First Annual Pristine Awards


Welcome to the First Annual Pristine Awards, where I pick the best “must eat” foods of the year based on what I have reviewed in 2015. The Categories this year are as follows:

Best Burger, Best Plain Pizza, Best Specialty Pizza, Best Sicilian Pizza, Best BBQ, Best Bird, Best Desert, Best Milk Shake, Best Mac and Cheese, Best Penne Alla Vodka, Best “Other” Pasta, Best Appetizer, Best Side Dish, Best Soup/Chowder, Best Hot Sandwich, Best Deli Sandwich and Best Philly Cheesesteak. 

Each category will be broken down into the top 3 choices, and the winner will be chosen from the finalists. Certain categories that only have one choice in them, such as Steak, Salad, Burrito, Smoothie, etc. will be forwarded to next year’s awards when they will (hopefully) have some competition. With that out of the way, on with the awards!

Best Burger: Pretzel Burger (WBC) vs. Bacon Cheeseburger (O’Malley’s) vs. Eastchester Burger (Piper’s Kilt.) 

Winner: The Pretzel Burger – Westchester Burger Co.


While the other two choices were both amazingly delicious, the Pretzel Burger just had no downsides. With a perfect patty, delicious melted cheese, crispy maple bacon and a pretzel bun, one can’t go wrong with this choice. Besides, when a burger can make me actually enjoy an egg, that’s an extra bonus.

Best Plain Pizza: Plain Slice (Portofino’s) vs. Original Tomato Pie w/ Mozzarella (Frank Pepe)

Winner: Plain Slice – Portofino’s.


Portofino’s combines a great flavor with an amazingly sized slice. New York makes some of the best pizza in the world, and this slice easily ranks up there with the best of them.

Best Specialty Pizza: Vodka Sauce Pizza (Luca Bella) vs. Big Mac Slice (Luca Bella) vs. White Pizza (Tarantella)

Winner: Vodka Sauce Pizza – Luca Bella 


This slice beats out the other delicious specialties from Luca Bella and Tarantella, because the Vodka Sauce used on this slice is by far the best Vodka Sauce I’ve ever had. The idea to put this sauce on the pizza was inspired, and we are all better off for it.

Best Sicilian Pizza: Nicky’s vs. Sal’s vs. Portofino’s

Winner: Sal’s Sicilian Pizza.


Nicky’s had thickness, Portofino’s had size, but Sal’s was perhaps the best Sicilian I’ve ever had, and certainly the best in Westchester. Light and airy, and yet somehow filling; with perfectly melted cheese and an amazing sauce, Sal’s Sicilian pizza earns the easy victory.

Best BBQ: Pulled Pork Sandwich (Jack’s *Ribfest NH*) vs. Trash Rib Teasers (Holy Smoke) vs. Ribs (Texas Smokehouse *Ribfest NH*)

Winner: The Trash Rib Teasers – Holy Smoke.


Believe it or not, the rib teasers actually beat out a full rack and pulled pork, mainly due to how meaty and flavorful a rib Holy Smoke was able to concoct. The Texas ribs were great, but Holy Smoke gets the edge.

Best Bird: Duck Confit (Le Provencal) vs. Fried Chicken (Holy Smoke)

Winner: Duck Confit – Le Provencal.


If I’m being honest, I don’t like eating birds that much; so many places just don’t do a good job preparing them. Holy Smoke and Le Provencal are two establishments who know what they are doing. I went with the Duck because it was simply one of the best birds I’ve ever had. In my review I described it as “the steak of birds” and in the end, that is what sealed the victory for the Duck Confit.

Best Desert: Cheesecake (WBC) vs. Black Salted Caramel Donut (Gypsy Donut)

Winner: Cheesecake – Westchester Burger Co.


This was a harder decision than you might think; the black salted caramel is one of the most unique and delicious things I’ve ever tasted, but the Cheesecake won in part due to its light, and rich texture and flavor. The plating of the desert was also an added bonus but did not play into the decision.

Best Milkshake: Chocolate Milkshake (City Limits) vs Italian Nutella Milkshake (WBC)

Winner: Italian Nutella Milkshake – Westchester Burger Co.


The specialty milkshake carries the day. I love chocolate milkshakes, but the Italian Nutella was just too good not to win. The flavor was unique, and  it was made so well. Both were great, but WBC’s was just better.

Best Mac and Cheese: Mac and Cheese (Piper’s Kilt) vs. Deluxe Cheeseburger Mac (Mr. Mac’s) vs. Philly Cheese Steak Mac (Mr. Mac’s).

Winner: Philly Cheese Steak Mac – Mr. Mac’s.


