Friday, July 15, 2016

America's Pie - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

If you want a change from your typical boardwalk joint, head to America's Pie - where creativity and innovation are their speciality. Opened August 2015 on Rehoboth Avenue, America's Pie serves up a variety of hot entrees (wraps, traditional and original pizza pies, sandwiches, and more) by a warm and fun staff.

After the staff welcomed us, they walked us through all the amazing menu choices. There are some crazy interesting combinations like the beccaberry pizza (blueberries, bacon, basil, mozzarella, baby spinach arugula, topped with red wine reduction) or the George pizza (pistachio and arugula pesto, red wine and honey poached pear, prosciutto, mozzarella, ricotta, topped with red wine reduction). The subs, likewise, are comprised of traditional favorites and new twists.

 Charles, Thomas and America's Pie Ryan Lucas 

Even though the interior is quaint, the establishment utilizes every crevice to display decorations and photos. Like the titular name implies, the theme for all decorations is   American culture, and I love it! It's so awesome to order the James Dean pizza, sit down, then look up to find a picture of James Dean starring back at you. Even the logo protrays Uncle Sam  wearing a tank top carrying a surf board. Totally Americana.

Before I start talking about the pizza, let me just say how colossal each slice is. I'm a big eater and I usually scoff down 4 normal slices of pizza in order to be satiated. However, America's Pie issued a challenge to me: still be hungry after 2 slices. This was the first and last time I lost a competition to a slice of pizza.

The holiday white

Charles selected a slice of the holiday white - a white pizza with broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and ricotta. Charles liked how the thin slice was mostly soft and with some crispiness added here and there. Even though we were among the last customers of the day, it tasted fresh. Charles' main gripe with this pizza type was that the ricotta and mozzarella cheese combination was, well, cheesy. He's not a cheesy guy. If you are, it will be a party in your mouth, for sure.

The crusty crab

 I ordered a slice of the crusty crab: crab cake mix, lump crab meat, mozzarella cheese, red pepper, celery, chives, and topped with bread crumbs. Even though this pizza is one of the most avant-garde, it's still in the experimental phase. For instance, it tastes exactly like crab or a crab cake, but it is incredibly dry. One of the staff members claimed that they are still perfecting the formula and hope to create the right balance between flavor and texture soon. But currently, this pizza just has a lot of potential.

The James Dean (bottom)
and the Idaho potato (top)
Charles selected the Idaho potato as his second slice - a mixed cheese pizza with potato, bacon and caramelized onions. Who would've thought a loaded baked potato on a pizza slice could create such a tasty combo? All the ingredients were densely packed on the thick slice of pizza,  leaving no spots absent of toppings. Bite after bite, Charles kept pondering if the item was more baked potato than pizza and vice versa. Although this one question remained an enigma, Charles knew one thing without a doubt: the pizza was delicious.

I chose the James Dean as my second slice: BBQ pulled pork (usually BBQ chicken but sometimes they change it), scallion, red onions, pepper jack, mozzarella, topped with chipotle ranch. Out of all the pizza Charles and I tasted, we can agree that the James Dean is the best. The pizza combines the best aspects of the aforementioned slices (soft, slightly crispy, and ingredients being densely packed) in tandem with a moist texture. Just one small caveat: grab a few napkins because it can get slightly messy.

America's Pie is one of the best places for traditional and original pizza at Rehoboth Beach. It's our new favorite place and we can't wait to go back.

This brand is here to stay. The workers revealed ambitious plans to expand to California and Towson, MD in the near future. 

- Thomas

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mimi's Kabob - Ellicott City, MD,

Mimi’s Kabob is an Afghan bistro that just expanded in the spring of 2014 to cover both Clarksville and the new Turf Valley site. My friend Ahmad raved about how authentic it is and offered to take me to the Turf Valley location, so naturally I accepted the invite (a food blogger never says no to a food excursion). 

Mimi's Kabob has a quaint interior packed with exotic decorations and patterns. It's a nice juxtaposition to see all this ancient culture showcased through the various items/artifacts alongside modern televisions and a soda machine.

