Communal Kitchen: Communal Salad

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The last time I was at Communal Kitchen, I noticed an intriguing item on the menu, a salad. The reason it caught my eye was that this was no ordinary salad, it contained “Organic local greens, grilled peaches, aged goat cheese, sunflower seeds, duck bacon and buttermilk honey dressing”…and boy was it good.

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That is one of the prettiest salads I have ever seen in person. The local greens were very good, and that is saying something given that I usually don’t like darker lettuce that much.

The grilled peaches were fantastic, and proved to be one of my favorite parts of the meal, the aged goat cheese was delicious, and had that comforting thick texture that only goat cheese has.

The duck bacon was salty, and had a good combination of crunch and chew to it, while the sunflower seeds were an interesting addition, and the buttermilk honey dressing was smooth and sweet.

I loved this salad, and along with its flavor, the portion size was great, very plentiful, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

 

 

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Communal Kitchen: Charcuterie Board and Pork Belly

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Located near the top of the Main Street strip in Nyack, New York, Communal Kitchen is by far one of the best restaurants Nyack has to offer, an thats saying something.

Let’s start off with their Charcuterie Board:

What I like the most about their Charcuterie is that it isn’t set in stone, they seem to be changing it on a regular basis. I ended up choosing some wild boar cacciatorini, soppressata toscana, duck prosciutto, raw milk cow’s cheese, and finally, goat’s cheese.

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Beginning with the cheese, the raw milk cow’s cheese was a bit dry and not creamy at all, and while not my cup of tea, was not offensive in the least, while the goat’s cheese was thick, creamy, and delicious.

The wild boar cacciatorini was really good, it has a strong, rough and wild flavor that differentiates itself from beef and pork in a major way. The soppressata was salty, had medium thickness, and had a nice spice to it, but the real star was the duck prosciutto. The duck was thick,creamy, smooth and had an element of fat that almost explodes in your mouth; utterly delicious.

Pork Belly with Miso and Kimchi

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This main course tastes as good as it looks, the pork cuts like butter, tender and moist on the inside, with a slight crisp on the outside, the pork flavor shines through and the fat content adds an even greater taste; the kimchi had strong spice to it, and the miso is creamy and delicious, and paired with the pork, makes this plate one of the best you will have.

This is for sure a must eat if you live in Westchester or Rockland Counties, and I can’t wait to go back to the Communal Kitchen for even more great food.

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!

 

Prohibition River: Bacon Meatballs

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For the second time this year I get to cover a meatball unlike any I’ve ever had, although this one is located much closer to home in Nyack NY.

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These bacon meatballs are a staple appetizer at Prohibition River, and are very unique in texture and flavor. I have never had a meatball this tender. Whereas most meatballs provide some sort of resistance when cutting through them, my fork went through these like a knife in butter; but in this case, surprisingly, it worked.

The texture of the outside of the meatballs was nice, differing slightly from a normal rough, gravy covered ball; and there where small bits of bacon inside whose flavor spread throughout the meat. Another great flavor included is the slightly spicy tomato chutney, and the garnish of greens and Parmesan cheese slices were a nice touch.

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Prohibition River’s Bacon Meatballs are a wonderful appetizer, and a great way to start off your meal there. You can also do what I did and make your meal a pair of appetizers (Chicken Fried Steak Bites and Bacon Meatballs) and be satisfied in your choice; either way, you will always be a winner at Prohibition River.

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

Prohibition River: Chicken Fried Steak Bites

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Picture courtesy of http://www.boozyburbs.com

Prohibition River is a cool Speak Easy themed bar and restaurant in Nyack NY, and along with the decor, the food is most excellent.

I had previously been to Prohibition River once before (when it was just opening up), and only afterwards did I come to the realization that there was one menu item that I needed to try: Chicken Fried Steak Bites w/ Country Gravy.

To be clear, these aren’t any old steak bites, these are Chicken Fried Filet Mignon steak bites. Sound good? Well they look and taste even better.

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The plating of this appetizer was great, with the bites resting in a shallow pool of country gravy, with the rest of the gravy poured lightly over the top and garnished with green.

The gravy provided more than just a good look, it also brought great flavor; a combination of sweet and salty seasoning mixed in with the creamy consistency makes this a tasty and comforting addition to the meat of the dish.

But what of the meat? Its coating was fried so as to have a perfectly slight crunch, and the “skin” was garnished and flavored quite well. The steak beneath was tender, flavorful, and chewed like a dream; not too tough and very easy to consume, which is a mastication must.

Once the coating was gone, the gravy seemed to penetrate and permeate the meat itself, assuring there were always multiple flavor combinations and profiles for the consumer to enjoy.

