The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!!

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billyboy
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2011/04/25 16:13:05 (permalink)

The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!!

A few weeks ago I received an email from The Travelin' Man that he would be working in NYC and wanted to put together a sweet contingent of Roadfooders for a weekend of epic eating.  Numerous emails and restaurant suggestions later The Travelin' Man, his friend Beth, Buffetbuster, Lexi, her son Ben and his girlfriend Kate, Chris & Amy (Ayersian), the Professor and MaryAnn were all in for quite a bit more than a 3-hour tour of some of the city's great eats!  
Friday April 8th - after buffetbuster's flight arrived I arranged to meet up with BB, TTM and Beth at P.J. Clarke's in Midtown East for their well-known burger.  

Not wanting to miss an opportunity I made sure to get a shot of these two epic RFers!  And in true city spirit, BB had a sample of urban hospitality in form the form a really drunk guy having a smoke outside and attempting to engage us in conversation.  While I don't remember the whole conversation, I do remember that he gave us all nicknames and said to me, "I think I'll call you Raoul!".  

 

I already feel full just reading this!  Clarke's has a well-worn feel and seemed to have a lot of locals in there chowing down.  We managed to get a table in the back room and all I had to do was two-step past a cougar who was giving me the once over before she left.  A bit awkward, but I would let nothing stop me from a good burger and from sharing my first meal with the esteemed Buffetbuster!  

Upon spying the Lobster Mac & Cheese on the menu, we ordered one for the table.  Rich, creamy and loaded with tender chunks of lobster meat and peas, this was a winner.

We also split an order of Buttered Home Fries.  Very rich and I believe loved by the whole table. I really wanted a steak to go with these!

My favorite though, were the Crisp Parmesan Tater Tots (with a Red Pepper Aioli).  I wasn't mad about the aioli, but those tots were just amazing!  And they were made in-house.  Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, I could have gone for another order!

And my burger with Vermont Cheddar and bacon (ordered medium).  When our waiter first brought it out I thought, "Gee, that's kinda small!".  It's a burger of decent size but I think I'm still comparing it to Luger's.  To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, it was a tasty burger! The bun was fresh and the flavor of the beef, cheese and bacon all came through nicely.  The cold, crisp pickle was an added bonus.  I'd definitely get this again and also come back to try a number of items on the menu that piqued my interest.  Of note, check out the cool men's room if you go.  Reminded me of a classic train station design.  

Many thanks to BB as he picked up the check and refused to take any money!  I can't believe I actually had a meal with him.  So cool!  Since their hotel was near my apartment, we took a walk to the subway and after getting lost underground we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge station to wait for the 4 train to Wall Street.  Since it was past midnight, the train schedule switches over and service becomes FUBAR (as they say) since late nights and weekends are when most track and electrical work is done.  While we waited, we experienced another piece of live street theatre.  Behold the following interaction:
Random Dude:  Any of you into the NBA? 
Us:  (mumble)  Nah.  Nope. 
Random Dude:  Basketball?  Baseball?  Football?  How about LeBron?  He's gonna have a good year!
Us:  (unintelligible muttering mixed with shrugged shoulders)
Random Dude:  How about ballerinas?
Us:  Don't dance.
Random Dude:  What about the budget cuts?  You got an opinion on that?  
Us:  Nope.  Still have my job.
Random Dude:  Oh, I see how it is!  (Exit.  Stage Left)
We thought about a slice of pie at a 24-hour place but we were all beat.  To be continued on Saturday...

 
#1

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    Philly Beth
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 16:36:14 (permalink)
    Have joined Roadfood officially.  Am now, from this moment on, known as Philly Beth.
    #2
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 16:45:10 (permalink)
    Schweeeeet!  Welcome to Roadfood, Philly Beth!  
     
    #3
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 16:54:26 (permalink)
    Maybe someday a benevolent Buffetbuster will buy you (not Billyboy) a bacon burger, Beth.   
     
