#45: New York Pizza

I have to admit that I was a little burnt out from work and not really feeling like doing a post today which is why I chose to do pizza.  There’s not a whole lot to the typical pizza take-out experience.  Now that I have a full belly, I’m in a  much better mood :).  When I looked over the list to see what my pizza options were I was surprised to see how many we have – over 10 at my last count.  I decided on New York Pizza, which is on Washington right next to the fairgrounds.

I’ve driven by this place hundreds of times thinking maybe I should check it out someday.  This is exactly the type of place I meant to visit by starting this mission.  It’s exclusively take-out or delivery, the only have two small wooden benches inside and some chairs outside for waiting.  The one employee I interacted with was dressed casually.  No collared polo or anything like you’d expect at one of the chain pizza joints.  He may have been wearing a white apron.  Either that or he was covered in flour, I can’t really remember.  Not that I see any problem with that, having worked at Round Table for a number of years it wasn’t uncommon to see someone completely covered in flour emerge from the back of the kitchen now and then.  Our transaction was quick and painless.  He told me it would be about 15-20 minutes, which I mostly waited through in my car instead of the uncomfortable benches.

The drive home was nearly unbearable with the smell of pizza in my car and my stomach growling.  Luckily it was a short drive and I was tearing into it as soon as I got home, after taking some photos of course.  I ordered the 13.99 special which was a  medium two topping pizza and 10 hot wings.  My pizza was half pepperoni/mushroom and half chicken/bacon on their creamy garlic sauce.  They have a couple crust options in addition to the default New York style –  “California thin” (I’ve never heard of this) or for $1 more you can get a thick Chicago style crust.  He didn’t ask me, but I would have told him the standard New York if he had.  I didn’t think to ask about dipping sauce for the wings but already included was a small cup of bleu cheese dipping sauce.

The first and hottest slice I grabbed was oozing with cheese that stretched about half a foot as I took a bite out of it.  The chicken/bacon side was loaded with both toppings, and the creamy garlic sauce was very creamy.  Garlic sauce pizzas tend to be my favorite over tomato sauce.  This was excellent.  The pepperoni/mushroom side was also awesome.  The sauce was pretty mild, not really very spicy or sweet, it was just a solid tomato base for toppings.  The crust was soft and really good.  I’m usually more of a cracker-thin crust kind of guy, but this was fantastic.

The hot wings were fairly typical pizza place wings.  You can probably find equal or better wings in the frozen section at the grocery store.  They were not the best wings I’ve had, by a long shot, but they weren’t bad either.  They had just enough heat to them to warrant dipping in the bleu cheese sauce, which was creamy and mild.  I like a really strong and chunky bleu cheese sauce, like Hooters or Wingstop(sometimes) serves.  This one was satisfactory.

Overall I was really happy with this visit.  To be fair I didn’t go in with super high expectations, though this was quite good (as mentioned previously, having worked in a pizza place for years and making my own pizzas daily I probably have unfair expectations of pizza quality).  I will no doubt be thinking of New York Pizza in the future when I have company over and we are ordering pizza.  The wings and blue cheese could use a little improvement, but honestly they are fine for what they are and what you’re paying.

Rupert was far more chill than Dusty was last time while waiting for his dinner.

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#44: Knucklehead Hot Dog Diner (CLOSED)

When I first set out to make the list of restaurants, and knew I would only be visiting one of each if they had more than one location, I was interested to see that the 2nd Parker’s Hot Dogs location changed to Knucklehead Hot Dog Diner.  A loophole!  I was kind of under the impression that it was the same exact place and still just a Parkers with a different name, but in fact it is independently owned from Parker’s and they are doing their own thing.  One of those things is the Knucklehead Challenge which was featured on Man v. Food.

Knucklehead Hot Dog Diner is located at Pleasant Grove and Foothills.  They have a little bit of outdoor seating as wells as several tables inside.  Some counter seats line the front of the store and a longer counter runs down the back.

