Tag Archives: Pizza

{ Thanksgiving Pizza }

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I consider sage to be the dominant flavor of Thanksgiving. My mom and I use it in just about every dish, from our roasted butternut squash, to our stuffing, and our delicious turkey butter baste! So when a customer at my restaurant requested that I come up with a recipe for a Thanksgiving-inspired pizza special, I knew sage would be the foundational building block of the pie.

The savory, and slightly peppery, flavor of sage lends itself well with just about any ingredient but since I needed to construct a pie that tasted like Thanksgiving, I decided to pair it with butternut squash, caramelized onions, and cranberry sauce. Instead of using just mozzarella, I opted to add brie cheese which is a soft French cheese made from cow’s milk. The creamy cheese melts very easily when baked and the sweetness of the cheese lends itself well with the tartness of the cranberry sauce.

I have served this pizza to several taste-testers thus far, and each of them have said the same thing…”tastes like Thanksgiving!”

I consider that mission accomplished.

{ Ingredients }

  • One pizza crust — I use this recipe by Peter Reinhart
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 butternut squash, roasted, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 wedge brie cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced, and caramelized
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leave, chopped

{ To Make the Pizza }

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Using a spatula, spread the cranberry sauce over the prepared pie crust to the outer edges. Lightly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the cranberry sauce. Thinly slice the brie cheese and place slices onto the pie a few inches apart from each other.

Top the cheese with the caramelized onion and the cubed butternut squash.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges turn a golden brown and the crust is crispy.

Sprinkle with the chopped sage and serve!

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Filed under Baking, Brunch, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

{ Best Lunch Spots in Buck’s County }

Finding good food on-the-go is tough when you don’t live in a city studded with Pret a Manager, Chipotle, and five-star food trucks. In Buck’s County, the options are pretty limited to full-service, sit-down restaurants or drive-thru, fast-food establishments. If you don’t brown paper bag it to work, you’re looking at either an overpriced gourmet salad, a 40-minute sushi luncheon, or a greasy quarter-pounder in the McDonald’s parking lot. But thankfully, local restaurant owners are finally starting to fill this market gap by opening quick-service lunch spots with high-quality food.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch spots in Buck’s County:

1. { Sariano’s Country Cafe }

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Located right in the heart of Lahaska, is this adorable French cafe with homemade croissants, fresh soups, and delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches. You can eat al fresco at any of the outdoor cafe tables, or take your order to-go (just be warned that there is only one indoor table, so might not be the best option for a cold/rainy day!). The menu is posted on a black board behind the counter, and although isn’t terribly long, neither is the wait for your food!

I highly recommend the Grilled Vegetable & Mozzarella Sandwich, which is served warm on a Fresh Butter Croissant ($7.00). The vegetables are chopped up nice and small, and the croissant provides delicious and sturdy base for the sandwich, keeping it together as you eat.

Of course, this being a French cafe, I also recommend the Croque Monsieur sandwiches, which are served on homemade French bread. They have the classic Ham & Cheese ($5.50), but I suggest trying the Goat Cheese & Proscuitto ($6.50) combination, which isn’t something you see every day! Keep in mind that these sandwiches are served hot, so the cheese is warm and bubbly when they come out of the oven. Delicious.

And lastly, I really enjoy Sariano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder Soup ($7.00), which is creamy and slightly spicy but not too heavy. The soup prices seems a little high, when compared those of the sandwiches, but the portions are really generous and it comes accompanied with your choice of crackers or homemade French bread.

If you’re really in a hurry, Sariano’s also offers an assortment of pre-made meals that you can choose from.