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This is by far one of the best appetizers I have ever had; the flavors were simply unbelievable and undeniably hard to beat. Everyone should try this at least once, though it is my belief that if you try it, you will certainly come back for more (Honestly, this could easily be an entree in terms of the quality of the food).

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

O’Malley’s: Beer Battered Onion Rings

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Yes, its now time to review another side dish; it won’t be too complicated, just a brief explanation as to why O’Malley’s makes some of the better ones I’ve had.

As with fries, onion rings are a dish that is very easily done wrong; many times they are flimsy, lacking enough breading and crunch, or suffer from limp and tasteless onions that slide out of the breading with the first bite. O’Malley’s onion rings suffer from none of these things.

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O’Malley’s breads their onion rings quite nicely, which in turn provides the rings with firmness and a good crunch; the casing holds the onion in place after the first bite has been taken, and the onion itself is sweet and does not suffer from a watery lack of taste.

To be sure, when going to O’Malley’s, the best side dish to order is the Beer Battered Onion Rings, you definitely will not be disappointed in this selection.

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

O’Malley’s: Bacon Cheeseburger w/ Fries

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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.

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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.

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

O’Malley’s: New England Clam Chowder

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Its hard to come by good New England Clam Chowder outside of its namesake location; fortunately for us, it just so happens to be a chef specialty at O’Malley’s in Nyack.

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This is by far the best New England Clam Chowder I have ever had (though my experience with this dish has been mostly relegated to New York), and it comes in two sizes; cup, and bowl. Pictured above is the cup, but I readily suggest everyone get the bowl.

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O’Malley’s chowder is a pure and accurate taste of New England; thick and creamy, with a nice combination of sweetness and zest. The clams were fresh and had a good chew to them (avoiding the common fault of rubbery clams); the potatoes were hearty, and the vegetables had a good slight crunch to them.

This is an appetizer that could very well be a meal, and by the time you’ve finished it, there is an excellent chance that it will leave you craving more.

O’Malley’s has a plethora of good menu items, with this chowder being one of their best. Whether its the middle of winter, or the peak of summer, O’Malley’s New England Clam Chowder is always worth the purchase, and can give many New England restaurants a run for their money. I hope you will enjoy it soon.

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

Tarantella: Sicilian Slice

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There are certain key elements that go into making a good Sicilian style pizza; first the crust must be firm enough to hold its shape when picked up, but soft enough to give you a full, doughy bite (think of a pillow of dough, as opposed to a pillow of cheese).

Second, the sauce should be spread out evenly enough to lubricate your mouth with each bite; and finally the cheese must be melted in such a way that it stays on the pizza when you chow down.

I once visited a hole in the wall pizza shop (if you could even call it pizza) that served me the exact opposite of what I’ve described. The crust was too hard, the sauce was cold (after being heated up!), and the cheese was hard and slid off the slice after one bite. Last time I checked, this shop had closed down and Tarantella is still going strong; why? Because Tarantella knows how to make a proper Sicilian.

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Soft pillow of dough? Check. Melted cheese that actually stays on? Yep. Enough tomato sauce to compliment the other ingredients? You bet. This particular slice also had a nice crunch that started the closer you got to the crust. A crunch that was not the result of too hard a crust but rather just the right amount of time in the oven; and as usual, the the taste was just as good as the texture.

If you have never had a Sicilian before, you are missing out; this style takes the traditional taste of good pizza and applies it to a thicker canvas, putting a nice spin on an already great work of art; and quite simply, if you want to experience one of the best artists in the business, you must go to Tarantella Pizzeria in Nyack.

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

Tarantella: White Pizza

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Tarantella Pizzeria in Nyack makes the best pizza I’ve ever tasted; I have had White Pizza from many different locations and while other vendors are really good (its New York after all), no one does it better than Tarantella.

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Tarantella’s White comes with a hot, thin crust; and while it is thin, it has enough of a body to it to provide a good crunch and chew with each bite. It is garnished very well (as you can see in the picture) and is layered with a soft, but thick cheese; the first thing that popped into my mind while eating it was that this slice had a “pillow of cheese” on it. The cheese was melted perfectly, it did not slide off the slice like some other cheeses would, and it also did not have the “puff of cheese” that many pizzerias tend to go with, as seen in the example below:

Picture courtesy of http://www.seriouseats.com

Now there is nothing “wrong” per se about a slice of pizza with a cheese “puff”, as they can be very tasty, but I have found that the best White Pizza, like Tarantella, avoids that method and instead gives you a straight forward White slice.

Trust me, if you like White Pizza and have the ability to get over to Nyack any time soon, do it; I have brought out of town family and friends there on multiple occasions, and hear nothing from them but rave reviews.

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