Chama Grill: Massachusetts

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Located in North Andover, Massachusetts, Chama Grill is a fantastic Brazilian restaurant with a great premise; you give us thirty dollars, and we will give you perfectly prepare all you can eat meat served on swords…oh, and there is all you can eat side dishes as well. You interested? You should be.

Meat One: Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon 

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Cooked to perfection, the filet itself is tender and juicy, and carries with it the sweetness that only properly seasoned steak can obtain; the bacon adds a texture change and saltiness to the dish. Cut into nice, small sizes, you could eat a crap ton of these.If this was the only dish they served, I would have been thrilled, but wait, there’s more!

Meat Two: Rib Eye

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Such a great piece of meat, this rib eye is rich, flavorful and very tender, as well as extremely easy to both cut and chew. I can only imagine what a full sized one would be like to eat.

Meat Three: Garlic Steak

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Easily in the top three meats of the night, this Garlic Steak was another masterful piece of culinary art. Sweet, tender and very juicy this steak has a very nice addition in the garlic flavor on it and is seasoned to perfection.

Meat Four: Lamb

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What I love so much about this Lamb was not only how well it was made, but by definition it provided a welcome flavor shock after eating the rest of the read meat. Thick and sweet, the lamb is juicy and stood unique to everything else because it comes from a different animal so it has different texture and natural flavor.

Meat Five: Pork Sausage 

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By far the smallest meat, it was by no means the least. Another welcome flavor change, the sausage is a very good dish, with a nice two-bite size portion; thick, with a nice crispy skin, flavorful meat and a nice salty exterior.

Final Meat: House Steak

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Admittedly my least favorite of the meats served, the House Steak was still quite good; tender and fatty, it is still enjoyable to eat, but pales when compared to some of the other steaks previously mentioned.

All in all this was a fantastic experience that i feel everyone should seek out. Believe me, you will not be sorry, and you will indeed eat more than thirty dollars worth of meat, making this an unbelievable deal.

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First Annual Pristine Awards

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.

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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!

 

Piper’s Kilt: Steak Sandwich

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While Piper’s Kilt is widely known for their burgers, but they also happen to make a mean Steak Sandwich.

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Piper’s Kilt makes their Steak Sandwich with soft and supple garlic bread, which is a really nice touch on a sandwich like this. The steak itself was THICK; much thicker than I expected, and it made every bite a meaty mouthful. How thick was each piece you ask?

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Along with its thickness, the steak was pretty tender and easy to chew, which is always a plus; and in terms of the amount of steak pieces given, needless to say this sandwich was very generous.

Topping it off where the sweet and crisp sauteed onions that melded nicely with the steak and garlic bread; the combination of all three flavors make this a very good sandwich.

While I can always recommend you visit Piper’s Kilt for the burgers, they are really more than just great burgers. Whether its a Steak Sandwich or Mac and Cheese, Piper’s Kilt does it right, and is worth the honor of your patronage.

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

Frank’s: Garlic Balls

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I have to give a shout out to my cousin for bringing this place to my attention, because until this year I thought that Garlic Balls (in Westchester) were only found at PPT’s/Michelangelo’s.

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Whats good about having a location like Frank’s that serves Garlic Balls, is that we in Westchester now have a bit of variety, given that both PPT’s and Frank’s provide slightly different versions of this side dish.

Frank’s Garlic Balls are sweet and have a good garlic flavor; while not as prevalent as the garlic in PPT’s, it is more than enough to provide the flavor you are looking for. The balls are both doughy and somewhat oily; focusing more on thickness of the dough, than crispness of the skin, although they still have a nice crunch to them.

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Frank’s in Port Chester is a nice alternative to PPT’s/Michelangelo’s when you want some Garlic Balls. Along with their garlic, they also make Cinnamon Balls (review coming) and Zeppoli Balls, so there will be a nice variety for you to choose from. If you can make the trip to Port Chester, I highly suggest you do so.

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

Buffalo Wild Wings: Juicy Steak Burger

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“Hold up a minute, you mean to tell me you are covering a chain restaurant?” Yes I am, and it is a very rare occurrence indeed; I can also guarantee that I would never do this for a chain’s signature food (i.e. the wings from Buffalo Wild Wings) unless it was a signature challenge. But, since this happens to be a very good burger from a wing joint, I deem it wholly fair to review.

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Buffalo’s Juicy Steak Burger comes with two patties, multiple slices of sirloin steak placed between them; pepper jack cheese, an onion ring (on top) and your choice of signature sauce; the sauce I chose to employ was of the Parmesan Garlic variety.

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The bread was soft, and the patties themselves were tasty, if not inspiring; but what really made this burger pop was the combination of sirloin steak and choice sauce. As promised, the sirloin was indeed juicy; and the change in texture between patty and steak provided a nice diversity of meat. The sauce itself was deliciously sweet and garlicky, albeit with a bit of a bite; and it also provided the perfect mild heat that really set this burger apart.

My goal with these reviews is to illuminate as many of the best local eateries as possible, not to glorify big food chains and corporations. However, when a chain produces a quality product that deviates from the norm, it certainly must be recognized; and that is what Buffalo Wild Wings has done here. So if presented with the opportunity, I recommend that you try a Juicy Steak Burger from Buffalo Wild Wings.

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

PPT’s: Garlic Balls

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Today’s review is a little different as it will be my first ever review of a side dish; namely, Garlic Balls from Pizza, Pasta, and Things (which can be found in both Port Chester and West Harrison).

Now some of you may have immediately thought of Garlic Knots, and if so, you need to put that completely out of your mind; because Garlic Balls are a different, and more delicious animal than are Garlic Knots.

Part of what makes Garlic Balls so great is that they are a rare commodity; there are only three locations that you can acquire these treats, with two of them being in Westchester (Clino’s and Michelangelo’s). So without further ado:

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Full disclosure; you have not had a true pizza experience until you have had Garlic Balls with your pie/slice. So I know you are wondering how they taste, right?

The outside “skin” of the ball has a light crisp to it (you will hear a crunch of sorts when you bite in), but at the same time is soft, doughy, and lightly moist. There is a definite element of grease there, but it is in no way overwhelming; and the flavor combination is a complex and thoroughly enjoyable one. PPT’s combines their seasoning generously to bring about a taste that is garlicky, sweet, and even a bit buttery.

Garlic Balls are a rare treat that breaks away from the traditional Garlic Knot, and is a side that will always leave you wanting more (and that’s not a bad thing); so when you have a chance, treat yourself to a nice order of Garlic Balls down at Clino’s or Michelangelo’s Pizza, Pasta, and Things.

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