Weekend in Northeast PA

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Post
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
2009/03/24 14:22:46
My cousin Johnny and I recently spent a weekend in northeast Pennsylvania visiting restaurants and meeting some other Roadfooders.  Two of the guys we met, Mosca and JoeRogo have already posted wonderful photos and descriptions in this thread here:
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Pics-from-NE-PA-meet-up-m496719.aspx
 
On the Friday night, Johnny and I planned to meet in the town of Girardville for dinner at Marrone's, which appears in the 2008 Roadfood book.  When I pulled up around 8:30PM, Johnny was already sitting outside, ready to go.  Even though we weren't that far off of I-81 and Girardville wasn't that small of a town, we still felt in the middle of nowhere.
 
Marrone's

is a tavern that is best known for their Old Forge style pizza.  We walked in and grabbed a seat in the dining room, where the attractive blonde waitress greeted us.  Sometimes when you walk into a restaurant in a small town, they view strangers suspiciously.  But we were treated like old friends.  Here is the menu page for the pizza.

Nothing too exotic there.
 
Since neither one of us had eaten since lunch, we were ready to do some serious eating.  Johnny started off with the fried provolone sticks for an appetizer. 

He thought they were very good, although I thought they were too lightly breaded.  My appetizer was something called Mini-Beenies.  When I saw it on the menu, I asked Johnny if he knew what it was.  An avid follower of the Food Network, he correctly guessed that it was small potato pancakes.

When we saw how small they were, we figured they must be dried out.  We were happily wrong.  A nice crispy exterior with a creamy inside, these were a big hit.  Johnny figured out the best way to eat them was to slather them with the sour cream and then add another layer of the hot sauce the waitress brought for our pizza.  Absolutely delicious!  Since I had never seen these before, I asked the waitress who told me they were a common dish in this area.
 
With plenty of appetite to go around, we also decided to split an order of the lasagna.  The waitress told the kitchen we were splitting it and they brought it out in two seperate plates for us, which we appreciated.  I have to admit to not being a big lasagna fan (I ordered it because I know it is a favorite of Johnny's), but this was clearly the best lasagna I have had.

The lasagna noodles were heavy duty and thick and worked well with the dark, sweet chunky sauce.  Oh, that amazing sauce!  This sauce was lick the plate clean good!  The lasagna came with some wonderful, spicy Italian sausage,

again drowned in that sauce.  There hasn't been a day gone by since this meal I haven't craved that lasagna and sauce!
 
Finally, the pizza came out and we realized immediately our mistake.  From reading previously, I knew that Old Forge style pizza worked best when it was kept simple, with maybe just cheese as a topping.  We loaded it down with pepperoni and mushrooms.

We found the pizza to be overly doughy, with a thick, heavy cheese.  Hot sauce did come with the pizza and even though it seemed a little strange, the sauce, which had a nice, mild lingering heat to it, enhanced the pizza.  Knowing we had a bit of a drive ahead of us and a long day tomorrow, we only ate about half of it before getting it boxed up for the road.  We did finish it in the hotel room.
 
Marrone's has plenty of quirks that help make it such an attractive Roadfood spot.  There are buzzers at the table with which you can signal your waitress.

I also met the owner of the place in the bathroom, who quite proudly bragged that they had a celebrity eat here in the 1970s.  None other than Howard Cosell's brother!!!  This is a family place (the two waitresses were his daughters, both in their 40s, I'm guessing) and they were thrilled to find out their inclusion in the Roadfood book.  I would love to come back and explore more of that Italian-American menu.
 
Marrone's
31 W. Main Street
Girardville, PA
570-276-6407 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/29 20:55:00
Ahi Mpls.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 14:55:14
Oh yes!!! The sausage!!!   I thought that Old forge pizzas were rectanglular ? or am I thinking of something else.... Any way , It's getting very difficult to find a place with good "Italian Grandma" red sauce around here, How I envy you your travels.....     Dawn
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 15:14:38
AHI MPLS-
We were a little surprised ourselves that the pizza was round, since all the Old Forge style pizza I have had before was square.  In the 2008 Roadfood book, Michael Stern calls the pizza here a "unique variation of Old Forge pizza".
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 15:21:54
I have been known to dispatch whatever was in the sauce and eat it by itself or with bread--if you're dreaming about it, I would probably move there to be near it.  And the mini-beenies look great.
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 16:28:58
How neat!  I like the story as much as the meal.

Please explain Old forge pizza.  Looks like a pizza to me.  What would make it Old Forge?

