Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe in Mt. Airy is a Fine Dining Hidden Gem, Hands down the best pizza in the area. Not to mention their mouth watering Entrees.

Usually when I travel to Mt. Airy MD, it’s a quick there and back trip. On these trips I have to admit, I don’t have time to sit down for a meal. So, BK it is. This last week, I had a little time to kill while waiting for my appointment, so I started looking at dining options. I did not realize Mt. Airy has an old town section with a number of excellent restaurant choices. The restaurant that stood out to me was Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe.

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. They serve gourmet pizzas. They have a nice selection of pasta’s. But, when you review their entree’s, you

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. I don’t know that I would call them an Italian restaurant. They serve gourmet pizzas, with a nice selection of pastas. But, when you review their entree’s, you see dishes such as French Onion Pork Chops, Sesame Ginger Mahi Mahi, and a dish I settled on, Chicken Evelyn.

The interior of Laurienzo’s is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. At the same time, they have Family Style tables, with a menu section titled Family Style. This is perfect for Business Team Meetings or an outing with the family.

The first night I went to Laurienzo’s was with a singular purpose. I was interested in trying their Wood Fired Pizza.

Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza
Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza

Hands down, this is the best pizza in the region. Maybe in the entire state of Maryland. Given that this is not my first Rodeo when it comes to dining on Wood Fired Pizza’s, I expected the crust to appear well done. Laurienzo’s even has a note on their menu stating the nature of Wood Fired Pizza’s. The edges usually appear dark.

I ordered their Carnivore Pizza, my first bite sent my taste buds into overdrive. So many flavors melting together. My first thought was they do not skimp on the quantity or the quality of their toppings. The sauce is not an afterthought. Laurienzo’s actually uses spices in their sauce. Having said this, the spices are not overwhelming. This is one outstanding pizza.

It is a rare occasion that I will return to a restaurant two days in a row. Especially when it’s an hour drive, but I went back for lunch the next day. I had to try their entrees.

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe Corn Chower
Laurienzo’s Corn Chowder

When it comes to soup, one of my passions is Corn Chowder. Seeing Corn Chowder on the menu I had to try it. In their description of the ingredients, they call out spiced cream, sherry, fresh corn. Once again, I can’t say enough about the flavor of this soup. You first taste the corn flavor in the broth, then you get hit with a little heat. If you don’t like spicy food, not to worry, the spice is subtle, but definitely makes this a unique interpretation of Corn Chowder. I could go back just for this soup. When they say fresh corn, I saw someone carrying in ears of corn.

Laurienzo Brick Cafe Chicken Evelynn
Laurienzo Chicken Evelyn

So far, I’m batting a thousand. With the Carnivore Pizza fresh in my mind and having finished the Corn Chowder, could they go three for three. Once again Laurienzo’s prepared a dish, I cannot say enough about; Chicken Evelyn.

Chicken Evelyn is a chicken breast that is stuffed with prosciutto, that is served with garlic mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, goat cheese, and a lemon dill sauce. Every component of the dish could stand on it’s on. Together it makes a fantastic bite. Not one aspect overpowers the other. I’m not one to eat spinach on its own, but when combined with the chicken gives you a pleasant tart after taste. I’m a huge fan of  lemon dill sauce. Not to overuse the term balanced, every component of this dish works together. The portion is large enough to where you should plan on a doggy bag.

Good food worth driving for is the motto of this site. Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe, fills this bill perfectly. The next time I’m in the mood for a good meal, I will make the trek to Mt. Airy.

As you gathered, I am highly recommending Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe. Have you been to Laurienzo or do you have a favorite restaurant that features Wood Fired Foods.

Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta

Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester NY, is a must visit Italian Restaurant. The food is made fresh in a kitchen where you can watch your food being made.

Truthfully, if Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester NY, had not been recommended to me, I’m not sure I would have stopped. The old saying is, don’t judge a book by its cover. Veneto is a must visit Italian restaurant. There is a lot to be said about a restaurant where the food is made fresh in a kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared.

