Saturday, August 30, 2008

Venturing into Enemy Territory (especially this time of year)

We had to come up with some sort of outing to go on while Mrs. Dine O Mite's aunt was in town. We wanted to do something relatively close to Cleveland (driving) but not too far. What we came up with is a trip to Pittsburgh.

None of us had every been to Frank Lloyd Wright's opus Fallingwater, in Mill Run, PA. We figured this would be the first part of the trip. Located just north of the West Virginia border, the property is located in a very remote area.

Chez Girard
Business Route 40
Hopwood, PA 15445
Fax: (724) 437.4907
Reservations: (724) 437.9001

On our way down we decided to stop at at a little French eatery named Chez Girard. My wife called ahead and talked to the owners. They said that since this was their slow season they weren't open for lunch. However, if we wanted to come they would open for us!

Located in an old farmhouse, the interior was decorated in a French country style. The owner, who had a very heavy french accent came out and was our server. It was a three course menu for $24.

I ordered:
The guinea hen and chicken - was in the form of a roll. Not my favorite, but it tasted good.

The Leg of Rabbit - The meat itself was cooked perfectly, served with green beans and a very rich and tasty sauce.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Tart - Spot on. Very good. It appeared to be your run-of-the-mill pie crust type tart. Wrong. The strawberry and rhubarb was cradled by a spongy but firm "crust". It tasted like it was loaded with butter. When I asked our server she said that there was, in fact, very little butter in it. Unfortunately, I forget how she said they did it. Wins an award for best course the entire trip.

If you were making the trip down to Fallingwater I would definitely recommend stopping here to eat. It's about a half an hour or forty-five minutes from the Fallingwater. It's not worth driving solely out of your way from Pittsburgh, though.


As far as Fallingwater is concerned, it's really worth a trip to come and see. It's an absolute marvel that this thing was ever actually built. All I can say is that you have to see it to believe it. Go when it snows, or is sunny, or the leaves are changing. A friend of mine said he went when it rained and it was very unpleasant. Fallingwater is one for the "Bucket List".

Il Pizzaiolo

703 Washington Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Afterward we drove toward Pittsburgh to Mt. Lebanon. For the past year I'd been working on a project nearby and always had dinner at Il Pizzaiolo. I realize there are a bunch of restaurants that go by this name. In fact, there is a very good chance we will be going to one in Oakland (sans "Il").

At any rate, the Antipasta Napoli is absolute money. However, I did notice this time it was a little smaller in size. It didn't really bother me because the four of us couldn't finish it anyway. Just an observation.

I ordered the Pizza Margherita with imported mozzarella di bufala DOC which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllate (for more about what DOC is click here). Every week they get mozzerella di bufala fresh off the plane from Italy. The last time we ate here we had the misfortune of coming on a night they ran out. Typically they get the order in on Thursday. So if you want to order this don't come on a Wednesday night. The pizza tastes just like the stuff in Italy. It has a very puffy crust on the edges, and a very thin crust under the cheese and sauce. There's no pepperoni here, just dough, cheese, sauce, and basil.

My wife ordered the Pizza Bianca with Ricotta, topping it with mushrooms robbed off of the antipasta dish. It's her attempt at reliving the old days at NYPD Pizza, (she used to always get her slice with ricotta and mushrooms).

Il Pizzaiolo on Urbanspoon

The next morning we went to the Carnegie Museum of Art near the Pitt campus in Pittsburgh. As far as art museums go I thought it was good. There was a pretty wide representation of art. My favorites were probably the Greene and Greene side chair and the six panes of Tiffany stained glass in the architecture wing. Overall, I don't think it's anything I'd make a special trip for.

Afterward, we got in the car and went over to "The Strip". A total of maybe 9 blocks and packed with people, The Strip was really a little bit of a let down. With a smattering of bars, restaurants, and shops I didn't really see anything that seemed all that unique or of "Pittsburgh Institution" quality. I can tell you this, these people are ready for the football season because there were tables selling Steelers shirts EVERYWHERE. It wasn't just two or three vendors. I'm talking about a ridiculous amount of black and gold. I've never seen anything on par with this in Cleveland. Absolutely staggering.

