Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

photoJuly 27, 2013

I’m upset.

Very upset.

And I have been for awhile. My quest to discover the best pizza in Orlando is an ongoing journey filled with tasty crusts, spicy pepperoni, smoked bacon and flavorful chicken. It also has given me the opposite, such as bland crusts and mediocre sauce. But with so many pizza options in the city, there has to be one local business that sets itself apart. Right?

Although my pizza experiences are limited to a select number of establishments, I have not found one non-chain restaurant that delivers the best pie – one that gives me a craving similar to the one I have when I want to start a snowball fight. I do love Lazy Moon for the huge slices and dollar PBRs, and Mellow Mushroom offers a great pie as well, even though it does fall into the chain category.

So I wanted to do a little market research. Simple question: what is the best pizza in Orlando? That’s it. It could be a chain, one you make in your kitchen or a food truck. I received 18 responses. The end result?

I’m still upset.

Mellow Mushroom stole the show with Lazy Moon in second. I really hoped for one pure Italian restaurant to step up with a bunch of votes, but alas my dream will remain a dream. No offense to those two establishments because their pizza is scrumptious, though.

There’s only one thing left to do now. Visit the respectable locations which received first-place votes and decide for myself who really has the best pies in this town.

Survey Results
Mellow Mushroom – 5 First-Place Votes, 2 Second-Place Votes
Comment – Coarse crust that is practically whole grain through the upscale topping, its more gourmet than what pizza was intended to be

Lazy Moon – 3 First-Place Votes, 1 Second-Place Vote
Comment – I’m going to have to go with Lazy Moon. It’s hip, trendy, unique and most importantly, the slices are as big as your head. I’ve been coming back for more since 2005. I have graduated from being just a one-topping guy to the “Six Guns” combo which is a slice with two toppings and drink included. My go-to toppings are buffalo chicken and Italian sausage. The combo is fantastic. I’ve done many others, however, including Mojo pulled pork and red peppers or bacon and BBQ chicken. Despite the move, LM kept the uniqueness and has a place to feed many more people. Now all they need are more TVs! And don’t forget the honey for your crust!

Broadway – 2 First-Place Votes, 1 Second-Place Vote
Comment – All about the sauce and right amount of crust. Sauce is sweet, saucy enough.
Comment – Great toppings, quantities. Old place has better seasoned oven with black-flecked crust for good NY style pie. New place not yet.

Anthonys – 2 First-Place Votes (received a late vote after originally posted)
Comment – Closest you will come to real NY style pizza down here

Ravalias – 1 First-Place Vote, 1 Second-Place Vote
Comment – Real Italian person from Italy making pizza, everything from scratch.

Backstreet – 1 First-Place Vote
Comment – Slices are big, good lunch specials

Carluccis – 1 First-Place Vote
Comment – Real authentic NY style

Whatever’s Cheap – 1 First-Place Vote

BJs – 1 First-Place Vote

Goodfellas – 1 First-Place Vote

Papa Johns – 2 Second-Place Votes

Hungry Howies – 1 Second-Place Vote

Ferraras – 1 Second-Place Vote
Comment – Cheese and pepperoni is pretty classic, not a fan of their sausage since it’s thin sliced.

Pacinos – 1 Second-Place Vote

Emanuela’s Mom’s Pizza – 1 Miscellaneous Vote

(After posted, I received this comment that I think is worth sharing: Gino’s was pretty good for a NY style slice, plus the garlic knots were an added bonus. There is a place down by the I-Drive area called Pizza Xtreme, that has some pretty good pizza.)

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Lazy MoonMarch 28, 2013

If you are a tiny bit familiar with East Orlando and the UCF area, then Lazy Moon needs no explanation. However, if you are a sheltered individual and need emotional care, your brain simply has to gaze at the picture of this slice of heaven in order to fill your heart with joy and wonder.