One of the things that struck me was that Veneto was packed on a Wednesday night. I was lucky enough to find an open table. They have live music on Wednesday nights, but I’m certain that it was the food that was drawing in the crowd.

Veneto is not your standard pizza joint. The menu reads as if you are eating at a finer dining Italian restaurant with selections such as Pasta con Funghi and Prosciutto with Peas Alfredo. I’m not sure if Lasagna is something you would expect to be served in a fine dining Italian restaurant, but it’s definitely not on the menu at Veneto. It took me a while, but I finally settled on the Veal Piccata special.

Veneto Veal Piccata
Veneto’s Veal Piccata

The Veal Piccata at Veneto is not a menu item. Fortunately for me it was one of the specials on the night I visited. Veal Piccata is simple, yet a complex dish. The thinly slice veal, is breaded and cooked to a golden brown, then laid over pasta. They finish the dish by coating the veal with a buttery, tangy lemon sauce with capers. In Veneto’s rendition of Veal Piccata, they have added spinach. This was a perfectly balanced dish. The veal was cooked to perfection and I could not get enough of the sauce. Veneto makes Bucatini pasta in house. With the center of the Bucatini pasta being hollow, allowing the sauce to penetrate the pasta. This makes for an exceptional bite.

My only complaint was that I ate a full-sized salad and was not able to finish my Veal Piccata. While waiting for my food, I was watching some of the other dishes being served. There are a lot of meals I want to try. At the top of my list is their Wood Fired Pizza. Pizza was the reason I went to Veneto in the first place.

I highly recommend Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester NY. If you are in the Rochester area check them out. Have you been to Veneto? Do you have a favorite Italian Restaurant in the Rochester NY area? Please leave your comments below.

Blue Gingko

Blue Gingko in Lafayette California, is authentic Japanese cuisine.

A trip to the San Francisco Bay Area would not be complete without eating at my favorite Japanese restaurant, the Blue Gingko. Outside of Japan, the Blue Gingko is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. It starts with the food. Blue Gingko imports food from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. It ends with tastes that will transport you to Japan.

Fried Rice Balls
Blue Gingko’s Fried Rice Balls

Something unique to Blue Gingko is fried rice balls. Picture this, you pick up your Hashi, better known in the States as chopsticks, and you slice through the outer shell of a fried rice ball to find the soft inner body. This has to be one of my favorite ways to eat rice. The fried rice balls at Blue Gingko are served with an unagi sauce (Eel Sauce.) Unagi sauce is a thickened, sweetened soy sauce. For the squeamish amongst us, this sauce is not made from eels, it is a sauce that is traditionally served with grilled eel dishes in Japan. 

Blue Gingko's Gyoza
Blue Gingko’s Gyoza

Call me crazy, I actually went to Blue Gingko twice on this trip. Knowing that it will be a while until I go back to the Bay Area. On my second trip, I ordered Gyoza. This is one of my favorite appetizers. Blue Gingko has the right touch, they are deep fried to the point of having a light crunch and the pork is tender and flavorful. To complement the Gyoza it is served with a dipping sauce that is made of soy sauce and vinegar. After the unpleasant experience I had in Rochester, it was a pleasure eating their Gyoza.

Blue Gingko Tonkatsu
Blue Gingko’s Tonkatsu

As soon as I confirmed my trip back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew I was going to dine at least one night at Blue Gingko. There was also no doubt what I was going to order, Tonkatsu. You may ask yourself what is so special about a deep-fried pork tenderloin cutlet. Blue Gingko’s pork tenderloin is cut to the right portion size. They do not cut their pork tenderloin to thin. Cutting pork tenderloin to thin has a tendency to make it too dry. Theirs is tender and juicy. The panko crust has just enough seasoning to enhance the dish. Let’s not forget the Tonkatsu Sauce. Tonkatsu Sauce is a complex sauce made from fruits and vegetables, plus soy sauce, vinegar and no less than 10 spices. If you haven’t had Tonkatsu Sauce, it has a rich flavor with a slight tanginess. The Tonkatsu Sauce is what brings the dish together. Having eaten this dish in Japan, Blue Gingko’s tastes like it was transported straight from Japan.