Those mini beenies look like heaven on a plate!  But hot sauce?  Where's the applesauce?
HotDogHead
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 16:42:00
Great report.  All the food looked delicious, including the pizza.  Thanks for sharing.
Mosca
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 17:09:45
Oh, man. I have been anticipating reading your report! Mini-beenies; I LOVE those!
TnTinCT
Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 21:24:07
That sauce looks amazing - real Italian gravy simmered on the stove for hours.  Did they serve the lasagne with sausage on the side, or was it just included in the extra sauce?
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 21:51:00
Great report ,

This looks like a nice little place to visit sometime . I agree those potato pamcakes would go good with applesauce .

Next time a group is heading there for a meet , let me know , it sounds like its worth the trip

Benzee
Boomer247
Hamburger
Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 22:27:25
BuffetBuster

    I wish I would have known you were coming here from the
Steel City I would have given you a place to stay and a beer.
    I live pretty close to Girardville. They have 3 real good places
there to eat one is where you ate and the other  two are just as
good. One is Centiole's which is just up the block, the pizza is stupid good. The old timer passed away a while ago but his pizza's were very very good. He was like the soup Nazi. Each pizza he sold was boxed and then tied with string on the box like a xmas present he tied everyone hiself. I even crawled into his dumpster once to see what he used to make his sweet sauce. I heard it was jam or jelly.  My boss at work and I would call on Tuesday to order Pizza for Friday. He made x amount of pizzas and when he sold out he closed. But you had to order them by Tuesday. I think his daughter took the business over now.

The other place you probably walked past was
Tony's Lunch home of the screamer hamburger. I have never been there and not ordered under 10 burgers, always some to take home. They are very good also and you wait in line allot.
So when it is your turn you order allot.

Here is the Coal Region Top Ten Pizza List.
And like I said if you ever are here close again and
need some guidance on food in the coal region
feel free to call 570-648-1235

I have ate at about 90% of these pizza parlors.

1. Centiole's - Main Street, Girardville
This unique, sweet sauce pizza is the hands-down winner of the Coal Region Pizza Poll. You have to order days in advance (especially for a Friday during Lent). Open only in the evenings. When they run out of pies, you're outta luck! As Joe C. says "It's Worth the Weight". It is THE best.
2. Senape's Tavern Pitza - North Vine Street, Hazleton
Pronounced "SNAPS". The classic square pizza, available with Scamutz or Romano cheese. This is what's known in the Coal Region as "bar" pizza, and is most commonly eaten cold or at room temperature. The definite fave of the Luzerne County crowd. Best with a pitcher of Yuengling or draft birch beer.
3. Matucci's - Willow Street, Mt. Carmel
"Their deluxe pizza is the best in Pennsylvania, perhaps in the whole USA!"
4. James' Cafe - Pine Street, Shamokin
Square slices, thin bread, great cheese. Rumors of beer in the sauce. Located in the "Bloody Fifth Ward" in Shamokin. This place hasn't changed since you were a kid.
5. Duke's / Tower of Pizza - Marion Heights (outside Kulpmont)
American Cheese that everyone has burned their mouth on at least once!! A great place to get F&S beer.
6. Marrone's - Girardville
Way to go, Guntown! Two pizza places in the top ten! In addition to great pizza, Marrone's is everyone's choice for best pizza hot sauce. It's killer!
7. Pottsville Pizzeria - Pottsville
Let's hear it for south of the mountain! "Nothing was better than ordering from the Pottsville Pizzeria every Friday night!"
8. Gutsie's - West Center Street, Mahanoy City
"The small pies Pete Gutsie made were loaded with tomatoes and cheese, and anything else you wanted. They reeked of oregano, with a hint of basil. I'm sitting here slobbering like one of Pavlov's dogs, da frick! Always washed them down with Kaier's beer."
 9. Little Venice - Main & Lloyd Streets, Shenandoah
"Without a doubt, the BEST pizza in the entire coal region, perhaps the entire WORLD!"
10. Grotto's Pizza / Joe's Grotto - Harvey's Lake and Wilkes-Barre
From the northern reaches, "da best pizza in da region is from Joe's Grotto out da lake!" Honorable Mention
  • Armondo's - Shenandoah
  • The Blue Tavern - outside Llewellyn
  • Chance's Bar and Restaurant - Pottsville, Llewellyn Hwy
  • DeVito's - Ashland
  • DiMaggio's - Tamaqua
  • Gabello's Cafe - Duryea
  • Gilotti's - Mt. Carmel
  • Giorgio's - Frackville
  • Grande Pizza - Tamaqua
  • Hollywood Pizza - Mt. Carmel
  • Januzi's - Wilkes-Barre
  • Marco's - Lansford
  • Mario's - Minersville
  • Mary Rose's - Nesquehoning
  • Mr. Pizza - Shamokin
  • O'Brien's - Shamokin
  • Paesano's - Mahanoy City
  • Palermo's - Minersville
  • Pappa's - Scranton
  • Parmesano's - Tamaqua
  • Revello's - Old Forge
  • Roma's Pizza - Pottsville
  • Rostas's - Hazleton
  • Scicchitano's Buono Pizza - Kulpmont
  • Scully's - Girardville
  • The Pizza Place - Frackville
  • Tillie's Pitz - West Hazleton
  • Tommy's Pizza - Kingston
  • Two Brother's - Jim Thorpe
  • Two King's - Hometown
  • Vesuvio's - Hazleton
  • Victory Pig ("the Pig") - Forty Fort/Wyoming

