Category Archives: NY/CT

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White Plains Pizza Crawl

The last few years have seen a major upgrade to the Westchester pizza scene. From brick oven (All’ Antica), to wood fired (Frankie & Fanucci’s, Tarry Lodge) to coal fired (Frank Pepe), there’s quality pizza to be found.

And I never turn down an opportunity to eat the stuff. So when reader and fellow food fan Cheryl (I try to avoid using the word “foodie” at all costs) suggested a White Plains pizza crawl, I was all for it. We decided to try spots with two very different styles of pizza: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Three Boys From Italy Brick Oven Trattoria.

Anthony’s was first up.

I had high, high hopes for this place. After all, it’s right there in the name — “coal fired.” To me, the words scream blistered, blackened crust, with a distinct, smoky flavor. Basically, Frank Pepe crust.

You can’t order individual slices at Anthony’s, so Cheryl and I shared a small pie of sausage and mushrooms.

The verdict? I think we both agreed the pie was curiously lacking — which was strange because it looked right; the crust had developed a shade of black around the edges, and it had some char on the bottom. But it tasted insubstantial and flimsy. No chew, not a whole lot of flavor (needed more salt?), and a quickly developed sogginess. As pizza goes, it was okay, but with a coal oven I expected much more.

So that was disappointing.

We found greater success at our second stop, Three Boys From Italy. Here, individual slices were available, displayed behind a glass case.

Cheryl went for the unusual one — if I remember correctly, it had chicken and peppers… and ranch dressing. Sounded nasty (warm ranch dressing??), but I took a bite and it was pretty damn good; the ranch had turned kind of sweet. Not something I would have thought to put on a pizza, but it worked.

I went for a slice of fried eggplant, caramelized onions, and ricotta.

The eggplant was sliced thin, and the ricotta was soft and creamy. Yum. And the crust — more of your traditional type of pizza crust — was solid too, with some nice chew and crunch.

Three Boys won our approval as the superior pizza on this day. But I’ve read about the marvelous meatballs at Anthony’s, so maybe meatballs are really their thing. As far as coal fired goes, I’m still partial to Frank Pepe.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
264 Main St.
White Plains, NY
914-358-9702

Three Boys From Italy Brick Oven Trattoria
206 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, NY
914-358-1500

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A M.A.D Cafe Salad and a Vietnamese Banh Mi

A few weeks ago, I made the horrible mistake of driving to Brooklyn for a morning meeting. What a disaster. It was like we were stuck in mud on the BQE, and that was followed in town by lights, construction and more traffic.  In the time it took to reach Brooklyn and back, I could have been in New Hampshire.  If I had to make that drive every day, I’d steer myself right off the RFK Bridge.

On the way home, crabbiness and hunger spurred me to make a detour and get something to eat.  I swung off the Hutch in Pelham and stopped in at a spot I knew to be close by — M.A.D Cafe.

I’ve been told that M.A.D (“Modern American Dining,” in case you were wondering) serves good breakfast grub ; I can’t vouch for the breakfast, but I do know they have a solid selection of sandwiches. And I like their “build your own” salads, which is what I came for.

I chose mixed greens and added in cucumbers, chicken, blue cheese, and diced apple.

The initial reaction is, $9.50 for this? However, the container is deceptively deeper than it appears. I don’t get full easily, but this salad was big and hearty enough to satisfy the appetite.

This week I smartened up and took the train to Brooklyn. Way less stressful, especially once you get to Grand Central and begin traveling against the flow of morning commuters. Guess what I discovered on 7th Ave. in Park Slope — two Vietnamese banh mi shops, within blocks of one another. Damn you, residents of Park Slope!  Naturally, I had to try one.

This grilled pork banh mi came from Henry’s.

I cannot get enough of these sandwiches. And you know what? The banh mi made all the aggravation of Brooklyn worth it.

M.A.D Cafe
129 Wolfs Lane
Pelham, NY
914-738-7395

Henry’s
433 7th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY
718-788-8882

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Sampling Korean at Asagao Sushi

You know a restaurant is brand spanking new when even the Yelpers and Chowhounders haven’t made it there yet. Those guys are fast on the draw to scope out the latest restaurants.

My friend Ron suggested taking a visit to Croton-on-Hudson, mentioning that Asagao Sushi, newly opened on November 7th, served both sushi and Korean barbecue. That’s all I needed to hear.

Asagao’s tucked into a small shopping strip (between the diner and Memphis Mae’s). Easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.

The menu is predominantly Japanese, with a smallish section of Korean barbecue items. Ordinarily, I’d be all over the sushi, but we were both interested in trying the Korean dishes.

They start you off with hot tea and miso soup. Then we shared a side order of kimchi.

