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Friday, February 27, 2009

Franzone's (Bridgeport/Plymouth Meeting) - Pizza w/ extra sauce

The appearance is of a large, thin crusted, 16" round pie with a layer of crimson red sauce, melted, fresh mozzarella cheese, scattered basil leaves infused into the sauce, with dark golden, toasted edges along the crust. The bottom is a rich, golden brown. A few yeast bubbles show along the edges of the crust. - 4.5

The crust is a very thin, flat body with a nice crispy, golden brown bottom. With the extra sauce, the crust gets weighed down a bit half way from the center towards the crust, so it will either require 1 of 3 eating methods to tackle the pie...1.)Fork & knife. 2.)The two handed hold. 3.)The foldover aka The taco. You'll only need to use one of the aforementioned method for the bottom portion of the pie. After that, the crust is strong enough to hold up all the goodness that awaits. As you get closer to the crust, it gets crispier, and crunchier with a tasty, mildly fruity sweet dough. - 4

The sauce is a sweet basil sauce with a heavy handed dose of the delicious Italian basilico herb taking control of the sugary tomato base. In my opinion, it's addictive. This sauce goes great with the crispy crust, and the melted cheese. I've found that people either love it, or hate it b/c of the sauce. They take it up just enough to the edge of the crust where you've got enough room to take a handful and grab the pie like a man. Take one guess where I stand with this sauce. - 5

The cheese is of fresh cut, part skim mozzarella cheese. I've been told by others that they also use a touch of cheddar in this mix but I'm not tasting any cheddar. I know of another pizzeria that does do the aforementioned mix but they are over in East Norriton. This cheese is a milky sweet mozzarella that is scattered throughout the pie in all the right spots. There's just enough chewiness to contradict the crispiness of the bread. - 4.5

Overall, this pie is one of my favorites in the region. It's a pie that's heated in a very hot oven to create a crispy, crackly, Neopolitan style pie with a slightly doughy crust that retains softness in the very middle but crispiness on the outside. The sweet sauce really makes it, so if you like sweet basil, tomato sauces, you'll probably like it as much, if not more, than your favorite. - 4.5

Total Score: 4.5/5

Franzone's Website:

Franzone's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Corropolese (Norristown/Limerick) - Red Tomato Pie

Though, technically not a true "oven pizza", the Tomato Pie is a regional delicacy related to the Sicilian Pizza, holding court in Philadelphia, the Philly suburbs, Trenton, NJ, and New York.

The apperance is of a large sheet pie cut into squares (~3.5" x 3.5"). The top is a deep red sauce of thick crushed tomatoes (1/4") with scattered dusting of parmesan cheese. The thickness of the pie is about just shy of an inch. Tiny CO2 pockets can be seen along the side of the bread. - 3.5

The crust is a thick, bready, airy fluff of softness that's cooked to a light gold on the bottom. The bread is soft upon the bite, leading to a mild crunch towards the bottom of the bread. The texture is chewy with a doughy backbone and airy, toasted bottom. - 4

The sauce is of a sweet, sugary explosion of crushed red tomatoes and tomato paste mixed together with some aged parmesan adding a toasted nut flavor in the background of the mild acidic bite from the tomatoes. I'm a sucker for the sweet sauces. It's not everyone's cup, jar o' sauce but I've seen it win many more people over than the opposite. - 4.5

The cheese is a very mild subtlty in the Tomato Pie. However, they do offer a cheese top pie for the traditionalists. You'll just have to heat it up, if that's your thing, or eat it as is, like I do. Either way, it's a winner. As for this version...the cheese is so mild and is offered as a mere compliment to the standout sweet sauce. Personally, I'd like just a tad more on there to push me into sensory overload. - 4

Overall, this is an institution for people in the Norristown area. I first had this after I moved with my mother, & sister to Jeffersonville back in 1990. I was blown away with the amount of flavors coming from this treat. This is the one to beat, IMO (for SE PA, anyway). I can't say much for the NY, or NJ pies, as I've never had them. This one is one to seek out for the doughy bread and sauce. - 4

Total Score: 4/5

For other versions of this Northeastern U.S. specialty, check out Bake Meister, Conshohocken Bakery, Marchiano's Bakery, Pica's, and Tony Roni's.

