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DidjaEat? Podcast 26: Dave Yates Hot Sauce Master


The DidjaEat? Podcast is BACK with a super fun interview with Standup Comic and Hot Sauce Master Dave Yates! While he is no relation to me, we share a lot of the same food sensibilities, and talk about his ways of the sauce, Chicago food, comedy and more! Check it out!

The DidjaEat? podcast is available everywhere podcasts are found!

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De Lorenzo’s Is The Best Pizza In The Universe


I like pizza. I mean I really like it. A lot. I guess I can be kind of a snob, but knowing what you like isn’t really snobbery, it’s just knowing what you like. I don’t like that Dominos (and Food Service) puffy crust. I also don’t like super dense crust. Oddly. I do like cheap, shitty $1 pizza as well as carnival type pizza (frozen shells). So, as a pizza fan, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting places. I am also always talking to pizza fan and comedian Joe Moore about places we could swap, especially because I am always traveling around doing standup comedy shows.

Slicing up a pepperoni pie

Slicing up a pepperoni pie

One day I was chatting with Joe about comedy, not pizza, when someone came over and asked him what his absolute favorite pizza was. He responded without even thinking “Easy. DeLorenzos.”. He went on to tell me that the place used to be in Trenton and it moved to a small town right outside. He could not stress it more: it was perfect. Now, I don’t usually get that far up in Jersey to Trenton, or if I do, I go way past it, up to Princeton or further. But one day I booked a show in Robbinsville. The name of the town looked familiar to me so I ran it by Joe and he verified it, it was the home of De Lorenzo’s.

After my show I literally ran to my car and drove over to De Lorenzo’s. The town of Robbinsville is cute, and everything is mostly new because it all used to be farmland that was just recently developed in the last 10-15 years. De Lorenzo’s sits in a shopping development with lofts over it and central parking in the back (someone actually thought about planning, that’s a nice change).

The Old Ovens

The Old Ovens

Inside there are some lovely red booths and white twinkly lights. But I was more interested in the ovens! The ovens, while I do not know if they are original, I believe did come from the old place in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, on Hudson street, where the original place stood for over 60 years. Now in thier 8th year in Robbinsville, the quality still stands.

But enough talk about the past. Let’s talk about the present. I walked into the restaurant and ordered a large pepperoni and homemade meatball pie and a medium pepper and onion pie. And then I had to drive an hour home with those pies in the car. I wanted to die! I wanted to dive right in on the highway and start stuff that amazingly smelling pepperoni, meatball, onion, pepper and garlicy pizza right into my mouth. But I didn’t! Why? For journalism! I hope you all appreciate it! Also, scroll to the end for a Photo Gallery!

Pepperoni and Homemade Meatball

Pepperoni and Homemade Meatball

First up: The pepperoni and homemade meatball pie. I have never had meatball on a pie and I had seen the pepperoni they use: not the sliced super thin stuff that comes 6 pounds to a bag (altho that does have a time and place), they use the quality stuff and aren’t stingy with it. The meatball made me almost burst into tears when I saw it: big slices spread all over the one side of the pie and smelled amazing. It was a little peppery but meaty. It was a perfect meatball. I would have loved to just have a bowl of those meatballs. Mental note: ask about that next time. The sauce was slightly sweet and slightly chunky. The cheese wasn’t 6 feet thick, it was just the right amount to not overpower anything else.

Amazing crust

Amazing crust

The crust is thin, in that it’s…thin and not a cracker. Some pieces were well done and some were exactly done. As Americans, we are spoiled in that we believe everything should be done exactly the same way all the way around, because we are used to machine and factory made things. We have lost touch with the idea of “homemade”. It’s the tiny little imperfections that make things unique and in the case of this pizza, absolutely amazing.

Sweet Pepper and Onion

Sweet Pepper and Onion

The pepper and onion pizza, well, I didn’t know if I would like that as much until I took a bite of it. Why? Because it’s sweet peppers! I love sweet peppers and always get them on hoagies! I never had them on pizza, and man was I missing out! The crust on this guy was a little more evenly cooked around the edges but I could care less. It was also fantastic.

Something else I loved is that there is a whiff of garlic to this pizza, but it’s not overpowering. I guess after 68 years, they know what they are doing, so don’t ask questions, just eat!

What I found interesting about this pizza is that they didn’t cut it into wedges. The only other time I have ever seen a circular pizza not cut into wedges was years ago when I was in suburban Chicago. I was at a house and they flipped open the pizza box and I was completely puzzled. The pie was cut into many squares. “WHY!” I thought. “WHY, GOD, WHY!”. This pizza was cut more into rectangles and frankly, I was totally ok with it because you had a shot at crust in every piece. It was probably easier to eat that way as well, because the point would probably break off between the thin-ness and the weight of the toppings. Or not, this is totally conjecture. Anywho, it was fantastic.

