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Andrew Fenton

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Everything posted by Andrew Fenton

  1. Coincidence is a funny thing sometimes. Saturday afternoon-- only a couple of hours after posting to this thread-- I got a call from friends who had reserved a table (and dough, natch) at Tacconeli's for 6:30 that night. I can now definitively say that all I've heard about it is true. How good is Tacconeli's? It's hard to say; my pizza sense isn't as finely-tuned as others'. Past a certain point of deliciousness, all I can do is fit it into that small, elite group of pizzas that are as good as anything I've had. Tacconeli's is definitely in that group. The good news is that you don't have to eat the pizza by your car. (Though it probably tastes even better that way.) They do have tables, which you need to reserve along with your dough. This appears to be quite a task: my friend started calling at 9 AM and didn't get through until 9:30. Worth the effort, though. You can tell how good Tacconeli's is by looking at its menu. No extraneous material here-- this place does one thing, and does it well, and that's an attitude I respect. Just one page, double-sided, with the restaurant history on the back. No prices, no extraneous material of any kind, just a short explanation of the options and a recommendation against ordering more than three toppings per pie. We ordered three pizzas (for four people... Shut up! It wasn't gluttony, it was research! Okay, a little gluttony.) One tomato pie (lots of sauce, no cheese), its inverse, a white pizza (cheese, herbs, lots of garlic) with chopped tomato, and a regular pizza with spinach. What to say about the pizza? I think the key is in the dough: it's crispy and carbonized in a few spots. You know a pizza crust is good when you can hold it at one end and it stays, um, erect. (Sorry.) Tacconeli's crust is of this kind, and it's the focus of their pizza. Toppings, sauce and cheese-- while all excellence-- are there to enhance the bread layer: the crust isn't just a platform for a buncha greasy cheese, as is all too often the case. The sauce is light, with a nice sweet tomato taste and some herbs. That said, I probably still like Sarcone's tomato pie better (Sarcone's sauce is thicker, and you really get a mouthful of tomato flavor.) The regular pizza was also terrific; again, the focus is on the crust, and it's not overloaded with cheese or sauce. But the real standout was the white pizza. Crust, cheese, garlic working together in a perfect balance; get a little crazy and throw some tomatoes on top for a little acid. What I liked most about the white pizza is that it showed the same kind of minimalism that the restaurant does so well. You can taste each element with every bite: it's simple, it's excellent, and I fear that it's spoiled me for other pizzas in Philly...
  2. Sorry; I was just surprised, is all. But props to you for selecting the oft-neglected filet-o-fish. Say, I went to George's Roast Pork (in the Italian Market) yesterday. Not a bad cheesesteak. Best part was the meat, which was nicely seasoned, with little bits o' blackened flavor (comes, I think, from cooking on a teeny-tiny grill). The cheese (I got provolone this time-- normally go for the Whiz) was pretty good, though not as strikingly flavorful as at Tony Luke's. Same sort of deal with the bread: I don't think it was Sarcone's or an equivalent (though I may be wrong)-- it was good, but didn't have the sort of firm absorbency that a really good steak needs.
  3. Er... no idea. Obviously I don't know the western suburbs either... You'll like Moroleone, I think. I like it better than the Washington Ave spots (though I haven't tried Plaza Garibaldi). But unlike those places, you actually have to plan a trip in advance...
  4. Well, maybe it's time for another road trip, then! I did make it up to DiFara's in Brooklyn recently, which is maybe why I wasn't so impressed by Top Tomato. Now that is a pizza!
  5. I first had bibimbap in grad school at the University of Michigan. There are-- or were at the time a few years ago-- three or so Korean diners in town (which always struck me as a little weird, for a town the size of Ann Arbor). Anyway, you could get a nice big bowl of bibimbap for like four or five bucks. I lived off the stuff for two years, and could probably eat it every day and be completely happy.
  6. So have I. But are they for real? or just urban legends?
  7. Nope; that's what makes it such a hassle to get down there. M-F only, from early morning to midafternoon, I think. I'll have to make a special trip... Oh, and Golden Arches, Herb? Say it ain't so...
  8. They're both good, but the White Dog might work a little better for you. They have a little wider menu, which would help accomodate 20 people. And I know that they have private rooms; not sure about Bella.
  9. Have you had the molcajetes at Taqueria Morroleone in Kennett Square? Even better than Tequila's, in my opinion, and only eleven bucks. Of course, you have to get out to Kennett Square first...
  10. I suppose it works as a reductio ad absurdum of vegetarianism: vegetarian! Spare that carrot! Eat this apple instead! But on the whole, I'll take queer food over fruitarianism any day.