Lidia's Pittsburgh
1400 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

We stopped at Lidia's Pittsburgh for brunch. It was one price, $22, for the antipasti table, a second course, and a trip to the dessert table.

The antipasti table had some cured meats, fritatas, and some seasonal type prepared vegetables. I think the fritata may have been the best thing I had there. It was really light and not at all over-cooked. I typically steer clear of eggs of any sort that are set out on a table. These were very good, maybe better than Fire's.

For my second course I had the Piadina con Prosciutto Cotto, which is an Italian cooked ham and fontina cheese on house made piadina, a traditional flatbread from Emiglia-Romagna, served with twice-fried potatoes. Overall, I thought it was decent. I probably wouldn't order it again. With everything else, it was way too much food for me to eat. I think it sounds better on the menu than it is on the actual plate.

The dessert table had an assortment of Italian desserts. I opted for the tiramisu. What can I say, it's tiramisu, it's either bad or it's not. This wasn't bad.

My overall impression is that I would like to have had a regular lunch or dinner here. I don't like brunch because I hate eating that much food so early in the day. It makes me feel like going back to bed.

Lidia's Pittsburgh on Urbanspoon

21st Street Coffee & Tea
2018 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA15222
(412) 281-0809

On the way out I spotted a coffee shop and figured I'd get a cup for the road. As luck would have it this was one of the lucky (or unlucky) owners of the Clover coffee maker. Howard Shultz tasted the coffee and loved it so much Starbucks bought the company. Now all of the independents who bought these machines are stuck with them. So how's the coffee? I can say that the coffee is pretty damn smooth. Reminds me a lot of La Colombe. I found that there wasn't the slightest bitterness in the after taste. For $3 I'd get it again, but I wouldn't make a special trip. I can check it off the list.

21st Street Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

All in all, my trip to enemy territory was pretty fun. It really does look like a fun place to live. I just don't know if I could put up with all of the Steelers stuff everyday, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One of My West Side Faves

Make sure to check here for more Cleveland posts

After I got done golfing on Sunday morning the inevitable question "What are we doing for dinner tonight?" came up. Typically, Saturday is West Side or downtown dining because we have the time to get there and don't have to fight rush hour traffic.

It was going to be a beautiful evening so we wanted to eat outside. I knew 3 Birds and Fig were going to probably be full so we decided to make our way out to Players on Madison.

This is one of my West Side faves. Players is what I consider a "3 tool restaurant"; memorable starters, entrees, and desserts, (the other two are Fig and 3 Birds). There are actually a lot of restaurants out there that I think do one or two things extremely well but fall short on one of the categories.

We started out with the calamari. I have to say that it reminded me a lot of Boulevard Blue. It came with a sweet sauce that was really good. I was torn between the Study on Heirloom Tomatoes" or the Cheeseburger with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, arugala, and a slice of heirloom tomato. I opted for the cheeseburger. Every season they do a "Study of (seasonal vegetable of choice). I think the cheeseburger may very well be the best I've had in Cleveland. Up to this point I'd have to say that Heck's was probably my favorite.

For dessert I had the praline cheesecake. Wow! It was really basic but really good.

We talked to the lady at the hostess stand and she told us about another place they have over ok the East Side called Stages at Cleveland Playhouse. If anyone has been there I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Franklin Fountain – Old Fashioned Ice Cream Fun In Philly

Franklin Fountain
116 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 627-1899

By Mrs. Dine O Mite

Sometimes older is better. A shining example of this is the Franklin Fountain, an old time ice cream parlor in Old City Philadelphia. This vintage venture, born in the Summer of 2004, is the baby of brothers Ryan and Eric Berley. The Berley brothers have made painstaking and thoughtful efforts to not only preserve the historical building which houses the Franklin Fountain, but also to transport anyone whosteps through the door, to a much simpler place and time. Think ice cream in an era when women wore corsets and petticoats and cars were started with a crank.

Everything in the Fountain is a throw back: the verbiage and selections on the menu, the mechanical cash register (cash only please, you know they didn't have credit cards at the turn of the century!), the look of the staff (men with crisp white shirts, bow ties and slicked back hair) and all the decor inside (note the ceiling fans above head run on a belt or the antique pink marble counter top).