Ron got the bi bim bop, a sizzling one-pot dish of vegetables, thinly sliced beef and egg over rice. Almost too pretty to eat.

Our server, noticing that Ron was digging into the bowl as is, came over to add in hot chile paste and stir all the ingredients together. Kind of ruins the beauty of the dish, but that’s the proper way to eat it.

Here’s my beef bulgogi.

The tender beef had been well marinated, making it full of flavor. I could taste the mirin, garlic and soy. Needed two bowls of rice to soak everything up.

Ron and I were both quite happy with our dishes, and I was impressed with the friendly and attentive service. As lunch goes, prices are maybe on the higher side; my bulgogi was $16, Ron’s bi bim bop a bit more. If you’re looking for a less expensive lunch, you may want to stick to the rolls and Bento boxes, and save the Korean dishes for dinner.

All right folks on Chowhound and Yelp, have at it. Let us know how the rest of the menu is. I’m curious about the sushi.

Asagao Sushi
8 Maple St.
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
914-271-0770

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HomeMade Pizza Co. Opens

HomeMade Pizza Co. is officially open for business; none too soon — I’ve been jonesing for pizza all week.

Good marketing, setting up shop on the sidewalk for the big day.  When I arrived tonight, the two founders, Eric Fosse and Matt Weinstein, were on site outside, grilling up HomeMade’s pizzas and cookies (yup, you can bake them on a grill) and handing out free samples. I took a little slice of the sausage and caramelized onion.

Inside, the place was a bustle of customers and cheerful employees directing traffic and answering questions.

The kitchen was a flurry of activity. I saw a guy making dough. Was hoping he would toss it for dramatic effect.

HomeMade also sells salads, cookies (big ones — they’re like frisbees) and their own ice cream.

As for the pizza, I’ll admit, when I first heard of HomeMade’s bake-at-home concept, I was uncertain. Why would people want to bake a pizza at home when they can just buy an already cooked pie at a pizzeria?

So I asked that general question to Eric, one of the founders, and he explained it like this: Pizza tastes best when it first comes out of the oven. With regular pizza, by the time you bring it home or it’s been delivered, that freshness has been lost. So HomeMade’s purpose is to provide the best of both worlds: a high-quality pizza that doesn’t sit around getting soggy. When you’re ready to eat, bake it for 12-15 minutes and you’ve got a pizza that’s hot-out-of-the-oven. After Eric explained it that way, it made a lot more sense.

I took home a medium Quattro Stagioni (prosciutto, wild mushrooms, artichokes, olives, thyme and Fontinella cheese) on wheat crust.

When I got home, I had several things to do and wasn’t ready to eat, so I popped the pizza in the fridge.

Then to cook, I followed the simple instructions and baked the pizza for 15 minutes until it was bubbly and the crust was crisp.

What jumped out immediately were the toppings. HomeMade’s using quality ingredients. The wild mushrooms, especially, are great. Meaty and flavorful, they’re a far superior product than the usual button mushrooms strewn across a pizza.

And while I find a wheat crust never crisps up in quite the same way as a white flour crust, it still had a solid crunch to it. Not too thick, not too thin.

The one drawback about Quattro Stagioni (and this is in general, has nothing to do with HomeMade Pizza Co.): with a name that means “four seasons,” the four toppings are divided into quarters. So when you eat the pizza, you’re only eating one topping at a time. I realized that I like my toppings to be scattered over the entire pie.

It was a good pizza — I’d certainly make a return visit.

Note: The Larchmont location is opening in a few weeks, and I believe Eric said there will be something like nine locations in New Jersey. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check out HomeMade Pizza Co.’s stuff for yourself.

HomeMade Pizza Co.
25 Purchase St.
Rye, NY
914-921-3000

New Pizza Shop in Rye

I was walking down Purchase St. in Rye tonight when I passed a brightly lit storefront with 15-20 people inside having a meeting.  Then I saw the name outside and whoaaa… that made me stop in my tracks and do a double-take: “HomeMade Pizza Co.”  How had I missed this?  Where did it come from?

Chatted briefly with one of the employees and here’s the scoop: HomeMade Pizza Co. is a chain with locations in Illinois, Minnesota and Washington D.C. They make “bake-at-home” pizzas, meaning they’re fully prepared and just need about ten minutes in the oven. You can order from the menu of seasonal pizzas or build your own. The toppings are all pretty gourmet, with options like goat cheese, prosciutto, shiitake mushrooms and poblano peppers, to name a few.

Looks good. The Rye opening is on November 18th.  I will definitely be stopping by to sample the food. You can never have too many pizza shops, I say.

HomeMade Pizza Co.
25 Purchase St.
Rye, NY
914-921-3000