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!

 

 

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Silver Lake Pizza: French Fry Slice

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Specialty pizza is an amazing thing, and as I’ve said before, once Luca Bella shut down I needed a new home for good specialty pizza; fortunately I found it in my own home town. The interesting thing is that they created a pizza that even I’ve never heard of: the french fry slice.

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This tastes unlike anything you’ve ever had before and hits you with a flavor you just do not expect.

The crust is light and buttery, the bacon is fried perfectly and spread around the slice quite nicely, and the chives provided a good little crunch.

The ranch dressing is a nice moist topping, and the fries add a thick, starchy component that is hard to beat.

This slice is absolutely delicious and very filling. One is enough to satisfy you, and if you have two, you’ll feel like you won’t have to eat for the rest of the day.So the next time you crave pizza, try something new and order the french fry slice at Silver Lake Pizza.

Luca Bella: Vodka Sauce Pizza

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The world of pizza is vast and diverse; it includes slices with cheese, without cheese, with sauce, and without sauce. But when someone thinks of pizza sauce, it is usually some variety of tomato that comes to mind. That is why it is such a nice change of pace when a pizzeria goes a different route and uses vodka sauce instead; and Luca Bella does so exceptionally well.

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This slice is interesting in that its somewhat a mixture of both traditional and Sicilian slices; it has the shape of a Sicilian, but the thin crust of most “traditional pizzas.” The flavor and texture are both spectacular; the crust and shape combination allows you to gain a good grip on your slice (what we in New York call “the fold”) and the cheese was its usual enjoyable self, but it was the sauce that was the real star here.

Now I am Italian, I love pasta, and I cannot tell you how many times I have had Penne alla Vodka; Vodka sauce is in my (proverbial) blood. It is with that background in mind that I say that I have never tasted a vodka sauce better than the one at Luca Bella; and it keeps me coming back for more as it is rich, creamy, and slathered all over the slice. It is literally a taste that, during consumption, you wish would never end.

So as usual, Luca Bella’s Vodka Sauce pizza gets my stamp of approval; and if you are in White Plains and yearn for something both delicious and different, well, you know where to go.

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