Sunday, November 17, 2013

Carbonella's Coal Fired Pizza- Middletown, NY

My neighbor Sam went here and his whole family was raving about how good it was, so when we passed by today we decided to stop and see for ourselves. To make a long story short, Sam was right and now I'm raving about it. 

We were trying to decide what to get and debated between two personal pizzas, a main dish, or a pizza and a calzone. The Capricciosa Pizza with prosciutto, artichoke hearts, mozzarella,  plum tomatoes, basil and kalamata olives along with a cheese calzone won out. The calzone was good, the pizza was amazing. The coal fired oven gave a crispy crust and the combination of ingredients gave a nice salty flavor. 

Capricciosa Pizza
Overall, very good food at reasonable prices and good service. Stop by sometime and see for yourself. We'll definitely be going back to try some more pizzas.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Liberty Public House- Rhinebeck, NY

Rhinebeck NY is a cute town that I haven't been to in years so today we decided to take a drive up after furniture shopping in Poughkeepsie. It was interesting to see that the small village has become gentrified, or perhaps yuppified and that there is a plethora of restaurants. Instead of doing prior research we freestyled a bit (okay, I stole that term from American Pickers) by walking up the main drag and looking at the menus posted in some of the restaurants, I love it when restaurants do that. Well, the one that peaked my interest was the Liberty Public House and I was going to either get the burger or the fish and chips. 

Cheese and corn bread with jalapeño butter.
We went in and were asked if we wanted to eat in the pub or the dining room. Looking at both we decided on the pub side as it seemed quainter and more eclectic with all of the artifacts (some real and some replicas) from the turn of a few centuries. It looked like some of the places I've seen in Alexandria, Va. with a warm colonial feel. The main dining room was brighter and decorated in early Americana. I think the building dates back to around 1860.

They brought us some cool cheese bread with a jalapeño butter and a bottle of cold water for the Mason jars on the table. We looked over the menus, listened to the specials, and made our decisions. 

Cornbread oysters
I started with the cornbread oysters at ten bucks. There were four perfectly cooked Blue Point oysters, creamy on the inside with a crispy cornmeal coating and fresh tasting. My only comment is that they were sitting on the remoulade sauce, a good sauce mind you, and as a result the sauce was a bit overpowering. I would have preferred the sauce on the side to dip.

Shrimp and Grits
For my entree I chose the garlic and spicy shrimp with hominy grits at eighteen bucks. Now you who are regular readers will know that I spent some time in Charleston (the best was at Magnolia's) and Wilmington (the best was at The RX) this summer sampling shrimp and grits, and that I've been reasonably successful in creating my own interpretation. As a result, I think I have a pretty good feel for what a good shrimp and grits is. This dish was an interesting, and amazing, interpretation of shrimp and grits, especially this far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The grits were perfectly cooked with just the right balance of creaminess and grittiness, al dente as Joe Pesci would say in My Cousin Vinnie. The shrimp were fresh, large, and plentiful with no fishy taste at all. I just wish they, and all other restaurants for that matter, would remove the tails before cooking as it makes them messy to eat. The sauce was amazing with sliced garlic, some heat and some sweet to it. I could taste some onions and it seemed to have a pimento base. Overall it was great and I wish I had some now as I write this.

Teresa ordered one of the specials, a ravioli dish. When it came she commented that it was very oily and that it had no taste. Now what happened next is what separates a good restaurant from the great. Our waitress, and I am sorry that I forget her name as she was awesome, noticed that something was wrong and she immediately offered to replace the dish with anything Teresa wanted. She said she wanted her to be happy. After looking over the menu again Teresa ordered a stir-fried vegetable dish over brown rice which was very quickly brought out. It was very good and piping hot and she was pleased with it. 

So overall, the bill was forty-five bucks for two entrees and an appetizer, tax included. The food was excellent, the ambiance charming and the service impeccable. Go there sometime and see for yourself.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Smashburger- Ramsey, NJ

New Jersey Burger
This has been on the short list for some time now and today was the day to try Smashburger. Now at first glance one might think "Five Guys rip-off," but after trying them I found that they are different, and perhaps better. They are definitely competing against Five Guys, as well as Jake's Wayback, In-and-out, Steak and Shake, and more and doing a good job of it.  The Smashburger chain has over five hundred locations, was started in Denver Colorado by Tom Ryan. 

The Ramsey staff was friendly and helpful, and the restaurant was clean and bright. I ordered the New Jersey Burger, they have a regional burger in every market, which had bacon, blue cheese, grilled onions and onion straws on an onion roll. I got the regular which weighed in at 1/3 of a pound instead of the 1/2 pound large. The regular was a perfect size for an amazing burger. The meat was very good and the combination of ingredients went well together. Teresa ordered a regular cheeseburger which came with onions and she was quite pleased. 

We shared an order of sweet potato fries, some of the best I've tasted, and we also shared a shake. Actually we didn't have to share as they split the shake into two glasses for us which was a nice touch. 

Overall, we spent twenty bucks for two burgers, some sweet potato fires and a milk shake and we left full. The service was excellent and the restaurant clean. We'll be back a few times and so should you.