Many food websites as well as Zagat have rated De Lorenzo’s the absolute best pizza in the Country. I agree. When I got home and started texting Joe Moore about how I ate it, he asked me what I thought, because he was afraid he might have been overselling it. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. I wanted to build a speedway so I could go to Robbinsville each week and eat this pizza. I wanted to rub it all over me and build a pizza monument to it. I wanted to call the owners and ask them what I did in life to deserve to eat pizza that was so fucking amazing. I wanted to hug them and thank them. I cannot stress this highly enough GO TO THIS PLACE.

De Lorenzo’s

2350 US Highway 33

Robbinsville, New Jersey 08691

609-341-8680

Lunch: Tue.-Fri., 11-2 • Dinner: Tue.-Sun., 4-10 • Closed Mondays

http://www.delorenzostomatopies.com/

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Loving The Hand Tossed Hut


I live in a city where you can’t walk 5 feet without having some good pizza to eat. Wether you like big sloppy pieces that you could use as a car cover, thick Sicilian pizza, pizza with sauce on the top, the bottom or no sauce at all, crispy wood fire grill type, gas oven type or even little pieces of perfection made in a little South Philly bakery, and anywhere else in between, we got you covered. That’s why I am not a fan of chain pizza. Domino’s and Papa John’s are complete garbage: spongey, overdone crust with salt soaked everything else. Gross.

I do have a small spot in my heart for Pizza Hut. When I was a very little kid, my parents and I would drive allllll the way up to the Northeast to eat at a Pizza Hut on the occasional Friday as a special occasion kind of thing. At the time, it was the closest one to our house and I always looked forward to it. Maybe it was because I was allowed to make my own salad at the salad bar (hello, salad mountain!) or maybe because thier buttery crust pizza was just so damn good. It was different from what the local places sold, and that was ok with me, because it was great.

Over the years I have scaled back my intake of Pizza Hut, mostly because the grease would tie me up in knots. Also, like I said above, local places were so good, and I always feel good supporting the local guys.

A little while back, I signed up for thier email list, mostly because I love the name of it: Hut Lover’s. It makes me giggle, mostly because I am a huge Star Wars Fan. I also do a bit about that in my standup set. But anyway, they were advertising thier new pizza “Hand Tossed” pizza and I felt like maybe this one wouldn’t tie me up in knots. And I was pleasantly surprised!

I thought about calling to order and then I remembered they have an iphone app. I opened the app, chose delivery, pay in cash and then not only was I given the choice of the regular pies and packages they offer, they also list, in detail, all thier daily specials. That was pretty awesome! I picked a hand tossed pizza and in the Super Supreme style. It was $11 and $14.58 with tax and delivery charge ($2.50 but the delivery lady was super nice, so I’m not complaining).

Pizza Hut Thin Crust Super Supreme

Pizza Hut Thin Crust Super Supreme

The Super Supreme pizza includes: pepperoni, ham, beef, pork sausage, Italian sausage, red onions, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives. This pizza was LOADED. It only took them a half hour to make it and get it to my door, so it was piping hot, which was nice. Nothing worse then a lukewarm pizza showing up, half congealed. They also were not skimpy on the toppings. Literally in every bite I had at least 4 toppings and the pieces were pretty big. A thing that also used to bug me when eating at Pizza Hut was that I felt like I ate 7,000 tons of salt. But the toppings weren’t salty and neither was the sauce.

Closeup of the Super Supreme Hand Tossed Pizza Hut Pie

Closeup of the Super Supreme Hand Tossed Pizza Hut Pie

 

Closeup of Pizza Hut Crust

Closeup of Pizza Hut Crust

Over the years, Pizza Hut has tried to examine every section of the pizza, to try and jam more cheese into it. Let’s face it, when your business is pizza, there’s only so much you can do. With this hand tossed pizza, they decided to cover the outside crust with a garlic parmesan shaker coating. Honestly, it’s delicious. It helps with the seasoning of the whole pie and, well, keeps you licking your fingers. A nice touch, I thought, was that when ordering online, they give you the option of skipping the coating if you so chooses. A nice touch for people who might not dig garlic. It shows the gang at Pizza Hut are paying attention.

 

But let’s talk about the crust. This thing is supposedly “hand tossed”. I sincerely doubt that the kids working at The Hut are tossing pizzas into the air, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it right. They are shooting for the local pizza parlor look and style and they have hit it, with a flair all thier own.

