Saturday, February 13, 2010

tell me ma

Fr. Michael Woods mentioned both Amy Brace and Ashley Reisser in his homily at the 5:00 p.m. Mass tonight. He told a beautiful story about Ashley's mother, who told him she hopes they never find the men who ran from the car that dragged her daughter. She imagines that they are probably scared and praying for Ashley's continued recovery.

Although we had originally planned on eating at home, my wife and I ended up going out to dinner after Mass. We went with my wife's mother and brother, who had stopped off on their way from Virginia to Georgia. They were here on Valentine's weekend last year too and we waited a long time to be seated at Mimi's Café.

This year, I chose a place where the tables would turn over fairly quickly. We went to Hard Knox Pizzeria and used a gift certificate that I had purchased for half price (plus service charge) from the radio station's website. It's a place I've wanted to try since I first heard of it last year.

Fr. Michael was able to join us for dinner before having to head back to All Saints to give a blessing at the Mardi Gras dance which benefits Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. I asked him about Vols coach Derek Dooley, whose parents were parishioners of Fr. Michael's during his days in Athens. He said he had received a response from the coach, who indicated he would bring his parents by the church when they visit Knoxville. As the conversation turned to other topics, Fr. Michael mentioned that there is an old YouTube video of him singing at a biker bar. Why? It was to raise money for the Ulster Project.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, January 18, 2010

buon appetito

Two St. Louis foodie experiences got checked off our to-do list this weekend. My wife, our son and I went to the trendy π to try their deep-dish pizza with cornmeal crust. Fortunately it lived up to the hype. I enjoyed my Bada Bing salad too.

Even better was our trip to the Italian neighborhood known as The Hill. I had found a low-cost place called Amighetti's in the AAA TourBook. It wasn't until we got there that we realized it is a sandwich place that was just about to close at 5:30 p.m. I was looking for a place where we could sit down for dinner. While she would have been happy to serve us, the clerk suggested a restaurant a few blocks away, which turned out to be a great idea.

The dining room at Rigazzi's was packed. We were told to expect a 45-minute wait. Some potential patrons started giving up and going to other nearby restaurants. As a result, our wait was shortened to about 15 minutes.

We were sitting close enough to the people at the next table that we could easily converse with them. They mentioned the large portion sizes of all the menu items, which affirmed my decision to split an entree with my wife. We chose the Chicken Romanoff, which had an amazing sauce with pancetta pieces and bleu cheese crumbles.

Our waiter was extremely apologetic that our salads arrived moments after our meals. He offered to bring us a free dessert. Since we were celebrating my son's birthday, I accepted. The waiter went over the top, bringing us four desserts: tiramisu, regular cheesecake and two pieces of chocolate cheesecake. We took two of the cheesecake slices back to Aunt Dee's and saved them for the next day.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, October 23, 2009

in da (865)

Most local radio commercials can be divided into two categories. I write and record my own endorsement spots in which I speak in the first person about my experience with a product or service such as Massage Envy, for example.

I also do voiceover spots for all four radio stations in our cluster. I read whatever scripts are in my mailbox each morning. Sometimes listeners will call me to ask about a script I read, thinking that it's a product I endorse. The difference between the two spots can be slight. I often have to change a script from first person to third person.

One of those third-person spots came down the pike on Wednesday. It promised 99¢ pizzas, which prompted me to immediately post something on Twitter about it. I drove past Mama Mia Cuisine that afternoon and happened to see the radio station's sales representative in the parking lot. He brought me into the pizza shop to meet Mac, the owner. He used to run other shops near the UT campus, including one with the clever name Salvador Deli. I pictured melting pizzas, a la The Persistence of Memory.

Mama Mia Cuisine is scheduled to open on October 29. They will sell their 14 inch cheese pizza for 99¢ with the purchase of $5 worth of other stuff. A couple of side salads at $3 each would do the trick although Mac and his business partner did a good job of convincing me to try their Greek salad or shepherd's salad instead.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, October 08, 2009

we have clearance, Clarence

The third meeting of the FBI Citizens Academy involved pizza and a field trip. We went to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory tonight for presentations on super computing, espionage and counter-intelligence. Our FBI instructors knew that no trip to Oak Ridge is complete without Big Ed's Pizza. Either someone at Big Ed's has a security badge that let's them make deliveries past the guard shack or someone at the FBI picked up the food and brought it to the meeting.

