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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rocco's (Collegeville) - Brick Oven Margherita Pizza

The appearance is of a 14" Neapolitan style pie with a deep red sauce layered on top of the pie with blotches of mozzarella, and fresh cut basil scattered throughout. - 3

The crust is of a thin pie towards the center with a well risen crust and CO2 bubbles in the outer rim of the crust. The bottom of the pie is a light golden brown. They seem to use the same pizza dough that they use for their regular pan pizza. For this particular style, it may work out a little better if they used a cold risen, or no-rise dough to give even the outer edges a nice crispy crunch. In all fairness, the center is crispy enough to pass. - 3

The sauce is the weakest part of the pie. The acidic, lightly spiced bitterness of the tomatoes. Mild bits of pepper and oregano comes through. This one could probably use a touch of olive oil, or caramelized tomato paste. To me, it just needs something. It's a little watery too. - 2

The cheese is decent. It seems to be a part skim mozzarella that has a light sweetness to it. Decent chewiness against the bread and sauce. - 3.5

Overall, it's alright for a Neapolitan style. I actually like their regular pizza a bit better but when they offer a brick oven pie, it grabs my attention. The dough and sauce could be a bit better but the overall package isn't too bad. - 2.5

Total Score: 2.4/5

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Rocco's Website:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pudge's (Blue Bell) - Cheesesteak

Appearance is of a 12" roll that is stuffed and overflowing...just the way I like it! In fact, they pile in so much steak, they give you a fork without having to even ask for it! Plenty of chopped, sauteed onions cover the top. - 4.5

The roll is a 12" hoagie roll from Conshohocken Italian Bakery ( It's got a dense enough texture on the inside to to soak up the oils from the onion and steak mix. The exterior of the bread is soft when you grab it but it works out great when you push the meat down into the bread. It actually expands around the bread while retaining it's semi-soft texture on the outside. It stands up to the sogginess factor and doesn't fall apart at any point. Your teeth really sink into this bread before you reach the meat - 4

The meat is a thinly cut steak from Altieri & Sons in Norristown. They cook it just enough till it's not pink anymore. I chewed some without the bread and it was moist, tender, and juicy. The steak is lightly seasoned but it doesn't seem to need much because it's got enough flavor jumping out on it's own. Delicious! - 4.5

The cheese is melted throughout the steak with the exception of a corner of one slice, which was only partly melted...yet by the time I got to it, it was well melted into the meat. It could've been a bit more apparent but not bad. - 3.5

Overall, this is the place to seek out when you're in the Plymouth/Blue Bell Area. They are legendary for the mix of Altieri meat and Conshy rolls. The only questionable aspect that could've made this better was the cheese, which could've had a bit more and could've been melted a tad more. - 4.5

Total Score: 4.2/5

Pudge's Website: ,

Pudge's on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 23, 2009

Angelo's Pizza (King of Prussia) - Cheesesteak

The appearance is of 12" from a long roll, which has been cut in half. The underside has sprinklings of cornmeal and semolina. The finely chopped steak is intertwined with small bits of fried onions and cheese. Most of the cheese is stuck to the one side of the bread but the other side of the roll actually has the American cheese mixed between the meat and onions. The coverage is decent...a little light towards the end of the roll but not bad serving by any means. - 4

The roll is from D'Ambrosio Bakery ( in Philadelphia. It's soft on the inside with a thin skin of crispy outer shell that is really nice. It's sturdy enough to hold in all the oils and juices from the steak and onions. The bread doesn't fall apart at any point. In fact, the roll was appealing enough to gobble even the portions that hadn't been touched by the steak. - 4.5

The meat is a thin cut, chopped up portion of what appears to be round. It's seasoned with salt, pepper, and a hefty portion of oil. The steak retains enough moisture and juiciness to allow for an easy chew. There could've been a tad more towards the end of the roll but I was satisfied with the overall amount that I received, along with the quality of the meat. - 4

The cheese is stuck to the interior of the roll on one half of the roll, while the other half is mixed throughout the meat. - 3

Overall, this is a nice sandwich. It got some attention this past year, as the "Super" was featured as Philadelphia Magazine's 2008 Best Cheesesteak in King of Prussia. ( While I opted for the plain cheesesteak for the sake of comparison, the Super sounds like it's worth a shot in the near future. - 4

Total Score: 3.9/5

As a side note...Angelo's has crushed ice for their soda! It may not sound like much but many people search far and wide for places that serve crushed ice in their cups.

