In which our intrepid heroes put stomachs at risk to hit as many Roadfood places as possible while answering the burning questions: Can you ever have too much pizza or too many hot dogs? Is it legal to have dessert between the aforementioned pizza and hot dogs? Can you use the word “aforementioned” on a food posting without losing your Roadfood status?
My trips for work tend to go in spurts to one location or another, and the first part of this year has sent me into the Hartford, CT area a few times. Personally it has made for some enjoyable visits to classic Roadfood locations and the chance to meet some extremely hospitable and nice people. The meals have not been bad, either. With that said, please forgive me for going over somewhat familiar ground for many of you all. This is a report from my trip the week of April 13. I promise to write about new locations when I head to Kansas, Louisiana, California, and New Hampshire later in the year.
The trip started off with a bit of a downer because I stopped at a place on the drive over, only to find that it was closed for vacation. The plan was to eat lunch at Frank and Burgy’s in Herkimer, NY, a place that has an excellent review on the site and was also highly recommended by TnTinCT. I suppose that the only glimmer of good from the stop was to find that the place is still in existence and is a short stop from the NY Thruway exit. Oh yes, maybe now I have paid my Roadfood dues by being “Travelin Manned” – I hope I can use that term.
Monday night was a calm one: just a stop over to Shady Glen in Manchester, CT. I neglected to bring the camera along and so have no pictures to post. The burger with a cheese skirt was good, the fries were all right but nothing great, and the grape nut ice cream was sensational. If you visit Shady Glen, please don’t forget to have dessert.
Tuesday night was when the fun began. I met up with Chris (ayersian), Mark (doggydaddy), and Terri and Tim (TnTinCT) at Pepe’s in Manchester, CT. In all my years of going to Pepe’s (i.e., two visits in March), I have had only the white clam pizza and the plain tomato pizza. Tonight we ordered a selection of pizzas with mushrooms, sausage, and a special with everything on it (along with the clam pizza). My pictures did not turn out that well, but here is one of the sausage pizza.
The pizzas were all good. The pepperoni one may have been the best, with its thick slices of spicy pepperoni.
But better than the pizza was the company and the chance to eat with some great folks. It was enjoyable to meet Terri and Tim and to see Chris and Mark again. I certainly look forward to seeing all of them again.
Wednesday afternoon was what Chris has called our epic adventure in Connecticut. Because my work finished early, and his work did also, we were able to get an early jump on hitting places. So began an adventure that spanned the afternoon and evening (and into the next days before I could finish some food).
First stop: Foxon Park beverages for some flavored sodas (pops in Western NY vernacular). I have enjoyed the clear birch beer at Pepe’s but cannot find it in the grocery stores. The beverage store is located at 103 Foxon Boulevard in New Haven and closes early (5:00 PM on weekdays and 4:00 PM Saturday).
The store has a varied selection of beverages, either in the 12-ounce glass bottles or one-liter plastic bottles:
I picked up a couple of cases of the one-liter bottles. The price is not bad: $1.25 each, compared to $2.00 at Pepe’s or when ordering on-line:
Be aware if you visit that the inside does not look like a retail establishment. You may wonder if you have entered the wrong door because all you are bottles and the sign on the wall. Go ahead and fill your box, and someone will be along to take you order.
Fortified with the beverages for the return trip home, we headed for the first stop: Swanky Franks in Norwalk, CT:
The meal was a chili cheese dog and fries. The chili cheese dog had a spicy flavor that did not hit right away but made itself known a few moments after taking a bite of the dog. It was not unpleasantly hot but was quite distinctive:
The fries were hand-cut and crispy without being too hard. You cannot see from the picture, but the fries did contain the little bits that are so tasty and hard to resist:
Next stop: Rawley’s in Fairfield. Chris has already described the hot sauce in a Roadfood Digest article: http://www.roadfooddigest.com/post/2009/04/Two-CT-dog-stands-add-hot-relish-to-their-menus.aspx
The chili cheese and bacon dog was very good also but not as spicy as that from Swanky Franks. It was good, and the chili had more of a taco flavor to me. As one who has put taco meat on hot dogs, I found the dog to be tasty and worth going back for. The bacon added a nice crunch and flavor.
Needing to walk off some of that food and redevelop our appetites, we stopped in New Haven to walk around the Yale campus. After approximately ten minutes of walking, we stopped at Ashley’s Ice Cream:
The butter pecan and black cherry were both good selections; pictured below is the butter pecan.
The ice cream is pricey: $3.00 for the scoop shown. It is very good. I see from the New England ice cream ratings http://www.roadfooddigest.com/IceCream/
that Ashley’s received three stars out of five. It may not be at the top of the list but is good and is a worthy stop when in the area.
The Yale campus has some wonderful architecture. I have just one picture to post: that of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library with its translucent panels that allow some light in but keep out sunlight from damaging the precious documents:
Finally it was time for pizza at Modern Apizza:
Although fairly full, we ordered a plain tomato pie.
We also ordered the sausage pizza:
Both were excellent and equal to those from Pepe’s. Which place had the better pizza? I really cannot tell because both are so good. The sausage pizza from Modern may have been slightly better than that from Pepe’s. One of the features that is so good is the thin crust, and it is not overwhelmed by the toppings.
To conserve room, Chris and I had been splitting the hot dogs, reasoning that we would get less full by eating only half. Makes sense, right? So what do you do with two pizzas? You eat half of each one (between us: each one had some sausage and some tomato pizza). Half a hot dog, half a pizza: the math makes some kind of sense.
(Be assured that those pizzas did not die in vain or get tossed out: they did taken out as leftovers.)
The next stop was Libby’s on Wooster Street for dessert (or a second dessert if you are counting the ice cream from Ashley’s):
The selection is a large one, and we settled on the cannolis:
I am thankful that I brought a cooler along because I did not eat mine until back home, and even then I waited until Friday. It was outstanding: very sweet and tasty.
I could not resist this picture of the original Pepe’s just down the street:
As an interesting note, there is an annex Pepe’s location just down the street from the original pizza place to handle the overflow crowds. If you see too long a line at Pepe’s, go into the parking lot and look to the building in the rear; it may have room for you.
So ended a long, fruitful, and enjoyable afternoon. My thanks to Chris for showing me all these outstanding places to eat at and for showing me around New Haven.
The next day on the way home I stopped at Donut Dip in Springfield, MA at the location at 1305 Riverdale Road in West Springfield, just off the I-91 freeway:
I ended up with a bag of six donuts:
Here are the donuts, perhaps looking a bit squashed after their journey.
They were still good, particularly the chocolate frosted and vanilla frosted donuts.
Again, all my thanks to the folks I ate with and visited with on this trip. You are all great ambassadors for Roadfood and a lot of fun to be around.
<message edited by Buffalo Tarheel on Sun, 04/19/09 9:21 PM>