The lecture on super computing included high-resolution images shown on a power wall. Imagine 27 rear projection screens seamlessly blended to show 35 million pixels. They told us about the Jaguar, a computer that performs 1.3 quadrillion operations per second. I learned that floating point operations per second are called "flops." They are dealing in kiloflops, megaflops, gigaflops, and teraflops.

A counter-intelligence agent showed us Internet chat transcripts between an ORNL engineer and an alleged woman in China. She, if she was really a she, tried to get him to come to China for a visit. He finally got around to reporting his relationship with a foreign national months later than he should have and ended up losing his job when he tried to rekindle the online romance after being warned by his bosses.

The highlight of the evening for me was the hidden camera footage from operation "Barrier Reef." An FBI agent took us through the case study of Roy Lynn Oakley, a laborer for Bechtel Jacobs, hired to help dismantle the K-25 uranium enrichment plant. He smuggled out pieces of sensitive equipment in his work gloves and tried to sell them to France. His first plan was to contact the French government while traveling to Canada but he couldn't shake his wife and her relatives. Then he bought a Tracfone and tried calling the French consulate using the fake name "Paul Collins." The FBI assigned an undercover agent to run a "false flag operation." Oakley made a dead drop of a CD with photos of the stolen barrier tubes. The photos inadvertently showed part of a mailing label with Oakley's real name and address. The agent met Oakley at McGhee Tyson Airport and videotaped him as he showed the stolen tubes and took $200,000 in cash. They arrested him and got the money back. He pleaded guilty this past January.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Over the years, a few of my blog entries have covered topics similar to Carly Harrington's excellent "The Bottom Line" blog. She reports on the openings and closings of local businesses. I'm especially interested in her restaurant coverage. For example, I certainly thought of Carly when I happened to be the first person to show up on opening day at Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets.

A couple of things happened today that also reminded me of her column. I drove past Pup's Pit and noticed they had moved. A sign on the window announced that their new location is on Northshore Drive at Rocky Hill. The most obvious reason I thought of Carly was the notification I received this afternoon that knoxgirl75 had started following my Twitter feed. It's no wonder that Carly is thought of as "the face of newsroom innovation."

"The Bottom Line" crossed my mind last Friday when I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new location for Academy Ballroom. As I was taking a picture of their new sign, another new sign caught my eye. Hard Knox Pizza recently opened a few doors down from the dance studio. I stopped in to look around and promised owners Dean and Jill that I would be back for a meal with my wife. I'll be sure to wave at their webcam.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, January 30, 2009

downtown revitalization

Former New Yorkers like myself never stop looking for a pizza that replicates their memories of what they had back home. Tonight my wife and I had dinner at Dazzo's Italian Castle Pizzeria on Gay Street, between the Bijou Theatre and the Tennessee Theatre. It's actually sandwiched between the offices of two law firms.

Dazzo's got some publicity from WBIR last month, shortly after they opened. We went there between shows at the Bijou Jubilee and were lucky to get the last two seats in the place. From the chatter around us, it sounded like some of the other customers were planning to see Henry Cho at the Bijou while others were headed to a movie at the Regal Riviera.

The back of the menu says that the owner grew up in Ozone Park in the 1960s and that he started working for the best pizzerias on Long Island in the mid '70s. Like a true New York pizza joint, they offer it by the slice for $2.75. Except at night. The waitress told us we would have to order a minimum of four slices, which is half a pie. It was more cost-effective to buy a whole pie for $15.95 and take home the leftovers. We ordered a plain Neapolitan, which is the best way to truly judge a new pizza.

Dazzo's crust is the way I like it, very very thin. In addition to salt and pepper, our table had shakers of garlic, chili pepper flakes and oregano,
my favorite pizza topping. As my wife paid the cashier, I watched the pizza chef smother somebody else's pie with sausage, pepperoni and bacon. Next time we go, we might try one of their specialty pizzas called "Grandma's Pizza." It's a thin crust pan pizza. Or we might stick with what we know we like.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, January 18, 2009

when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent

One of the perks of interviewing Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass about their Body Farm books is that the publisher sends me an advance copy. The past few times I got an uncorrected galley proof, so that I had even more time to read it before the interview. I didn't need much at all. Last weekend, I read half of "Bones of Betrayal" in the car on the way to Missouri and finished it the next day on the way home to Tennessee.