2. { Jule’s Thin Crust }

Photo taken from TheMainLineVine

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With new locations popping up all over Buck’s County, it is clear that Jule’s Thin Crust has found a recipe for success. This gourmet pizza shop, which relies heavily on locally and organically grown produce, offer 22+ varieties of pizza, innovative salads, and gluten-free, as well as whole-wheat, products. If you stop by for just a few slices, you can choose from anything available on the line and get back to work within 10 minutes. And if you’d rather place a full pie or custom order, you’re looking at a total wait time of about 15 minutes, but you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to help pass the time while you wait! Just keep in mind that you’re still at a pizza place, so to all my wine-snobs: NO, there will not be glassware!

I suggest trying the new Buffalo Chicken Pizza with hormone free chicken, chopped celery, blue cheese, mozzarella, arugala, and buffalo sauce ($2.90 per slice). Or the Kim’s Pie with hormone free chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic BBQ glaze, mozzarella, and chives ($2.90 per slice).

Another classic, loved by all, is the Brushetta Pizza with Chopped Organic Tomatoes, Fresh Cubed Mozzarella, Garlic, Oregano, and Arugala, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil! It will revolutionize your idea of pizza.

3. { Marhaba }

Photo Taken from The New York Times

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Tucked away on a side street in Lambertville, is one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants that I have ever been to! The interior is cozy, the prices are reasonable, and the food is authentic and a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gyro Sandwich, which is slow roasted lamb, topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini drizzle on a warm homemade pita ($5.95) is a deal that can’t be beat and so it has become a regular weekly lunch for me and my mother.

Photo Taken from Jersey Foodies

I also recommend the Babaganough, which is a grilled eggplant spread mixed with tahini, garlic, and fresh lemon juice ($5.95) served alongside warm homemade pita bread. The spread has a zesty flavor and a creamy texture, that is beautiful when paired with the zatter spices on the pita bread.

Photo Taken from ThePalatePrincess

4. { Genivieves Panini & Salads To-Go }

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I found this place on Groupon a couple of weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Located in the center of Doylestown, Genivieves serves up seasonally inspired food made with locally produced ingredients. The sandwiches are crafted like a work of art and the flavor combinations are a food-enthusiasts dream. My personal favorites are: the Vegetale with grilled asparagus, plum tomato, gooey taleggio cheese, and fresh pesto on multigrain bread ($7.50);  and the Tuscany with grilled chicken breast, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on rustic ciabatta bread ($7.50). 

In addition to their fabulous warm panini’s, Genivieves also offers gourmet salads, homemade soups, and assorted baked goods. And if you find yourself addicted, as I have, then you can also order their food for catered dinners with 24 hours advance notice. Unfortunately, Genivieves is take-out only, so you cannot dine-in.

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Filed under Baking, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, French Restaurants, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, New Jersey Restaurants, Philadelphia Restaurants, Take-Out

The Black Horse Tavern ****

215.579.6152
101 South State Street
Newtown, PA 18940

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Happy Hour--a time, usually between the hours of 6-8, when drinks are offered at reduced prices, encouraging co-workers to mingle outside of the office setting.

This is what Happy Hour used to be–back in the 1990′s when people had jobs and could afford to keeping purchasing cocktails long after the drink specials had ended. But with the unemployment rate ticking ever higher, the definition of Happy Hour is changing: it is no longer only a place for the over-worked to release steam, it is also a valuable networking tool for the unemployed to try to find work. And bar/restaurant owners are recognizing this paradigm shift caused by the economic recession, offering better drink prices, extending discounts to include menu items, and even beginning their Happy Hours earlier in the day (before the 9-5er’s are released from their cubicles).

As an unemployed college graduate (or stay-at-home-daughter, as I prefer to say), I recognize the valuable opportunity that Happy Hours provide for networking (and budgeting) and I try to make it out to one each week. Of course, I also need to vent my frustrations of failed interviews and wasted cover letters!

Right now my favorite Happy Hour hands-down is The Black Horse Tavern in Newtown. They do it all right:

  • Starts at 5 pm, ends at 7 pm (Mon-Sat)
  • $3 drafts, $4 wines, and $6 martinis
  • 1/2 price menu items
  • Trivia on Friday nights (for free drink prizes–I won one last week!)
  • Free bar food available during Happy Hour (usually their delicious flatbreads!)