Corropolese's Website:

Corropolese Bakery & Deli Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Michael's Jewish Deli & Restaurant (King of Prussia) - Cheesesteak

The appearance is of a 10" steak sandwich, served open faced with strings of fried onions laced throughout the finely chopped meat. I would've liked a bit more meat piled in (I like my steak sandwich overflowing) but it's otherwise what I expected. The cheese seems hidden, as they did the "pile steak on grille, top with cheese, top with roll" technique. The interesting part is that Michael's seems to give the interior of the roll a light toasting but they leave the exterior alone. - 2

The roll is a soft steak roll with a glazed top and some scattered cornmeal on the soft bottom. Again, only the interior of the roll has been slightly toasted, which I was skeptical about at first. Normally, I like a soft interior on the roll, as it soaks up the oils from the steak and onions, along with the melted cheese. Being that it was a slight toast, it brings a different texture to the eating experience. While the oils, and juices ran past the hard, toasted interior bread, it ran into the inside of the roll, which acted like a sponge soaking up the goodness from the inside first. - 3.5

The meat was of a decent quality...probably a sirloin cut which was cut into thin sheets before being chopped finely on the grille. For the most part, the meat was still soft, and juicy. A mild amount of spicing with infused fried onion juices being tasted throughout the meat. There were a few overdone pieces in the bunch. I would've liked a bit more meat, though. It was just a tad skimpy when I folded the sandwich over. I really didn't need the fork at all to collect any fallen remnants. Definitly, only a 1 handed effort when eating this one. - 2.5

The cheese was American (as ordered). I prefer when the cheese is melted throughout the steak. This particular version had the cheese between the steak and the roll. They used a decent amount but it gets a bit lost when it's clinging to the bread instead of the actual meat. - 2

Overall, the steak sandwich was decent. I would order it again. I liked the interior toasting of the roll, as it gave the sandwich a mild crunch when biting into it. I probably prefer it untoasted but if that's the way they do it, I'll take it. The thin onion strands were also good. I'm used to getting the small 1/4" - 1/2" onion slices but these onions seemed to mix in well with stringy caramelization running around the meat. That cheese issue is a slight downer but it could've been worse. The good news is that they put a good amount on the sandwich. The bad news is that they just didn't put it where I like it. - 2.5

Total Score: 2.5/5

Michael's Deli Website:

Michael's Restaurant & Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rock Bottom - Cajun Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Pizza w/ Jambalaya Sauce

The appearance is that of a small, 9" flatbread with a nice mix of shrimp, andouille, peppers, and tomatoes. A decent amount of cheese is scattered along the pie, covering most of the shell. - 2

The crust is a thin, doughy interior with a small amount of air pockets showing from a yeast rise. Crispy, crunchy edges round out the exterior rim of the pie. - 2.5

The sauce...not the typical tomato sauce(obviously) but the Jambalaya sauce is a mix of spicy sweetness with some standout tomatoes and peppers scattered near the interior of the pie. - 3

The cheese seems to be a Cheddar mix...possibly with Monterey Jack. It's melted into a crispy shell. Perhaps a bit too much burnt at the outer edges but the cheese retains a decent gooeyness on the interior of the pie. - 2.5

Overall, this was a decent pie. I wasn't blown away but I give these guys credit in King of Prussia for offering a different pizza daily. This wasn't the best I've had from them but it was decent enough to mention. The Cajun themed pie(day after Fat Tuesday) is kind of cool and it seems to work well enough with the texture of the shrimp, & sausage, the mild heat of the sauce, and the doughy bread. - 2.5

Total Score: 2.5/5

The beverage I had with the pizza -

Rock Bottom's Website:

Rock Bottom on Urbanspoon