Closeup of the Crust of Pizza Hut's Hand Tossed Pizza

Closeup of the Crust of Pizza Hut’s Hand Tossed Pizza

The outside crust is denser then the pan and chewy, without the patented Pizza Hut grease. I mean seriously, this pie is not greasy *at all* beyond the usual pizza grease you’d get because…it’s a pizza.

The inside crust is thin and still chewy, but not too thin so that when you pick it up it collapses. You wanna fold it? Go for it (altho the slices are still smaller then a regular pizza place). It is as close to a pizza place then Pizza Hut is going to get. They do it with thier own flair and I have to say, they hit the mark.

I feel weird reviewing things without finding something to not like. This might be the first time I like every single thing. The crust is good, the seasoning is good, the toppings were good and even the delivery was prompt and got here right when they said it would. I am sure you mileage may vary depending on where you live, but for a shade under $15 bucks, I was really impressed with this pizza.

Hat’s off to Pizza Hut for a really great job.

 

 

 

Pizza Party


Ah, pizza. The one food I could eat everyday, for every meal. The one food my grandpop would not eat, even when his army buddies got him drunk. The one food people have very specific likes of: thin crust, thick crust, deep dish, pepperoni, white pies, cold pizza, hot pizza, frozen pizza from the toaster oven, steaming hot right out of the oven pizza. The list goes on and on.

Anyone with half a brain can make a pizza. But to make a great pizza requires skill and a really great oven. This brings us to Tacconelli’s. Tacconelli’s is a pizza place in my neighborhood, the Port Richmond section of Philly, on Somerset street. They have a very cool brick oven and they know how to use it.

You can’t just pop in there and order a pie. I mean, you can, but it is easier to call ahead and order your dough. You can tell them what to do with it when you get there but you better call ahead, because it’s a one man, one person oven and they only make so much dough every day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Needless to say, this makes the pizza desirable, to say the least.

Joe Being Meta

Joe Being Meta

My friend Joe Moore is from the Jerz, and had not had really any good pizza in the Philly area. Every time he would say that, it occurred to me to mention Tacconelli’s and then I would forget. We finally got it together and got on over there. Now, you have to understand, Joe is no ordinary pizza shmoe. He is what would call a connousseur of pizza, a lover of the pizza pie. He was also really excited about the outing, as was I!

We decided on getting the Regular pie (with a little cheese and sauce) and a Margherita pie (with fresh basil and fresh mozzerella) and a third pie with pepperoni.

See how thin?

See how thin?

All of the pies were great! The thin crunchy crust was perfect, and Joe was surprised by the sweetness of the sauce.

I liked that the pepperoni was sliced a little thicker. Some places slice it super thin (or, I should say, buy thin sliced pepperoni). It may have added grease, but pepperoni grease is delicious (you know it, I know it and everyone else knows it).

As you can see in the picture here, the crust is super thin, so you can really put away a lot of this pizza. In fact, we put away about 75% of it. I don’t know about Joe, but I had to actually stop myself from eating because I would have gone on and mowed through the rest of it (thank god we saved some for his wife Emily, or I would have really hurt myself).

Tacconelli's Pepperoni Pizza

Tacconelli’s Pepperoni Pizza

If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say the pepperoni one was the best, but the Margherita wasn’t bad either. The pepperoni pieces were smaller then you would get at a regular pizza place, but they were a tad thicker and they are not stingy with it. If you are a regular reader at all of this blog, you know I hate stingyness!

The fresh basil on the Margherita really gave it some depth, even tho I could have done with more of it. The problem with basil is that too much and you end up with everything tasting like basil (and not this Basil). Overall it was delicious, thin, crispy and slightly sweet.

Joe, being the pizza guy he is, wrote up a little piece about what he thought of the pies as well:

Tacconelli's Regular Pie

Tacconelli’s Regular Pie

I had heard a lot about Tacconelli’s pizza and was pretty excited to finally try it.

The establishment itself has all the hallmarks of a great pizza place – it’s in a mostly residential neighborhood and it feels like your friend’s grandma’s house with booths. It’s also worth noting all the of the waitstaff was super nice here.
 
Simple menu which is a good sign – I want a place that spends their money on making an awesome pizza, not on order high-glossy prints of pizzas that resemble nothing from their kitchen.
 