  11. I stopped by Top Tomato last week. It's okay. Probably the best pizza in that neighborhood; not that that's saying much... I had a slice of tomato/mozzarella/basil (which they didn't call margherita. I don't know why) and one of tomato (no cheese) Sicilian (which they also had an odd name for. Again, I don't know why.) They use decent ingredients for the toppings. The sauce is okay: didn't taste like canned or anything, but didn't have the fresh taste I look for in a really good pizza. Same sort of deal with the crust: maybe my slices had just been sitting around for a while, but while it wasn't limp or anything, it also wasn't crispy. For my money, Philly's best pizza by the slice is the tomato pie at Sarcone's. (And the fact that it's dirt cheap doesn't hurt.) Marra's in South Philly makes a good pizza, too.
  12. I haven't yet been to John's (their hours are pretty inconvenient), but after five years in Philly, I finally made it down to Tony Luke's. Absolutely incredible. The cheesesteak? Everything I could ask for. But even better was the veal with greens and sharp provolone. Just an amazing mix of flavors: salty, almost smoky taste of the cheese, just a taste of bitterness from the broccoli rabe. Probably the best five bucks I ever spent.
  13. I saw this one when I went to buy my new (cheap, electric) stove. It'd be great for busy folks, with kids, etc.: you could put something in the oven the night before and have it cooked when you got home. But I still can't shake the feeling that an oven/fridge somehow violates the laws of nature...
  14. A lot of animals eat their young, too. My sister's dog eats his own vomit. But I don't think those'll be threads on eGullet any time soon...
  15. Thanks to this topic, I made steamed asparagus with aïoli for dinner. SO satisfying.
  16. When guests are coming over, I do asparagus this way: Steam them briefly (like 1-2 minutes), then chill in ice water. Tie them up in bundles of three with a chive. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and put a little Parmesan on them, and broil for another minute. It's a little Martha Stewart-y, but my friends always dig it.
  17. I'd never heard of pancakes on Mardi Gras: is that a British thing?
  18. That Detroit News article made me nostalgic, and jealous. Actually, I'm amazed that Philadelphia-- sometimes America's fattest city-- has never developed much of a paczki culture.
  19. Or with powdered or granulated sugar, but that's basically right. Good ones have good-quality jelly and a dough that has more eggs (and is consequently a little richer) than a typical jelly donut. The other deal with paczki (it's pronounced poonch-key) is that they're one of those once-a-year treats, which always makes things taste better, IMO: I don't eat jelly donuts, but when I lived in Michigan (they're EVERYWHERE in SE MI around this time of year) I got addicted to paczki.
  20. Aw, see, I shoulda gone to Baltic! We went to Marian's this morning and picked up a half dozen paczkis. There wasn't a terrific selection-- just raspberry and custard (sacrilege!) and they were... okay. Not great. The jelly was good, high quality and not too sweet, but the dough wasn't as eggy or tender as I remember them being. But now that I've seen your report, maybe I'll make a trip to the Baltic Bakery on Tuesday... For research. Yeah, that's the ticket!
  21. OK, I finally got around to heading over to the cultural center (where's that "embarrassed" emoticon?) The super-nice lady there tipped me off to two places in the great Northeast: Marian's Bakery (2615 E. Allegheny) and the Baltic Bakery (around the corner). Both are near the intersection of Allegheny and Richmond. Anyway, I'm going to try dropping by tomorrow on my way back from Perth Amboy...
  22. I think it's western NC style that also puts cole slaw on a BBQ sandwich. Which when translated to Detroit is called "soul on a roll." You gotta love that.
  23. Amen to that. My best results for finding 'cue in North Carolina all came from pulling into a small town and asking the guys sitting outside the gas station where to find the stuff. That's how we found Lane's Family Barbecue and Seafood in Edenton. Excellent barbecue, but probably out of your way. In Charleston, Bessinger's is a solid, mustard-based barbecue. Their hush puppies and onion rings are terrific, too. In Savannah, try Wall's BBQ (get the Brunswick stew.) Carey Hilliard's is a local chain that's always reliable. Also very good is Johnny Harris; there, you also get to eat in a cool hexagonal-shaped room with murals and lights in the ceiling meant to look like stars...
  24. Thanks Katie... actually, I got the brilliant idea of calling the Polish-American Cultural Center (or just walking in; they're only a couple of blocks away). I'll ask them for recommendations and report back.
  25. Fat Tuesday is coming up, and I'm starting to crave paczki. Anybody know a good Polish bakery in the Philadelphia area where I can get a fix?
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