Second Annual Pristine Awards

 

Awards

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!

 

 

The Lazy Boy Saloon: Filet Tip Sub

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The Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains is in the heart of the bar scene of Mamaroneck Ave, and like many bars, makes some really good food. On tap for this review is their tantalizing Filet Tip Sub.

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Served on soft, garlic-toasted french bread, this sandwich contains mouthfuls of delicious flavor. The grilled filet tips are very tender, exceptionally juicy, and seasoned very nicely. Each bite gives you a good amount of delicious steak tips, and that doesn’t even take into account the rest of the sandwich.

On top of the steak, rests freshly melted mozzarella, adding a sweet cheese blanket to this sub. The final ingredient, the caramelized onions, adds even more juice and a bit of crunch to the dish.

I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend the Filet Tip Sub from The Lazy Boy Saloon to any steak or sandwich lover, or really anyone who loves good food in general. Paired with some of their appetizers (which will be covered in a future review), it makes for a really satisfying meal.

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

The Pit Bro’s: Chopped BBQ Pork Sandwich

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The Pit Bro’s is an Eastern Carolina BBQ shop located in Mt. Vernon New York, and a bit of a hole-in-the-wall establishment; but that doesn’t stop it from making good food.

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This sandwich, while on the small side, is packed with meat. The meat is sweet, but also has a slight burn to it, a residual heat that doesn’t scorch your mouth, but has a lasting presence to be sure.

The meat is so plentiful, that it can’t be held by the soft bread, and is thus very messy. I was given the option of having coleslaw on my sandwich, and I agreed to it, which was a good idea to be sure. The slaw was sweet and crunchy, and the wetness and texture of it melded well with the heat and texture of the pork.

I give my recommendation to the Pit Bro’s and this sandwich, and I encourage people to go give it a try; it is definitely a nice lunch item to spice up your day.

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

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!

 

Roosters Market: Belly Buster

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The Belly Buster is the first sandwich I ever had at Roosters, and its the reason I have gone back multiple times; now it is time to introduce it to all of you.

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Utilizing a soft wedge to perfection, the Belly Buster is chock full of thick and tasty roast beef and turkey, and a semi sharp Swiss cheese to accompany them.

Thin red onion that is included adds a biting flavor, but is not overpowering, and the shredded lettuce is both wet and crunchy. As an added bonus, there is a good deal of extra crispy bacon that provides just the salt and extra crisp that this sandwich needs.

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Every bite of this sandwich gives you a delicious mouthful of meat, cheese, and tasty garnish. If you go to Roosters, the Belly Buster is a great choice to fill your belly.

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

Roosters Market: Sicilian Sandwich

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If you grew up in an Italian family or spent any considerable time around one, you have probably had a wonderful dish comprised of mozzarella, tomato, and basil. We all know how good that is, but imagine that as a sandwich…with meat…and peppers; that’s what you have in Roosters’ Sicilian.

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This sandwich is absolutely delicious. Served inside a nice, soft wedge of bread, the ingredients within are of the best quality.

The mozzarella was fresh and very spongy, the prosciutto was slightly salty, and the salt flavor that it had coalesced with the rest of the flavors perfectly. Not only was the prosciutto tasty, it was also plentiful. The tomatoes were juicy, the peppers roasted nicely, and the Italian dressing that topped it off was quite delicious.

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Every single ingredient in this sandwich works alone, and together, but preferably the latter, and Roosters has struck upon a very good twist on a classic Italian dish.

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

Royal Scarlet Deli: Philly Cheesesteak

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, which is why I’m always trying to find the next great vendor of this particular cuisine. Enter Royal Scarlet Deli in White Plains.

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The bread was soft and of good quality, and the meat was tender, well seasoned, and steak like. The melted cheese was just right, and abundance of onions were sweet, juicy, and crunchy. To top it all off, this sandwich had a moist, and tasty gravy throughout.

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It is always nice to find another place that can make a good Philly, and that’s what we have in Royal Scarlet Deli; so if you want a good tasting cheesesteak that will fill your belly and please your taste-buds, I suggest the one at Royal Scarlet Deli.

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

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

Anthony’s Deli: The Godfather

0ET4CODWL1RMCSJ4R3U3MZZQ1NOILLZOXV1PYMDWEWC3SCZCThe Original Godfather sub (“often replicated never duplicated”) is Anthony’s signature sandwich; in a world of deli sandwiches, the Godfather is a true Italian creation (as proved by its large group of ingredients).

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The Godfather is composed of: “salami, pepperoni, ham cappicola, proscuitini, mortadella, sopresatta, provolone, lettuce, oil & vinegar, hot peppers served on Arthur Avenue Italian bread”; and the vast amount of Italian spice contained inside is amazing and works really well to make an authentic Italian sandwich.

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For those who don’t know, Arthur Avenue bread is some of the best around, so deciding to use it on your sandwich is automatically a great decision. Each of the meats involved brings their own unique spice and flavor, the provolone adds to the Italian flair, the lettuce provides a nice crunch, and the oil and vinegar provided tang and moisture. But one of the most noticeable parts of this sandwich is the peppers.

To say this sub has peppers on it is an understatement; the inside of the bread is thoroughly lined with them, both hot and sweet. The sheer amount of peppers involved means you get a mildly sweet burn that carries throughout your entire consumption experience.

There is literally nothing like a Godfather sub, and no one does it better than Anthony’s; so if you want a truly authentic Italian-American deli sandwich, you need to visit Anthony’s Deli.*

*One thing that must be noted for first time buyers at Anthony’s is that they are a cash only establishment; credit/debit cards are not accepted (although they do have an ATM inside). But hey, that’s part of the charm.

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

Silver Lake Pizza: Philly Cheesesteak

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Philly Cheesesteaks are without a question my favorite food; which is why its such a good thing that Silver Lake Pizza (located in my hometown of Silver Lake) makes the best Philly Cheesesteak I have had to date.

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In brief, Silver Lake Pizza provides taste, texture, and quantity in their Cheesesteaks; utilizing great ingredients to produce a great sandwich. The outside of the bread has a good chewiness to it while the inside is soft and laced with the juices of the sub’s fillings.

The American cheese on this sandwich is perfectly melted, so much so that even if you don’t like American cheese in general (and I do not), you will find it works perfectly in this context.

The meat is a sweetly seasoned steak that works great with the cheese, onions and peppers; and these peppers are not too hot or overly sweet, but rather bring a highly accessible taste and texture combination. It must also be said that there is a good amount of grease in this Philly, but it only helps to enhance all the other flavors held within.

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If you are looking for a great tasting Philly Cheesesteak that is also satisfyingly filling, look no further than Silver Lake Pizza. I’ve been eating Cheesesteaks for years, and have yet to find one that matches the overall product that Silver Lake produces on a regular basis; size, taste, and satisfaction will all be found in this one sandwich.

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