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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Ave - Shadyside - Stack'd II

The picture was the best part.

I think one of the main considerations when eating a cheese steak is the ability actually eat the sandwich without making a terrible mess that requires a fork. Although other factors such as the quality of the meat, the freshness of the bread and the overall flavor are very important, I believe it is instrumental that you should actually be able to eat the damn sandwich in the intended manner.

After the first bite of my Stack'd II cheese steak I was left with a disastrous puddle of meat and sauce. Now, this wasn't a huge issue for me as I was happy to shovel the pile of gross into my face. However, having to eat your cheese steak with a fork really detracts from the overall experience. Part of the art of the cheese steak is appropriately balancing the ingredients in a manner that allows for proper sandwich consumption.

The great thing about Stack'd II is that they allow you to design your own cheese steak with a wonderful little selection card. The bad thing about Stack'd II is that I'm apparently not very good at designing cheese steaks. I went with the Amoroso roll, grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers, steak sauce, provolone cheese, banana peppers, tomato, lettuce and pizza sauce.

I call my creation the, "garbage steak." Because that's what it tasted like. The entire thing was a sloppy disaster. I believe my hodge-podge ingredient selection could have been better executed, but in hindsight I probably should have made fewer selections.  (PS: If you don't know what an Amoroso roll is, you are not alone. I had to ask my friend Kevin from Philly. An Amoroso roll is the official Philadelphia roll used for cheese steaks. Which explains why it tasted like it was frozen.)

Score card for making sammies.
Although I love the concept behind Stack'd II, I think the execution needs some fine tuning. I would still recommend that you stop by for happy hour. They offer a HALF OFF EVERYTHING special! Yes, it includes shots.

Ave Aka Stackd II on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mario's Southside Pizza Party

Talk pizza to me!
As you can tell from the magical mist rising above this Mario's pizza buffet, Mario's makes magical pizza. I've been going to Mario's for many many years. So many in fact, that I'd written the food off entirely. I just never really considered going to Mario's for food as Mario's was always the place I went to try and meet beautiful women to take home and introduce to my parents. (This has been a massive failure.)

On Thursdays the pizzas at Mario's are half price! This is a very good deal as you can get a large specialty pie for a little over $9. I'm really not sure where Mario's got their pizza recipe, but it is outstanding. Easily one of the best items on their menu along with the ribs and beef nachos. In terms of a comparable Southside pies, I'd say their pizza is better than Sal's and Genaro's, but not as good as Michael's.  I typically find pizza to be one of the hardest foods to describe. From now on I'll be using the following matrix for my pizza reviews.

Although I realize this type of score card is typically reserved for pizza competitions, I look at life as one big pizza competition. You go around enjoying pizzas and then one day you die. I'm a modern optimist.


Last Sunday I was at Mario's with my boy Big R and I saw the waitress about to throw out someone's boxed leftovers. I asked if I could have them right before she heaved them in the trash like a bag of dead puppies, but she told me that I was being gross. She also said, "it wasn't even real pizza, it was taco pizza."

Then she threw the pizza in the trash, along with all of my dreams and hopes for a brighter tomorrow. Also, I feel this tragedy was somehow related to the unfortunate death of Robin Williams.

Mario's Southside Saloon/Blue Lou's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wigle Whiskey - Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden

Wigle Wigle Wigle.

If you didn't know, Wigle Whiskey has opened a cute little whiskey complex nestled in between Troy Hill and the Northside. (Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what neighborhood it is, possibly Spring Hill, but it is  very close to Penn Brewery.) The real purpose of the establishment is to give Wigle a nice space in which to age their product, but under state law they are also allowed to operate a retail establishment in the same location. Neat!

Some of the fantastic benefits of the whiskey garden include outdoor seating, corn hole, a nice little garden for your aesthetic pleasure, barrel house tours and an assortment of snacks from the Thin Man Sandwich Shop. Cocktails are available for $6 and snacks are provided for a small fee. You can choose from hummus, pickled vegetables and chicken liver moose. Also, you can schedule private tours of the barrel house including a whiskey tasting for $20 per person.  

During our visit we received a nice explanation of why Wigle makes their own bitters. Because Wigle is operating under a peculiar liquor license exception related to their distillation activities, they are prohibited from selling third party spirits or alcoholic drinks on premises. As a result, if Wigle wants to make their cocktails with bitters, triple sec or any other alcoholic mixer, they just have to make it themselves. That's what I call American spirit!

As a side note, if you end up at the Wigle whiskey garden and find yourself in need of a beer, you can travel right down the street to the quaint Bierhaus Tavern at 919 Spring Garden Ave. Bierhaus will let you order pizza from their box of menus and drinks are about as cheap as possible. Be warned though, only about six large beer glasses are available, so make sure to get a head start on your friends when en route from the whiskey garden.

Wigle Whiskey on Urbanspoon