This place is no modern day ice cream parlor...sure, they have sundaes and cones, but they also have things I've never heard of before, like Phosphates and ice cream flavors such as Hydrox Cookie (old school Cookies and Cream) and Teaberry Gum. The portions are outrageous (just try eating a Mt. Vesuvius on your own) and the ice cream is top notch.

Be prepared for long lines in the warm weather, but if you are patient, you will be rewarded with a truly unique and satisfying ice cream experience. My personal recommendation is the Ice Cream Waffle Sandwich with Maple Walnut Ice Cream and topped with whipped cream (of course). If you order this dish, you'll have to wait. It will take the staff about 5-10 minutes to cook up the warm, sweet waffles that beautifully complement the ice cream they encase...but oh, what a worthwhile wait it is! Your anticipation is followed by pure ice cream perfection!

Another must eat when in Philadelphia. I just advise the you have a light dinner beforehand, because you won't want to share and you won't want to leave a single bite behind when you travel back in time at the Franklin Fountain.

Franklin Fountain on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The South Side Cafe in Tremont

The South Side Cafe
2207 W. 11th St.
Cleveland, OH 44133
(216) 937-2288

This week my wife's aunt came in from Fall River, Mass to visit for a couple weeks. My mother-in-law (her sister) handed down the criteria for a place to eat: Cheap, Relatively Quiet, and West Side. Entrusting my brother-in-law Mike to make the call he chose The South Side in Tremont.

I had been there once before and remember not really having a favorable opinion of the food. In his defense it was a decent choice considering the criteria. I wasn't sure how quiet it was going to be since I remembering it being a little on the loud side. However, noise was not a problem. So kudos on meeting the criteria.

We had gotten there a little late and they were ordering appetizers. I really didn't care what they ordered. So the consensus was Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna, Hummus Dip, Calamari, and *gulp* Chicken and Waffles (not Chicken.........and waffles; Chicken with a Belgian Waffle).

Quite the mixed bag I'd say. The Hummus was Hummus, nothing special. The Yellowfin Tuna I didn't eat, because I don't eat tuna. The tuna of the world have enough problems without me eating them, too. Calamari was a little too greasy for my taste. As far as the Chicken and Waffles go, I manned up and tried them last time. It didn't do a whole lot for me, so I was taking a pass this time around. Sorry.

For dinner I got the Asiago Chicken Sandwich. It was described as a cheese crusted breast of bird with pickled red onions, basil pesto, red leaf, and tomato. I was intrigued by the notion of how the "crusted" part was going to work. I had never seen asiago used a crusted type cheese. I just seems to get soft, but not actually crust. If it did crust, was it going to overcook the chicken? I had to find out.

So the sandwich comes and there is no crust. It's more like a coating. Crust is probably the wrong word. In their defense the chicken was cooked properly (which I much prefer over crusty dried out chicken). I was disappointed but not surprised. I ate the sandwich. It was decent. Nothing I'd make a special trip back for.

I think this falls under the "you get what you pay for" categorey. It is dirt cheap, independent, and has a nice patio. I would drink here, but I'd eat across the street at Parallax (or any of the other numerous places in Tremont).

In the end, cheap prices aren't a motivating factor for me. I would consider this an independent version of Cheesecake Factory Cleveland style.

Southside Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Points Southwest of Intercourse

Every morning my wife has yogurt for breakfast. She says that its cultures help regulate her digestion. I don't know how true this is. All I know is that when we go out of town there damn well better be some respectable yogurt options in the vicinity of where we are staying.

The yogurt snob refuses to eat anything that has artificial this or that in it, (think Yoplait). Dannon fruit on the bottom has always been her favorite. However, she doesn't like the fact that there's high fructose corn syrup in it (obviously not natural, but tastes good).

You name it, she's tried it. Stonyfield, Chobani, Brown Cow are just a few of the many that have been sampled over the years. Never quite able to find that perfect yogurt that had active cultures, natural ingredients, and good taste. Perhaps I should call it the "Trinity of Yogurt".