I told Jon on Wednesday night that I liked the new book better than the last one. He said he liked it better too. "The Devil's Bones" had three parallel story lines that didn't connect in as satisfying a manor as the story lines in "Bones of Betrayal." The new novel has deaths in present day Oak Ridge that are linked to a previously unknown murder during the Manhattan Project days. There couldn't be a better nickname for the scene of the crimes than The Secret City.

The action in "Bones of Betrayal" takes place in mid-January 2009. Somehow the authors predicted our current cold snap when they were writing last year. One of my favorite things about all the Jefferson Bass books is the way they describe East Tennessee in such detail. No Oak Ridge story would be complete without a visit to Big Ed's Pizza. They put you right at their table as they write about the tiny paper plates and flimsy plastic forks at Big Ed's.

In another section of the book, the fictional Dr. Bill Brockton goes to the real Thompson Photo in Knoxville. He's a regular there whereas my wife and I made our first visit to the place before Christmas. Jere found an old photo at her late Aunt Dee's apartment in St. Louis. It was badly yellowed but was otherwise in good condition. She thought that copies of it would make great Christmas gifts for her mother and siblings. Jere arrived at Thompson's store in West Knoxville only to find out it had been shuttered (pardon the pun) the day before. At our next earliest opportunity, we took the photo to Thompson's main location in the Mechanicsville area, where Dr. Brockton takes some film that turns up as evidence.

The folks at Thompson did a good job of making copies that restored the image to glorious black and white. The picture is a portrait of Aunt Dee and her siblings as children. The other three are my mother-in-law, Fr. George and Uncle Barney. The original is from Schweig Studio, which closed in 2002. The Schweigs exhibited the work of local artists at a gallery in the basement of their studio.

Our best guess is that this great photo was taken in 1932 or thereabouts.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, October 26, 2008

see you in the funny papers

Dagwood Bumstead is more like me than I thought. He said two things this week that could have come out of my own mouth instead.

As a kid, I used to read the comics every day. Now I mostly read the newspaper online, only glancing at the comics when I have access to the dead-tree edition. Most comic strips are available online (including my current favorite, Bizarro) but who has time to visit each strip's website? It's not the same as scanning two whole pages of newsprint to see if something makes you laugh. I have long wondered if comic artists need to draw a new set of pictures for each strip or if they can use stock images and put new words in the speech and thought balloons, especially for heritage strips like Blondie.

On Thursday
, Dagwood was griping about the amount of money Jerry Seinfeld got to do those odd Microsoft commercials. I identified with his answer when Blondie asked him what products he could endorse. I also would gladly do commercials for pillows, recliners, homemade pies, mattresses, hamburgers, hot sauce, cakes, pizza, ice cream parlors and BBQ joints. It makes perfect sense, just like the time I endorsed a company that sells and installs high-def TVs.

I spotted another similarity with Dagwood yesterday. Like me, he's a fan of naps. Unlike me, he claims there's a difference between sleeping and napping. When I take a nap, I do it right, changing into sleepwear and crawling into bed, not to be disturbed for three hours.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

more leftovers

The cracker crust makes St. Louis pizza unique. During our road trip last month, my wife and I went to Imo's Pizza to sample some. The crust was okay but I didn't love the creamy sauce under the cheese. Some contributors on Chowhound suggested that it's the Provel cheese I didn't like. They mentioned a place called Pi that I should try next time.

We had a better meal at the City Coffee House & Crêperie. We ordered both a savory crêpe and a sweet one to share. They used a small rake-like utensil to smooth the batter over the griddle. The crêpes get stuffed with almost anything you can imagine.

