in the news again recently because Texas has now banned last meal requests – unless it is something normally offered or fixed in the prison’s kitchen.

Some examples of final meals include:

  • Lawrence Russell Brower: two chicken-fried steaks, a bacon cheeseburger, an omelet, barbecued meat, fried okra,  fajitas, pizza, ice cream, and peanut butter fudge
  • Teresa Lewis: fried chicken, sweet peas, Dr. Pepper,  and German chocolate cake
  • John Wayne Gacy: deep fried shrimp, a bucket of KFC, French fries, and a pound of strawberries
  • James Edwards Smith, who was executed in Texas in June 1990, takes the prize for one of the strangest last meal requests: a lump of dirt.
  • Victor Feguer: a single, unpitted olive
  • Timothy McVeigh: two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream

So here’s this week’s thought provoker:  since most people are very passionate about their favorite hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, if you, for any reason, where able to have a last meal consisting of one of these three favorites, what would your choice be, from where, and why?

My own?   Pizza, definitely from my home-town favorite:  Sammy’s, a local chain in the Upper Midwest.  I’d order a sausage and pepperoni pie with green olives.

Hot dogs?  Also day with my hometown favorite,  Original Coney Island.  My last hamburger?  That would pose a dilemma for me, there are so many great ones in the country these days.  If I had to choose one from the burgers I have had in the past year, it would definitely be the Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe!

How about you?  If you had to choose one final hamburger, hot dog, or pizza, let us know what it is, and where from?

 

 

 

Portland, OR – Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa Meatball

Sub Rosa Meatball

Mrs. Burgerdogboy has taken to grabbing up Groupon and Living Social deals she thinks would amuse me, and I’m grateful for her thoughtfulness, as well as the opportunity to try new places.

Last nite, we hit “Sub Rosa“, a small neighborhood Italian joint over on SE Clinton.

This worked out great, as she had another coupon for the Clinton Street Theater, and we saw the movie “Happy” after dinner. (Recommended).

We hit the cafe at 5:15 and were the only diners to start. Our server was affable and helpful about the menu, started us off with the comp bread and infused olive oil. The bread comes from a bakery down the block called Little T, and we’ll have to revisit that during daylight hours, some great bread, for sure!

Mrs. Burgerdogboy started off the beverage service with a glass of the house red (served Euro-style in small glasses), and I went with a bottle of Stella.

We had a small starter in the Country olive mix, a combo of blacks and greens of different ilks, served on a platter with a furnished demi-tasse cup for pits. The olives were great.
We opted to share a couple of entrees, a pizza with gorgonzola, bacon, and spinach, and the daily ravioli, a mushroom stuffed pasta pocket served with the house red sauce.
The pizza was definitely large enough for two people (a testament to the waiter, I overheard him cautioning another party to not order two, but to do “halfsies” on toppings).

The pie was oval shaped in the Neapolitan style, and crust light, thin, achieving the art of crispy and chewy at the same time, done in a standard pizza oven deck (Blodgett or Baker’s Pride), so it lacked the char one experiences from wood or brick ovens (which is just fine with me).

The toppings were fresh, and ample.

There being far more items on the menu that I wanted to order, but lacked the capacity for, I did ask the waiter if he would sell me “one meatball”, so I could try those, and he said he would be happy to give us one, and it’s a nice meatball, meaty flavor, tender, and it was presented in a small bowl with a little red sauce as well.

We didn’t finish the pizza or ravioli, and you know we have large appetites, but fine with me, that means I am having left over pizza (GREAT) as I am typing this on a Sunday morn.

There are lots of raves online about Sub Rosa’s weekend brunch, and I’d like to try that as well, sometime. Otherwise, they are open for dinner (no lunch service) – Tuesday thru Sunday.

The SE Clinton neighborhood is chock-a-block full of good eateries, with Broder, the Savoy, and NoHo located there as well.

But next time you are contemplating heading that way, give Sub Rosa a try.

Sub Rosa Pizza

Sub Rosa Pizza

Sub Rosa on Urbanspoon

Godfather’s – A Pizza You CAN Refuse!

Started in 1973 in Omaha, Godfather’s tried to go elbow to elbow with Pizza Hut, and at the time, Shakey’s.  The chain was spun off to Pillsbury when they thought they wanted to be in the restaurant business, at the time they also held Burger King, and a pie chain which I have long since forgotten the name of. Pillsbury got out of the restaurant business, and the chain was the object of an MBO.

This year seems to be all about me going into places I haven’t been to for 20-30 years, and Godfather’s would fall into that category. There was one in my home town, but lots of people had kind of a hard on about it for two reasons, it was the first national competitor to try and make a dent in hometown favorite Sammy’s, and also because the franchisee chose a location near and dear to young Duluthians – it was the site of THE local high school hang-out drive in. All of us from that generation miss the “Inn” every day.