Man, I wish this restaurant would come to New York! The Philly-Mac was simply one of the best things I’ve ever had. The Macaroni and Cheese portion was great, and made even better by an authentic taste of the Philly Cheesesteak.  Not only that, but it also has great re-heat value; and while I love the Mac at Piper’s Kilt, Mr. Mac’s specialty is their Mac and Cheese, and this is one of the best.

Best Penne Alla Vodka: Sal’s (White Plains) vs. Luca Bella

Winner: Penne Alla Vodka – Luca Bella


Its the sauce. In the same way that Luca Bella won best specialty pizza with their Vodka Sauce slice, they win the Penne category with the sauce being where it was always meant to be, on pasta. It was a hard choice given that Sal’s sauce included a few extra and delicious elements, but in the end, Luca Bella’s sauce was just that much better.

Best “Other” Pasta: Spinach Ricotta Pillows (Grazie) vs. Linguine and Clams (Lago)

Winner: Spinach Ricotta Pillows – Grazie


A country club take on spinach ravioli, these pillows were not only delicious, but presented in a wonderful manner. The spinach and ricotta meld beautifully and just made for a great pasta dish.

Best Appetizer: Speck (Lago) vs. Dueling Meatballs (Grazie) vs. Chicken Fried Steak Bites (Prohibition River)

Winner: Chicken Fried Steak Bites – Prohibition River.


Possibly the toughest choice so far; on one hand you have a a wonderful Charcuterie dish, but you also have a fantastic meatball offering. But the Chicken Fried Steak Bites get the victory because it is one of the most delicious appetizers out there. Filet Mignon steak bites, with a deliciously crispy skin and a fantastic gravy? How could it not get the win?

Best Side Dish: Garlic Balls (PPT’s) vs. Beer Battered Onion Rings (O’Malley’s) 

Winner: Garlic Balls – PPT’s.


The ultimate side to pizza, Garlic Balls from PPT’s are doughy, sweet, and full of Garlic. It is easily one of the most unique side dishes out there, and a must try for anyone who likes good food.

Best Soup/Chowder: New England Clam Chowder (O’Malley’s) vs. New England Clam Chowder (Townhouse)

Winner: New England Clam Chowder – O’Malley’s.


Very easily the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve had, as it is the specialty of the Chef at O’Malley’s. It is thick, creamy, and has great clams. An easy dish to return to over and over, and I do almost every time I go to O’Malley’s.

Best Hot Sandwich: Phive All Day (Philly’s) vs. Aged Beef Top Round w/ French Onion (Melt)

Winner: Phive All Day – Philly’s: A Taste of Philadelphia.


One of the most unique and succulent sandwiches out there, the Phive All Day wins based on its combination of traditional Philly Cheesesteak elements, but with the fantastic additions of bacon and home-made “McNabb Sauce.” (Note: This Sandwich will not be considered for the category of Philly Cheesesteak because it has too many unique elements).

Best Deli Sandwich: Sicilian Sandwich (Roosters) vs. The Godfather (Anthony’s) vs. American Combo (Anthony’s)

Winner: American Combo – Anthony’s Deli.


Another tough choice, especially considering that the Godfather is Anthony’s signature sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, the Godfather is a fantastic Italian Sandwich (as is Rooster’s Sicilian), but the American Combo just has the “it factor” in terms of traditional deli sandwiches. The bread, as well as every meat used is fresh, and the size is fantastic. I’ve had all three of these sandwiches on multiple occasions, but the American Combo is the one that I go back to the most.

Best Philly Cheesesteak: Silver Lake Pizza vs. Royal Scarlet Deli

Winner: Philly Cheesesteak – Silver Lake Pizza.


Easily my favorite Philly Cheesesteak, Silver Lake Pizza knows what they are doing in regards to this sandwich. The bread is crisp, the meat is thick and flavorful, the cheese is melted perfectly, and the peppers and onions are a nice addition to this juicy sandwich.


That’s it for the First Annual Pristine Awards, thanks so much for reading and I hope to see you back in the New Year!



Anthony’s: Patty Melt


One of America’s most popular foods is the burger, and one of its favorite comfort foods is the grilled cheese; and when put together, they become the Patty Melt, America’s ultimate comfort food.


Now granted, there is nothing special about any of the ingredients in this patty melt, everything by itself is rather pedestrian. But somehow, when put together, Anthony’s patty melt is really tasty.

The white bread is grilled so that it is nice and crispy, while the inside is smothered in sweet, gooey, American Cheese. I chose the option to add crispy, salty bacon as my secondary meat to the tender, decently sized burger patty. Together, they form a wonderfully comforting combination of flavor and texture.