One of the great eateries of our generation, Lazy Moon is a pure college establishment that appears to be much underrated on the national stage. Its original location served up an eclectic, mysterious environment that catered to a hungry lunchtime crowd as well as the typical drunk student in the evening. Although it was forced to move down the street (next to Burger 21, Tijuana Flats, Jimmy John’s and World of Beer, oh my!), both groups will still have little trouble accomplishing their satisfying missions.

I currently do not have a favorite pizza in Florida, although the case can be made for Mellow Mushroom in Orlando and Bizzarro’s Famous New York Pizza in Indialantic. But in terms of an overall pizza experience, Lazy Moon crushes all others just like the Cleveland Indians crush my dreams every season.

So returning to Lazy Moon in March, I treated myself to possibly the best deal in town: the Box Car Willy. This order selection provides the customer with a gigantic slice and a pint of delicious PBR for just $3.50. I added woodsmoked bacon and BBQ chicken for about $2.50 more and it was certainly well worth it. While waiting for my slice to be delivered to my table, I happily ordered another PBR since they are just $1.07.

Arriving in front of me, I determined that my Box Car Willy could qualify as a candidate for my last meal if I ever faced the chair. Fork and knife is required for about 60 percent of the slice unless you want to gamble your life away. The crust is thin but holds toppings with relative ease given its unique size, and some slather the crust in honey, yet I stay away.

Comparing pizza joints pretty much everywhere, Lazy Moon offers a more delicious, filling meal for a scrumptiously low price. Add a couple cheap adult beverages, and accomplishing the mission can be achieved for virtually half of the cost of other establishments.

If/when I move from Orlando, I will try and enact a law that requires Lazy Moon to move with me.

White PizzaJanuary 2013

Let’s Start with the Pizza

Although my list of favorite toppings runs short, there seems to be endless possibilities when it comes to creating pizzas. Give me the standard pepperoni pie, maybe add in some bacon. How about a zesty barbeque chicken pizza (without onions) or a meat lover’s option?

They all force me to munch on at least half of the round, delectable object. Yet this time I craved a white pizza. So we were “on the road to” Publix to purchase some random cheeses, and our cart filled up slowly due to my inability to make decisions.

With Martha White deep-dish dough mix created and in an 8-inch pan, it became layered with Parmesan, feta, goat, bleu then mozzarella cheese. The feta, goat and bleu cheeses were of the crumbled variety, and I cannot wait to use more crumbled cheeses in other meals. It did not take long before the kitchen smelled with dairy delights.

Using marinara as a dipping sauce, the pizza brought out a lot of my taste buds. The amount of each cheese used gave it a perfect balance (Cooking shows love that term, balance. It’s like watching people searching for the perfect house on TV. They always say, “this room would be great for entertaining.” Yeah right, like you actually do a lot of “entertaining”). The decision to go with a thick crust was a smart one as well. One change for the future will be to add some Italian spices to the crust, as it did end up to be a tad bland just by itself.

Mac & CheeseOn to the Mac & Cheese

A week or so later and looking to get rid of some of that cheese before it started boasting wonderful smells, I could not figure out how to manage the situation. My original thought was some type of sandwich, or to use the dairy products as condiments on a burger or two. When I opened my cabinet, the answer filtered into my body: mac & cheese.

Using odd choices for this dish can ruin one’s culinary effort, but I still wanted to give it a shot. The end result proved what I already knew, and that was you have to pick your cheese carefully.

Emptying the containers of crumbled feta, goat and bleu cheese, I tossed in a bunch of shredded cheddar to the group. It definitely provided me with a cheesy experience, yet the goat and bleu cheeses were a bad choice. I ate half the plate until deciding that the rest of my appetite should be devoted to cookies.

All in all, using crumbled cheeses was a good choice as it provided a different texture to the cheese sauce. And I’ll stick with normal cheeses in the future.