In my opinion, it’s the best deal in town and like all good things, it draws a consistent crowd. Aka: If you get there after 5 pm expect to sip your delicious martini while standing! They have an extensive speciality martini list, but I recommend the Grapefruit Bubbling Cosmo with Ruby Red Vodka, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice, all topped off with a splash of Champagne. It has a perfect blend of citrus without tasting artificial.

As far as bar food goes, YOU MUST GET THE TRUFFLE FRIES!!! They come topped with Parmesan Cheese and Belgian Aioli and they are to die for!

I also really like the flatbreads at this place. The Margarita is very simple but delicious made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano, olive oil, and spicy marinara sauce. It’s tasty finger food that is easy to share, and I’ve got to admit that it is better than some of the pizza places I’ve tried in these neck of the woods.

Last but not least, I also tried the Caesar Salad with crisp hearts of romaine and a garlicky brioche crostini, dressed to perfection with a Caesar drizzle. It was a great portion for like $4, which is definitely recession-approved pricing!

Although I have only been to the Black Horse Tavern for Happy Hour, I hear from my neighbors that the kitchen also makes fabulous burgers and steaks for dinner. In fact, one of my neighbors said it was one of the best steaks that he has had in years (and this guy is a credible foodie in my book!).

Bottom line: if you are looking to avoid the rather pretentious cougar scene at La Stalla, and you want better bar grub than Isaac Newtons can offer, head to The Black Horse Tavern! You won’t be disappointed.

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Filed under Bars, Cocktails, Philadelphia Restaurants

Eataly in New York *****

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229.2560

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Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a child enter Disney World for the first time? You watch their face light up with joy, their little legs propelling them forward as quickly as possible, their eyes wide with excitement. Well add some intense hand gurning, and thats what I look like each time I enter Eataly Italian market. It is a Mecca for foodies–a specialty food market on steroids, with restaurants and cafes scattered throughout.

You can stand around high tables in the salumeria, enjoying a glass of wine expertly paired to compliment an assortment of specialty cheeses, or you can enjoy nibbling on  a freshly baked focaccia as you wait for your table at La Pizza & Pasta. And Lord knows you’ll have plenty of time to wash down several espressos at Cafe Vergnano, if you’re trying to get a table at the new rooftop birreria–the line to go up is longer than airport security at JFK. No, I’m not joking.

Sure, the market is expensive (and indeed touristy, as several other bloggers have observed), but it is undoubtedly worth the visit. Take it for what it is: an expensive dining experience in an avant-garde food theater. And on that note, I shall walk you through my Eataly experience this past weekend, beginning in the Salumeria with a nice glass of red wine (Italian, of course!).

After adapting to the circus like environment of Eataly, my friends and I gathered around a hightop table in the salumeria and ordered a platter sampling the selection of cured meats and cheeses. The cheese assortment included: a creamy ricotta, a strong parmigiano regiano, a pungent taleggio, a sweet gorgonzola, and a cacio de Roma. My personal favorites were the taleggio and the ricotta, which paired beautifully with the fresh fig and orange segments accompanying the plate. The meats we tried included: delicious mortadella cubes, 14-month aged prosciutto de Parma, and sweet & spicy coppa and sopressata. The prosciutto de parma was hands down the highlight of the plate–delicate and salty.

Next we headed over to La Pizza, where Neapolitan natives are firing up the kind of pizza that God would make if he were having dinner guests. And the gold-tiled ovens certainly add to the ethereal effect:

Photo taken by Adam Kuban from Serious Eats

I decided to go all out and order the most expensive pizza on the menu, which would be the Fru Fru Pizza coming in at a total cost of $22 (a price that you can somehow justify after the first bite!). For indecisive people, like myself, who can’t chose just one pizza on the menu, the Fru Fru offers a small sampling of three different topping combinations: (1) dollops of sweet ricotta cheese with cooked ham (no sauce); (2) aged mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce; and (3) delicious Parma ham with arugula and parmigiano reggiano shavings. It looks like this:

My favorite of the three, you ask? Probably the ricotta and ham because of the contrasting salty and sweet flavors (but the pizza crust is really the star of this dish!).