     
    #4
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 16:55:26 (permalink)
    Philly Beth
    Have joined Roadfood officially. 

     
    And Roadfood was never the same again.   A big welcome to PhillyBeth!
     
    billyboy-
    The drunk gave me the nickname Ray-Ray.  Of all the nicknames handed out, I think I did okay.  BTW, did the drunk actually hook us up and get us a seat right away or was that just a coincidence? 

    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/04/25 16:57:42
    #5
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 17:04:00 (permalink)
    Saturday April 9th - I made plans to meet up with Chris & Amy at DiFara's Pizza in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn as none of us had ever been there before.  The rest of the gang had reservations for lunch at Peter Luger's in Williamsburg and we planned to meet up afterwards.  DiFara's opened at 12 noon, however Chris and Amy had gotten there at 11am to avoid any long lines as they had though it opened at 11.  I was running late and made it there about 11:30.  They hadn't opened yet and we were the only ones there.  We had a chance to catch up and observe many people walk by in traditional dress in what appeared to be a very Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  Definitely something new for each of us as we hadn't seen this style of garb before.  They opened the doors a few minutes before 12 and we walked right in along with a few other people who had come early to get a taste of Dominick DeMarco's fine pies.

    I liked the place immediately upon entering.  The smell of the pies won me over as did the economy of the interior design and the folding table we ate on.  This place makes Totonno's look positively opulent by comparison.  But, it IS all about the pies!  I have to admit though when I first saw this wall menu my wallet almost jumped out of my pocket and ran screaming down the street.  I knew slices were $5 but the prices on those whole pies, while less than $5 a slice, still were a bit of a shock to me.  Nonetheless, I had to try it for myself and form my own opinions on it.  

    We put in an order for a Regular Pie with pepperoni and semi-dried cherry tomatoes (good call on the tomatoes, Amy!).  While we waited for Dom to make that one, we each tried a slice of the Sicilian pie.  This was a truly amazing slice of pizza!  Lots of tasty sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh cut basil on top.  I made sure I requested a corner slice to get that chewy dough mixed with the crunchy edge.  The texture of the dough was like the best focaccia I've ever had.  

    I think Chris and Amy liked it too!  These is definitely a multi-napkin affair!

    Dom, cutting the basil for our pie.  Chris and I made our way to the counter to take shots of the pie like a pair of gleeful papparazzi on a starlet fresh out of rehab! As I went to grab it, Dom told me to wait.  He first grabbed a handful of grated parmesan which he sprinkled liberally on top, then he cut the basil and finally took a small watering can with a long spout and drizzled olive oil on top.  I believe there was some drool on my part at this point.  A more beautiful pizza I have not seen! 

    This was probably the most perfect pizza I have ever eaten.  Everything was top notch and came together nicely.  The dough was chewy and had some great blackened spots on the edges.  I can't exactly recall the taste of the sauce, but I remember liking it very much.  The mozzarella and parmesan worked together quite well. The pepperoni was spicy and had gotten crusty on the rim just as I like it.  Those semi dried cherry tomatoes were sweet like candy and an inspired choice.  The olive oil lent a juiciness to it that wasn't greasy or soggy but for me, lusty.  I really wanted a few more slices of this one, but we had promised to save it for the rest of the gang!  Despite the price, I would come back here in a heartbeat and pay that money again and again.  I'd just make sure to get there when they open.  And it is right across the street from the Avenue J stop on the Q train!

     
    #6
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 17:06:44 (permalink)
    BB, I second that notion!  I forgot about Ray-Ray!  Classic.  I'm not sure if he actually hooked us up or if it was just the booze talking.  I had lagged behind getting to the back room when that cougar tried to give me the hucklebuck! 
    #7
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 17:32:00 (permalink)
    Since the rest of the group was still enjoying lunch at Luger's, Chris, Amy and I made our way to the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn to Brennan & Carr for one of their famous hot beef sandwiches.  Open since 1938, this place looked and felt like it hadn't changed much since then.  We stood at the counter by the register and Chris ordered a sandwich with beef broth for the three of us to split.  Watching these guys at work was a thing of beauty.  While many of them were young (probably college age), they wore the white butcher coats and had thick Brooklyn accents.  A microphone hanging on the wall was used to call out orders (I think?) and there was a large trough full of steaming beef broth being filled pot by pot.  It's used for dunking the top roll, a whole sandwich or for ladling over the sandwiches on a plate.  The aroma was very inviting.  