The Cardinals were playing a home game as we drove out of town. During the radio pregame show, I heard a testimonial commercial for Kutis Funeral Home. Who did they get to voice the spot? Jack Buck's widow.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

when Hamptons wasn't cool

The Penny Candy Shop has gone out of business, reports my sister. She was visiting one of my favorite places on Earth, the east end of Long Island and saw the sign in the window. According to the real estate listings, the former Penny Candy Shop is for sale. The price? 200 million pennies.

The P.C.S. now joins Kathleen's Bakeshop on my list of former favorites in the Hamptons. Kathleen's sold the famous Crutchley's Cruller hearts (doughnut holes), which you would drop into a bag of powdered sugar and shake. Like the original Crutchley's Bakery, Kathleen's is closed now, as we discovered when we were in the area last summer. I saw online that Kathleen lost the rights to her own name. She has a new business called Tate's Bake Shop but there's no mention of whether she still sells the hearts.

One of my parents' favorite restaurants in the Hamptons was Herb McCarthy's. It closed in the '80s. The microbrewery now in that location named a beer after Old Herb. It was the least they could do.

As far as I can tell, the Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton and Sip 'n Soda in Southampton are still open and doing fine, even after the recent death of one of Sip 'n Soda's owners. And so is our local choice for pizza, La Parmigiana in Southampton.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, March 07, 2008

palate pleasing pallet place

Internet surfers frequently find their way to my site when searching for the best BBQ or pizza in Knoxville. I've written about both, although I have to admit that my BBQ postings are a bit outdated. At least two new joints have opened around my end of town since I last visited the topic. There's one on Walker Springs and one on Middlebrook Pike that I would like to try when I can afford both the cash and the calories. Plus I don't eat meat on Fridays in Lent.

This time last year I wrote
about having cheese pizza as a Lenten meal. A couple of Fridays this Lent, I timed a salad-buying trip to Sam's Club to coincide with lunch. A slice of their pizza is pretty good, inexpensive and about the size of two slices elsewhere. I got one today and put it in my shopping cart before sitting down at one of their little tables.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, November 09, 2007

two simple words in the English language

It was too dark to take a picture of the network sports banners hanging near the ceiling at Big Ed's Pizza the other night. They have banners from CBS Sports, ABC Sports and NBC Sports. The NBC banner features the 1970s era logo with the N shaped like two trapezoids. I forgot that Big Ed's son Dave told me that the banners had been given to the pizza joint by former UT players who had gone on to the NFL. Dave had heard that the NBC banner was collected by Hacksaw Reynolds after a game in San Diego. Speaking of pizza, TV hottie Stacy McCloud posted a comment about gluten-free pizza at Roman's.

After writing my All Souls Day entry about "The Undertaking," I found a link to an article about the Body Farm. As an unofficial clearing house of Body Farm information, I debated going back and adding an update to my post. I guess I forgot.

When I wrote about my conversation with Pat Godwin, I forgot to mention that I've been seeing another former Comedy World employee on TV a lot lately. Lou DiMaggio is on a commercial for Bristol-Myers Squibb talking about his heart attack. Fortunately he's doing well now.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

cheese and oxygen

The best known pizza place in East Tennessee used to be off limits to me. I had been to Big Ed's Pizza in Oak Ridge when I was new to the area but found the place filled with cigarette smoke. Despite my love of pizza, I knew I could never return. Fortunately the smoking ban that went into effect last month has opened some doors for me. The giant caricature of Big Ed in the window is probably inviting to most, however it was the no-smoking sign on the door that said "welcome" to me.

I asked our waitress if I could order a salad. "We only sell pizza," was her response. Without any acrid smoke to interfere with the taste, I could finally understand why everyone loves Big Ed's. The pizza was really good, especially the crust. They make their own dough at Big Ed's and it shows. The tiny paper plates and super thin napkins make eating a little more challenging than at most restaurants.

On my first trip to Big Ed's, I got one of their famous t-shirts. At the time I needed size XXL, which is now way too big for me. The thought of the smoke kept me from going back to get a free shirt on my last birthday. Now that the air is smoke-free, I can make plans to pick up a size L shirt next year.

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, August 30, 2007

twist, lick, dunk, chop, blend, freeze, bake, fry

Something is happening with Oreos. They seem to be everywhere lately, morphing into different dessert items. I was recently asked to submit something for a local charity cookbook. They want the recipe for the Oreo Truffles that my wife made last Christmas.