I stopped in for lunch on Saturday, both to eat and to visit a friend I haven’t seen in a while.  I saw on Facebook that he was now working at Knucklehead and would be there at lunch.  After chatting with him for a bit I met the owner, Eric.  We spoke briefly about beards, the change to Kuncklehead, and the affect on business after the Man v. Food appearance.  He says they still get someone every day that asks about it.  When it came time to order I asked Eric for recommendations and told him that I usually get the small chili cheese dog plate at Parkers, so he suggested I get their similar plate to compare.  I went with the combo which includes fries and a soda.

They start out with a steamed hot dog bun and plant a good sized dog on top.  This is where it get’s crazy, below you can see Eric burying it with fresh made chili.  Finally it’s topped off with cheese and diced onions.

First off, I don’t know where Parker’s or Kuncklehead get their hot dogs, but they are really great dogs.  This was as big a plate as Parker’s, and I can rarely eat the whole thing, but I always finish the hot dog.  Knucklehead’s chili is very good.  It’s a little different than Parker’s in that it’s a little lighter on beans and noticeably spicier.  The fries were awesome.  They have a light tempura batter that gives them a great, crispy outside and a soft inside.  This style of fries is definitely towards the top of my list of favorites.

Parker’s is absolutely one of the best hot dog joints I know of (maybe behind Man Bites Dog in Austin, TX, but that’s really in a class of it’s own).  It’s been at the top of my list for a long time, but I think it will have to share the top position with Knucklehead now.  This hot dog diner is just as solid.  Maybe someday I’ll come try the Knucklehead challenge ;).

Website: http://www.knuckleheadhotdogs.com/

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#43: California Roll & Grill

On my drive to work this morning I was already thinking about both lunch and dinner.  That happens somewhat frequently and these days tend to be the longest.  I quickly settled on sushi and then picked out California Roll & Grill, located on Douglas behind Dimple Records.  I skimmed over their menu online and found out that the name is spot on because rolls are pretty much 90% of it.  There are some appetizers, salads and bento boxes, but other than that it’s all rolls.  I kind of wish I had known about this place back when rolls were all I ordered.

Anyway, I rolled in after work at around 4pm.  I was greeted and sat down right away.  A few other customers finished up soon after , leaving the restaurant to the server and myself.  I ordered a Pyramid Hefeweizen which she poured quickly and followed up with a bowl of miso soup.  The soup was much bolder than others I’ve had.  It was pretty tasty.  I almost ordered an appetizer of mixed or vegetable tempura, but decided at the last second to go for the agedashi tofu instead.  I tried a bite of it once before at Mikuni and recall liking it.  I’ve been gravitating towards salmon and eel when I order sushi lately, so naturally I found rolls that contained them.  I ordered a Sakura roll [(Kani & Avo) Tuna & Salmon] and a Caterpillar roll [(Eel & Cucumber) Avo & Tobiko].  I really liked that every roll on the menu has a photo.

Not too long after ordering, my appetizer arrived.  Nine good sized pieces of deep fried tofu were swimming in tentsuyu broth (thank you, Wikipedia).  I should have known better, but I stupidly shoved an entire piece in my mouth without testing how hot it was.  My tongue will be reminding me of this for the next few days.  I gave the rest some time to cool off.  That brings up an issue I have with it being served like this.  I don’t mind that it was hot, but since I had to wait they became very soggy from sitting in the broth.  The way I’ve seen them served at Mikuni was in a separate bowl.  I think that is probably the way to go.  These were quite good, but I wish they had that slight crisp on the outside.

My rolls arrived as I was just getting going with the no longer molten tofu.  The presentation might have just been good, but they made it amazing by giving the caterpillar some antennae and eyes.  I couldn’t bear to take the little guy’s head off so I saved it for last ;).  That roll was pretty good but was a little heavy on the cucumber.  I think it could have used a touch more eel instead.  The Sakura roll was my favorite.  Both the tuna and salmon were great as was the crab.  There was very little avocado, but since I had so much on the caterpillar I didn’t mind.

This is a nice little place.  My server was friendly and the food was prepared pretty fast, (I know I was the only one there, but it still seemed faster than other places would have been).  The prices did seem a touch high, but the portions were good.  I don’t see a whole lot to complain about here other than the simple fact that their focus is on rolls and mot much else.  I’m almost certainly going to be going to full on sushi joints in the future to satisfy my cravings.  If all you want are rolls however, California Roll & Grill does a pretty solid job.

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