The Trinity had been elusive, always missing that one element. That is, until I unknowingly hit pay dirt just off Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.

How was I to know that a trip to my favorite bakery would end up taking me to points southwest of "Intercourse".

The Find...

Late last summer we took a trip to Philly and the usual hunt for yogurt started the next morning. I told her to relax, I think I remember there being some yogurt at the bakery. Since I was going there for breakfast I told her I'd pick some up. When I got to the bakery, I nervously picked out some yogurt I'd never heard of, Pequea Valley. I took it back to the hotel knowing that it was probably going to be lumped with all of the other yogurt rejects.

So I walk in the room and say, "Here, this all they had."

"Pequea Valley? Never heard of it.", she sneered.

"Well, it'll it have to suffice, because I'm not spending my entire trip looking for yogurt.", I thought to myself.

She silently approved as she inspected the ingredients. All natural and has active cultures. Two arms of the Yogurt Trinity. My guess was that it was going to taste like shit.

"Where'd you get this?"

I knew it. It did taste like shit. "There is no way I'm going back out to get yogurt.", I thought to myself.

"This is the best yogurt I've ever tasted."

Thank God! Our yogurt hunt was cancelled.

Fast forward nearly one year later...

I find myself on a country highway southwest of a town called Intercourse. I don't know how it got its name, but I have to believe there's a story there. If there isn't much of a story, I know there are a ton of bad jokes.

I'm headed to Ronks, Pennsylvania. In the middle of southeastern PA Amish country , and close neighbor to Intercourse, Ronks is also famous for being...the home to Pequea Valley Yogurt (best yogurt in the world according to my wife).

Based out of an Amish farm about a quarter mile off of the nearest road, Pequea Valley is run by Jonas and Rebecca King.

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to see when I arrived there. As I drove down the quarter mile long driveway there were three other houses I passed before I hit the King compound. When I got to the end of the driveway I could see white turkeys running around, buggies parked in the barns, and a couple of little children playing in the yard.

I saw a girl that was about 10-12 years old and asked her where I could pick up the yogurt. Not saying a word, she pointed a timid finger toward a building next to the barn.

I was very curious as to what I was going to find when I walked through the door. Was there going to be little Amish kids sitting on a straw covered floor spooning yogurt into plastic containers? Was there going to be people churning this stuff in wooden containers? I wasn't sure.

So I walk in the front door and it looks like any other front desk area you would find at a business like this. The only difference I noticed, was that there was a propane powered light mounted to the wall (like a Coleman lamp). If you look through the window in the door you can see these two big stainless steel tanks running in an adjacent room. No straw, no kids, and no wooden churners. Myth shattered.

When I called out for some help, though, no one answered. So I went out the door and around the side of the building and saw something I've never seen Amish guy in a hair net. There sat Jonas with, I presume, his two sons eating lunch.

"Hi. Are you the person I see to get some yogurt?", I asked.

"Yes, what flavor?"

"A case of strawberry, a case of cherry, and then a few of the others so we can try them."

"I'll go look."

Jonas wasn't big on conversation.

He came back producing a couple cases of cherry, four rasberries, and a chocolate.

"We won't have anymore strawberry until tomorrow. Is another cherry okay?"

"Yeah, we'll skip the lemon since my wife is allergic to it. She doesn't like blueberry either so I guess we'll just go with this."

I paid him a dollar a piece for the yogurts and packed them in my cooler. He didn't seem too interested in talking about the entire operation, so I just thanked him and left.


Why would I go all the way out there to get yogurt? Well, for one, I was travelling back to Ohio from a business trip. I wasn't that far off the beaten path, so I figured what the hell. But more importantly, this stuff is only sold a handful of outlets in southeast Pennsylvania. They lack a decent distribution source, so there I was, picking it up from their farm.

I'm not the yogurt conessuer that my wife is; I can tell you that this stuff has a really unique taste to it. I've included a photo of the label so you can see for yourself how natural it is. I've seen others that are all natural, but they don't taste anywhere near as good as this. My wife says, "It's like having ice cream for breakfast." That's a pretty good description. There is one caveat, Pequea Valley does have a few more grams of fat, but she swears they're worth it.