     

    The Gargiulo Burger is one that is smothered in roast beef melted cheese, onions and beef broth.  Think I may have to try that on my next visit!

     

     

    This was very comforting and exactly what I had hoped for.  My girlfriend and her family have been going here for years having lived in this area for so long.  

     
    #8
    EdSails
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 17:46:07 (permalink)
    First of all, welcome Philly Beth!
    This is an awesome report. Looks like a fantastic weekend. Someday I hope to make it back to NYC  (I know, if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere......) and I would love to have the same kind of tour. Looks fantastic! Well done, everyone!
    #9
    i95
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 18:10:51 (permalink)
    billy, I believe you inadvertently omitted some
    punctuation which I have since added below.
    - Mr. Helpful
     
     
    billyboy

    A few weeks ago I received an email from The Travelin' Man that he would be working in NYC and wanted to put together a sweet contingent of Roadfooders for a weekend of epic eating.  Numerous emails and restaurant suggestions later The Travelin' Man, his "friend" Beth...

     
     
     
     
    #10
    joerogo
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 18:29:43 (permalink)
    billyboy,
     
    Looks like another great eating tour of NYC.
     
    But, before we talk food, let's get right to the important stuff.  1 - What nickname did the drunk give TTM?  I gotta know if it's better than the ones I gave him.  B - No picture of the Cougar?
     
    Now food.  That pizza looks incredible!!!!
     
    Philly Beth, Welcome to RF!  Was this your first eating tour?
    #11
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 18:50:01 (permalink)
    We went to PJ Clarke's for the burgers.  Mine,

    covered with bernaise sauce was very good and TTM 

    seems to feel the same about his burger.  What I didn't expect was the sides to be as good as they were, especially the parmesan tater tots.
     
    billyboy-
    How cool is to be actually be a part of one of your typically excellent trip reports.  If Mayor Bloomberg was smart, he would hire you as an official goodwill ambassador for the city.
     
    mr chips-
    How do you like my jacket? 
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/04/25 18:52:50
    #12
    Greymo
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 19:11:14 (permalink)
    Hey   traveling guy,  is  Beth,  your  "friend,"  from  Philadelphia?
    #13
    pnwchef
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 19:34:00 (permalink)
    Nice pictures, Great report............Thanks.........
    #14
    Benzee
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 20:24:37 (permalink)
    Hello all ,
    As usual a fantastic report of one of my stomping grounds The Big Apple !!!
    Welcome aboard to Philly Beth !!
    Benzee
     
    #15
    ann peeples
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 20:30:54 (permalink)
    Always fun to tag along on your reports!
    #16
    sk bob
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 20:35:26 (permalink)
    nice report, looks like everybody had a good time.
    great looking burgers at PJ Clarkes.
    that pizza at Di Faras looks great BUT, $28.00 for a Pizza????
    $5 for a slice??????
    I don't care how good it is thats a lot of cash " />
    post edited by sk bob - 2011/04/25 20:37:34
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    Ralph Melton
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/25 20:53:47 (permalink)
    Those P. J. Clarke photos look really tasty.
    #18
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 11:36:41 (permalink)
    Ed, thanks so much!  I truly do love finding new (or new to me) pleaces to eat as well as rediscovering old classics/standbys that wow me every time.
    Joe, no cougar pics, man.  I was too busy dodging her moves to even think about the camera.  You take a picture of them in the wild and you get taken down while futzing around with the zoom lens!  I am still bowled over by that pizza. 
    BB, I was just thinking how cool it was to be a part of a tour that you were on.  I said it when I first met Bruce and Sue for the first time a couple of months ago and the same applies to you.  Meeting you was like that Christmas commerical where the M&Ms and Santa Clause meet and exclaim, "He DOES exist/They DO exist!"  Was beginning to think you might be an urban RF legend!   Thanks for the vote!  Hello all, I'm the GoodBill Ambassador of Food!  Step right this way!
    skbob, I thought the same thing when I first saw the wall menu in DiFara's but that pizza really moved me. 
    #19
    chewingthefat
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 11:46:30 (permalink)
    Great report, great pics...Good Lord that pizza looked fantastic, ditto the burgers!
    Welcome Philly Beth!
    #20
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 16:08:57 (permalink)
    "like a pair of gleeful papparazzi on a starlet fresh out of rehab!"  Raoul, you are getting to be quite the Ralph Melton with a turn of phrase.  Very nice. 
     
