Pristine Eats covers Hudson Valley Restaurant Week ’16

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March 7th marks the beginning of Hudson Valley’s 10th Restaurant Week.

All participating restaurants offer 3 course lunches for $20.95, and 3 course dinners for $29.95.

Pristine Eats is happy to cover some of the meal offerings for this week, and will have our first review up Thursday -dinner from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

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Silver Lake Pizza: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

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Now that Luca Bella has shut down, I am in need of a new place to eat a Philly Cheesesteak slice, and fortunately, I found it at Silver Lake Pizza (West Harrison, NY).

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Perhaps the most important aspect of a Philly Cheesesteak pizza is the meat – if the meat is bad, it throws off the rest of the pizza. Not only was the meat on this slice delicious, it was generously plentiful. Tender, sweet, and juicy, each bite of meat was a wonderful mouthful of flavor.

The melted cheese was also sweet, and the peppers and onions provide a nice crunch to the slice. The crust is flavorful and had good texture and consistency.

But there is one thing that this slice offers you that gives it distinction – sliced jalapeno peppers. By themselves, these peppers are enough to set your mouth on fire, but mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, the inferno is muted into a sweet heat and spice that resonates well with the rest of the flavors.

This is an easy recommendation to make; go to Silver lake Pizza and get yourself a slice of Philly Cheesesteak pizza – its that good.

 

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!

 

Westchester Burger Co: Italian Nutella Shake

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Ever since Cheeburger Cheeburger shut down I’ve been looking for a place to get a really good milkshake; so far, I have found a couple of places, and Westchester Burger Co. is one of the best. This is a flavor I’d never heard of before, the Italian Nutella shake.

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What a unique flavor! Thick, like a milkshake should be, it tasted just like Nutella, except liquefied; with a nice mixture of both chocolate and hazelnut flavor.

On top was a fresh, light and airy whipped cream that seemed to be home made. It is without a doubt some of the best whipped cream I’ve had in a long time, nothing about it seemed artificial or mass produced.

If you feel in the mood for a good milkshake in Westchester, Westchester Burger Co. is a place you should definitely check out. I will be back with my other choice location for Milkshakes soon, so please stay tuned.

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

Piper’s Kilt: Eastchester Burger (Broadway Upgrade)

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I’ve been feeling the need to do some reviews in lower Westchester, so when my friend suggested we go to Piper’s Kilt in Eastchester, I jumped at the opportunity.

For my experience I decided to try Piper’s Eastchester Burger because A. I was in Eastchester, and B. because Westchester Magazine once described it this way: “It’s the Westchester icon. The legend. Westchester’s go-to burger.” With reviews like that, how could I not try it? (For those wondering, the Broadway upgrade made it a 10 oz burger instead of an 8 oz).

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There is a good amount to say about this burger, and meal  in general; the onion rings for example were very good, light on the breading but high on the crunch and the flavor of the onion itself was on point. The Potato Salad (which I was able to order in place of Fries, one of which I was able to taste – very good) was a nice surprise; it was thick and creamy, without suffering from too much starchiness or watery flavor.

The chili was in a league of its own; fresh out of the kitchen, it was hearty and provided an unexpected sweet heat and spice. It is possibly some of the best chili I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

And then came the burger. Cooked rare with melted American Cheese and bacon, a burger (hopefully) cannot go wrong; and fortunately the crew at Piper’s Kilt got it very right.

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The meat was thick, tender and very juicy, and you can tell they used a high quality meat. The melted American cheese did what I hoped it would, adding that nice sweet and gooey texture; the bacon was good (although not very crispy) and its flavor seemed to penetrate the burger itself.

This meal will fill you up and satisfy your hunger for the rest of the day; the only minor issue I had was that it was served on your average hamburger bun, and while it in no way ruins the burger, I think a brioche or pretzel bun would really take this burger to new heights.

Piper’s Kilt and their (Broadway upgraded) Eastchester burger was a great experience, one that I recommend to anyone; I will certainly be going back as soon as possible to try some of their other menu items and I couldn’t be more excited to do so.

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

Portofino: Sicilian Slice

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When I reviewed Portofino’s delicious slice of plain pizza, I made a point to say that it was not just the taste that made it special, but its huge size as well. Fortunately, the same can be said for their Sicilian slice. I have covered a Sicilian slice before (for a size reference on what normal Sicilians look like, click here), but I have never seen anything quite like this.

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This slice literally takes up two paper plates, its massive. Along with the size, there are slight differences between this and most Sicilian slices; so the question is, how does it hold up against others?

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This culinary marvel needs to be broken down into three categories; cheese, sauce, and crust. The cheese one might notice is lacking in comparison to many others, but in this case it doesn’t matter; what cheese there is provides a nice sweet flavor that compliments the sauce. And speaking of sauce, there was plenty of it. In fact, I would say that in this case the reduction in cheese is balanced out perfectly by the increase in sauce.

