Archive for the 'Pizza' Category

Upstairs at DiBruno’s


June 21, 2007
Cuisine: Italian, Delis

1730 Chestnut St, Philadelphia 19103
Btwn S 17th St & S 18th St

Phone: 215-665-9220


Prosciutto Fig Pie ($8)

DiBruno Brothers is the perfect marriage between fashion and function. Not only is the store gorgeously laid-out, but it also sells some of the best artisanal products in town—including foie gras. The shop’s first floor is dedicated to specialty foods, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pastas, and cheeses. The second floor is a casual café offering a variety of gourmet sandwiches, prepared foods, and pizzas. DiBruno Brothers has been dubbed the Dean and Deluca of Philadelphia and I think that’s an accurate comparison.

While I have always loved browsing DiBruno’s aisles and tasting their many delicious samples, I didn’t try the café until recently with Wes. The Upstairs space is painted a vibrant yellow and blasts hits from the 90’s, which I really liked but made conversation difficult. Even in the midst of the lunch hour rush, Wes and I were able to locate a suitable table with ease.  

Wes picked up a sandwich from the deli counter, while I headed to the pizza section. The pie that caught my eye was the Prosciutto Fig. After placing my order, the pizza was briefly reheated in the oven, and brought to my table. A half order consisted of four generous slices, which was more than enough to satisfy my hearty appetite. In fact, I had to pack up half to-go.

The Prosciutto Fig Pie was really outstanding! The crust was slightly sweet and the ideal thickness. The cheese, a mix of ricotta and mozzarella, hit the all the right notes and didn’t over power the other ingredients. The thinly sliced prosciutto crisped up nicely in the oven, while the delicate figs caramelized beautifully. The entire pizza was drizzled with thick balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with fresh rosemary, which took an already delectable pie to a whole new level. The Prosciutto Fig Pie seriously blew my mind! If I were still in Philly, I’d definitely be eating one right now…

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Gino’s East

June 10, 2007
Cuisine: Pizza

633 N Wells St, Chicago 60610
Btwn W Erie & W Ontario St

Phone: 312-943-1124

Small Cheese Deep Dish Pizza ($11.95)

A trip to Chicago just wouldn’t be complete without some deep dish pizza—Charlie Trotter’s will have to wait till next time! This was my first visit to the Windy City so I consulted my friend Gash, a Chicago native currently residing in Cairo (!), about where to find the best pie in town. He recommended Gino’s East and Pizzeria Uno. I decided to give Gino’s a try because Uno is a chain and readily available across the USA. In fact, I’ve eaten at an Uno in San Diego.

The original Gino’s East was a cramped hole in the wall with tortuously long waits, but an expansion in 2001 moved the eatery to its current location inside an abandoned Planet Hollywood. In order to retain some of the original Gino’s unique ambiance, every piece of furniture covered in graffiti was moved to Sly, Bruce, and Demi’s old haunt. As much effort as the folks at Gino’s put into hiding the fact that they’re located inside a relic from the 90’s, the faux spotlights out front along with the celebrity hand prints on the walls are a dead give away.

I sat in a cozy booth for two and yearned for a Sharpie pen as I waited for my small cheese pizza to arrive. After a twenty-five minute wait, my pie appeared. The amiable waitress cut me a slice (a quarter of the pizza) and said she expected me to eat at least two slices before I left. I said I would try my best.

The pizza was fresh out of the oven and the cheese and sauce were still bubbling on the surface as I dug in. A fork and knife were essential for the first few bites, which were absolutely scrumptious! Oozing mozzarella cheese, aromatic marinara, and a bread-y crust proved to be a potent combination. I’m not a deep dish expert (yet), but this pie was awesome. The most distinctive quality about Gino’s pizza is its crust. Sturdy, un-greasy, and mild in taste, the crust contrasted splendidly with the abundant sauce and cheese. I was really impressed by how well the crust held the hefty toppings too. I easily ate half the pie and I packed the second half to go. I definitely didn’t disappoint my waitress.

Pizzeria Delfina


March 15, 2007
Cuisine: Pizza, Italian

3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Phone: 415-437-6800

Appetizer I: Spicy Cauliflower – with capers, garlic and Calabrian chilies ($6)

Appetizer II: Collard Greens – with guanciale and chili ($6.50)

Pizza I: Panna – tomato sauce, cream, basil, shaved Parmigiano ($10)

Pizza II: Hen O the Woods – mushroom, thyme, Taleggio ($15)

A trip to The Bay would not be complete without a meal with my Oaktown friends, Maria and Jessica. Jessica heard good things about Pizzeria Delfina, namely that it was tasty, vegetarian-friendly, and not too pricey. The pizzeria is an offshoot of Delfina, a high-end restaurant next door. I do appreciate fancy restaurants opening up more casual eateries with equally fabulous food such as Otto (Babbo), Osteria (Vetri), Brasserie Perrier (Le Bec Fin), etc.

We started our dinner by sharing two vegetable plates–collard greens and cauliflower. Maria insisted on having leafy greens because she’s a bigger health nut than I am, while Jessica and I chose the starchier cauliflower. The Spicy Cauliflower was garlicky, just firm enough, and fried to perfection; the chilies added a sensational bite. I wish cauliflower could always be this delicious. The collard greens also included some chilies, which tied together the two veggies nicely. Neither Jessica, Maria, The Astronomer, or I had ever had collard greens that weren’t cooked to death a la Soul Food. We were all surprised by how flavorful and delicate the greens were. The guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks) were fabulous because bacon makes just about everything better!

Unfortunately, the pizzas were not nearly as spectacular as the appetizers. Jessica, Maria, and I shared the Hen O the Woods. Surprisingly, the mushrooms were tasteless and not the least bit woodsy and as a result, the pizza fell flat. Additionally, the crust was mediocre and the thyme was missing in action. We should have listened to Maria and ordered the Broccoli Rabe. The Astronomer’s Panna suited his taste, but was pretty basic and thus boring.