I always get the the plain whenever I eat at a new pizza place. That’s where the money is – a pizzeria can live and die by their plain pie. The first slice I had at Tacconelli’s was one of the best balance of sauce/cheese on one of the thinnest crusts I’ve had in Philly. The taste is also exceptional. At times it can be a little too salty or a little too sweet and sometimes both at once. But that’s something I can live with. Overall, it’s one of the best pizzas I’ve had in Philadelphia.

So there ya have it! Keep an eye out for our next pizza adventure coming soon!
Margerita Pie

Margerita Pie

Red Baron Feasts For One: Only For Doods


I didn’t grow up eating a lot of frozen food type stuff. I’m old enough to still remember Swanson dinners in the foil trays when I was really little, but only maybe a few times. I was, indeed intrigued at the idea of eating dessert first (or just dessert in general, we didn’t really do that). Besides that, it was mostly frozen waffles or frozen vegetables.

As I got older and microwave stuff started popping up, I ate some of that when I hung out with my friends at my friend Melissa’s Grandmom Floss’s house. She always stocked her fridge with cool stuff and when we stayed over to watch Headbanger’s Ball, we would eat frozen microwaved french fries, burgers and other assorted stuff. I never really liked it that much, but it was interesting to try it as the food science got closer to making microwaved food suck less. For those of you who are in your lower twenties, trust me, it used to be oh so much worse.

So after a movie the other night, I was driving home and didn’t feel like cooking, ordering out or eating fast food, so I popped into the local Target and decided to pick up a little pizza. What I found was a big selection, a lot bigger then I was thinking of having to choose from. It ranged from the Mama Celeste $1 pizzas (which are good but it freaks me out that the cheese is not cheese), to the “gourmet” frozen pizzas. I decided to go right in the middle and get a “Red Baron Feast For One”.

Red Baron Feast For One Meat Trio Pizza

Red Baron Feast For One Meat Trio Pizza

This thing intrigued me from the get-go. first of all, on the box there is a nice looking picture of the pizza, but there is also a picture of some guy.

I thought maybe the guy was a contest winner or maybe a member of a winning sports team that Red Baron had sponsored. It doesn’t really fit with the graphic design of the box, so I figured it had to be something, right?

I also liked the idea that they put “Exclusively Prepared, Microwave Ready” on the box. Since it is 2012 and not 1980, I would hope that a frozen pizza would be ok in the microwave. Maybe it’s just me. It’s like the guys in the graphics department were really high and decided that everyone needed to know…it’s ok to put in the microwave!

The back of the box

The back of the box

So when I turned the box over to check out the cooking instructions, I found out who the guy was…he was nobody. More specifically, he was someone, just not anyone.

You see, according to the box, this pizza was made for BIG APPETITES! The pictures were of dudes being dudes. Being goofy, licking sauce from a finger, riding a crazy bike, looking mischievous. These are all things you’d do before eating a frozen pizza! Of course! For a minute I wondered if I could eat this thing. I mean, I’m not a dude. I did just come back from seeing Batman. But otherwise, I didn’t do anything remotely dude like. Oh wait, I did spit my gum into the street on the way in because coughed and almost choked. Ok, so I guess that qualifies me. Score!

I wonder what a women’s pizza box would have the girls on the pictures doing. Well, first it would probably say something like “Hey Girls! Got PMS like a fiend and need a pizza that you can stuff in your face while watching Steel Magnolias in minutes? Well this pizza is just for you! Red Baron Feast For One is made just for YOUR HORMONES!”.

Dinner

Dinner

I took the pizza out of the box and of course it was sealed up tight in the plastic. They packaged it in the silver box tray that all microwaved pizzas have been cooked on since the beginning of time (around 1984). I wonder what is coated on that tray so that all food must be cooked on it. Soylent Silver? Silver crack? Cooked down silver dollars? I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll say it causes cancer in 10 years so eat up now, kids!

If you can see thru the plastic, you can see what it would be a Meat Trio. The pepperoni were equally distributed around the pizza, which was nice, and the ham and sausage were just dumped in the middle. I was ok with that tho. I had other plans for this thing….

All done...almost...

All done…almost…

The cooking instructions were pretty odd. Put the pizza on the tray and put it on the edge of the turntable in the microwave, then push it to the center and let it go for a little longer then let it sit before you take it out. I’m not sure that position on the turntable really makes any kind fo difference but whatever.

This is pizza when it’s done with the cooking. The cheese has cooked decently, the meat is hot and this puppy is seriously hot.

That’s why I decided to rip up 2 pieces of mozzarella string cheese and cover the top. There is never enough cheese on these things.

Added cheese!

Added cheese!