Two of my friends ordered the Quattro Formaggi with a mixture of gorgonzola, pecorino romano, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano cheeses. This is supposed to be served as a white pizza, but one of my friends also ordered it with tomato sauce and it was none-the-less delicious. You can feast your eyes on the white one:

And then of course someone at the table had to be a plain Jane and order the classic Margarita Pizza with tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I know there is something to be appreciated about the flavor of a few quality ingredients, but I like to live a little with my pizza toppings!! Like everything else at Le Pizza and Pasta though, it was amazing!

Most people would be throwing in the napkin by now, but not me! Sufficiently pregammed with my pizza appetizer, I decided to order a plate of Tagliatelli al Ragu di Manzo, which is a hearty (and rich) braised short rib ragu over homemade pasta. The pasta is cooked to perfection–just tough enough to stick to your tooth a little (the definition of Al dente). And the braised meat is so tender that it falls apart at the mere prodding of your fork. The dish is quite heavy given the nature of the sauce and the weight of the pasta, but it is every bit savory and delicious. I would highly recommend this pasta (as long as  you have already tried the pizza!).

So until next time, Eataly, Arrivederci!!!

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Filed under Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Coffee Shop, Italian Restaurants, Markets, New York Restaurants

Romario’s Pizza ***

Locations all over Buenos Aires; you’ll be hard pressed to find a corner without one!

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It is a fact: Argentines love pizza. I dare to say they love it almost as much as their prized bovine. If you want to get a rise out of a Porteno, you can do one of two things: mention politics, or ask which restaurant makes the best pizza. Yes, I just compared Peronism and pizza.

Anyways, one of my new favorite pizza spots in BA is Romarios. It’s certainly not the oldest pizza place or the most famous–in fact, it is a chain (probably, the Argentine equivalent of America’s Pizza Hut). But I think it is delicious! I like to order their standard pizza pies, which come in 3 sizes, and I usually top mine with serrano ham, mozzarella, cubed tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh arugala. One slice of this pie probably has just as much sodium as a cup of ramen noodles, but it is worth every ounce of swelling. The cheese is hot and gooey and the crust isn’t too thick on the pizza. Addtionally, they make their pies with the sauce on top of the cheese, which keeps the crust from getting soggy.

Of course, you can also order a cheese and onion fugazette if you’re looking to carbo-load. Fugazette is a very popular form of Argetine pizza resembling a calzone. It is pizza dough stuffed with cheese and onion, olive oil, and herbs. It is delicious, but certainly filling. You can get delicious unhealthy food almost anywhere in BA though, so I suggest sticking to traditional pizza at Romarios.

If the pizza isn’t filling enough, order an empanada or two. They have an onion and pancetta empanada one that is ridiculously good and the spicy beef empanada is amazing.

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Filed under Buenos Aires Restaurants, International Restaurants

Cumana *****

Rodríguez Pena 1149
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
001 4813 9207

As I mentioned in the previous post, Ariana and I have become ¨regulars¨ at La Cholita–frequenting the restuarant at least once a week to get our parrilla fix. But we aren´t the only one´s in BA that know about the deals to be had there, so there is often times a wait to get in (get there after 10 O´clock, and you´re not leaving until 1 or 1:30…no, I´m not joking). Luckily, right next door is a resturant called Cumana. It is the same price point as La Cholita, and the food is equally as delicious, but the menu offers a completely different selection of Argentine cuisine. Rather than parrilla, Cumana serves up food typical of the Northern region of the country, including homemade cazuelas, pizzas, calzones, empanadas, and potato dishes. Most people show up with the intentions of eating at either La Cholita or Cumana, but inevitably put down their name for both once they see the crowds waiting outside. Pretty much, which ever restaurant can accomodate the party first wins. Nobody goes home upset!

