Mediterraneo: Kobe Beef & Spinach Ravioli

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Relatively newly opened, Mediterraneo in White Plains is a high quality restaurant with a few very unique menu items, including today’s review, house made Kobe Beef and Spinach Ravioli with Marsala Wine, Wild Mushrooms and Calabrian Chili.

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This was one of the better house made style pastas I’ve had, particularly in recent memory. The pasta itself was slightly Al dente, and had a sweet flavor with a slight heat. The inside contained Kobe beef that was rich and flavorful, s a small about of really good spinach, and was accompanied by a few meaty mushrooms that I was actually able to eat (when in general I am not a fan of mushrooms), and was washed in a delicious sauce.

I would definitely recommend trying this dish, and am planning on getting it again; and at a reasonable price of $21, this is a meal that will not break the bank.

 

 

Second Annual Pristine Awards

 

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Welcome to the Second Annual Pristine Awards, where I pick the best “must eat” foods of the year based on what I have reviewed in 2016. As opposed to last year I will be changing up the format a bit to help keep this short and sweet. If a category is underrepresented in my reviews this year (Eg. if I ate a food item/category last year and not this year, or there were no new options), then they will not be mentioned here (for last year’s winners, click this link).

Best Burger Winner: Pretzel Burger (WBC) 

Runner Up: The 5 Napkin, 14 Spice Stuffed Burger (The Cobblestone)

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The Pretzel Burger takes it for the second year in a row, the Cobblestone’s offering put up a great fight, but Westchester Burger Co. has seriously perfected this amazing burger.

Best Specialty Pizza Winner: French Fry Pizza (Silver Lake Pizza)

Runner Up: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza (Silver Lake Pizza)

Former Winner: Vodka Sauce Pizza (Luca Bella)

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I mention former winner and runner up because of the immense respect I have for the now closed down Luca Bella and their Vodka Sauce pizza, that being said this was hands down the best specialty pizza I had this year, nothing else comes close. The combination of french fries, bacon, ranch, chives, and two kinds of cheese is fantastic, and is a whole lot better than should be allowed.

Best BBQ Winner: Cider Spiced Ribs (Whetstone Station)

Runner Up: The Trash Rib Teasers (Holy Smoke)

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What else can I say about these ribs that I haven’t already said? As I wrote in my review, “Smothered in sauce, these ribs are near perfection. The BBQ sauce is sweet, with a semi hot (but not overpowering) cider spice.” Can’t beat it.

Best Bird Winner: Duck Confit (Le Provencal)

Runner Up: Fried Chicken (Birdsall House)

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Our second two-time winner, this Duck Confit remains the best bird I have ever had, and the most steak like bird I’ve seen.

Best Desert Winner: Cheesecake (Westchester Burger Co.)

Runner Up: Maple Bacon Ice Cream (Birdsall House)

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Believe it or not, the runner up race was harder to pick than the winner! There were a lot of good choices this year, but the cheese(cake) stands alone.

Best Penne Alla Vodka Winner: Sal’s (White Plains)

Runner Up: Doubleday’s.

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To be honest, if Luca Bella were still around, there would be no contest; Sal’s is great, but Luca Bella was something else. That being said, Sal’s has become the best Penne Vodka in Westchester County, and is deserving of this victory for sure.

Best Non-Beef/Bird Meat Winner: Rack of Lamb (KEE Oyster House)

Runner Up: Pork Belly with Miso and Kimchi (Communal Kitchen) 

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Truly the best lamb I’ve ever tasted; from the rich red tenderness of the meat, to the succulent bone and citrus infused panko crust, this is a meal to behold…and then devour.

Best Appetizer Winner: Chicken Fried Steak Bites (Prohibition River)

Runner Up: Charcuterie Board (Communal Kitchen)

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Still one of the most amazingly flavored appetizers out there, I’ve been longing for it ever since I first tried it. While it is not readily available on the menu (it is seasonal), it is still the top appetizer around.

Best Steak Winner:  8 oz Filet Mignon (Ruth’s Chris)

Runner Up: 8 oz Filet Mignon Au Poivre (O’Malley’s)

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You can’t go wrong with a prime cut of steak that is served on a sizzling 500 degree plate. For awhile O’Malley’s was going to take home the title, but then Ruth’s Chris came back into my life during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week; and I’m so glad she did.

Best Soup/Chowder Winner: New England Clam Chowder (O’Malley’s)

Runner Up: Roasted Tomato Soup (Ruth’s Chris)

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I know I’ve said this a lot, but this is simply the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve tried. The roasted tomato soup was great, but the “chowdah”at O’Malley’s is simply amazing.

Best Hot Sandwich Winner: Phive All Day (Philly’s: A Taste of Philadelphia)

Runner Up: Ale Roasted Cheese Steak (Lazy Boy Saloon)

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Another two-time winner and with good reason, this is one of the most unique sandwiches out there. Take your traditional Philly and add bacon and secret sauce to it nd you have a Phive All Day. Wonderful.

Best Side Dish Winner: Garlic Balls (PPT’s)

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Another two time winner that is totally unique; doughy, sweet, and full of Garlic. This is a great side to pizza and even a great dish to bring home by itself. Truly deserving.

Best Philly Cheesesteak Winner: Silver Lake Pizza

Runner Up: Tighe’s Tavern

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The final two-time winner, and my favorite Philly that I’ve had, this sandwich from Silver Lake Pizza is top notch, and has yet to be beat (maybe when I visit Philly?)

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

 

 

Restaurant Week: Le Provençal Bistro

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For the third and sadly final Restaurant Week review (until its next iteration), I return to a fantastic French Bistro located in Mamaroneck, NY – Le Provençal Bistro.