What I would like to do is get someone to carry it here. The product is superior to anything that is in stores now. If you have any suggestions as to how we can get someone to carry this stuff in Cleveland, please email me @ I do have some extras that we could use for samples.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Phavorite Phood Phinds in Philadelphia Part 2

Capogiro Gelateria
119 S 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 351-0900

Some years ago, back when Italy was adopting the euro and the exchange rate was 1.25€ to $1.00, I tasted real gelato. Creamy as all hell and every bit as delicious. It was one of those things you remember when and where it was you experienced it for the first time. For me it was a little shop on a corner near the King Emanuele II monument in Rome. It was at that shop that my search for gelato of the same quality in the US would begin. (The same goes for cappuccino, but I have yet to find it.)

I may not have found the perfect cup of Italian cappuccino, but I have found the American answer for premium grade gelato right in the heart of Center City. Capogiro is a shining beacon of how gelato is supposed to be done. Their first store, located around the corner from Jefferson Hospital, has fans that flock from near and far to experience their rich and creamy offerings. (I understand they've opened a new store near Rittenhouse Square, but I haven't been.)

The flavors are original but not simply for the sake of being original. Tastes such as Burnt Sugar (think Creme Brulee caramelized sugar), Bacio (like the hazelnut coated Italian candy), and Cioccolato Con Malt (the taste of Whoppers), can be found among many of the fruity flavors that are made from the local fruits grown in neighboring Lancaster County.

Simply put, this is by far my favorite gelateria in the US (better than Grom in NYC, La Gelateria in Cleveland, haven't been to il laboratorio del gelato in NYC but want to try). I'm always willing to try new things, but admittedly, Capogiro has set the bar extremely high.

This a must see (and eat) if you are in Philly.

Capogiro Gelateria on Urbanspoon

Metropolitan Bakery
262 S 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 545-6655

Metropolitan Bakery has always been a fascination of mine. Every time I go to Philly I buy pastry at the Metropolitan and then walk a block to Rittenhouse Square and enjoy it while soaking up one of the best outdoor spaces in the city. Rittenhouse is right up there with Washington Square and Bryant Park in terms of people watching.

So where was I?

Oh, yeah. Chock full of fresh baked goods, I always opt for the fruit danishes. These things are the most addictive danishes I think I've ever had in my life. There's a crispiness to them that is provided by a cinnamon edge that makes them very unique. The recipe is actually in the cookbook they put out a few years ago. *Check that out here, it's a good one. I always like it when famous places put a smattering of their most populars in a cookbook*

Their bagels are also a huge favorite of mine. If you're looking for a traditional New York style bagel you can look elsewhere. These aren't those. However, if there is such a thing as an artisinal bagel; this is it. I always buy a bunch and take them back to Cleveland. Quite dense and very filling. One will fill you up until lunch.

Aside from the bakery itself, Metropolitan carries a large assortment of locally produced dairy products. One product in particular has captured my wife's heart: Pequa Valley Yogurt. Made by an Amish woman in Ronks, PA, this yogurt is free of high fructose corn syrup and any other artificial sweeteners. While there's a little more fat in it than the lighter yogurts she says it tastes better those laced with artificial sweeteners. True story.

Metropolitan also has outlets in Reading Terminal Market (must see), Chestnut Hill (very cool), U of Penn (Go Bucks), and various vendors around Philly. I feel the bread is in the same league as Zingerman's. It's that good. This is another must see (and of course, eat) place.

Metropolitan Bakery on Urbanspoon

La Colombe Torrefaction
130 S 19th Street
Philaldelphia, PA 19103
(215) 563-0860

Let me start by saying that I love coffee. In fact, I love it so much I'll drink it on a 95 degree, 100% humidity, sweltering Philadelphia afternoon. And you know what? That's exactly what I did. Maybe that's what you'd do if you've ever had the coffee at La Colombe Torrefaction.

