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!

 

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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

O’Malley’s: Filet Mignon

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A delicious, 8 oz Filet Mignon Au Poivre for under $30? Steak lovers, stop what you are doing and say it with me: Ohhhhhhhhhhh Yeeeeeeeeeeeah!

Nestled in the heart of Nyack is O’Malley’s Bar and Restaurant; arguably the best watering hole in town. But not only is O’Malley’s a good looking bar with an authentic Irish feel (the bartenders have some of the best accents in the world), they also cook a mean steak. Admittedly this post covers one of the higher priced meals I will be reviewing, but fortunately even this masterpiece of meat is easily affordable.

When I sat down to my first real meal at O’Malley’s (I had previously ordered a burger to go), I was met with a plethora of choices to appease my appetite; but seeing that this was a special occasion (my friend was down from New Hampshire), there was only one logical choice; a rare Filet Mignon:

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Look at that beautiful cut of meat cooked to rare perfection! If we are being completely honest, no matter how you like your steak cooked on a normal basis, when ordering Filet Mignon, rare is the only way to go; and the chef at O’Malley’s does not fool around with their craft.

The steak had with it a couple of very good side dishes (most memorable were the fluffy, melt in your mouth mashed potatoes), but the steak was the true sensation; and I’m afraid that my feeble writings can never do it justice. But huzzah for trying! Slicing open the steak showed a beautiful red that most chefs wish they could achieve, and that was only one aspect of it.

Speaking of slicing, my knife cut through the meat as if it were butter (really, another food analogy?). It was tender, juicy, and paired with a sauce crafted in a way that only enhanced the flavor of the meat and its accompanying sides.

But one of the best things about this meal (besides the obviously amazing flavor) was the price. A steak of this quality could easily be sold anywhere between $30 and $40; but at O’Malley’s, you will receive a high quality, beautiful looking, superb tasting Filet Mignon for only $22. So if you want a fantastic steak dinner at an affordable price, take a trip over to Nyack and enjoy a great town, a great bar, and a truly great steak.

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