If you're discouraged from the bistro by the seemingly small exterior, don't be fooled. The eatery has enough room for a plethora of tables, chairs, and booths. It's a shame that Mimi's Kabob has all these seating choices and cool interior decorations, but it seems that most people order take out rather than dine in (I prefer to dine in).

Kofta kabob

Ahmad selected the kofta kabob - flame broiled seasoned ground beef on skewers, salad, rice, and yogurt chutney. He liked how the kabob had a mild kick and smoky tang to it. When asked to describe the meal in one sentence, he replied: "it was an awesome blend of a tender texture mixed with a succulent flavor." He even gave me a small taste to review, and I have to say, he took the words right out of my mouth.

Lamb kabob

Craving lamb? Look no further to be satiated, the lamb kabob does the job perfectly - flame broiled marinated chunks of lamb, rice, salad, and yogurt chutney. I also really appreciate how moist the chunks of lamb were: bursting with juicy goodness on the inside as well as the surface. I only have a small gripe with the entree, I would've liked more salad and less rice (a more even ratio than the 75% rice and 25% salad given).

Tandoori bread

 The tandoori bread came with both of our orders and it is addicting to say the least. If you are as hungry as I was, you'll have a difficult time stopping yourself from consuming more and more of this delicious bread. The best part about this side is that it is always made fresh; it's prepared and cooked in the kitchen every day.

Overall, I would definitely return to Mimi's Kabob. Compared to some other kabob restaurants in the area, it stands out by having reasonable prices ($10-$20 range) for big portion sizes, an aesthetically pleasing decor, and a cozy atmosphere. I guarantee that you won't leave Mimi's Kabob feeling unsatisfied and famished, but rather, feeling content and wanting more.  

- Thomas 

Mimi's Kabob Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sneha Indian Cuisine - Catonsville, MD

2 Dudes Who Love Food finally take on Indian food at Sneha Indian Cuisine. The restaurant opened up last June and has been featured in the 50 Best Restaurants for the 2015-2016 year in Baltimore Magazine. Charles and I are not too familiar with Indian cuisine, so I invited my friend Vignesh.

The establishment is essentially one large, spacious, and dimly lit room. There's a candle on each table to compensate for the darkness, but the thick closed curtains in tandem with the overall dull light fixtures eclipse the brightness of the candles; the lighting remains faint.

The owner, Ravi Kuriseti, walked us through the menu and informed us, based on the spiciness and sweetness of the dishes, about which items we would prefer. According to Mr. Kuriseti, the crispy kale chat and kabob appetizers are very popular among customers, so that's what we selected for our first course.

Crispy kale chat

The crispy kale chat is comprised mostly of kale, tamarind, ground flour, and yogurt. This dish is very unique to say the least. The crispiness of the kale combined well with an extremely sweet sauce- intensely out of this world savory when it first hits your tongue but not sugary sweet. I would definitely get this unique appetizer again and recommend that any newcomer to Indian food order it as well.

Paneer tikka 
The paneer tikka (kabob appetizer) contains mostly paneer, onion, tomato, green pepper, and yogurt. In case you were wondering, paneer is a type of acid-set and unaged cheese common in South Asian cuisine. At first I was mislead by its taste into questioning whether it was some sort of meat (thick, hardy texture and taste could be comparable to a bland type of meat). However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the aforementioned facts about it from my friend. Overall, I believe that it's a great meat alternative but not my cheese of preference.

Chicken tikka masala

 I selected the chicken tikka masala for my entree - mostly consists of boneless chicken, cream, fenugreek, and tomato. Besides the abundance of flavor in every bite, the best part about this dish was the creamy and rich sauce. Even when I had no more fork-tender chicken left to eat, I dipped the naan in the sauce to just savor the sauce another time, and again, and again (always wanting more from that last bite). My only gripe was that the chicken tikka masala ratio of sauce to chicken was about 3:1. Although I loved the sauce, I would have rather had more chicken.