Inside Cumana, you will find an equally mixed crowd of locals and tourists. The locals come becasue the prices are unbeatably cheap, and the tourists come to sample a wide variety of the delicious cazuelas, which are thick and hearty stews served in lerge clay vessels. They come out steaming hot, and they never seem to cool off…you will still be blowing on the last spoonful (if you can even manage to eat that much of these filling casseroles, of course!) Some of the cazuelas are simply legumes, others include meats such as chorizo and beef, and then of course there are those that offer a mixture of vegetable and meat. My favorite cazuela at Cumana is the one with Lentejas y Chorizo (lentils and sausage). The menu simply reads Cazuela de Lentejas, but the Chorizo is a delcious surprise that adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish. The lentils are cooked to a tender perfection and the meal overall is like a hug in your belly.

I also hear that the Cazuela al Pastor is incredible, although I have never gone to Cumana hungry enough to tackle the dish myself. The waiter described it almost like a Sheppard´s Pie, layered with hearty ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese. Again, this is all baked and served in a large clay pot (it is on my list of things to eat in the very near future!). When I don´t order the Cazuelas de Lentejas, I go for the Locro–a thick soup made with beans, potatoes, squash, ham, and chorizo. It is like Pasta Fagiole on steriods, and without a doubt a ¨stick to your ribs¨ kind of meal. Although the locro is very delicious at Cumana, I must be honest an admit that there is one better at La Cocina on the corner of Puerrydon and Santa Fe (the review is coming soon!).

If your craving more than soup, I highly, highly, highly, recommend the pizza and calzones at Cumama. There is some special ingredient that they use, which makes the flavor of the pizza very unique. I can´t figure out if it is an herb, or if it is special cheese, or what. I am a pretty good food detetctive when it comes to identifying ingredients, but they have me absolutely stumped. Normally, I would ask the waiter for the secret, but given the language barrier, I am left to wonder. I like the Rucola Pizza with Fresh Sliced Tomato, Cured Ham, Mozarella, Tomato Sauce, and Oregano. It is salty, gooey, goodness. The calzones are also enourmous and look amazing (definitely enough for two people to share).

If you´re looking to eat soemthing I little lighter, as I was the other night, it´s not gonna happen here. I ordered the Ensalada de Cumana thinking that the vegetables would be healthy, but the salad came out in an enourmous baked bread bowl, topped with gobbs of mayonnaise. All of my biggest ordering errors in Argentina have involved salad and salad dessings. The menu will often read; ¨vinaigrette a la casa,¨ ¨ceasar dressing, and ¨dressing especialidad.¨ But do not be fooled….these are just synonyms for disguising the word mayonnaise. And not a drizzle of mayonnaise, an overwhelming heaping of it (see photo below). The moral of the story; order your salad plain and ask for a side of oil and vinegar. Otherwise, you might as well have just ordered the fattiest steak on the menu. Of course, once I removed the top layer of mayo covered lettuce, the salad was delicious. But I hate having to operate on my food before it becomes edible.

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Filed under Buenos Aires Restaurants, International Restaurants

George’s in the Grove *****

Morels Mushroom Risotto with Shaved Foie Gras

305.444.7878
3145 Commodore Plaza
Miami, Fl 33133

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“Don’t fix it, if it’s not broken!” This is a quote I’ve heard my dad say a million times over throughout my lifetime. I remember when the Blackberry first came out and I wanted to trade in my hot pink Motorola flip phone so that I could get a pin and enter the world of bbm-ing (this dates me a little since kids these days know their Blackberry pins before their social security number!). But, my dad wouldn’t have it. He refused to upgrade me because my Motorola worked just fine. I then made it my mission to break that little phone and quickly learned that Motorola phones are nearly indestructible—much unlike Blackberrys! That pink phone had loose wires coming out of one end, had duck-tape keeping the battery in, and had a simultaneously cracked and water damaged screen, but wouldn’t you believe it still made phone calls! Now the biggest annoyance in my day is when my trackball gets stuck and my bbm is slow (and to this my dad would say, “be careful what you wish for!”) But, back to point…don’t fix something if it’s not broken! Likewise, don’t feel pressured to always try a new menu item when you have already found a dish that you love at a restaurant! When I find something that I really like at a restaurant, I stick to ordering it because I then I am never disappointed!