Don't ask me what "Torrefaction" is, I don't know. What I do know is that this is the best coffee I've ever tasted. With the exception of this coffee I get from a bed and breakfast we stayed at in Kona, this is the coffee I call my favorite, (at least in the lower 48). I will add, though, that the stuff I get from the place in Kona doesn't cost that much to ship and gets you absolutely geeked on caffeine. I wish had know about this stuff when I was up all night in landscape architecture studio.

What makes La Colombe so special? To start, it is smooth as hell. Typically when I drink coffee there's this sense in the back of your palate you get that says, "Don't breath on anyone!" You can taste that slight dose of bitterness back there, ready to unleash the stink bomb that is your slightest breath. Not so with this stuff. I normally get the Corsica blend, and it's absolutely smooth.

La Colombe has an outlet in Manayunk that actually serves some good sandwiches, (I just hate trying to find a place to park around there). The one near Rittenhouse is basically coffee drinks and a very small selection of pastry, I wouldn't bother. Go to Metropolitan.

My ritual is this:

Go to La Colombe and pick up a Corsica (the coffee not the car).

Walk across Rittenhouse Square to Metropolitan and buy das danish.

Go back to Rittenhouse.

Sip, eat, and watch. (All three are must do's when in Philly).

La Colombe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Phavorite Phood Phinds in Philadelphia

NYPD Pizza
140 S 11th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 733-0651

by Mrs. Dine O Mite

Before you read this review I want to say a quick word with regard to pizza. It's no secret that pizza is a controversial and highly subjective item. Everyone has their own personal preference and there are so many styles available that it's impossible for everyone to agree on the single best pizza out there. So, let's just accept that about each other and on to my totally biased review of
the best pizza in the world.

Returning to my old stomping grounds in Center City Philadelph
ia, just steps outside of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, you will find what I consider to be pure pizza perfection.

Founded by a native New Yorker, NYPD Pizza (where the motto really is "In Pizza We Trust"), serves up a mean slice. It's chewy, it's crispy and oh so yummy. I think what I like best is that they'll customize the slice to my liking. some might think my taste in pizza toppings is a little strange: mushrooms out of the can/jar (I hate fresh mushrooms on a pizza a they tend to shrivel up and lack flavor) and ricotta cheese. I then top it off with a generous amount of salt and pepper. The end result at NYPD Pizza is a beautiful specimen.

If your taste is more traditional though, you won't be disappointed. My husband is always satisfied with the pepperoni or sausage pizza and he's been known to go back for a third slice because it was just so darn good.

Unfortunately in Cleveland, you won't find anything on the same plane as NYPD Pizza and there are lots of theories as to's the water, it's the dough, it's the ovens. I don't have the slightest freakin' clue what it is that makes East Coast Pizza so unique. Perhaps it's that on one from the East Coast moves to Ohio and opens up a pizza shop...maybe it would be that simple. The other gripe Cleveland is that it's hard to find just a slice, or place that serves up creative toppings on something that isn't a giant dough ball. I mean, no one around here seems to value the beauty of a thin, crispy, large pie!

So for the time being, all I can do is hit NYPD Pizza every time I'm in back in Philly. Sure there are other pizza joints in the neighborhood, but for me this is the only one I need, and the only I trust to serve up a quality piece of 'za.

**Please note this is not part of the NYPD Chain of restaurants (thank God for that). This is a small, hard working family run other words, it's the real deal.

Nypd Pizza on Urbanspoon

Primo Hoagies
128 S 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 925-4500

by Dine O Mite

When we were younger, a family friend used to bring hoagies with him whenever he came back from Philadelphia. To be honest, I always thought it to be a somewhat strange ritual. It's a hoagie. How "special" could it be? It wasn't until we moved to Phillly that we truly understood what it meant to eat a great hoagie.

I was introduced to Primo Hoagies by Mrs. Dine O Mite. She used to rave about the bread. It's always about the bread, isn't it? With a crusty, sesame covered bun (and I do mean sesame covered), the Primo hoagie was always a winner. Some say (like my mother-in-law, a Jersey native) that it's the South Jersey/ Philly water that percolates through the Pine Barrens that makes some of the best pizza and bread dough in the world. That may be, but whatever it is, the bread in Philly kicks ass.