Paneer makhni

Vignesh tried the paneer makhini (mostly paneer, cream, and tomato). Vignesh concurred with me about the creamy factor and added that it was not too spicy, but just right for this type of dish. By the way, if the entree I ordered and the one Vignesh ordered looks the same, it is because they have similar ingredients.
The naan was delicious!

Navratan korma

Charles selected the navratan korma (mostly mixed vegetables, cashew, yogurt, adn mace). Much like Vignesh and my dish, it was spicy creamy. However, Charles emphasized that it was too spicy. Vignesh and I had a taste and dissented with his statement. So, if you're not that into spicy cuisine, I wouldn't order this. In addition, Charles wanted a more thick texture instead of the more or less soupy nature of this dish. On the bright side, Charles enjoyed how he couldn't distinctively taste the cashew, but how its flavor influenced the entire meal.

For dessert, we all shared the rabri. For such an amazing dessert, it has only two ingredients: milk and sugar. Like that wasn't special enough, the process of making a large vat of it takes almost half a day! The time put into this delicacy really shows as you can taste the variations of smooth to coarse textures and everything in between (not to mention the incredible sweetness).

If you're familiar with Indian cuisine or want to broaden your palette, I strongly suggest trying Sneha Indian Cuisine. Let me know what your thoughts are about the restaurant in the comments.

- Thomas

Sneha Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beef Brothers Deli - Ellicott City, MD

Beef Brothers Deli just relocated to Ellicott City location. You may remember this crowd favorite at its old location on Charles Street in Baltimore.  My friend Jack and I recently checked it out.
 The moment I walked in I felt a sense of comfort: all the walls are covered with sports paraphernalia and five televisions illuminated the room. I could see this place as being a cool hangout spot for sports fans.

Jack and I ordering at the counter

I will admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the various menu items. They have all the classic deli staples like sandwiches, wraps, salads, subs, and pizza. I had a hard time making up my mind. The owner stated that the best dish was was their burgers, so Jack and I tried them.

 I selected the "how's your" burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, american cheese, green peppers, and mushrooms on a brioche bun with a side of regular sized fries. The most important aspect of the burger is the patty, so let's talk meat. The patty was just 6oz, but was juicy, succulent, and well cooked. All the toppings  blended in with one another and produced an overall diverse texture: the patty and tomato were soft, the lettuce created a crunchy texture, and the cheese produced a gooey feel. My only gripe with the burger was that the menu only had one size for burgers. I would have liked to ordered a larger size.

Jack decided to be original and ordered the same "how's your" burger and regular sized fries, except just american cheese and ketchup as toppings. Jack did concur with me about the portion size issue, but he dissented regarding the patty. Since his burger was less abundant in toppings, he thought that the patty was average because the flavor of the meat was too subtle for his liking. This isn't a problem for me because I loved how the subtleness was able to blend in and compliment the other many items on my burger.

Even though Jack and I have some differences about the food, we wholeheartedly agree on how amazing the fries are (so good that they have their own paragraph). Unlike the burger, the fries don't share the small portion issue. In fact, they're huge for a "regular" size. Each fry is thin, long, and crispy. If you still doubt me, just look at the picture. What do you see? Well I'll tell you: golden-brown goodness cooked to perfection. Boom!

Overall, Beef Brothers is a cool, new spot for anyone who loves the primarily meat-based cuisine of a deli. Jack and I are looking forward to coming back and trying other items. See you soon Beef Brothers!

- Thomas Regnante

The Beef Brothers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jimmy John's $1 subs Nationwide - TODAY ONLY


Thursday, April 21
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Jimmy John's Sandwiches is thanking its fans by hosting a Nationwide Customer Appreciation Day.

For more about Jimmy John's check out our 2013 blog post here 

Offer applies to sandwiches #1 through #6, JJBLT and Slims only (see below)

$1 subs are limited to one per person at check out….BUT you can go through the line as many times as you want. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Seasons 52 - Columbia, Maryland

Seasons 52 prides itself on using farm-fresh food items that change each season. I was invited to Seasons 52 to sample some dishes from their new core spring menu, which debuted this week. Since I was able to bring a guest, I brought my mom.  I loved that the menu displayed the calories next to each dish. 