What I remember of Godfather’s from that vintage, was lots of cubed meat toppings, and an obnoxious jingle and icon that riffed on the Godfather movie with “A pizza you can’t refuse.” Apparently they are still using that tag line, but believe me, this is one pizza you CAN refuse, thus my post’s headline.

I happen to be driving by an outlet today, and it was lunchtime, so I figured I try it. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know they were still around, they are that low profile these days. I came to find out during my visit they have a dozen locations in the metro, and while i SHOULD be aware of that, I don’t ever recall seeing a single bit of marketing in print, radio, or tv. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been surprised when I did see it. Duh.)

Godfather’s offers a pizza and salad buffet, like many pizzerias do, theirs is 6.99 here for all you can eat and drink, except adding a salad adds a buck to the price. I didn’t add the salad, and I didn’t look at that portion of the buffet, and I should have. Might have add ingredients that would have made the pizza more interesting.

OK, it’s not awful. It’s just nothing special. It’s as good, or bad, as Pizza Hut, Domino’s, or Round Table (I tried their buffet a couple months ago, posted here).

There were portions of 3-4 pizzas on the buffet (some left over from earlier pies placed out, no doubt). There was also “mojo potatos” (deep fried wedges) who dreamed up “mojo potatoes” anyway, and why didn’t they trademark the name? Also available, the ubiquitous bread sticks (long slices of pizza crust), and a dessert concoction of the same ilk.

There were about a half dozen diners in the joint, it was high noon, this was a free-standing unit in a strip mall out lot in suburbia. It was decorated with sports crap (why are there so many sports-themed bars and restaurants?). I want there to be “news and information” restaurants, where you go in and the big screens are blaring Rachel Maddow, or reality shows like Ax Men!

Anyway, I quipped to one of my fellow buffeteers (Is that a word? It is now!) that the restaurant must have gotten a deal on pineapple that day, because there were seemingly diced chunks of canned pineapple on nearly every pie. Note to anyone: there are certain pizza toppings that just don’t GO with pineapple, i.e most of them.

Godfather’s offers three types of crusts, according to their menu (below), “Original Thick and Chewy”, “Golden- Buttery Pan Style”, and “Thin – Light and Crispy.” If all three were represented on the buffet, I couldn’t tell the difference. At least the first two were, and they were virtually indistinguishable.

The Godfather’s napkin says something like “You’ll need this, cause we pile on the toppings,” but such was not the case with the buffet pies, and I get why they do that, even if I don’t agree with it.

My biggest gripe about the pizza I had (mostly very strange combinations like sausage, pineapple, and mushroom), was that the topping ingredients are very apparently food service products. They use those little sausage crumbles, which since they are pre-cooked (in my opinion) tend to harden under heat lamps. Pepperoni was cupped and charred, a sure sign of high fat, low cost salami.

And so it goes. But hey, the did have video poker, so that’s probably paying the rent anyway.

The place was clean. But the pizza is about as good as any gas station or c-store heat and eat. They get $20.99 for a jumbo two topping, and you’d be better off to spend the same $20 on four ‘ready to go at anytime” Little Caesar’s Pies.

I’m just saying. But if you want to go to this location, map and pix of slices below.

Here endeth the lesson.


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Godfather's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Amsterdam, NL – L’Amour Bakery, Pizza, Hot Dogs

It seems like there is a bakery every 50 feet in Central Amsterdam. Selling delicious baked goods, sweet waffles (a local favorite), many of them also offer dogs, pizza, and/or burgers. L’Amour was one we passed by regularly, and one late nite, after “coffee”, the appeal of a waffle drenched with chocolate and caramel, and piled high with whipped cream and fresh fruit, was just too much to pass up. We got one on the way back to the hotel, and I’m not really sure what happened to it between the bakery and hotel, Mrs BDB was in charge of its safekeeping, and I believe she said “she dropped it” on the way home.

Yeah, right. I did manage at least one slice of fruit and a dollop of whipped cream (sidebar: I didn’t see any whipped cream in Holland that came out of a spray can, this was the real deal), and it was delicious.

So we thought we’d add the L’Amour to our snack cycle next time we passed by.

The proprietor was a proud man from somewhere in the Middle East, and we cooed about how much we liked the waffle, which motivated him to launch into a speech about how he prepares everything fresh, fresh is the key to customer satisfaction, and keeps people (like us, apparently) coming back fore more.

Mrs. BDB ordered french bread pizza (which she NEVER does) (maybe I am converting her) adorned with ham and mushrooms. I went for the cheese hot dog. I was really looking for the pepperoni cheese hot dog, but L’Amour didn’t offer that variety.

The food came quickly, but not so quickly that Mrs BDB, who had a view of the kitchen, could observe the next round of whipped cream waffles being assembled in the back, and opined out loud whether she had made the right selection.

The dog was a good-sized beef skinless, with gooey Dutch cheese melted all over the (naturally) excellent bun. I didn’t try the pizza (WTF?) but was assured it was mighty fine, as well.

We contemplated getting another waffle to take home, but I was sure it would just be “dropped” on the way, so we left that for another day.


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