I have yet to buy any of the Oreo Cakesters that caught my eye during our road trip last month. Back at home, I saw a great looking Oreo cake in the bakery department at my local Food City.

A few minutes ago I saw a TV commercial for the Oreo Sundaes at Baskin-Robbins. The commercial has received some online criticism. The sundaes are only a small part of a partnership between Oreos and Baskin-Robbins.

Perhaps the most unusual Oreo treat is the Oreo Dessert Pizza that debuted this week. It was featured in a Domino's flyer that arrived in my mail the other day. I wonder how many laps I would have to swim before I could try a slice. It looks like they make you buy a regular pizza before you can get the Oreo pizza.

Lastly, it's the time of year when deep fried Oreos are likely to be available at Boomsday or at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Of all the deep fried treats I tried in my heavier past, I remember that Oreos held up best to the deep frying. The Twinkie and the Snickers bar weren't as impressive.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, July 07, 2007

meet and treat

It was hot at the Smoky Mountain Invitational swim meet but not quite as uncomfortable as it was last year. The schedule of events showed that our son had a six hour wait between his first and second race. We could have cooled off by taking a cold shower or by paying a dollar to jump into the "free swim" area of the pool. Instead we got in the car and went to a movie in an air conditioned theatre.

We saw "Ratatouille" at the Carmike Foothills 12. All of their screens have digital projection. I am now spoiled and only want to see movies that way from now on. The movie was very good, quickly overcoming one part that I thought was a little slow. It's completely G-rated but the subject matter sailed over the head of the littlest kids in the audience. In fact, they left early. They could have been turned off by the drama of a restaurant losing a star from its five-star rating or by the legal ramifications of a character's paternity.

After the movie, it was back to the Springbrook Pool and the SMI. Like at every meet, many kids had their event and heat numbers written on their arms. At all the meets so far this year, I've noticed a lot of swimmers, mostly girls, with the phrase "eat my bubbles" written on their backs. I'm still waiting for somebody to change it to "breathe my bubbles." Doesn't that make more sense? Several swimmers had their team names written on their bodies. I saw things like "Go Gators," "Go Sharks," "Go Dolphins" and so on. My favorite team name is the "Smokin' Salmon." They swim for a Jewish community center. At a swim meet last month, I noticed a sign posted by the guy who lives next to one of the neighborhood pools. Apparently his name for the local swim team is "Sprinkler Heads" as he implores: "Please, sprinkler heads, do not drive on the grass."

My son swam his last event around 6 p.m., eleven hours after we had arrived at the pool. We rewarded his performance with a trip to Brooklyn's Original Pizza in Lenoir City. Nick, the owner, remembered us from our last visit and probably from the Knoxville Yankee picnic. He also said that he just saw me on stage at the radio station's Fourth of July concert.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, April 22, 2007

hey youse guys

The weather was perfect. The people were great. The food was fantastic. I wish we could have stayed a bit longer at the Knoxville Yankee picnic this afternoon. Thanks to Wes and his wife Jenn for organizing the event.

The main attraction was the pizza from Brooklyn's Original Pizza in Lenoir City. The guys from the restaurant and I had a good laugh about the time they thought I was a corporate spy.

Wes' aunt flew down from Yonkers with a load of Drake's cakes, Stella D'Oro cookies and Zurro's bread. She told me that she won't be able to do it again because she's going to move to Tennessee. When I first saw Knoxville Yankee's preview photo of bread from a bakery that started with "Z" and ended with "ro's" I got excited that they might have some corn rye from Zaro's Bread Basket in Grand Central Terminal, a favorite of my family. I have no complaints about Zurro's though. It tasted great. A lot of people were most psyched about the stack of Junior's Cheesecakes. Overall, the highlight for me had to be the Devil Dogs but as I look at this photo, I can't believe I forgot to have a Yodel.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, April 20, 2007

clicking away in Margheritaville

While eating lunch today (five ounces of chicken and a salad), I flipped back and forth between WBIR and WATE. Channel 10 was showing an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies" I had already seen. Meanwhile on Channel 6, one of the questions on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" asked what type of food was featured on the website As a fan of New York pizza, I wrote myself a note to take a look at it when I turned on my laptop. The people who run the site heard about their "Millionaire" mention second-hand.