    Welcome PhillyBeth!
    #21
    leethebard
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 17:33:47 (permalink)
    Wow as great as that pizza may be,I'd try a slice and then go and get a great $15.00 pie herei n south Jersey!!!
    #22
    ayersian
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 22:16:34 (permalink)
    sk bob
    that pizza at Di Faras looks great BUT, $28.00 for a Pizza????
    $5 for a slice??????
    I don't care how good it is thats a lot of cash " />

    Sk Bob, it was indeed expensive, but every so often I'm willing to pay that much for greatness.  DiFara's is one of the country's great pizzerias, and I felt really good just being in the same room as the old man.  You should've seen the folks with fancy cameras taking photos of him snipping the basil, cutting the pies, etc. -- I mean $1,000+ rigs with fancy zoom lenses and such.  This guy's a true celeb!  But honestly, the pies lived up to the hype.  We ordered a couple of Sicilian squares to munch on while waiting for our round pie to bake.  Both pies were amazing, really fresh tomato sauce, GREAT cheese, perfectly chewy/crunchy crust, the pepperonis that curl up like little cups in the oven -- all enjoyed on site with one of our favorite RFers.  If the pies weren't worthy, I'd say so in this forum...but man, I can't wait to get back there!    Chris
    #23
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/04/26 23:00:53 (permalink)
    I don't know if the story's apocryphal, but I've heard that Dom finishes his work day with a particular $100+ bottle of wine - just him and that bottle - each and every day.  Why are the pies so expensive?  Someone's got to pay for that wine.
    #24
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 01:46:31 (permalink)
    Chris, Amy and I had planned to meet with the rest of the gang outside of Peter Luger's around the time they had finished lunch but traffic was moving at a glacial pace on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) so we arrived much later than planned.  After catching up for a few minutes, we decided to take the local roads to L & B Spumoni Gardens in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn.

    If we had only come from 10 blocks away, we still would have traveled the farthest!  This place is definitely a local hangout.  If you come here in the summer, you can see the families here with their kids and the guys showing off their cars to the ladies!

    I've never tried anything except the Sicilian and...

    ..the spumoni.

    Love the condiments placement!

    So many boxes!

    And this guy looks like he has had lots of experience carrying these.

    I always get two slices and always a corner slice and a side slice with some of that great edge crust.

    Mmmm...  Just fantastic.  Crunchy and crispy at the edge, chewy in the middle with great stringy mozzarella under the sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan on top.

    No wonder that crust comes out so well.  I wonder how long these pans have been seasoned?

    And the perfect end to perfect pizza?  Spumoni.  Too sweet for some, this was just what I wanted.

    A semi-serious group shot taken by Lexi's son, Ben.  Front row:  Lexi, Amy, Chris, Billy.  Standing:  Steve and Cliff.  L & B offers full Italian meals as well as pizza but this is definitely a must stop for the pizza alone.

    #25
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 02:18:57 (permalink)
    If you find yourself at the intersection of Surf & Stillwell in Coney Island, NY, it can only mean one thing...

    Hot dogs and fries at Nathan's Famous!!  