If you are looking for a nice little comfort food to tide you over until the next meal, while providing great taste, Anthony’s patty melt is a great option. With this sandwich, Anthony’s took the plain and simple, and made it a must eat in Westchester County.

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Connecticut: Philly’s: Phive All Day


I have to admit that I have been looking forward to reviewing this sandwich ever since I was introduced to it in a Daym Drops video; and now I’m finally able to.

The Phive All Day is an amazing sandwich. Crafted after Daym Drops’ slogan “Five All Day Son!”, it contains “five ounces of rib eye, five pieces of bacon, five pieces of American cheese, onions, McNabb sauce (house made 1000 Island Dressing) and a little bit of (cheese) whiz.” So, what does this monster sandwich look like?


Click on the picture for an up close and personal look

Look at the way that bacon shines, and the way the melted cheese oozes on to and grips the bread, as well as filling every nook, cranny, and crevice of the meat; its a beautiful sight to behold.

The five ounces of rib eye were rich, delicious, and made even better by the rest of the ingredients. The bacon was how all bacon should be; crispy, salty, and all over the place. The melted cheese, both American and Whiz, was creamy and smooth; they penetrated all aspects of the sandwich like a warm blanket of velvety goodness.

The fried onions provided a sweet little crunch, and their McNabb sauce stood out with it’s wonderful flavor, and joined the cheese in permeating every inch of the sandwich (plus as a Redskins fan I do have somewhat of an affinity for Mr. McNabb, no matter how his tenure in D.C. turned out).

Encasing these ingredients is a wonderfully soft selection of bread, joining together all these wonderful flavors that meld so perfectly. This just so happens to be a messy meal as well, so be prepared to have your hands covered in finger-licking goodness.

Eating this hoagie was an absolute joy; the only bad thing is that after writing about it, I really want another one! (sadly, I’m not often in their neck of the woods)

This sandwich is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, and so much credit must be given to Daym Drops and the Boys down at Philly’s; great job guys, I can’t wait to come back, and I hope everyone else does too.

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New Hampshire: Mr Mac’s: Deluxe Cheeseburger and Philly Cheese Steak Mac ‘N’ Cheese


Almost every kid in America (or Adult who was previously a kid) has had some kind of prolonged experience with Macaroni and Cheese; it is the consummate kids meal. Mr. Mac’s in Manchester New Hampshire has taken this kids meal and upgraded it into a truly phenomenal gourmet dish.

Mr. Mac’s offers many different choices and directions you can take with your Mac ‘N’ Cheese, I have chosen to cover their Deluxe Cheeseburger and Philly Cheese Steak Macs.

This is the Deluxe Cheeseburger Mac:


Served in a piping hot skillet, this is the perfect mixture of “Seasoned Ground Beef, Cabot Cheddar, American Cheeses, Bacon, Onions, Pickles, and Thousand Island dressing topped with Breadcrumbs.”

As promised, the ground beef is seasoned well and the bacon provides that nice salty crunch; sweet onions and potent pickles each provided an additional, albeit different kind of crunch and flavor, and the thousand island dressing mixed in with the smooth and gooey mixture of cheese and perfectly cooked pasta presents a wonderful assortment of flavors in your mouth. The addition of bread crumbs as the light, crunchy topping is the best possible choice they could have made, and is the perfect topper to this dish.

And now for the Philly Cheese Steak Mac:


The Philly Cheese Steak Mac is made up of “Shaved steak, American and Provolone Cheeses, Onions and Peppers”; and as promised tastes like an authentic Philly (with the addition of pasta).

The steak was rich and plentiful, the pasta cooked to perfection, and the thick, smooth cheese throughout provided amazing taste; the onions and peppers were flavorful and added their own brand of crunch to the Mac. The frizzled onions on top added even more crunch to the dish, especially when mixed in with the other ingredients.

Half a skillet full is enough to satisfy your hunger, and the reheat value in each of these dishes is not to be underestimated; both make for very delicious first tastings, and leftovers. Mr. Mac’s is true gourmet Macaroni and Cheese and is the perfect meal for kids of all ages; both the young, and the kids at heart.

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Piper’s Kilt: Eastchester Burger (Broadway Upgrade)


I’ve been feeling the need to do some reviews in lower Westchester, so when my friend suggested we go to Piper’s Kilt in Eastchester, I jumped at the opportunity.

For my experience I decided to try Piper’s Eastchester Burger because A. I was in Eastchester, and B. because Westchester Magazine once described it this way: “It’s the Westchester icon. The legend. Westchester’s go-to burger.” With reviews like that, how could I not try it? (For those wondering, the Broadway upgrade made it a 10 oz burger instead of an 8 oz).