So when we went back for this trip, it was absolutely necessary for me to stop by for a Primo sized Sharp Italian. These shops are dotted all over Philly and South Jersey. It wasn't until we were about to move back to Cleveland that one opened near my house in neighboring Warminster. Mrs. Dine O Mite swears by the Nona's Veggie - an eggplant sandwich with sharp provolone, roasted red tomatoes, and broccoli rabe (which is found everywhere in Philly, but hardly anywhere in Cleveland).

At any rate, most of the sandwiches at Primo's are winners. If given a death row choice, the Sharp Italian would fit the bill for me. Is it the best? I don't know. But I think it's worth a try.

You don't think Primo's is the best? Let me know of some other that I should try. I'm always up for finding hidden gems (or even not-so-hidden).

Primo Hoagies on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2008


Fountain Restaurant
One Logan Sqare
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 963-1500

The missus and I have always wanted to see what all the fuss is about at Fountain Restaurant in The Four Seasons. There are a hand full of eateries in Philly that continue to top the “to do” list for diners eating in Center City. The Fountain is typically at the top of these lists. Needless to say, this was going to be the splurge dinner.

We arrived at the posh Four Seasons Hotel giddy with anticipation. The interior is decorated in warm colors. For a fancy restaurant decorating is nice but not overly stuffy like some of these places can sometimes be. The Maître de seated right next to the window that overlooks beautiful Swann Memorial Fountain (I’m guessing that’s where the name comes from). *Take a look at the link, some pretty neat stuff about the fountain. Did you know Alexander Calder’s father helped design the fountain? Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming.*

The tasting menu was on my mind before we even walked through the door. Our preference is to try as many different things as we can when we go to a place like this. Instead of giving you the play by play I’m going to give you a list of what we had along with some comments.

For Mrs. Dine O Mite:

Grilled Fresh Water Prawns with Stuffed Zucchini Roulade and Soft Polenta, Heirloom Tomato, Opal Basil Emulsion

Roast Veal Tenderloin with Sweetbreads, Wild Mushrooms and Fresh Ricotta Cannelloni, Sweet Garlic and Olive Oil Emulsion

Rhubarb Crisp

For Me:

The Tasting Menu – I don’t remember one thing I had, seriously. Maybe it was that the whole tasting menu aspect of it that didn’t really make things register in my head. I remember the level of quality was very good. The food was good. It just wasn’t food that was so good I can remember it even a week later.

My overall impression is that Fountain is in a gorgeous setting. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anything that comes close to the view. It truly is a memorable and romantic setting. The service was of impeccable quality as it should be at this level of dining. The food, however, left me waiting to be “wowed”. For me I never really felt as though the experience reached that fourth gear.

For me Fountain, for the money, was a let down. For that kind of money I would have rather tried Vetri or 10 Arts. I think if you’re looking for the most romantic setting in town combined with good solid food, (but not very adventurous), then this is your place. If you’re a "food first, service second, setting last" kind of person you should probably try something else.

Fountain on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Tale of Two Falafels

Taïm – Falafel Bliss in the Village

By Mrs. Dine O Mite

Tucked away in a side street in Greenwich Village you can find a wee little restaurant called Taïm that’s serving up little fried pieces of falafel heaven.

In case you didn’t know, Taïm stands for “tasty” in Hebrew. Their menu is small, but right off the bat you’re faced with some difficult choices…do you go with the green, red or harissa falafel? I chose the green, filled with cilantro, parsley and mint, in addition to the obligatory chick peas.

These falafel pitas are packed with goodies…smooth hummus, tahini, Israeli salad (which includes tomatoes, cucumbers, parsely in a lemon mint dressing) and my personal favorite, the pickled (or sweet and sour) cabbage. For good measure, I had them add some Moroccan carrots, made with garlic, cumin and olive oil. The pitas are not too doughy or bland. They’re just right, with a bit of crispiness too them.

All I can say is that it was so good, I went back for more the next day…all those choices in New York City and I couldn’t resist having another falafel at Taïm! My only misstep on day 2 was getting a side of eggplant instead of the carrots. Don’t get me wrong, the eggplant salad was yummy, but the portion was way too big for me, It’s much better suited for sharing or having as a meal itself.

