Local: Pizzeria Toro (@pizzeriatoro) - Durham, NC

Had the chance to check out this great spot in downtown Durham to celebrate Emily's first publication.

We walked in on a Wednesday evening to find the place bumpin'! There was a 30-45 minute wait at 7:30 at night and that seemed pretty conservative. The nice lady at the door sent us over to the bar for some amazing drinks though, and I highly recommend their signature drinks.

We ordered 2 appetizers and 4 pizzas between the 4 of us and that was more than plenty. Actually, it would have been fine with 2 apps and 2 pizzas.

The style here is wood fire oven done the right way with really fresh ingredients. We had the egg, goat sausage, the pistachio and onion (thanks to a twitter recommendations), and the buffalo mozz. and the stand out was for me was the egg.

All in all I can't wait to go back to this spot and proud that its in Durham.

Twitter: @pizzeriatoro

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Win a Pair of Tickets!

Pretty Girl From Chile
I've been working with Sticks and Stones in Greensboro, NC to prepare a specialty pizza just for you. The catch is, if you buy one you get to enter your name into a drawing for a pair of tickets to the Avett Brothers show in Greensboro, NC on Oct. 8th.

Woodfire
The special is running now and will run until the drawing on Oct. 7th. Get to Sticks and Stones and give one a try.



--Joe Kwon

Pizzeria Locale - Boulder, CO

I would like to say before anyone from NY or Chi-Town goes off on me about their pizza, that this is merely a write-up of artisan, Neopolitan style, pizza. This isn't a slice or a pie, this is something totally different.

I guess it's been over a year since I posted about my amazing dining experience at Frasca. Well Pizzeria Locale, is the new sister restaurant right next to Frasca and opened as an authentic Neopolitan Pizzeria. Truly worth a visit, but make your reservation!

Let's take a look at what we've got here. Some beautiful grilled veggies, porcini mushrooms, San Marzano tomatoes, and smoked buffalo mozzarella, see why this isn't your normal pizzeria? I was really quite amazed at the sight of Pizzeria Locale when I went in. I guess the first thing your eyes are drawn to is the amazing V.D.F. prosciutto slicer, which I'm told is the only one in North America. It's truly a work of art. I didn't think to take a picture of it when I walked in. Sorry folks!

Arancini

We decided to sit at the bar since we didn't have reservations and the restaurant was packed. And, I like to sit where the action is. Most people talk during a meal, and I'm all for that, but sometimes it's a thing of beauty to see the artists at work. The above are arancini, which are fried rice balls coated in a breading, these filled with buffalo mozzarella, and fried. Needless to say, anything that is breaded, filled with cheese and fried is going to be delicious, but this is a notch up.

Frutti di Mare

I once went to Italy en route to a summer music festival in my classical days and came across several restaurants serving frutti di mare, which translates to "fruit of the sea". I fell in love with it then so I figured I had to order it here. I'm starting to notice that pizzeria locale really places emphasis in trying to be as authentic as they can in their flavors, and this dish is great proof. Beautiful bright flavors from fresh lemon and perfectly blanched potatoes add an amazing earthiness to this dish. Food bliss!

Polpettine

These are veal meatballs. I'm telling you, photos just don't do them justice. I really wish there was a way for me to explain the soft texture these had, and the richness that can't be described. They are soft, meaty, and melt in your mouth.

Mais

When we sat down to the chefs throwing dough, artistically putting a layer of sauce on the pizzas, and layering delicious ingredient upon ingredient on pizzas, I asked one of them, what is your favorite pizza. He said "I like the Mais it's very different." So I'm thinking . . . is different good in a traditional pizzeria? Why not! There is a distinct sweetness from the creme fraiche and corn on this white pizza. The texture of the corn is perfect and fun, while the ham adds nice saltiness as well as a bit of sweetness to each bite. I'm in love with Pizzeria Locale by now and I'm already thinking I need to get back here soon.

Maiale

This is a bit more of a traditional pie. One that I've had before in my visit to Italy. A pizza topped with tomatoes, prosciutto crude, buffalo mozzarella, and once baked topped with arugula, a peppery lettuce from italy. It's more of edgy flavor than the mais but I love it. It's reminiscent of Italy, and that is a very good thing.

Budino

Now, I'm not really a desert person but when I'm going to get down and eat like a pro, I don't feel complete without one. We bought this one because our server said it was the most popular dessert. It's definitely that for a reason. So rich, lightly butterscotch-y, and comforting, all the things I need in a desert.

Check out Pizzeria Local online and their menu here.

Cheers,
Joe Kwon


Special thanks to Bobby Stuckey for showing us such an amazing time.

Local Eats: Pie Pushers

Another great area food truck. Pie pusher serves up some of the best cart pizza in the area with some very interesting toppings. You can find their location by following their twitter feed @piepushers.

Here are two of the pizzas we got to kick off our triangle restaurant week celebrations. The one on the left is called the 1243 a very hearty pie while the one on the right is the Under My Shoe a lighter fare.

--Joe

4 Pizzas From Otto Pizza - Portland, ME

When you role into a town that is in one of the far corners of the US, you are bound to get a lot of recommendations about local attractions and food attractions in particular. We were fortunate enough to be steered to Otto Pizza in Portland, ME. The pizza's are fresh and the staff is super cool. I loved the smallness of their shop and the smiles on their faces. I let the cashier lady put my order in for me and had her give me 4 of their most popular pizzas.

Sweet Potato, Cranberry, Goat Cheese The above pizza was by far my favorite. The flavors just mesh so well together to give you a pizza that isn't too greasy and seems healthy in the end. The sweetness of all three toppings is what really shines in this pie!