Angelo's Website:

Angelo's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mama Velia's (Royersford) - Margherita Pizza

The appearance is of a 14" Neapolitan style pizza with a thin interior, and a doughy, bubbly, outer crust. Thick amounts of white mozzarella cheese are piled near the inside of the pie, over crushed tomatoes. Some fresh basil is scattered along the top of the melted cheese. - 3.5

The crust is thin on the interior of the pie, leading to a crust that has been given a long rise of dough fermentation, judging by the size of the bubbles on the outer rim and the doughy feel of the outer crust. The somewhat fruity dough flavors also make me believe this was a long rise. Some may consider this dough over-risen. They have flattened out the dough before cooking by pushing/flattening down at the center and working their way towards the outer rim, leaving a thick, bready crust. There are some char marks on a few spots (mainly the large bubbles) of the pie. The underside shows a golden brown crust. This pie is cooked in a wood fired oven. I'm not sure of the amount of heat that they're getting in there but if there was a way to crank up the degrees, or retain more heat on the bottom surface, this would lead to a more enticing, crispy, charred bottom. Not bad though. - 3

The sauce is of crushed tomatoes without any sugar, or thickening additions. Perhaps a mild touch of olive oil, and herbs are the only things added to this sauce. The tomatoes are on the acidic side with just a touch of sweet juice coming through. - 2.5

The cheese is of a house-made mozzarella cheese. It's sweet, soft, gooey, and retains plenty of liquid, which seems to defy any kind of charring, or overcooking in the oven. This seems to be the highlight of the pie. The dairy compliment retains all milky flavors despite the heat from the oven. - 4.5

Overall, this pie was pretty nice. The component that will make me come back is the cheese, which is the clear star of the pizza. I like how a place out in the suburbs is firing rustic pizzas in a wood burning oven. There a few things that could make this better but I'll take it for what it is. - 2.5

Total Score: 3.2/5

Mama Velia's Website:

Mama Velia's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grey Lodge Pub (Northeast Philadelphia) - Cheesesteak

Appearance is of an 8" steak sandwich, served on a DePalma Bakery roll, laid into a basket lined with paper. Plentiful amounts of large cut, fried onions and steak peek out of the top of the stuffed sandwich. It's certainly not one of the more intimidating cheesesteaks that's stood before me. In fact, based on Glen Macnow's Ultimate Cheesesteak Challenge (this cheesesteak ranked 5th -, I was expecting to be drooling when this was placed in front of me. Judging by the presentation, it reminded me of a steak sandwich I made when I was about 15 and I just threw it together with whatever bread was laying around. We decided to get the cheese sauce on the side and add it at our discretion, as we were told that it wasn't Cheez Whiz. Hmmm... - 2

The roll is from DePalma's Italian Bakery in Philadelphia. It looks and feels to be one of the softest steak rolls that I remember having. The taste comes through as being very "wheat-like", and grainy to me. I'd be curious to find out the brand of flour they use, mill, and hydration ratio. Based on my experiences, I've rarely ran into cheesesteaks served on this soft of a roll. This particular one, IMO, would be best suited for an Italian hoagie with hard meats and aged cheese. The grease seems to cut right through the softness and diminish the bread aspect at all for me. Decent bread but probably not best suited for this application. - 1

The meat is decent. Ribeye that is soft, tender, and a bit greasy with some seasoning sticking to the steak. The sliced cuts seem to be enough to pack the sandwich but this one is on the smaller side of the steak sandwiches I've encountered. For 7 beans, I would've hoped for a tad bit more bang for the buck. It is what it is though, and this is the way they do it. - 4

The cheese is of a white sauce. It tasted like it was mostly American cheese with maybe a touch of Velveeta, flour, and milk thrown in there and mixed. It reminded me a bit of the queso dip that you get at some Mexican chains. I actually thought it was decent. I liked it enough to put on my sandwich but I would still rather have American, or Provolone. Heck, I'd even take this over whiz. - 2.5

Overall, I was a bit under-whelmed. I liked it enough to slam it and actually enjoy it a bit because of the well cooked ribeye but after seeing how high it ranked in Macnow's UCC, I was hoping for a diamond in the rough. Instead, I got a c.z. that needed a lot of polishing. - 2.5

Total Score: 2.4/5

If you like craft beer, this is the place to go, especially when they have firkins pouring. They may not be the king of the steak sandwich in my books but they clearly rule the roost when it comes to pouring firkins of beer.

Grey Lodge Pub's Website:

Grey Lodge Pub on Urbanspoon

Steve's Prince of Steaks (Philadelphia, Comly Rd.) - Cheesesteak

The appearance is of a 12" torpedo roll that doesn't want to yield to being placed opened up on the counter. These guys aren't kidding with the cheese, huh? It's an all out assault and take-no-prisoners approach by virtually drenching the inside of the bread and covering the steak. Scattered bits of fried onions, and lightly browned steak peaks through the American cheese meltdown. The bread isn't really crusty on top. It's got a light glaze but is soft to the touch. The bottom is very soft with some corn meal traces sticking to the creases. A bit sloppy but damn appetizing. - 4

The roll is a soft roll that gives way when you grab it. It is highly absorbent, as it gathers in all the goodness from the steak. The downfall is that the roll starts to fall apart once you get 3/4 of the way finished. A little more of a stable roll would've worked better but these guys have their own thing going where they want you to be able to wrap your hands into this thing. Not a bad roll but not the best I've had, either. - 3