That leaves the crust, which very well may be the best part of this entire pizza; it is doughy (like any good Sicilian), but also has a very good light bite; and the crunch on the crust can be summed up in one word: fantastic. I have never had a slice of pizza with a crunch like this (burnt ones aside), and the crispness of the crust mixed with the cheese and sauce makes this one truly special piece of pizza.

With two reviews dedicated to their product in a week, its safe to say that Portofino Pizzeria is one of the premiere pizza shops in Westchester County. If you are a Westchester resident, or are just passing through, this is a spot that you need to visit; and if you are in Putnam County, you are close enough to visit as well, so please do; if you like pizza, you won’t regret it.

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

Westchester Burger Co: Pretzel Burger

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Today’s entry focuses on a very special creation from the world of  gourmet burgers; the Pretzel Burger from Westchester Burger Co.

Westchester Burger (located in White Plains, Rye Brook, Mt. Kisco and West Nyack) truly takes the art of burger making to a whole new level. Anyone can make a burger, not everyone can make a burger well; but these guys sure can. If you don’t know what to get on their menu, the unique Pretzel Burger is a great place to start:

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Lets begin with the burger’s namesake, the Pretzel bun. The bun was quite good; soft, but firm, with the classic pretzel taste we have all come to know and love. The burger itself was of fine quality; cooked rare (by request), it was seasoned well and was perfectly juicy. The melted cheddar cheese was smooth and added a nice semi sweet flavor to the meat; but what stood out apart from your normal burger elements, were the great choices in toppings.

The bacon was exactly what you wanted on a burger like this; not only did it have a nice crisp on it, but the grease and fat content it boasted were as good as you are going to get anywhere. What also made this bacon special was the fact that it was maple bacon; at first I thought they had literally drizzled maple syrup on my burger. Alas, that was not the case, but the bacon supplied a very nice maple syrup component to an already tasty burger.

The egg is the final element that makes this burger so special. Admittedly if you were to ask me what toppings should go on a burger, egg would not be my first choice; but in this case it totally worked. The egg provided a welcome taste and texture of custard, and the runny yoke was both messy and delightful.

Westchester Burger Co. definitely knows how to make a great meal; not only is their Pretzel Burger a king in the world of burgers, entirely worthy of the term gourmet; but their side dishes are great as well, as I enjoyed my burger with a nice addition of crisp waffle fries with spicy ranch dipping sauce…delicious.

If you like burgers and more importantly, burgers that taste great, Westchester Burger Co. is where you need to go. They have three locations spread around the county; you have no excuse not to.

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

Melt: Aged Beef Top Round with French Onion Combo

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Last week we visited the best deli sandwich location in Westchester, but today, we visit what may be the best hot sandwich location in our county; Melt Sandwich Shop. Now normally I would review a sandwich and tell you to buy it, but due to the uniqueness of Melt, today’s review will be a little different. Melt is an abnormal kind of vendor; while most shops have a list of predesignated sandwiches for you to choose from, Melt allows you to choose what sandwich they make for you.

Confused? Let me explain.

When you enter Melt and look at their sandwich board, instead of seeing sandwich names, you see bread size, choice of meat, and a list of combos you can mix your meat with.

So for example you can choose to have your aged beef top round with the french onion combo (as I did), or with the Cuban combo; or perhaps with the BLT combo. Or maybe you want ham instead of beef, or brisket instead of ham. No matter how you slice it, there is a plethora of different sandwich combinations for you to choose from; and if you don’t fancy the exact combination that I chose to review, please know that there are so many other choices for you to mix and match.

This week I decided to order the aged beef top round with the french onion combo on a long roll; this is the outside:

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And this is the inside:

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In case you are wondering, yes, it did taste as good as it looks. This, like all Melt sandwiches come in three parts; bread, meat, and the combo, so each must be addressed. The meat, simply put, is delicious; it is tender and spiced very nicely and provides a nice chew. You will not find yourself struggling to make each bite a manageable swallow, as the way the meat is prepared does that for you.

The French Onion Combo is made with “sauteed onions, gruyere cheese, au jus”; and when Melt says they love making food, this combo certainly attests to that. The onions were flavorful and were neither too flimsy nor too crunchy; and the cheese was of high quality. Another great thing about the combo was that it was au jus, or “made with its own juices”; something which added even more flavor to the onions and cheese.

The bread meanwhile was perfect for the kind of sandwich this was; its soft enough to provide an easy grip, bite, and chew, but it also was able to soak up the juices of the sandwiches contents without becoming soggy or mushy. This way the bread takes on even more flavor without becoming disgusting or messy.

Melt Sandwich Shop is a gem stuck in the heart of White Plains; they make killer sandwiches and because of the many possible combinations they provide, your sandwich eating experience will be a little different, but just as delicious every time you go. I highly recommend Melt, and hope you get a chance to visit it soon.

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