One place that I go for the same dish every time, is Georges in the Grove (they also have opened a place in Sunset, but I was there the other night and very disappointed by the unfriendly service, which never happens at the one in the Grove!). Anyways, the dish to order is without doubt is the Steamed Fresh Mussels with garlic, shallots, and parsley in a white wine butter sauce served with french fries. I really don’t even think that there are adjectives in the English language to describe how incredible these mussels are. Just…wow! The mussels are enormous and succulent and the sauce is outrageously good. As soon as I get the bowl, I drop a few slices of french bread into the sauce to let it soak…yummm. And best of all, they are served piping hot and do not cool off before you are finished, so you can take your time. Also, if you are into truffle flavor, ask the waiter to bring you truffle fries instead of plain fries (the Georges in the Grove will do this at no charge…but the same cannot be said for the one in Sunset—I’m really hating on them). The fries are delicious and taste fresh cut, and also go well with the white wine sauce.

Steamed Fresh Mussels with garlic, shallots, and parsley in a white wine butter sauce served with french fries.

Truffle French Fries

Of course, I have also tried other menu items (all very good), but if someone won’t split the mussels with me for an appetizer, then I have to get them for my entrée. On the occasion that someone will split them with me for a starter, I like to order the Steak Tartar, served with Truffle Fries and Mesclun Salad. Not too many places do steak tartar and so I take advantage of this menu item when I go. It sounds gross, but it is delicious.

Steak Tartar with Mesclun Salad and Truffle Fries

And for those of you who like your meat cooked, the Steak Frites with Bearnaise Sauce is also amazing!!

Steak Frites with Bearnaise and Mesclun Salad

If you’re looking for a carb, then I highly recommend the Morels Mushroom Risotto with Shaved Foie Gras (pictured at top). It is straight up high-class comfort food!

The only thing I am not crazy about is the pizza at Georges. The crust doesn’t ever get crunchy on the bottom and so the dough is very chewy, which isn’t my thing. I ordered the Proscuitto and Arugala Pizza for lunch today and was pretty disappointed. But other than that, everything else on the menu is a go!

The atmosphere (at the one in the Grove) is very hip and chic with a lounge feel. And don’t be alarmed when the disco balls light up and the club music comes on for someone’s birthday, because it seems that everyone goes to Georges for their birthday! Ohhh and they give you a free mimosa with breakfast and lunch, or a glass of champagne with your dinner (again, at the one in the Grove…the one in Sunset didn’t)!

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Pazza Notte **

Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare – shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta

212.765.6288
1375 6th Ave
New York, NY

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After lunch at Brasserie 360, Jen and I continued to shop for a few more hours until our tipsy bubbly feeling turned into a headache/hangover. We had one of two options: (1) find advil and get on the next train home, or (2) keep on drinking. Obviously, being 21-year-olds we chose the latter option and posted up at the bar at Rue 57. I wanted a fun drink, but nothing on the drink menu was enticing me so I asked the bar tender to make me her specialty. She whipped up one of the greatest and freshest Pims Cups that I have ever tasted. The citrus from the fruit and the earthiness of the herbs was incredible. I would go back to Rue 57 for this drink alone. After 3 of these, Jen and I were ready to eat….again! Alcohol is just a vicious cycle of eating and drinking.