Teriyaki Chicken
Blue Gingko’s Teriyaki Chicken

When I want to change things up, I order Blue Gingko’s Teriyaki Chicken. Blue Gingko’s Teriyaki Chicken has a light, sweet teriyaki flavor. If you are watching your carbs, this dish may not be for you. I highly recommend this dish. The day I was eating dinner there, I heard another patron tell their dining partner, they only order Teriyaki Chicken when they eat there.

Blue Gingko  is definitely a restaurant worth the drive if you live in the San Francisco Bay area or just visiting. Whether you are looking for sushi or want to try my favorite Tonkatsu, you should make plans to visit Blue Gingko in Lafayette, California. Have you been to Blue Gingko? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Anchor Bar

Since 1964, the home of the Original Buffalo Wings is the Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY.

You have seven hours to kill and you are 64 miles from Buffalo, what do you do? The answer is obvious, drive to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY. The Anchor Bar is the home of the Original Buffalo Wings. From their humble beginnings in 1964, Buffalo Wings can now be found in almost every corner of the World. We  have Teressa  Bellissimo and her son to thank for that.

One of my coworkers through down the challenge. He said since you travel to Rochester NY for business, why don’t you try the wings. Of course I had to research where Buffalo wings started. Then more importantly are they still in business. Discovering the Anchor Bar was the birth place of Buffalo wings, I made it my mission to visit the Anchor Bar and try the original wings.

Anchor Bar Original Wings
Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wings

Contrary to popular belief, not all wings are created equal. What separates the Anchor Bar’s wings from other bars and restaurants, is you can immediately tell they make them in house. the chicken is not overly processed. I chose the original flavor boneless wings for my taste test. The chunks of breast meat was tender and juicy. They were deep fried to a golden brown. As you can see in the picture, the wings were generously coated with their sauce. There is just enough heat for those that like their wings spicy. As you would expect, they have a selection of sauces that range from mild, to Jerk BBQ, original, to extreme.  I’m certain you can find the flavor and heat level you are looking for.

Anchor Bar Interior
Anchor Bar

What keeps you coming back to a bar or restaurant, is good food enough? In the case of Anchor Bar they are lacking in customer service. If you don’t mind being ignored by the hostess and figuring out on your own how to place an order, then the Anchor Bar is for you. Walking in I was struck by the unique decor. As a motorcycle fan, I was mesmerized by the classic motorcycles they have mounted on the wall. License plates from all over the country cover the walls, plus pictures of famous guest. So there is a certain uniqueness that you can entertain yourself with while being ignored. I have had bad service before, but not from the entire staff. I would hate to see how they behave when they are busy.

The bottom line; If you are traveling through the Buffalo NY area I wouldn’t dissuade you from trying the Anchor Bar. For myself, I have been there, done that. If you have visited the Anchor Bar please share your comments.

Welcome to Road Warrior Dining!

Firehouse Grill 2

You are driving down the highway, hungry, looking for a good place to eat. Do you stop at the first diner or restaurant you come to or do you continue down the highway looking for a familiar chain restaurant? Driving through small-town America, are you willing to stop at a restaurant you see off the main road?

It has been said there is not a Dive out there that I’m not willing to try and regret later. If trying different restaurants was a baseball game, I’m batting 400. How do you know if a restaurant is a hidden gem if you don’t stop and give it a try?  Firehouse Grill is one such place. If I had not ventured in, I would never learned that it is a hidden gem.

FH Int 3
Firehouse Grill Littlestown, PA

It is my mission to share the hidden gems I have found and steer people away from the places I swear I will never go back to. The Road Warriors amongst us know of places that they are willing to take a drive to go back to.  Whether you stumble on a good place to eat while traveling or go to a restaurant because of word of mouth, these are the places that need be shared. The adventure is rolling the dice and trying new places.