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!

 

Anthony’s: Patty Melt

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Melt: Wedge Salad

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In writing this blog, multiple people have told me that every time they see all this unhealthy food I’m eating, they cringe at what it must be doing to my health. So for today’s review, we are going to go a slightly more healthy route (but only slightly); Melt Sandwich shop is primarily known for their Sandwiches (it is after all in the name), but they just so happen to make a mean Wedge Salad as well.

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Melt’s Wedge Salad is made up of iceberg lettuce, smoked bacon, crumbled bleu cheese, and bleu cheese dressing, all of which had a strong presence in this salad.

For starters, the iceberg lettuce was perfectly crunchy and had a nice water content; the bacon on the other hand wasn’t overly crisp, but was indeed tasty and the flavor of the bacon was strong throughout the salad. The crumbled bleu cheese added a different texture that played well with the textures of bacon and lettuce; the taste of the cheese was a very powerful element as well, that was only enhanced by the dressing.

Another plus for this salad was the size of the serving; the mixture of size and taste is always a good thing and Melt knows how do give you a good balance.

So if you are looking for a healthier alternative for lunch or dinner, Melt’s Wedge salad is unquestionably the way to go.

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