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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Hudson Social: Bruschetta Sampler

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Hudson Social in Dobby Ferry NY is a nice restaurant connected to the newly restored landmark Dobbs ferry train station, with an absolutely beautiful view of the Hudson River.

A review of my entree is coming, but the appetizer I chose, the Bruschetta Sampler, deserves a post of its own.

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The Bruschetta with fig, honey and goat cheese was quite interesting; the figs and the honey were both sweet, and mixed with the dry goat cheese and crunchy bread, it made for a nice experience.

But, my favorite of the two was the Prosciutto/ Mozzarella/ Tomato/ Basil concoction.

Laid out on a bed of smokey, crunchy bread, the prosciutto was salty and thin, and the tomato and mozzarella were both warm and sweet, which made for a delicious combination.

I would recommend this appetizer in a heart beat; up next, the Cowboy Burger!

Frank Pepe: Original Tomato Pie w/ Mozzarella

20150810_132302Established in 1925, Frank Pepe as a long history of serving pizza to citizens of Yonkers and Connecticut. I walked in there not really knowing anything about the place except that the pizza was supposed to be good. I was immediately surprised to find out that instead of slices, Frank Pepe serves coal fired personal pies; and it is with a healthy curiosity that I dug into mine.

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I’m not usually a fan of coal fired pizza, but this one was very good. It was crispy and had a medium sized crust (not too thin and not too thick) as well as a medium sized body; it was covered in both stringy and thick mozzarella cheese, an absolutely perfect choice for this pie.

The sauce they used was sweet and delicious, and the pie also had a nice dousing of olive oil which was a really nice accompaniment to the cheese and the sauce.

After one visit to Frank Pepe in Yonkers, I know I’ll be back; and I’m looking forward to trying their White Clam Pizza in the near future.

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

Nat’s Pub: Nat’s Burger

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I’ve been going to Elmsford for years, and every time I went, I’d drive by Nat’s Pub, home of “the best burger in town.” This of course peaked my interest and I’d always tell myself that I was going to go there. Finally, after years of telling myself this, I finally made it to Nat’s Pub.

Nat’s is a hole in the wall venue that makes some pretty good food; and after perusing the menu, I ordered “Nat’s Burger” to see if it truly was the “best burger in town.”

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Now normally I wouldn’t touch a burger that has lettuce and tomato on it, but given this burger’s moniker, I decided not to change anything.

The meat was flavorful, juicy, and had a nice size and thickness to it; you really got a good amount of meat in every bite. The cheese was melted really nicely and covered a good section of the burger. Both the lettuce and the onions added a good crunch to the burger, and the tomato added extra juiciness.

The biggest difference between this and other burgers is that Nat’s tops theirs with mustard, which added a new, spicier flavor that I am not used to; though it was not a bad addition at all.

The only “downside” to this burger was that it was on a sandwich roll instead of the traditional hamburger bun, but in no way did it ruin the burger. As a side, the fries were quite good, crisp, full bodied, and tasty.

I would definitely recommend Nat’s Pub to anyone who is looking for a good burger in Elmsford, and so far I must agree with the assessment that it is the best burger in town.

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

Nicky’s Pizza: Sicilian Slice

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Picture courtesy of citysearch.com

A few years ago Nicky’s was one of my favorite spots to visit when I wanted good pizza; my late Uncle used to take us there for a “smorgasbord” of delicious types of pizza, and it was always a good time. But then the unthinkable happened and Nicky’s closed down due to complications from a fire; and now, a few years later, Nicky’s pizza is back in business.

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While this was a really good slice, I must admit that my first bite in years took me by surprise as I tasted what can only be described as a flavor that triggered memories of alcohol; that taste was not bad at all, nor did it make a return in any other parts of the pizza, it was just an interesting surprise that I felt needed mention.

As you can see the size of the slice (lengthwise) is that of two ordinary Sicilian slices elsewhere, which is always a good thing; the bottom crust was crisped very nicely while maintaining the soft upper bite that good Sicilians are known for. The oil content was not overpowering, adding to the flavor without making a mess, and the sweet, thick cheese mixed with the slightly savory sauce were a great combo.

Nicky’s had small additions of basil to their slices which added even more flavor to an already flavorful slice, and the back crust had the slight taste of bakery style bread (a truly great touch). Another interesting part of this pizza was what I found underneath the cheese in a corner of my slice:

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That right there is a stewed tomato, and in terms of flavor and texture, its brief appearance was both a surprise and a delight.

I am very glad Nicky’s pizza is back and I hope you will be too once you try it; in a world of NY pizza, Nicky’s truly stands out as one of the best places you can go.

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