The Pit Bro’s: Chopped BBQ Pork Sandwich

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The Pit Bro’s is an Eastern Carolina BBQ shop located in Mt. Vernon New York, and a bit of a hole-in-the-wall establishment; but that doesn’t stop it from making good food.

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This sandwich, while on the small side, is packed with meat. The meat is sweet, but also has a slight burn to it, a residual heat that doesn’t scorch your mouth, but has a lasting presence to be sure.

The meat is so plentiful, that it can’t be held by the soft bread, and is thus very messy. I was given the option of having coleslaw on my sandwich, and I agreed to it, which was a good idea to be sure. The slaw was sweet and crunchy, and the wetness and texture of it melded well with the heat and texture of the pork.

I give my recommendation to the Pit Bro’s and this sandwich, and I encourage people to go give it a try; it is definitely a nice lunch item to spice up your day.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

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Vermont: Whetstone Station: Cider Spiced Ribs

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Happy New Year! For the first review of 2016, I’ve decided to go out of state and talk about a delicious serving of Cider Spiced Ribs from the Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery in Brattleboro Vermont. But first, a little bit about the location.

Whetstone Station is an absolutely wonderful establishment in Brattleboro that sits on the water and has a warm and friendly vibe; and along with having great entrees and deserts, their appetizers are some of the best around.

While I unfortunately don’t have any pictures, I can easily recommend their Grilled Sirloin Tips, Pub Pretzel (served with outstanding beer cheese sauce), and their Spinach and Artichoke Dip (served with pita chips). If you get to order any of these, I also suggest trying their sauce sampler, as it is indescribably good.

They also have a great selection of local and homemade beers to choose from, so if thats your thing, you will be quite happy; but now, on to the main course:

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Smothered in sauce, these ribs are near perfection. The BBQ sauce is sweet, with a semi hot (but not overpowering) cider spice. You could really taste the base flavors of the cider in the sauce, which was a great differentiation from so many other BBQ sauces that various restaurants use.

It was also garnished and plated quite well, but as good as the sauce is, the meat is a game changer as it literally falls right off the bone:

 

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These are the kinds of ribs that you need a fork to eat with, because there is no way you are picking them up without the meat falling back to your plate. Tender and juicy, the meat mixes in with, and soaks up the sauce so that every bite is imbued with massive flavor.

I highly recommend seeking out this restaurant and dish the next time you are in Vermont or are within driving distance of it; as both are too good to not try at least once in your life. As for me, I hope to make it back to Whetstone sometime this year, and see what else the have waiting for me to try.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

First Annual Pristine Awards

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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.

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

The Branding Iron: The Westerner

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Its time to visit one of the best Burger joints in Peekskill: The Branding Iron.

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This is one hearty burger. It is filling, huge, and quite good. It is so big that it is almost impossible to get your mouth around it for the first few bites.

The patty itself is pretty big and has good flavor, the cheddar cheese is melted well, and the BBQ sauce (instead of ketchup) is nice and sweet.

The onion ring on the burger has a nice crunch, and the sauteed onions were plentiful, as was the crispy bacon.

The bun is brioche and and coated in butter before it is grilled, and in keeping with the theme of the name, is branded on top. Interestingly, the brand itself smells similar to a somewhat charred marshmallow you’d have as a kid.

So if you are ever in the Northwest section of Westchester and want a good burger, visit the Branding Iron in Peekskill, you won’t be disappointed.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

Holy Smoke: Fried Buttermilk Chicken

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Now for the Fried Chicken. I must say that I was looking forward to this dish for months because I was eager to see if I could actually find a good Fried Chicken place.

Sadly, KFC and Popeye’s tend to dominate the fried chicken scene in this general vicinity, with fast food being an option too easy to ignore. But thankfully, Holy Smoke has provided a much needed better option.

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Every bit of this chicken was enjoyable; the skin was some of the best I’ve had, as it had a great crunch. The meat was thick and very juicy, and the grease content within was also very good, as it added to the flavor.

The meat was not too heavily seasoned (although double dipped in seasoned flour), nor did it need to be, due to the wonderful buttermilk that they used.

In regards to the sides, the chili was good and had a little spice to it, and the potato salad was creamy, chunky, and sweet. Both were nice additions to my chicken.

In my experience so far, Buttermilk Fried Chicken is the best dish at Holy Smoke; my opinion could very well change with increased tastings of different dishes, but all I know is that I’m looking forward to further excursions to Holy Smoke to find out!

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

Holy Smoke: Trash Rib Teasers

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For my second visit to Mahopac’s Holy Smoke BBQ, I ordered an appetizer of Trash Rib Teasers, and a main course of their Fried Buttermilk Chicken. This review will focus on the ribs, with the Fried Chicken review soon to follow. Without further ado, these are Holy Smoke’s Trash Rib Teasers:

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These ribs are absolutely fantastic. they are very thick and meaty, with moist flesh that has a nice, partially resistant tear off the bone. Each rib (there are four of them) is smoky in flavor, but is also doused with a good amount of sweet, (almost syrupy) BBQ sauce that fully enhances the flavor.