The meat is piled in the sandwich as medium slices of eye round roast. I normally go for the chopped and diced steak, as I feel it works better for the integration of the onions, and cheese to work through the steak. These guys defy my bias because they put enough meat, onions, and cheese for you to get some goodness in every chomp. The flavoring of the beef is well done. Mildly seasoned with a gentle bit of saltiness. The real treat is from the texture of the beef. Your teeth sink through the tender beef cuts with no problem. This is by no means, overcooked. If anything, it seems to be cooked perfectly to my liking. It retains a nice tender, chewy softness that you would expect from a thinly cut porterhouse that's been seared. - 5

The cheese is like liquid magma flowing from the interior of the roll. They have a nice system of melting the cheese separately (perhaps in a double boiler?) and ladling this molten dairy compliment inside the sandwich. They could have toned it down a touch but if that's the way they do it, I'll take it. I didn't attempt to remove any, so I suppose that's a good thing. It didn't hinder the onions, or steak either, so there's no problem there. I suspect that this may have contributed to the degeneration of the roll though. - 4

Overall, I was a fan of the sandwich. Like I said, the roll was the weakest link with this experience but it wasn't too bad with all things considered. The real winner, here, is the meat, which proves that good steak sandwiches can be done without the chopped & shredded steak. - 4.5

Total Score: 4.1/5

Steve's Website:

Steve's Prince of Steaks on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pat's King of Steaks (South Philadelphia) - Cheesesteak

The appearance is of a 10" steak sandwich with thinly cut strips of ribeye. Man, talk about skimping...I think if I were to actually flatten out each piece of steak and stretch them out against the roll, it wouldn't be enough to cover the bread. A few pieces of fried onions are scattered in between the meat, rolls, and unmelted cheese resting against the roll. - 1.5

The roll is probably the best thing going on with this sandwich. It's fresh, and soft, and has just enough texture on the outside to give way to the bready, spongy center. The soy oil and caramelized sugars from the onions and beef stick nicely to the interior of the bread. - 4.5

The meat is a nice cut...ribeye is one of my favorites. The problem is that this delectable steak gets a bit overdone and gristly. Dare I say, somewhat "rubber-like?" The other bad part, as mentioned before is the actual lack of steak on the sandwich. Pile it on there, son! - 2

The cheese...just take a look at the picture. I know these guys pride themselves on being quick from order to serve(I got mine in 15 seconds from time of order) but what the hell is that? 3 slices of unmelted American Cheese just lay between the steak and the roll. Yes, yes, I know. "Ya have to get it wit da whiz, dat's why!" That's all well and fine, and I do like the whiz on my fries but I think it overpowers the sandwich and drowns out the steak. If you're not going to do it right, don't have it on the menu. It's that simple. Only serve it with whiz if that's the kind of neglect the slices of cheese get. - 1

Overall, it was sub par. I've had better steak sandwiches out in the 'burbs and this place is renowned for being the creator of the sandwich. I don't know if I just have cloudy memories from my earlier years of going here and them having the best cheesesteak I ever had, or if I finally just figured it out. This place (and their neighbors across the way) are just part of the hype machine. The fries were good but that's not what the blog is about. A little less hype and a little more respect for the food would score these guys higher. - 1.5

Total Score: 2.1/5

Pat's Website:
Pat's King of Steaks on Urbanspoon

SLiCE (South Philadelphia) - Americano Pizza

The appearance is of a thin crust, double wide slice of classic Neapolitan style pie with crispy edges, a crusty edge, mildly charred bottom, along with melted mozzarella laid on top of the cooked dough with the crushed tomatoes scattered on top and some parmesan cheese sprinkled lightly over the tomatoes and cheese. - 4.5

The crust is extremely thin and is stiff like a wafer when held. Little to no CO2 pockets are found in the layers, except for maybe a very modest amount near the edges of the crust. I'm guessing the dough is either a cold, slow rise(flattened down before being baked), or possibly even a no rise dough. This is a crisp flatbread that snaps when you bite it. Even the crust isn't doughy, or bready. It too has a nice, crunchy, crispiness with the bottom being fired to a roasty, dark brown. Wow. - 5

The sauce is of crushed red tomatoes that highlights a fine mix of sweet and acidic with perhaps a touch of salt and herbs rounding 'er off. There is also a nice sweetness of extra virgin olive oil coming through. - 4.5

The cheese is mostly under the sauce, adhering well to the crisp bread. It's of a sweet mozzarella that cooks to a light gold in the oven, despite the high temperatures to char the bottom of the crust. It compliments the crispy flatbread nicely, and adds another layer of crunch, as opposed to another favorite way, gooey. There is a light dusting of parmesan cheese atop the other layers. - 4.5

Overall, this was a fantastic slice of pie. Everything seemed to work well from the crispy crunch to the fresh tomatoes, and the tasty cheese. One of the best I've had. At only $2.25 for a double wide slice, this is the best deal out there. - 5

Total Score: 4.7/5

Slice's Website:

SliCE on Urbanspoon