Slice is mostly about pizza parlors in New York City. So far I haven't found any reviews for Roma or Albanese's, the pizzerias that my family frequented when we lived in Westchester County. Thanks to one of their reader tips, I found a mention of a pizza place in Northern Virginia that I will have to try on my next visit. I wonder if any of our East Tennessee pizzerias will ever make the site. My current top three are Mangia, Brooklyn's Original and Roman's.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, March 23, 2007

say cheese

It must be the hot stone. At the urging of a blog reader (more about him later), my family and I stopped for dinner at Brooklyn's Original Pizza in Lenoir City on our way home from Atlanta. It says on the front of the menu that they are East Tennessee's only hot stone pizzeria. The crust was the perfect thickness, or maybe I should say it was the perfect thinness. It was the perfect softness too. My first slice drooped exactly the right way before I pressed down on the center and folded it the way New Yorkers do.

In the past few weeks, I've written about trying the pizza at Mangia Pizza & More in the Turkey Creek shopping center and at I ♥ NY Pizza in South Knoxville. A comment on one of those earlier pizza posts directed me to an online review of Brooklyn's Original Pizza, which in turn, prompted me to visit the place this week. The reviewer is right, the pizza at Brooklyn's Original is just like you'd get in New York. I loved it and will go there again when I can. Because Mangia is closer to my house, I'll go there more often. Mangia's crust has a delicious breadstick flavor to it that strays from true New York style but I liked it a lot. A whole heckuva lot.

The guys behind the counter at Brooklyn's Original Pizza were happy have me take their picture. They told me how they are now world famous because of the online review I had read at They asked if my photos were for the Internet. I said yes without realizing that they might have thought I was going to post them on the Knoxville Yankee site rather than my own.

The author of Knoxville Yankee has written a very entertaining recap of what happened next. Here's my favorite part of his post (which you must read in its entirety):
Apparently some guy showed up that evening, claimed he knew me, knew my name, and spent about an hour there taking photos and talking to them all the while saying it was 'for'. Now there is the possibility that my friends at Brooklyn's Original heard wrong - they were short-staffed this week - but if they heard right, that's some creepy stuff because I have *NO* idea who that guy was. He certainly wasn't affiliated with me.

And so I'm putting a call out to identify this mystery Yankee who claimed he was down with this set. Here's what we know (pardon the 'Clue' like description):
  • He was estimated to be in his early 40's
  • He has a beard and glasses
  • He was with a woman and younger teenager who were assumed to be his family
  • The 'son' was described as around 14 - I didn't hear about the 'wife'
  • He has a 'northern accent' which could either mean a real accent or the absence of a southern one.
  • He has a nice camera, and spent a great deal of time setting up food shots, getting pictures of the guys tossing dough, etc.
  • He ordered a large pie with oregano and three salads (good taste - nice).
  • He was nice.
They may have gotten a few details wrong (I never claimed to be from Knoxville Yankee, I only said that I had heard of it) but at least they said I was nice. I've been recognized a lot lately, so I need to be on my best behavior.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, March 09, 2007


A fellow parishioner (and radio personality) told me his family was getting tired of eating fish on Fridays during Lent. He wondered if I had any ideas for other meatless meals. I started rattling off suggestions. He seemed interested in trying Amy's Texas Veggie Burgers. He was surprised at himself for forgetting about cheese pizza, which my parents often ordered on Friday nights back in Crestwood. Like me, my friend was puzzled that eggs can be eaten on Fridays since they could grow up to become chickens, which are not allowed.

My wife is the one who had told me that eggs are permitted by the Church. When I questioned her about it, she said that she had previously looked it up on the Internet (no wonder I'm crazy about her). Turns out that Pope Paul VI gave eggs the okay back in 1966. I wonder if the American Egg Board asked Pope Paul for a blessing, similar to the way KFC asked Pope Benedict to bless their fish sandwich.

Since it was Friday and since my wife and I were going to be in South Knoxville on business anyway, we planned today's meals so that we could try a pizza place we have heard good things about. With a place named "I ♥ NY Pizza," my hopes were high. As a former New Yorker, I'm always looking for pizza that reminds me of the ones I ate while growing up.