This is the finished product. NOW there’s enough cheese! Now if you decide to go ahead and buy one of these things, there is one thing you must know, understand and deal with: once you make this thing, you cannot eat it for at least a half hour. Why? Because it holds onto heat like nobodies business. Most pizzas, you take them out, let them sit for like 5 minutes and they are ok to eat. This thing is hot pocket lava level hot.

Spongey!

spongy!

You might think it’s like that because of the extra cheese. Noooope. You’d be mistaken. The reason this  thing stays so freakin’ hot is because the dough is like a giant sponge (hence “Thick Pan”). It almost reminds me of the big soft dough crust at Pizza Hut (only with a little less grease). It actually was pretty good, considering what it is. Would this thing have been the same if I had not added more cheese? Yeah pretty much. Honestly, I had one a little while back without the extra cheese and it doesn’t make too much of a difference, unless you like extra cheese. I’m a fan. Have a mentioned that?

So overall, what did I think of Red Baron’s Feast For One Meat Trio Frozen Pizza? I like dit, it wasn’t bad. The crust was spongy and flavorful (probably from oil), the sauce was punchy but not overdone and it wasn’t a giant salt bomb. I’d probably try it again, maybe if they had a mega pepperoni one, I’d be even more inclined. but yeah, not bad Red Baron, not bad at all.

Edited to add:

I just noticed that the box says that the pizza is actually 2 servings. Who eats half a frozen pizza and keeps the rest for later? That’s pretty sneaky, Red Baron, and I don’t like it.

LA Trip: Assorted Food Nonsense


I spent a lot of time during my LA trip walking around, wether by myself or huffing, puffing and kind of jogging to keep up with my friend Sean who is 9 feet tall and totally fit. And of course, all the walking makes a person kinda hungry. I did not get to a few places I wanted to go, but I managed to go to a lot of them.

For my birthday I went to Disneyland. Overall, it was pretty kickass, except for the hour and a half wait to get on the Star Wars ride (of which, every 15 minutes I’d turn to Sean and say “this is gonna be awesome!”. He did not slap me, not once. Good man.) But I have to say, I ate 2 things when we were there: a churro, which was pretty great, and a piece of pizza and a soda which sucked beyond belief.

First off, the churro was warm and chewy and cinnamon and sugar deliciousness. There was a churro cart every 5 feet, which I found kind of weird. Hey Disney Corp: why not mix it up a bit more. Secondly, the pizza was 7 different kinds of awful. It was a puffy piece of wanna be pizza hut crap. I mean it was over the top bad. I ate it because it was either that or my arm by that point, but come on! I am going to Disneyworld in Novemeber, so I’ll see how the pizza holds up. But major, major disappointment!

Next up! I was sitting a the bar one nite, annoyed that the kitchen was closed and drinking my bazillionth whiskey. I needed to eat. Danny the bartender told me about Garage Pizza. It was open late! I was up off my barstool and over there in a flash.

Garage Pizza

Garage Pizza

Garage PIzza has 2 locations, one in Silverlake and one in Downtown LA (DTLA). I visited the downtown location, on 7th between Spring and Main. Now, pizza in LA has a bad rap, and I understand why. You live in Philly or NYC, you are used to great pizza. The dough is awesome because of the water, and obviously the water out west if different and makes a different crust. So, I was sort of hesitant when the guys at the bar were talking it up. 
I walked over to the pizza joint. It is pretty bare bones, with a lot of concrete and a few basic booths. A few Latino guys scurried around behind the counter making pizzas, throwing some dough around. 
There was a menu with a bunch of very overpriced pizzas, and a few beers to select from, as well as some salads and sandwiches. I had no need for salads and sandwiches, but I was not too happy with the prices of the pies. Then I saw what made my stomach and heart dance a bit…on mondays, every pizza is $15. That is still kinda high, but the large pizza is a nice size, so what the hell, right?
I stepped up to order and could not stop laughing in my head because the 2 girls working the counter were dressed like they were in some sort of swanky club, barely dressed and all made up. Honey, you work at a pizza place. But, this was LA, so it’s probably par for the course. Anyway, I walked away with this pepperoni and red onion beauty!
Pepperoni and Red Onion

Pepperoni and Red Onion

I staggered back to Sean’s place with this pizza. Nine homeless guys asked me for a slice. I think the door guy at the apartment building wanted a piece too. Mine. All mine.

This pizza almost blew me away. It had a nice thin crust, but with nice crunch, and the sauce wasn’t too sweet. The cheese was a little brown but not overdone and the onions caramelized nicely. This was a delicious, beautiful east coast pizza! I had another pizza later on in the week and it was just as good. If you live in LA, give this place a chance (go on mondays!)! Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s just as good cold the next day!

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