Appetizer: Duck Confit Tacos

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I knew going in that Le Provençal’s Duck Confit was excellent, so I was interested to see how it tasted in a taco. The duck meat was tender and juicy, truly fitting for the steak of birds, and was topped with a semi sweet cheese and some salsa verde that leaves a slight spice in the back of your throat.

Joining the meat inside the shell of the thin tortilla were some slightly crunchy mushrooms, and some lentils; overall it was a very light and tasty appetizer that I would have again for sure.

Entree: Beef Bourguignonne

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This dish was somewhere between a pot roast and a stew (though easily more pot roast in nature). Everything on this plate is tender, and I mean everything; the fact that they gave me a knife is ironic, because I had no use of it at all.

The beef was cooked to perfection, and was very easy to chew; mixed in with the meat were soft carrots, mushrooms of medium thickness, and some supple oranges. The mashed potatoes and string beans were a nice accompaniment to the dish as well.

Dessert: Crème Caramel 

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This dessert was quite tasty, and tasted almost like a caramel gelatin; its sweet caramel flavor mixing perfectly with its light and jiggly texture.

I love Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Its one of the only times you can get a three course meal of delicious food from quality establishments for an affordable price; and thats exactly what you get at Le Provençal Bistro.

Massachusetts: Grazie: Dueling Meatballs

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Grazie is a wonderful Italian restaurant located in Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut Mass.; the food here is really good which is why this is the first of two reviews to come out of this location. This review is of the Dueling Meatballs, an appetizer that simply put, could be a main course if so desired.

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The size of these meatballs is astounding, as both of them are roughly the size of a fist; they are so big that I was comfortable stopping after only one as I wanted to save room for my main course.

Resting in a bath of delicious sauce, these boulders of meat are unlike any I have ever had; the meat itself was thick, smooth, and moist, differing from the ground beef taste and consistency you usually get with a dish like this. The melted mozzarella cheese was delicious, and the generous dollop of ricotta on top was cold, smooth, and flavorful.

The combination of the sauce, meat, and two cheeses were such a welcome break from the norm, and will make you want meatballs like this every single time you see them on a menu.

If you are in Massachusetts, go to Grazie and order the Dueling Meatballs, you can’t go wrong if you do.

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

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

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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:

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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:

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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.

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

Bliss: The Chooch

20150401_124609Bliss Dairy Bar and Grill in Mahopac NY has a very fun quality to them, as they have chosen to give a bunch of their sandwiches and burgers unique and humorous names; and when I saw a classic hot sandwich designated “The Chooch” (an Italian slang word/insult), I just knew I had to try it.

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As in all truly good hot sandwiches, the bread was soft, but with a slight crisp to it; the meat was tender and juicy, the mozzarella cheese was moist and had a good elasticity. The sandwich also contained a good amount of sautéed onions to add crunch to it; but there was one thing in this sandwich that provided a standout element; the french fries.

The inclusion of the french fries into “The Chooch” really turns this into a legitimate meat and potatoes sandwich; while eating you are noticing all the traditional hot sandwich flavors and then are suddenly hit with a soft and familiar change of taste. The semi salty potato flavor/texture along with the meat, cheese, and onion flavors/textures make for a nice combination and twist on an already good culinary concoction.

In Putnam and looking for a good sandwich? Are you thinking about hitting Subway? Don’t be a Chooch, order one instead! Bliss Dairy Bar and Grill is located at 4 Cherry Lane in Mahopac NY.

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

Melt: Aged Beef Top Round with French Onion Combo

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Last week we visited the best deli sandwich location in Westchester, but today, we visit what may be the best hot sandwich location in our county; Melt Sandwich Shop. Now normally I would review a sandwich and tell you to buy it, but due to the uniqueness of Melt, today’s review will be a little different. Melt is an abnormal kind of vendor; while most shops have a list of predesignated sandwiches for you to choose from, Melt allows you to choose what sandwich they make for you.

Confused? Let me explain.

When you enter Melt and look at their sandwich board, instead of seeing sandwich names, you see bread size, choice of meat, and a list of combos you can mix your meat with.

So for example you can choose to have your aged beef top round with the french onion combo (as I did), or with the Cuban combo; or perhaps with the BLT combo. Or maybe you want ham instead of beef, or brisket instead of ham. No matter how you slice it, there is a plethora of different sandwich combinations for you to choose from; and if you don’t fancy the exact combination that I chose to review, please know that there are so many other choices for you to mix and match.

This week I decided to order the aged beef top round with the french onion combo on a long roll; this is the outside:

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And this is the inside:

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In case you are wondering, yes, it did taste as good as it looks. This, like all Melt sandwiches come in three parts; bread, meat, and the combo, so each must be addressed. The meat, simply put, is delicious; it is tender and spiced very nicely and provides a nice chew. You will not find yourself struggling to make each bite a manageable swallow, as the way the meat is prepared does that for you.

The French Onion Combo is made with “sauteed onions, gruyere cheese, au jus”; and when Melt says they love making food, this combo certainly attests to that. The onions were flavorful and were neither too flimsy nor too crunchy; and the cheese was of high quality. Another great thing about the combo was that it was au jus, or “made with its own juices”; something which added even more flavor to the onions and cheese.

The bread meanwhile was perfect for the kind of sandwich this was; its soft enough to provide an easy grip, bite, and chew, but it also was able to soak up the juices of the sandwiches contents without becoming soggy or mushy. This way the bread takes on even more flavor without becoming disgusting or messy.

Melt Sandwich Shop is a gem stuck in the heart of White Plains; they make killer sandwiches and because of the many possible combinations they provide, your sandwich eating experience will be a little different, but just as delicious every time you go. I highly recommend Melt, and hope you get a chance to visit it soon.

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