     

    A dog with that sweet onion sauce

    Chris and I split one with onion sauce and mustard.  As good as it gets.  We all grabbed a table outside and had a blast guessing the titles to songs playing on the loudspeaker while we noticed a random guy poorly breakdancing to an invisible audience.  The seats were sparsely populated but this place is seriously hoppin' in the middle of the summer and especially on Brooklyn Cyclones game nights!

    Love those fries.  I have eaten at other Nathan's locations in the city as well as one on casinos and mall food courts.  The dogs and fries don't even come close to what is served here at the original location.  

     
    Coming up next:  pretty princesses, pan-roasts and my first ever whole-belly fried clam and the Grand Central Oyster Bar plus cheesecake and a fantastic egg cream across the hall at Junior's.  Stay tuned!
    #26
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 11:01:24 (permalink)
    After Nathan's we thought about swinging by Totonno's which was just down the street and splitting a pizza and/or going through Red Hook, Brooklyn and getting some Key Lime Pie from Steve's Authentic.  As it turned out we ran out of time as we had a reservation at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, so Chris & Amy headed to Queens to check in to their hotel.  I hitched a ride to Manhattan with Steve, Cliff, Lexi and Ben.  That ride was a blast and I spent much of it laughing hysterically in what seemed to be a challenge to see who could make the other laugh the hardest!  I've passed by this place countless times but this would be my first time eating here.

    Love that U-shaped seating!

    A very extensive and fresh menu.

    Who's a pretty princess?  Apologies for the blurry photo.  

    I managed to get in a group shot before the food carnage began!

    Buffetbuster started with an appetizer of fried whole Ipswich clams of which he was kind enough to let me try one.  I was a bit skittish as my only experience with fried clams up to this point had been the clam strips at Howard Johnson's many, many moons ago.  It had an assertive clam taste and the whole belly texture was very good.  I'm now anxious to head to New England and try some this summer!  Thanks, BB.

    Many of the others ordered platters of raw oysters and while I love the presentation I was happier to watch rather than consume.

     

    My shrimp pan roast.  I think most everyone order a pan roast of some type.  Very rich and filed with lots of plump shrimp, cream paprika, sherry and a thick piece of toast to soak up some of that tasty cream.  I would have liked some more toast to drop in that bowl but nonetheless this an excellent dish.

    Some steamed Yukon Gold potatoes that I added to my dish.

    And the group shot (with the remaining pizza from DiFara's in Lexi's hand).

    If any of the group wants to chime in on our experience here or at any of the other stops, please feel free to add pics and comments on this thread!
    #27
    billyboy
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 11:42:41 (permalink)
    Naturally, we all made our way across the hall, through the Whispering Corridor, for dessert at Junior's.  Unfortunately, Lexi couldn't stay as she had to catch a train home.

    I started out with a chocolate egg cream.  This was a big one and perfectly mixed so that each sip was creamy, chocolatey and fizzy.  And at $3.50, a good deal.

    We all split a piece of Carrot Cake cheesecake

    Red Velvet cake

    and a classic cheesecake.  All of these were excellent.  Apologies for this shot but while I was busy snapping pics of the two slices above a few eager eaters had the nerve to dig in before I could aim and shoot!  

    We all parted ways and headed to our respective dwellings for some rest for the day of eating ahead.
     
    When we return:  a day ate the races, meeting up with ayersian and BB in the East Village, seeing TTM and BB off to NJ and a follow-up trip to the Chelsea Doughnut Plant.
    #28
    mar52
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    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 12:12:12 (permalink)
    Great report!  Waving to Chris and Amy.
     
    Of all the things you ate I'd love to have a hot dog at the  "Original" Nathans.
     
     
     
     
    #29
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Roadfood Rumshpringa Invades New York City!! 2011/05/01 15:09:02 (permalink)
    Okay, that or the pizza at L&B's.  That sweet onion sauce looks very enticing.  And great picture face in every one of those above!  I love tagging along on your reports Billy!
    #30
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