I immediately liked the atmosphere at
I ♥ NY Pizza. One wall is covered with graffiti and several of the ceiling tiles are decorated. The contents of the dessert case made me want to plan a return visit after Lent when I can eat sweets again. My wife and I ordered a whole pizza so we'd have leftovers to bring home to our son. Our meal began with a house salad. Instead of the cheap stuff we eat at home, our salad was made with fancy greens, similar to the Newman's Own package I've seen at Sam's Club. Their balsamic vinaigrette had the consistency of gravy but tasted great. Our pizza arrived just as we finished our salads. While it was very good, it had almost twice as much cheese as the pizzas of my youth. The crust was thin, the way I like it but the thick cheese oozed out when I folded a slice to eat it New York style. As we were leaving, we saw that the people at the next table had ordered some zeppole, which they were nice enough to let me photograph.

Would I go back to
I ♥ NY Pizza? Absolutely. In my ongoing search for my favorite Knoxville pizza, I currently rank I ♥ NY as number three. Roman's is number two and Mangia is still number one. Another pizza place that I tried in September was mentioned on the news today and not for a good reason.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, February 15, 2007

fromage homage

There's no such thing as bad pizza but some pizza is better than others. If I still lived in New York, I would always get my pizza from Roma Restaurant in Tuckahoe. Instead, I try new places hoping to find one that reminds me of my childhood favorite.

I thought I had found a new pizza place at Turkey Creek last night but the manager said that Mangia Pizza & More has been there for five years. I guess I don't get to Turkey Creek that often. The restaurant is delightfully smoke-free, an instant improvement over Big Ed's in Oak Ridge. The pizza was so good that I asked the manager if he or the owner were from New York. Turns out they are both Tennesseeans with an appreciation for thin crusts, good sauce and good cheese. They gladly put some extra oregano on my pizza, unlike most places. Whether because of Valentines Day or Wednesday church services, my wife and I were the only customers between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. The manager told us that they are busiest on Friday nights.

While we were eating our pizza at Mangia, my wife told me about the "Desperate Housewives" episode she had watched earlier that day. Pizzeria Scavo is about to open and my wife remembered that Doug Savant, who plays Tom, used to work at Dino's Pizza in Burbank. He was already a regular on "Melrose Place" by the time we became regulars at Dino's

The next time they come to visit, m
y sister and her husband might want to include a stop at the new restaurant opening soon right next door to Mangia. It appears to be the first Tennessee location for Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries. The Five Guys in Centreville, Virginia is one of their family's favorite places. I ate there with them just before starting my weight loss program seventeen months ago.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

phone call for Pete Zaria

Da Vinci's Pizza was closed the first time we wanted to eat there. Yesterday was Tuesday so we gave it another try before the Einstein Simplified show. The pizza was pretty good but the atmosphere left something to be desired. The front of the shop was so dark that I thought the place might have been closed again. The only other customers were smoking cigarettes while they waited for their carry-out calzone order. We picked a table as far from the smokers as we could. I got the special: two slices and a bottle of water (or soda) for $5. The crust was thin and flexible, which is the way I like it. Rather than pizza lovers like me, their target audience might be people looking for a late night snack after an evening at the various drinking establishments in the Old City.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

thin crust, no toppings

There are two types of pizza: good pizza and great pizza. When a new pizza place opens nearby, you have to try it to find out if it's just good or if it's great. Before the Einstein Simplified show two weeks ago, I spotted a new pizza place in the Old City called Da Vinci's Pizzeria & Calzones. The lettering in the window promised "New Jersey Style" pizza by the slice. Since last night was a show night, my daughter suggested that we get pizza before the improv show. My wife and I planned our meals so that we could have a slice and a salad for dinner. Once you get it in your head that you're going to have pizza, nothing else will satisfy. We arrived downtown about half an hour earlier than usual and saw something disappointing. Da Vinci's was closed. The way restaurants open and close around here I worried that the place had already gone out of business. Fortunately the sign on the door says they will re-open tomorrow once an electrical problem gets fixed. But that didn't help my pizza craving last night.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button