Seasons 52 has a unique ambience with dim lighting, wood paneled high ceilings, a piano placed inside a circular bar area, and a colossal water fountain at the entrance.  There are also giant trees with uplighting that created a natural and back-to-nature aesthetic that yet again emphasizes the theme.

Here's the menu of all the foods we sampled (most are new menu items for the spring but some are always on the menu)
Fresh fruit and vegetable display highlighting the seasonal menu choices (in the Napa room)

 The Napa room, one of the two private rooms (the other being the Sonoma room), can seat approximately 30 people - both rooms have a built in television screen.  There are no room rental fees for these rooms.   
Lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread (left) and crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread (right)
We were introduced to the new spring crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread and the classic standard lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread.  My favorite was the latter. While I liked camembert cheese, I wasn't crazy about the crispy prosciutto on the asparagus flatbread. However, my mother loved it. For her, the combination of these flavors was the clear winner. 

The chef's spring amuse bouche was presented to us in a garnish-filled spoon.   The taste was earthy and fresh for this cold vegetable soup (think leafy greens like asparagus and spinach) with chantly cream. We prefer hot soup, so it's not our kind of soup. That being said, if you like cold soup, you will really enjoy it.
Spinach salad 

The spinach salad, consisting of spring strawberries, pea tendrils, toasted pine nuts, gorgonzola cheese, and 15-year aged balsamic drizzles - was a home run for both my mom and me.  This is a massive salad with the freshest of ingredients. The incredibly sweet balsamic drizzle really made the entree stand out.  The balsamic sauce enhanced the saccharine strawberries and gorgonzola cheese in a perfectly complementary way.

Caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto
Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli 
For our third course, we were served the caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto. The scallops were nicely seared and fork tender. The pairing with the slightly sweet lemon risotto with fresh spring vegetables was phenomenal. This dish personified the flavors of spring.

We tried the Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli with brown butter, roasted peppers, and English peas as our fourth dish. I learned that this particular lemon is a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon.  I didn't necessarily like the greens on top, as they brought out a sharp taste.   My mother would have preferred a little less dough on the ravioli (then again, we are Italian ravioli connosseiurs - check out our homemade ravioli blog post ).

Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass
The Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass was my favorite meal. Organic black rice, snow peas, and shiitake mushrooms (my favorite mushrooms) are displayed beneath the sea bass in the picture. What makes this dish is the glaze, which tastes like teriyaki and plum sauce. The glaze adds a new depth of flavor to such a unique entree. Not to mention that the dish was just so aesthetically pleasing even before I tasted its untapped glory.

Wood-grilled rack of lambs complete with spring vegetables, yukon gold mash, and shallot jus
What I love about this dish is that the lamb had a secret rub and was cooked in a wood oven. I had a great lamb dish in Greece a few years ago. This dish reminded me of it. The char and seasoning was heaven. Coupled with the tender, spring vegetables and shallot jus... a winner for sure. 

For dessert we had the opportunity to sample six of their "mini indulgences". The presentation of each of the small deserts was eye candy and I couldn't wait to dig into it!

The amaretto soaked vanilla cake "mini indulgence" was my mother's favorite dessert. It even came with a small pipette of amaretto. We both thought it was so clever and innovative.
The cannoli creme, chocolate, and raspberry sauce "mini indulgence" was my favorites dessert. It was filled to the brim with thick cannoli creme and evened out with the raspberry sauce. I especially liked how there was a mini cannoli on top.  I dunked it into the glass to fill it with creme.
Seasons 52 has a beautiful outside that is great for the spring

My mother loved that she was offered a different type of wine to accompany every dish. Seasons 52 has over 100 bottles of wine to choose from. So, if there are any wine connoisseurs out there, they got you covered. 

For Easter,  Seasons 52 will debut a special Easter brunch. Stay tuned, they may even continue the weekend brunch after the holiday.

Our experience at Seasons 52 - the farm fresh food, attentive staff, the unique atmosphere - was really terrific. I was so impressed that I plan to go back for my birthday in May. 

-Thomas Regnante

Seasons 52 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato