Pizza, the way it should be

Like I’ve mentioned in my Food and Drink Bucket List, Coal Brick Oven Pizza is important to try at least once in your life, and I also recommend eating it more than a dozen times after that.

When I was a little girl, my family went to Patsy’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. We had pizza and Cherry Lime Rickey Snapples (they don’t make them anymore), and it was a simple, yet perfect meal. Now, the restaurant is called Patsy Grimaldi’s instead of Patsy’s because of copyright infringement. However, a family member opened up another location in Garden City, N.Y. , so we were able to get Grimaldi’s pizza closer to home.

To start out the meal, we ordered the Portobello Napoleon which is a layered, warm salad. It starts with a bed of arugula, then roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, a portobello mushroom topped with melted Swiss cheese and a balsamic reduction. The plate was not big, so it was probably only enough for two, but we were having lunch, so it was enough for three. It was a nice mix of salty, sweet and tangy. Even with the mozzarella, it was very light.

Grimaldi's Slice 2

Grimaldi’s Slice

Grimaldi's Pie

Grimaldi’s Pie

Then, the pizza came, and you can only order it by the pie, so we got half plain and half sausage. The plain slice was thin, crispy and fresh with a slight char on the crust. It tasted like it just came out of the oven because it did. Depending on where you sit, you can even see the chefs take the pizzas out of the ovens. The sausage slice was flavorful and crumbly. Sausage is the perfect topping for this pizza. It didn’t feel too heavy or fattening, even though it was covered in sausage.

This is not the kind of pizza that you eat with a fork, even though the restaurant sells espresso and cappuccino. After it cools down just slightly, you fold your slice and make sure you get every inch of the stretched mozzarella into your mouth. You will not be sorry and you won’t care that you are eating with your hands.

So, if you want to check off #33 on the Food & Drink Bucket List, stop into Grimaldi’s, but bring a friend so you have someone to share a pie with.

Are you ready for some spice?

For my uncle’s birthday, we headed out to Big Daddy’s in Massapequa, N.Y. My Uncle George loves spicy food and he is always looking for something to burn his mouth. He is from Jersey and when he comes out, he loves to visit Big Daddy’s. I don’t mind a little spice in my food, but I don’t like spice just for spice’s sake. I want to be able to taste the food before it punches me in the face with spice, ya know? And, if something is really high up on the Scoville scale, I am a total wuss and won’t even chance it.

Since it was National Margarita Day, I started my meal with the drink of the day, a Pineapple Margarita. I could taste the sweet pineapple and it was quite refreshing. It wasn’t too strong either, and I could taste the tequila. For our appetizers, we chose Lucifer’s Mussels, Pretty Meg’s Wings and the Loaded Cajun Fries. Pretty Meg’s Wings were delicious. The wings were smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce, but this is how I like my spice, with A LOT of flavor. Lucifer’s Mussels were very good and very interesting. I was not used to having mussels with blue cheese crumbles on them, but it was a great combination. This was another flavorful, yet spicy dish, and I was very happy with it. The Loaded Cajun Fries were good, but nothing I would care enough about to order again. The fries were blanketed by smokey pulled pork and drizzled with a zesty sauce, so it was a hearty appetizer, but the other two outweigh it in flavor and complexity.

I probably could have just been happy with more wings and mussels, but I ordered a Grilled Shrimp Po Boy. The shrimp was fresh and the vinegar was crunchy, zesty and a great addition. I would actually consider putting it on most sandwiches because I love vinegar, and I love shredded lettuce, for some odd reason. The bread was perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The sandwich was coupled with soft sweet potato fries, but there was no dipping sauce for them, unfortunately. My father loves their Jambalaya (even though he sweats while eating it) and my mother enjoyed her Chicken and Ribs.

There have been almost a dozen times that I’ve visited and enjoyed Big Daddy’s, and I am sure, if my uncle has anything to say about it, we will be there several more times. If you like to be enticed by flavor and then punched in the face with spice, give it a try. You will leave happy, and not bruised.

The Yumness Food and Drink Bucket List: Top 100

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Have you ever heard yourself saying, “I want to try that,” or, “If I ever get there, I want to eat that.” Well, if you haven’t, you’re either a liar or someone I don’t really want to hang out with. If you have, I created a list to help you get the food and experiences that you long for, with a little help from my friends. There are a lot of lists out there that count off all of the foods you should try, but this one was created by me and my friends, so these are honest additions and if you want to know about why I added number 8, for instance, you can ask and find out.

Here are 100 things to try while you make your way through the world and your life:

  1. Beignets, Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans
  2. Chocolate-Covered Bacon
  3. Fish & Chips
  4. Papusas
  5. Crawfish or Crawfish Monica, New Orleans Jazz Fest
  6. Mexican Hot Cocoa
  7. Pate
  8. Conch Chowder
  9. Pecan Pie, Camellia Grill, New Orleans or Mama’s Daughters’ Diner, Texas
  10. Prickly Pear Margarita
  11. Bacon Milkshake
  12. Beef Wellington
  13. Grape Leaves
  14. Chianti
  15. Reuben Pizza, Stout, NYC
  16. Shrimp Parmesan, Carmine’s, NYC
  17. Escargot
  18. Deep Fried Burger, Korzo Haus, NYC
  19. Philly Cheesesteak, Pat’s, Philadelphia
  20. Fugu (But, you could die.)
  21. Absinthe
  22. Fried Pickles
  23. Alligator Nuggets, Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe, Florida
  24. Poi
  25. Frozen Hot Chocolate
  26. Mallomars
  27. Corn Nuggets/Hush Puppies (Depends on where you are)
  28. Creme Brulee
  29. Boston Cream Pie, Parker’s Restaurant, Boston
  30. Deep Fried Oreos
  31. Kobe Beef
  32. Apple Pie a la Mode
  33. Coal Brick Oven Pizza, Grimaldi’s, NYC
  34. Pastrami Sandwich, Katz’s, NYC
  35. Real Ramen
  36. Turtle Soup
  37. Chicago Style Pizza, Gino’s East, Chicago
  38. Baked Beans, Durgin Park, Boston
  39. Buffalo Wings
  40. Lobster Roll, Waterman’s Beach Lobster, Maine
  41. Chicago Style Hot Dog
  42. Blue Crabs, Bo Brook Restaurant, Baltimore
  43. Fried Green Tomatoes, Whistle Stop Cafe, Georgia
  44. Chicken Fried Steak, Chuck House, Oklahoma
  45. Strawberry Shortcake, Bulldog, Arkansas
  46. Bison Burger, Log Cabin Family Restaurant, Montana
  47. Denver Omelet
  48. Fish Tacos, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, San Diego
  49. Horchata
  50. Hoppin John, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Georgia
  51. Loco Moco, Aloha Mixed Plate, Maui
  52. Dole Whip, Aloha Isle, Walt Disney World
  53. Blueberry Pie
  54. Sicilian Pizza, L&B Spumoni Gardens, Brooklyn
  55. Cheese Fondue
  56. Jerk Chicken
  57. Durian (But, it smells like a foot.)
  58. Eggs Benedict
  59. Dynamite Roll (Ease your way into sushi.)
  60. Gumbo
  61. Bread Pudding
  62. Fried Calamari
  63. Lobster Mac & Cheese
  64. French Macarons, Laduree, NYC
  65. Paella
  66. Croque Monsieur
  67. Gelato
  68. Shrimp, Oyster or Clam Po Boy
  69. Rocky Mountain Oysters
  70. Carpaccio
  71. Ceviche
  72. Donuts, Gourdough’s, Austin or Donut Friar, Gatlinburg, Tenn.
  73. Rocket Fuel, CJ’s, Ocean Beach, NY
  74. Beer & Cheese Soup
  75. Stone Crabs, Joe’s Stone Crab, Coconut Grove, Florida
  76. In-N-Out Burger
  77. Cannoli, Mulberry Street, NYC
  78. Burrito
  79. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Maureen’s Kitchen, NY
  80. Fried Ice Cream
  81. Tonga Toast, Kona Cafe, Walt Disney World
  82. Relleno de Papa (Hispanic Stuffed Potatoes)
  83. Cherry Limeade, Sonic
  84. Chocolate Brioche, Levain Bakery, NYC
  85. Pulled Pork, Skylight Inn, NC
  86. Torta di Mandorle (Almond Tart), Uva, NYC
  87. Fried Chicken, Gus’s, Memphis
  88. Pork Cassoulet, Paris
  89. Cheeseburger, Brindle Room, NYC
  90. Whole Steamed Lobster
  91. Cinnamon Roll, Ann Sather, Chicago
  92. Belgian Waffle, Petite Abeille, NYC
  93. Knafeh (Middle Eastern dessert), Tanoreen, Brooklyn
  94. Porterhouse Steak, Del Frisco’s or The Capital Grille, NYC
  95. Short Ribs
  96. Crispy Pork Belly Confit
  97. Cronut, Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC
  98. Frozen Custard
  99. Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaica
  100. Mofungo, Restaurant Raices, Puerto Rico

If you think there should be other foods added to this list, let me know in the comments and maybe I will start another list. Also, let me know if you know where to find the best version of any of these or if you agree or disagree. Our lives are full of meals and snacks, so there’s a lot to taste and explore. How many of these have you had?

Yumness is on Facebook

Since I can’t give each delicious thing out there the respect it deserves with its own blog post, Yumness has a Facebook page. I easily share anything and everything delicious by posting photos, links and information for all those who like it and those who are just stopping by to jump-start their appetite.

If you want more Yumness, like it on Facebook by visiting: www.facebook.com/yumness.eats.

