Friday, April 29, 2011

New York Style

Talk to anyone from New York about pizza and they’ll probably tell you that their style is the best. An offspring of the Neapolitan pizza it’s characterized by a thin, high gluten  crust, light on sauce and cheese. Toppings are optional as the true slice (so say diehards) is sauce and cheese only. Famous for being hand tossed and sold by wide, thin foldable, very portable slices.
In 1905 New York grocery Gennaro Lombardi was issued a mercantile license and his store began operation as the first pizzeria in the United States. Selling his tomato pies to Italian workers by the slice as money was scarce, Gennaro basically invented the pizza industry in the United States. Customers would buy 1 or 2 cents worth (for example) and slices were cut accordingly. They were wrapped up and taken to work.
In 2009, friends Brad Davidson, Alejandro Bustamante and Robert (Baldi) Prete decided to help resurrect the sad pizza scene in Toronto. Dominated by the big pizza conglomerates the little guy churning out great pies was slowly being squeezed out. Working long hours perfecting the dough and sampling cheeses and the like they began to craft what they thought was a slice worthy of some of the great pizzerias in NYC. Robert even visited the Big Apple for a little field research. Poor guy having to take one for the team like that.
Finally in late 2010 they opened Bigabaldi’s Pizzeria and joined the few stalwart take out pizza places that have managed to fend off the chain pizza invasion.
The small store on Marlee Ave is decked out like a typical take out pizza place but the addition of a hot table for things like meatballs, roast chicken and vegetables along with other items make it almost like an Italian bakery.
Behind the counter the boys are doing as much themselves in house. What they can’t they source out from quality vendors. The pizza dough is phenomenal. Very crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth fluffy on the inside. It’s not quite as thin as the Roman style pizza I had at Beppo Uno but crispier and is the best crust I’ve ever had. I’ve never been to New York nor have I ever had someone who knows tell me “This is it” so I really have no benchmark but I do know good pizza when I eat it and this stuff is great.
The Italian sausage is made to their special recipe and is very chunky.
The meatballs are exceptional. Made from Baldi’s grandmother’s recipe they’re made of beef and pork and then poached/simmered in a red sauce. They’re very tender with a nice onion taste. I had them in a sandwich and it was great. The Kaiser, while not my first choice for bread was perfect in that it wasn’t crusty so the innards didn’t squish out the back. I added only a good dusting of grated parm.
The “Baldi” slice is goat cheese, rapini, roasted garlic and Italian sausage along with mozzarella and tomato sauce.  One of their most popular slices and very tasty.
The “Bigga” slice is the one for me though. Pepperoni, bacon, mortadella and Italian sausage along with mozzarella and sauce. One of the best combinations of toppings and as a meat lover, perfect IMHO.
Another great offering is the panzarotti. The deep fried pizza turnovers are stuffed with sauce  and cheese (and pepperoni). A little of the house red gravy on top and dusted with parm and you got a great meal.
The dough knots are excellent. I’ve had a lot of these type things in pizza places and none are better. Made for a desert they’re tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with Nutella or caramel. I think the caramel is the better choice.
Brio is a chinotto flavoured soda. Chinotto is similar to an orange but has a slightly bitter taste. The drink itself has appearance of a Cola. I like it for a change once in a while.
You can find Bigabaldi’s Pizzaria at 1 Romar Cres in Toronto.

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You can also find them on the web or like them on facebook.

Well that’s all for now pizza fans.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Cincinnati Classic

Since 1969, Cincinnatians have been flocking to the suburbs and Blue Ash Chili. The little family owned chili parlour has been cranking out Cinci favourites like double deckers, goetta and of course their take on the local chili. The menu has been rounded out with breakfast fare, burgers, soups and offerings from the fryolated arts. It was here in the Summer of 2006 that I was introduced to the unique flavour of Cincinnati Chili and I took to it quite well. I pick up cans of Skyline chili in the grocery store when in the area and make it from scratch at home as often as regular chili.
101_0462The place has grown but still keeps it’s small feel with the open kitchen and marshaling area splitting the two dining rooms. A veritable “Who’s who” of the rich and famous adorns the walls along with the many articles lauding them. The staff is friendly and ample so even though they were busy the wait times were minimal.
101_0460Perhaps the most famous of the chili parlours Blue Ash has all the major media outlets in town paying visits. They’re known nationally from NPR and made Maxim's list of the Top 77 Places to Eat Before You Die! Perhaps the biggest honours though came in 2010 with a visit from Guy Fieri and the Triple D gang. They also were selected as the Official Chili of the “WEBN Fireworks + Cincinnati Riverfest 2010!”
So lets get on with the food.

I ordered a 6 way. Cincinnati’s only, it’s the 3 way with beans, diced onion and fried jalapeno caps (deep fried jalapeno slices). Coneys and a chocolate malted. Mrs. Sippi had a bowl of mac n cheese, a Coney and a 3 way.

I found the 6 way to have too much stuff going on. First of all, the caps simply didn’t fit in, in my opinion. They did taste great so I just ate them on the side. The beans and onions competed with the chili, cheese and spaghetti rather than compliment. All in all it was okay but I wouldn’t order again.
101_0470I preferred Mrs. Sippi’s 3 way.
101_0474This is quite possibly the best coney I've had. I've been to the chain parlours and even BA's main competition and I think these are the best. Absolutely excellent.
101_0471Mrs. Sippi’s mac and cheese was a very pleasant surprise. Not the best “Old school” M&C I’ve had but a really solid bowl none the less. Things don’t always have to be great. They just have to be good and on that, this dish delivered.
101_0468Another nice surprise was the chocolate malted. Made with premium Algamesis Brother’s ice cream it had a great, full creamy chocolate taste. My only complain was it was a bit thick and hard to suck through a straw. It melted fairly quickly and was easier to manage.
The Coney Bowl is great. Basically a 3 Way with Pups instead of spaghetti. I liked that the dogs were cut up like they'd be in wieners and beans. I will have to remember to add onions and mustard next time though.

The GLT sandwich is fabulous. Taking advantage of 2 Cinci traditions (Goetta and Double Decker Sandwiches) for one item. Their Goetta is very tasty but slightly more oaty than other I've had. Not a complaint or compliment, just an observation. They also didn't seem to get as good a crust as I've had but that's okay. One thing I'm starting to notice about Cinci. They love them some mayonnaise. Sandwiches seem to come anywhere from loaded all the way up to bathed in the stuff. No complaints for the most part. I love mayo.

Chili PhillyThe Chili Philly is a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich topped with a good sized ladle of chili. It’s a really good sandwich however I should’ve known better and asked that the green bell pepper be excused. Anyway, the Philly itself is good, not great. The addition of the chili is a great twist on it. While not a favourite at BAC it’s certainly worth ordering again. Sans bell pepper of course.

So all in all, a fantastic visit and further fueling of my Cinci chili love.

You can find Blue Ash Chili at 9565 Kenwood Road in Blue Ash, Ohio.

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They also have a second store in Mason, Ohio.

You can find them on the web or Like them on Facebook as well.
 Blue Ash Chili on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all for now food fans. See ya real soon in the food court.