I cannot recommend these ribs enough; if you are going to spend a meal time at Holy Smoke, order these teasers as your appetizer, and enjoy this wonderful addition to a great BBQ restaurant.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

New Hampshire: Rock’n Ribfest

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Welcome to New England Week! Over the next few days I will be covering delicious food from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, before returning to Nyack next week. Today will be focusing solely on the best ribs to come out of Ribfest this past weekend, with tomorrow dealing with Pulled Pork, Brisket, etc.

I had the pleasure to attend Ribfest with a great group of people, and had an awesome time doing it, to save everyone money we went the community method, with everyone buying ribs from a different vendor and then sharing them among the group:

Photo Credit: Stacie Coburn

Photo Credit: Stacie Coburn

Thanks to Stacie Coburn for the picture!

VENDOR ONE: The Texas Smokehouse

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Hailing from Bedford, Texas, The Texas Smokehouse was my personal favorite. These ribs were tender and very meaty; I felt they provided a good amount of meat per rib, and were well worth the money. But as good as the meat was, the sauce was the real star of these ribs. As for the sauce, there was a lot of it; it was a nice mixture of tomato and vinegar flavor, an acidic BBQ sauce that stood out to me above all the other vendors.

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If you visit Ribfest, make sure to get a rack of these delicious ribs.

VENDOR TWO: Gator BBQ Company

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These too were a meaty rack of ribs, which is exactly what you want; unlike Texas Smokehouse, who doused their ribs in delicious sauce, Gator relies more on smoking theirs, and they really stand out in doing so. In fact, the smokey flavor seemed to penetrate the entire rack of ribs, making sure there was great flavor in every bite.

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With a name like Gator, you’d know these ribs carry a great Southern BBQ tradition; and this vendor was another consensus top seller in my group’s opinion.

VENDOR THREE: Firefly’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que

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This company from Massachusetts was my third favorite rack, and another seller my friends and I reached consensus on as a top vendor. While not as meaty as the previous two, it still contained a nice amount of meat; but the good flavor from Firefly’s is what makes these ribs a must try.

Like Gator, Firefly takes the smoked rib route, and provides a unique taste in doing so. The best way I can describe their sauce was that it carried a smoked-in granular taste, which was not only very good, but also unique among the ribs we were able to try.

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If you visit Ribfest, you would be remiss to miss out on this delectable rack of meat.

This year there were nine Rib vendors who participated and competed at Rock’n Ribfest; the fact that I only covered three of them does not mean that the other six where terrible or shouldn’t receive your consideration. It just means that out of all the ones I tried, these are the three I believe you can’t afford to miss.

That being said, I encourage everyone to not only attend next year’s Ribfest (it is well worth the trip), but to try out as many vendors as possible; who knows, you may find a vendor who steps up their game and is even better than the ones I spotlighted today. For more on Ribfest, please visit their website: http://www.ribfestnh.com/

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I cover Ribfest’s other non-rib must eat meats.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

Holy Smoke: The Texas Brisket Meal

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Today’s review is special not only because it covers a Putnam restaurant, but also because this is the first time that I review an entire meal instead of one specific food item. The Texas Brisket Meal from Holy Smoke is our selection, and it is a review that is 11 years in the making. I first noticed Holy Smoke one Sunday in early February 2004 and expressed desire in checking the place out; and now, in 2015, that desire has been fulfilled.

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As you can see, this meal from Holy Smoke consists of a few elements; coleslaw, garlic smashed potatoes, cornbread, fried pickles (not pictured above, but included below), and of course, the signature brisket.

First, the sides; the coleslaw was thick and provided a nice crunch, the cornbread muffin had the nice combination of a strong crust and a soft inside, and the garlic smashed potatoes were some of the best I’ve had. They were leaner than most mashed potatoes, but included small chunks of whole potatoes in it as well; and the light, but easily detectable taste of garlic throughout really shone through.

The appetizer I chose was fried pickles, and Holy Smoke certainly goes a unique direction with theirs:

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Most venues who serve fried pickles do so in little circular slices, but not Holy Smoke; they give you fried pickle spears, and good ones at that. The breading was light, but had a good taste and texture to them, and the inside was coated nicely, providing a surprising last minute heat (spice) that you do not expect going in. The pickles themselves are thicker than most, and provide a nice bite.

And that brings us to the brisket:

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Drenched in onions, the linchpin of this meal certainly did not disappoint. After spending 17 hours in the pit, the meat was both tender, and incredibly juicy; there was no point during consumption that I thought the meat was too dry, or unenjoyable.

Furthermore, there was so much on the plate that I actually got to take some home and get another lunch out of it. If there is one (minor) criticism to be made, its that there was no standout seasoning or rub that really made the brisket “pop”; but that in no way takes away from the fact that this is a really delectable brisket.

Holy Smoke BBQ in Mahopac NY (located at 241 NY-6N), truly knows how to make a good meal, and I certainly recommend them to anyone looking for good BBQ. Along with the meal, the atmosphere is fun, and has outdoor seating that is ideal during the summer months. I will definitely be going back to Holy Smoke, perhaps even this summer; after all, the Fried Buttermilk Chicken sure sounds good.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com