Those on diets: BEWARE. There will be more of this …

Smashburger

BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar at Smashburger

A Rockin’ Restaurant: Rockin Fish

A ladies’ lunch with two of my girls had me searching Northport, N.Y. for great eateries. After a recommendation from a couple of Facebook friends, we decided on Rockin Fish on Main Street. This quaint “burger, oyster and brew house” had 16 craft beers on tap and a menu full of specialties. How could we go wrong?

We all ordered a beer and I chose the Ramstein Double Blonde. It was crisp and refreshing. Colleen chose the Saranac Tramonay and it was delicious. It tasted like a mix of white wine and beer because it was very grapey. We were all very happy with our choices.

For lunch, Nicole and I decided to share two plates. I ordered the Shrimp Tempura Wrap with a side of Mixed Greens and she ordered the Pulled Pork Quesadilla with a side of French Fries. The Shrimp Tempura Wrap was very fresh and crunchy. The Tabasco frightened us at first, but it didn’t add too much heat to the taste of the dish. The Pulled Pork Quesadilla had a BBQ sauce that made it sweet and the sour cream on the side added a coolness. The two dishes were a great lunch combination, and their sides were delicious as well.

The Rockin Fish was a great choice for lunch, and it probably would be a great choice for dinner too. We will have to try it in the future. We chose from the sandwich part of the menu for lunch, but the entrees include tuna, bacon-wrapped scallops and short ribs. One of those dishes with a craft beer to wash it down would be perfection. We will be back, but I think I said that already.

Say C’est Cheese

One night in January, we went out for our friend Katie’s birthday to C’est Cheese in Port Jefferson, N.Y. The place was very cute and pleasant. We had a lot of people with us, but we all had space to talk and Jared Roeser was performing some covers in the corner for our listening pleasure.

There was a large list of sandwiches, salads, beer, wine, specials and cheese, of course. I picked a beer and then tried to choose a sandwich because I am not a fan of many cheeses, especially the smelly ones which my dad says are the best ones. I decided on the Baja and TK ordered the Cubano. My sandwich had Grilled Chicken, Spicy Monterey Jack, Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Pesto and Mayo. It was served warm and melty, and I enjoyed it. TK’s sandwich had Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles and Mustard, and he did not love it. He was pretty annoyed with me that we did not share a cheese plate, but since I enjoyed the place, I told him we could get it next time. TK’s sandwich also came with a Mixed Green Salad and a zesty vinaigrette which I stole and enjoyed.

After I had my one beer, I decided to have one of their natural sodas and chose the blackberry. It was light and refreshing, and it did not have the sugary taste of a cola, thankfully. A couple of my friends decided to take some cheese to go and the staff, including Chris, were very helpful and friendly. I tasted a goat cheese that I thought was gross and then a cheddar that was more my taste.

I know we will return to C’est Cheese in the near future because I have a friend that works there and it is a nice, calm place to hang out with friends.

Gloria Estefan knows what she is doing

On the last night at Walt Disney World, we rushed to our reservation at Bongo’s Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney. The parking was a bit of a nightmare because they were doing construction to turn Downtown Disney into Hyperion Wharf, a new waterside dining, shopping and entertainment center for families.

When I checked in for our reservation, we had to wait a little bit because they said they had a table outside for us, but with the baby and the chill in the air, I figured it was not a good idea to be outdoors. So, Tom and I went to the bar for a couple of drinks. I got a Bongo’s Cuban Original Mojito and it was very good, but strong and I’m no lightweight.

When we were finally called in, we sat at a long table and ordered a few appetizers. We ordered two Bongo’s Combos with Fried Stuffed Potatoes, Pork Tamale, Cuban Mojo Marinated Fried Pork Bites, Traditional Cuban Ham Croquettes and Stuffed Yuca Cups. I enjoyed the Stuffed Potatoes and the Stuffed Yuca Cups the most. I love when my father makes Stuffed Potatoes, so I was ready for them to be delicious.

For my entrĂ©e, I got the Lechon Asado with Moro Rice and Tostones because Cubans know pork and it was delicious. I always get fried plantains (tostones) instead of sweet plantains because I’ve always liked the salty better than the sweet. My cousin Georgie got the Paella and it was insane. It came out with an entertaining lobster and a lot of delicious shrimp, chicken, sausage, clams, mussels and other seafood that I can’t remember all that well because I only ate a little bit of it. The moral of this story is that when a menu item says “Market Price” and “for Two” it may be a bit pricey. The paella was $75, but, from what I ate, it was good.

Unfortunately, we did not get anything for dessert, even though I hate Flan, so we finished the meal and headed back to the room. As you may already know, I am always down for Hispanic food, being a Hispanic myself, and Bongo’s is a great place to have some because they even have some great live entertainment.

Bongo’s was a great way to finish up our family vacation and I was very happy to end it with one of my favorite cuisines.