There is a good amount to say about this burger, and meal  in general; the onion rings for example were very good, light on the breading but high on the crunch and the flavor of the onion itself was on point. The Potato Salad (which I was able to order in place of Fries, one of which I was able to taste – very good) was a nice surprise; it was thick and creamy, without suffering from too much starchiness or watery flavor.

The chili was in a league of its own; fresh out of the kitchen, it was hearty and provided an unexpected sweet heat and spice. It is possibly some of the best chili I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

And then came the burger. Cooked rare with melted American Cheese and bacon, a burger (hopefully) cannot go wrong; and fortunately the crew at Piper’s Kilt got it very right.


The meat was thick, tender and very juicy, and you can tell they used a high quality meat. The melted American cheese did what I hoped it would, adding that nice sweet and gooey texture; the bacon was good (although not very crispy) and its flavor seemed to penetrate the burger itself.

This meal will fill you up and satisfy your hunger for the rest of the day; the only minor issue I had was that it was served on your average hamburger bun, and while it in no way ruins the burger, I think a brioche or pretzel bun would really take this burger to new heights.

Piper’s Kilt and their (Broadway upgraded) Eastchester burger was a great experience, one that I recommend to anyone; I will certainly be going back as soon as possible to try some of their other menu items and I couldn’t be more excited to do so.

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O’Malley’s: Bacon Cheeseburger w/ Fries


O’Malley’s does many things well, but when it comes to beef centered dishes (Steak, Burgers, Philly Cheesesteaks, etc.), they really step their game up. Over Memorial Day weekend I visited this establishment with a couple of friends, and boy did it live up to my memory.

Burgers (like many foods) can be easily hit or miss; you can either make a really good/great burger, or a terrible one; it is very hard to find that middle ground. So going into a bar/restaurant and ordering a burger, one must be prepared for either extreme; fortunately, ours was extremely good.


One might notice straight away that the bun is big, almost appearing too big for the burger (though I assure you the size was fine); the bun did not add anything special to the burger, but it also did not detract from the overall enjoyment (so we can call that a win). The burger itself was thick, seasoned well, and was quite juicy; I ordered mine “rare” due to my belief that beef simply tastes better that way, but my friends (who both ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger as well) can attest to just how good O’Malley’s burger is even when cooked “medium.”

The melted American cheese (one of a few options you can choose) fits perfectly with the patty; normally I don’t go anywhere near American cheese, but when its melted, it is quite good. Furthermore the bacon they used was magnifique; this was true bacon (as opposed to a mass produced fake bacon product known simply as Fakon). It was extra crispy, with a powerful taste of pork and salt that meshed well with the seasoned beef it was resting on.

Not to be left out, the french fries that O’Malley’s makes are top of the line; at risk of repeating myself, fries are another dish that is very easy to mess up; hit or miss. Often times you run the risk of soggy, mushy, or starchy fries, either with too much salt or not enough; but not at O’Malley’s. At this bar they are firm and crisp, with a good potato flavor that does not over-emphasize the starch, and is salted just right.

Burgers (particularly with cheese and bacon) are an American icon, an American staple; many people try to perfect it, but often times fail to live up to what a burger should be; but not here, not at O’Malley’s. So if you are a fan of burgers (or are simply Dean Winchester), I highly recommend heading down to Nyack and popping into O’Malley’s for a bite.

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Silver Lake Pizza: Philly Cheesesteak


Philly Cheesesteaks are without a question my favorite food; which is why its such a good thing that Silver Lake Pizza (located in my hometown of Silver Lake) makes the best Philly Cheesesteak I have had to date.


In brief, Silver Lake Pizza provides taste, texture, and quantity in their Cheesesteaks; utilizing great ingredients to produce a great sandwich. The outside of the bread has a good chewiness to it while the inside is soft and laced with the juices of the sub’s fillings.

The American cheese on this sandwich is perfectly melted, so much so that even if you don’t like American cheese in general (and I do not), you will find it works perfectly in this context.

The meat is a sweetly seasoned steak that works great with the cheese, onions and peppers; and these peppers are not too hot or overly sweet, but rather bring a highly accessible taste and texture combination. It must also be said that there is a good amount of grease in this Philly, but it only helps to enhance all the other flavors held within.


If you are looking for a great tasting Philly Cheesesteak that is also satisfyingly filling, look no further than Silver Lake Pizza. I’ve been eating Cheesesteaks for years, and have yet to find one that matches the overall product that Silver Lake produces on a regular basis; size, taste, and satisfaction will all be found in this one sandwich.

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