Pims Cup at Rue 57

 

So we walked, or stumbled shall I say, out of Rue 57 until we came across an Italian restaurant called Pazza Notte. To start, we ordered an appetizer of Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. It was delicious, as you expect any fried food to be! The marinara sauce was exceptionally good and a little spicy! They also brought out another sauce that was cream or mayo-based, which had a nice spice to it as well. We also ordered a side of Truffle Herb Parmesan Fries, which were out of this world good! They were served with ketchup and another mayo-based Cajun flavored dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari

Truffle Fries

For my main dish, I ordered the Risotto Di Funghi, which is wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese. This dish is noted as the “owner’s favorite” and it sounds divine, but I was very disappointed. I found that the risotto was too mushy and entirely too oily. It actually made my mouth feel dirty after the first bite, and so I sent it back and continued snacking on the truffle fries instead!

Jennifer ordered her usual Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare, which is shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta (photographed at top). She thought it was amazing and had no complaints, although I did not try the dish myself.

The one redeeming factor for Pazza Notte was the drink special—two for one martinis! Jen and I chose to sip on the Blood Orange Maritinis for the remainder of the evening and they were delicious! However, I am a foodie and not an alcoholic, so I probably won’t be going back to Pazza Notte anytime soon. I can get drinks at a bar—I expect good food at a restaurant.

2 for 1 Blood Orange Martinis

 

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Sir Pizza ***

Sir Pizza Veggie Pizza with a Side of Ranch

305.448.4040
4231 South Le June Blvd
Miami, Fl 33146

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There is something about drinking alcohol that makes me want, or shall I say need, to eat salty, greasy, cheesy food. And since I’m usually waiting in a line 20 cars deep for my Taco Bell on a Friday night, I know I am not alone in experiencing this strange phenomenon. After four years of college, I am led to believe that there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and uncontrollable raging hunger. And I am furthermore convinced that drunk hungry is the highest form of hunger that exists. You crave things that normally repulse you (ever seen that Taco Bell meat sober?), and you eat portions of food that could probably feed a family of at least four (fast food bills topping $20 are not okay, considering that each item is around $1…as a general rule of thumb, you should never consume more than $5 of fast food in one sitting).

Now, I had recently managed to curtail my drunk eating habits, not by choice, but because the line at the Taco Bell near my house literally got too long to wait in a cab for. Drunken college students take forever deciding what to order, and that meter just keeps on ticking away. I didn’t have the time, money, or patience for my fast food indulgence, so for several weeks I went to bed with the spins and a growling belly….miserable combination. Then I discovered—drumroll, please—Sir Pizza, which is open until 2 am and regrettably located within 50 feet of my apartment. I say regrettably, because now the only thing on my mind at the end of the night is gooey, cheesy, totally bad for me, and conveniently located at my doorstep. I have to actually smell the fresh pizza cooking on my way from the cab to my apartment. It is a sick joke…like dangling cake in front of a fat kid. Consequently (and as expected), I have ended the past three nights shoving Sir Pizza to my face. My favorite thing to order (aka the only thing to order) is the Large Veggie Pizza with a side of Ranch. The side of ranch is crucial, because Sir Pizza has a little bit of a sweeter tomato sauce (which I don’t like) and the ranch helps cut that sweetness. So yes, you are dipping the entire slice—not just the crust—into the ranch. Ohh, and the greatest part about Sir Pizza is that there really is no crust, because the toppings go all the way to the edge of the pie. I personally, never eat my crust, so this just maximizes the amount of pizza I can eat! The veggies on the pizza include; black olives, green pepper, Spanish onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. If you can’t find someone to share the pizza with you, it is also available in a smaller 10-inch size…but I say, go big or go home!

My favorite part about the pizza is that it is cut into little squares. Each square is about 3 bites worth of pizza, so you can guiltlessly enjoy several slices (it also makes the pizza much easier to handle…especially when drunk!). Jen and I woke up every morning this weekend with a Sir Pizza box on the nightstand, and I must admit that it is a refreshing change from Taco Bell. My stomach and my clothes both appreciate the break from the ravages of Fire Hot Sauce.