Tomato, Basil, Ricotta This is a variation on a classic margarita pizza but instead of fresh buffalo mozzarella Otto's uses ricotta which gives it a much lighter flavor. You really start to notice how they are working with subtlety at Otto rather than punch you in the face flavors. Super nice!

Bacon, Basil, Mashed Potatoes I would consider this pizza that was born out of necessity of being in a cold northern town. It really tastes like a loaded baked potato when you closed your eyes with the crust being like the skin of a well baked potato, crispy, crusty, goodness. They did a good job of not over seasoning the potatoes before putting them on so the whole pizza isn't overly salty at all.

Sausage, Onion, Tomatoes This is the big punch you in the face pie. You'll love it if you want fresh ingredients that will fill you up and give you the energy you need. The sausage is cut nice and thin while the onions are cut a little larger. The nice balance of those two ingredients alone made for a great pie.

Check out Otto Pizza online.

--Joe Kwon

Local Eats: Sticks and Stones - Greensboro, NC


Artisan pizza seems to be a big thing these days. I've started to notice them popping up all over the country and a lot of times they just fall short of high expectations. After all sometimes just a classic slice of cheese pizza is all it takes. Well Sticks and Stones seems to have it figured out.

Peaceful Valley Local Organic Greens, Sprouts, Tomatoes, Carrots, Radishes, Toasted Pumpkin & Flax Seeds, Roasted Shallot & Herb Vinaigrette
The above is one of their signature salads which has nothing but fresh ingredients and as you can see a slew of health nut inspired additions. The pizza I must say was excellent. The crust survived a 10 minute walk back to the Schroth residence with plenty of elasticity and crunch.

A Kiss Before I Go Tomato Sauce, Fried Eggplant, Wild Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Carmelized Garlic, Fresh Basil, Parmesan
Just take a look at their menu, and you'll see that they have some really exciting flavor combinations on their pizzas. Anne, Pete's better half, steered us towards this pizza which I will be trying at home. The fried eggplant was really the kicker here. It adds texture, and just that flavor of fried fattiness that is obviously delicious.

To be the One Pizza Margherita w/ Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Parmesan, Fresh Basil
Did I happen to mention they are a wood fired pizza establishment. See all that black charing on the crust. That's goes on underneath the pizza too so you know you've got some yummy burn flavor there. I must say if I were you I'd stray away from the basic Margherita here only because there are so many exciting flavors that are going to be a better bang for your buck and will incite a lot of creativity in your own creations in the future. However, it's still a great slice.

Rescue Blues Rosemary Garlic Fries
And now, we get to the creme de la creme of french fries. Fresh cut, tossed with garlic and fresh rosemary and from what I can tell double fried. These fries are salty, crunchy, the perfect thickness, and for what you get, cheap!

In any case, you need to check this place out. The corner where Sticks and Stones sits on is surrounded by a lot of young families and people and is a full of life. A great place to sit with friends and have a brew or a glass of wine.

Enjoy!
Joe Kwon

Shakespeare's Pizza - Columbia, MO

It was difficult to decide where to get food in Columbia, MO. It seemed that everyone had an opinion on where was the best foodie destination or what was cool and trendy. Well when all else fails get pizza right! Lucky for us the best pizza joint in Columbia, MO and possibly in all of Missouri was right next door to the venue.

I think it's safe to say that everyone loved this mix of thin and thick crust pizza. The toppings were all so fresh but I was quite partial to the meat pie. It had all the meats pepperoni, sausage, and ham. The best part was they were all delicious.

When you walk in to Shakespeare's Pizza you kinda are taken back to some sort of German brew house. Wood everything and a nice area right in front of the kitchen where you can see them making your pizza. It's great! So on your next visit to Columbia, MO don't forget to check this heavenly pizzeria.

--Joe Kwon

Local Eats: Pepper's Pizza

I remember coming to Pepper's with my sister's Si and Jin when they were in college some 10 years before me. They would let me stay with them for a weekend and take me to all sorts of yummy restaurants. So I guess you could say that Pepper's is my first food experience with Chapel Hill, NC. Who knew back then that I would end up in college there. The dish that I first had at Pepper's. The salad with poppyseed dressing. There is something special about this dressing that keeps you coming back. I honestly feel they could serve these simple salads with this special poppyseed dressing and make a business of it. It's divine! Fast forward to 2009 and I discover a new combination called the "dijoppy" dressing, a combination of their poppyseed and dijon dressings. Get it!

Pepper's is known for their pizza's of course. It's Franklin Street's version of an artisan pizzeria. I didn't get a snap shot of my favorite slice there but if you eat meat you must get it. It's called the Luau (sausage, chicken, tabasco sauce, onions, cheese). This is a slice of the Joint (left) and the Sarah (right). Both delicious but so different. The Joint is topped with Carolina style BBQ, tabasco sauce, onion, slaw, and cheese. The sarah is a vegetarian slice with spinach, cheese, onions, tomato, and feta. The Geddy Lee is another vegetarian slice with artichoke, sun dried tomato, and cheese.

Pepper's might not be the perfect crust or sauce to your palette, but their flavor combinations are so delicious that it's hard to pass up. The ambience is very relaxed and clientele are a mix of college students in PJ's and families with children. A great friendly place to eat and share a pie and pitcher of beer.

If you're visiting the area to go to a show at Memorial Hall or the Cradle, stop by this local hot spot and have yourself a little slice of Chapel Hill history.

--Joe Kwon

For more information and directions click here.