This is why (full disclosure) my friend and former editor Pete Wells is a terrific restaurant critic (from this week's New York Times review of Bistro At Villard Michel Richard): "Think of everything that's great about fried chicken. Now take it all away. In its place, right between dried-out strands of gray meat and a shell of fried bread crumbs, imagine a gummy white paste about a quarter-inch deep. This unidentifiable paste coats your mouth until you can't perceive textures or flavors. It is like edible Novocain."
Coming to a neighborhood near you: the Neapolitan pizza equivalent of Chipotle, serving wood-fired, oven-baked individual pies for what you would pay for lunch at a diner (less than $6 for an 11-inch Margherita, depending on the chain). The Umami Burger folks opened 800 Degrees in Westwood a couple of years ago, and when I went with Zach Brooks the line was out the door at 11:45 p.m. Now Chipotle founder Richard Els smells which way the pizza winds are blowing. He's invested in a similar Colorado-based concept, Pizzeria Locale. Other entrants include Live Basil Pizza in Denver, So Cal-based Blaze Fast-Fir'd Pizza and Mod Pizza in Bellevue, Washington. Though there is clearly room for pizza abuse in any replicatable concept, if done right these concepts have the potential to elevate everyday pizza in this country.
Speaking of Denver, the Broncos facing the Patriots in the AFC Championship this weekend is a more even food city match-up than you might think, given Denver's rapidly improving food scene. Any Colorado readers want to chime in with local favorites?
I love ice cream on a stick. Don't you? If you feel similarly, you must try Talenti's salted caramel gelato bars coated with dark chocolate. I've yet to come across a better new entrant in the genre.
Good to see Chopped co-host Amanda Freitag reopen the classic Empire Diner in NYC. A dinner on the third night they were open featured great French onion soup with bread pudding croutons and one of the juiciest, porkiest pork chops I've had in ages.
I actually watched Laurie Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson's extraordinary documentary on food insecurity in America, A Place at the Table, a second time this past weekend (it's free and instant on Netflix). If it doesn't make you sad and mad at the same time, you've slept through the movie.