What You’ll Need – Five Cheese White Pizza

Dough

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Goat cheese

Feta cheese

Bleu cheese

Mozzarella cheese

The Steps

1)      Set oven to 450, and make the dough according to the package’s instructions. In this case we used Martha White’s deep-dish pizza crust

2)      After moving the dough to an 8-inch pizza pan (or circular pan), brush with olive oil

3)      Add about ½ cup Parmesan, then ½ cup of goat, feta and bleu. Toss mozzarella on top. I didn’t measure the cheese, just put on however much I wanted

4)      Bake for about 8-10 minutes.

What You’ll Need – Miscellaneous Mac & Cheese

Your choice of pasta

Margarine

Flour

Salt

Pepper

Milk

Lots of Cheese

The Steps

1)      Boil water and add pasta

2)      Toss in 2 tablespoons of margarine to a separate pan and melt it

3)      Add 1 tablespoon of flour along with a little salt and pepper and stir frequently until it bubbles

4)      Pour in 2 cups of milk, stir frequently and bring it to a boil

5)      Remove from heat and add in about 2 cups of whatever cheese you’d like – or add however much cheese you like – and stir until it becomes saucy.

6)      Sauce doesn’t have to be smooth, and add it to the pasta after it has been cooked and drained

Preface – When I read this guest column, my pride for Eric shot through the roof. He embraces what food offers for the body and the soul, and his elegant words capture the fine details of a truly perfect dish. – Brian

Written By: Eric DeSalvo

Sometimes some of the tastiest meals are the ones you make. And sometimes they are the ones you had no intention of whipping up. That’s what happened when I walked into Publix on a rainy Wednesday night after getting a workout in. The best part of my favorite supermarket is all of the deals, mostly BOGOs (buy one, get one), that are put out in front as you walk in. One item in particular caught my eye–Mama Mary’s Flatbread pizza dough with crushed red pepper baked in. Ever since my voyage to Flagstaff, Ariz., where I spent two years, I decided to really turn up the spice in my life when it comes to food. Crushed red pepper became a mainstay in my kitchen and has livened up plenty of great dishes that ended up in my belly.

With my flatbread in hand, I knew I was going to need to jazz it up with some more ingredients. Any good grownup pie these days needs some vegetables. I headed over to the produce section and instantly grabbed a sweet onion and green pepper. But I wanted more. I decided to live life on the edge and purchased an orange bell pepper along with a fresh jalapeno. Adding to this medley of veggies, I heaped on some browned ground turkey, Bertoli olive oil and garlic pasta sauce and pepper jack cheese. If that array of ingredients doesn’t send you over the top, I don’t know what will.

Prep work:

-First I took one of the two flatbreads that came in the package and dabbled on some olive oil to give the crust that little extra flavor.

-I busted out the cutting board and got to work on my veggies, slicing half of each pepper while dicing up the jalapeno by hand as well. I added about 1/4 of an onion to the mix as well. (Side note: use gloves when slicing up a fresh jalapeno. Although you won’t feel it right away, the juice from the pepper will set your hands on fire, so be careful!)

-After slicing and dicing, I put the veggies in a skillet with some olive oil and sautéed them up.

-With the best pasta sauce one could ask for spread across the crust, I sprinkled on the ground turkey and proceeded to load on the freshly sautéed veggies. I topped of this tasty treat with Sargento shredded pepper jack cheese.

-With the oven preheated to 450, I slid the round cookie tray in for nine minutes to let the flavors collide.

Eying the cheese melted perfectly, I took the pie out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes and cool down. I busted out my biggest knife to slice this bad boy and realized I really need to invest in a pizza cutter, but who cares, I’m cheap. With each slice loaded to the gills with ingredients, I could only devour just half of this flatbread in one sitting. As I took my first bite, I could taste the heat from the jalapenos, the sweet bell peppers and the crushed red pepper and of course the tasty garlic pasta sauce. It was surely my finest pizza creation and my Sicilian ancestors would be very proud!