I tend to be a creature of habit, and if I lived in the Village, I’d be back almost daily, sampling each and every falafel, sabich and hummus sandwich combination I could imagine.

I’ll never settle for another falafel served with lettuce, tomato and tahini…what a cop out. Taïm has set the bar for all future falafel encounters!

Click on the link below to find out how I first discovered this place.

Taïm on Urbanspoon

Maoz - A Different (in a good way) Type of Falafel Restaurant

Fresh off the heels of my nirvana-like falafel experience at Taïm in the Village, I headed to Philly to see some old friends. My best food obsessed buddy, Cynthia, was the one who introduced me to my first falafel love, Maccabeam’s, a few years ago.

This time around, Cynthia was raving about the new joint in town, Maoz. Born out of Amsterdam, this fast food chain is a sort of falafel buffet/smorgasbord. You start off with your basic falafel and pita, and then you have salad bar of fixins you can add…pickled eggplant, cabbage, carrots, salsa, tahini, hummus, tomatoes, the list goes on and on and on, so much so that you have to be careful here, it’s easy to go overboard. In fact, my friend said she put so many toppings into her pita one time that it busted!

What I like about this place is the variety of toppings and that it’s vegetarian friendly. I’m not saying I’m all vegetarian, but I am allergic to chicken, so right off the bat, that eliminates a lot of options for me. Your pita is what you make of it, you are the master of your own falafel satisfaction and if you don’t get it right, you can always try again the next day.

Maoz beats any fast food chain hands down. Their restaurants are primarily in Europe, but U.S. locations are beginning to sprout up (NYC and Philly). It’s fresh, it’s good and I hope it catches on like wildfire in the U.S..

Maoz Falafel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 3, 2008

May I please have some mo’ Momocho?

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I know it’s going to seem like I’m just piling onto the “I Love Momocho” bandwagon, but we went there last Sunday for my birthday. Since it was my birthday I got to chose where we were eating.

Since it was Sunday I figured we might as well go someplace on the West Side. Weekends are usually West Side dinners so we don’t have to hurry around at the end of the day to get out of work. We were also meeting her parents there, so it was a nice in-between place for us to meet.

Naturally, I wanted to sit outside. While it isn’t Three Birds or Sergio’s, the outside area at Momocho is really nice. I think it makes my top ten of outdoor eating areas in Cleveland.

So we all sit down and the first thing the server says is that there all out of the grasshoppers.

I was crushed.

The whole reason I chose it was because I wanted to try those things. The one day I decide to go and they don’t have them. Isn’t that nice?!?

Once the disappointment passed we decided to get 3 different types of guacamole to start off (trout, blue crab, and pineapple). This is usually the problem when we go out with my father-in-law: We can’t figure which one or ones to get so he just says to get them all. This is nice for sampling, but bad for stomach room.

For the entrees my father-in-law went with the safe play and got the scallops. Personally, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better scallop dish in this city. If I could choose only one, this would be it. Regina got the mahi mahi tacos. She thought they were okay, but a little dry. My Mother-in-law got the crab cakes, which she really liked. I had the sixteen spice grilled chicken. It wasn’t bad, but I’ve had better things off the menu.

This was the first time we’d ever had the dessert at Momocho. Without any kind of warning we each got something. All I can say, is that the Fried Ice Cream was big enough for 3 people. All told, there was a lot left over. As is the case with most Latin restaurants the desserts are fairly ordinary. If I had it to do over I probably would have passed on the dessert.

I saw Chef Eric Williams at the benefit for Annie Chiue. When I asked him what the deal was with the grasshoppers he basically said that they’ve been really popular and every couple of weeks they run out of them. That was good enough for me. It’s not like you’re going to go down to West Side Market and buy some more, are you?

I always enjoy coming here, especially in the summer. Even though my dinner wasn’t out of this world, it was good. I try not to get the same thing every time I go someplace I’ve been. I like to change it up. In this case it was just okay. Maybe next time I’ll call ahead to make sure they have the grasshoppers.

Momocho on Urbanspoon