Ohh, and if you’re too drunk to do anything but eat, don’t worry, because Sir Pizza does delivery! I must shamefully admit that there have been occasions when I have paid to have my pizza delivered the whole 50 feet across the parking lot to my apartment. There is nothing better than having your indulgent drunk feast brought to you, while you lay in bed!

All that is left of Sir Pizza 20 minutes later!

 

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Filed under Miami Restaurants

{ Thin Crust Pizza Dough }

On my 15th birthday I remember looking over my cake and saying “just one more year till I start driving dad!!” Without flinching my dad responded, “Ohh yeah? In what car sweetie? You’re mother and I certainly aren’t buying you one!”

And that’s how I got my start in the restaurant business.

I needed a car and so I needed a job. Within the week I started working at a little gourmet pizza shop near my house called Jules Thin Crust. I was one of the first employees when it opened, and watched it grow into a local favorite hotspot over the four years that I worked there. Their pizza is truly delicious and very unique in topping and presentation. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any other pizza that even resembles the flavors of Jules Thin Crust and so out of necessity I decided to start making my own imitation pizza. I experimented with several different types of dough over the past year, and think that I have finally found the ultimate thin crust pizza dough recipe. It crisps up beautifully on the bottom (even on a plain baking sheet), yet stays soft on the side under the sauce. And best yet, it is super easy to make….just takes some pre-planning because it needs to proof over night!

As far as the toppings go, I like to get creative and make the pizza look pretty (I stole a lot of my presentation ideas from the pizza place I worked at!). But definitely use a variety of cheeses, the more the better. I like to combine fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. The Two pizzas that I have photographed are my Margarita Pizza (fresh mozzarella and provolone white base with sliced tomato, minced garlic, and basil garnish) and Eggplant Pizza (homemade tomato sauce, aged mozzarella, thin sliced eggplant, cubes of fresh mozzarella, and arugala). I also love to make a Honey Garlic Pizza, which is a thin layer of honey for the base, topped with minced garlic and then a generous layer of fresh mozzarella cheese. This pizza may seem strange, but it is so surprisingly good. The sweetness of the honey balances out with the saltiness of the cheese in a great way. It is just a little messy on your baking pans if you use too much honey because it will overflow when it heats up, so don’t put too much on!

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 ½ cups unbleached high-gluten, or all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (rapid rise)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cup ice cold water
  • Semolina flour or cornmeal

{ To Make Pizza Dough }

Put the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer and allow to chill in fridge for 10-15 min. Then stir in the salt and instant yeast. With the mixer on low speed (fitted with paddle attachment) stir in the olive oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Then switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. It is very important that the dough not stick to the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. In order to create this consistency, you make need to add more ice water (tablespoon or two) to make the dough tackier or add more flour to make it firmer. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.

Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer dough to counter. Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces, dipping the scraper into water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle flour over the dough and then list each piece and round into a ball (make sure that your hands are dry and flour them). Transfer the dough balls to a plate or baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Then mist the dough balls with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough (you must do this), or keep for up to three days.

On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on well-floured counter surface. Dust your hands with flour and gently press (or roll) the dough into a flattened disk about ¼-½ inch think. Then put pizza dough onto a baking sheet that has been generously dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour before cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven as hot as possible (mine only goes to 400 and that worked just fine), and put your topped pizza into the oven, cooking for about 8-10 minutes. Since the cook time depends on the amount of toppings that you have chosen and the temperature that your oven will reach, check on it very frequently to see when it appears done.

When cooked to your satisfaction, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. You want the cheese to rest before you cut the pizza, or it will just slide off.

**Remember when topping your pizza that basil turns black in the oven, so put the basil on after the pizza has cooked and cooled slightly**

Margarita Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced Tomatoes, Minced Garlic, and Basil

Eggplant Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Tomato Sauce, Parmesan, and Basil

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