    Boomer
    Shamokin Pa
      post edited by Boomer247 - 2009/03/24 22:40:09
    • stanpnepa
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 23:23:05
      Boomer,
      Great list.  I had a print out of it in the glove compartment of my old car. I will reprint! 
       
      I may have to hit both Marrone's and Centiole's in the same night. 
       
      We had Revello's take-out (3 trays) at a family gathering last week and I am sad to report that it seems to be slipping.  The trays were very uneven (once was saucy, the other was cheesy, and the other was burnt and just not very good).  This was my favorite pizza as a kid---but for the first time ever, I have to take it out of my top ten.  Ghigiarelli's and Pizza Perfect remain my faves...and I also love Senape's.
      stanpnepa
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 23:27:14
      Oh, by the way Gabello's has been out of business for about four years.  It slipped badly in the end, but in its heyday turned out great, great pizza---and it always had a kick---maybe some "hot pepper" in the sauce?
       
      The Grotto is also in Edwardsville and Januzzi's (which to me is average) has expanded their locations to Wyoming and somewhere else. 
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 23:42:08
      Januzzi's = awful, approx same as Domino's. Maybe worse. I think I would eat Domino's, or Digiorno, before I would eat another pie from Januzzi's.

      I dislike Grotto's pizza. I respect that they are different, but the difference is not for me.

      Buffetbuster... THE PIES! SHOW THE PIES!


      stanpnepa
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/24 23:54:55
      Mosca, I was trying to be nice.  :) 

      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 08:00:46
      mar52
      Please explain Old forge pizza.  Looks like a pizza to me.  What would make it Old Forge?

      Those mini beenies look like heaven on a plate!  But hot sauce?  Where's the applesauce?
      How about one of our NE PA denizens chiming in and explaining Old Forge style pizza, since you guys are the experts.

      Johnny and I often get potato pancakes when we eat together, which works out well since he is a sour cream guy and I prefer apple sauce.  No apple sauce came with this, so it gave me a chance to try something new.  Using the sour cream and the hot sauce, I didn't miss the apple sauce at all!

      TnTinCT-
      The Italian sausage came on the side of the lasagna.  Our waitress also split that in half so we each had our own plate.  They really take good care of you here.

       
      Boomer247-
      Thank you very much for the list and enthusiastic reply.  There is no doubt that this area has many potential excellent Roadfood stops.
       
      Mosca-
      Sorry for the delay in starting this report, but I needed to finish up some others first.  But, you should be seeing some pie shots soon enough! 


      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/25 08:22:19
      ken8038
      Double Chili Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 08:28:13
      Thanks for posting this trip. I've been to that area a few times and am always confounded by the peculiar operating hours of NEPA's culinary landmarks. Only open on certain days, certain hours, hardly ever open during daylight...all sorts of quirks.
       
      In fact my one time in Girardville, I had planned to spend about  2 hours of a day trip there but was zero for 4.  Marrones and Tony's Lunch don't open until around 8:30PM (what kind of a place called Tony's Lunch does not open until 8:30 PM??), an old bar called Hibernian Tavern looked like it was closed tight (is it still in business) and I could find hide nor hair of Texas Lunch.

      Similar in Old Forge: I was there on a Saturday at lunch time and only about 1/3 of the "cuts" places were open.

      Anyway, if you guys decide to do this again, please let me (us all?) know, I'd love to be a part of it, and as I've said before, The Ooh Ooh Bird is on my Must-Do list.

      Finally, someone asked about Old Forge Pizza. I first became aware of it a few years ago via Lew Bryson's Beer Blog (one of my favorite blogs) wherein he and his pals take a day trip to NEPA. About 1/2 way down there is a description of Old Forge Pizza. Sounds like they had a good time:

      http://www.lewbryson.com/nepahotdog.htm 
      post edited by ken8038 - 2009/03/25 08:29:16
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:38:57
      Saturday morning, we met JoeRogo at 7:45AM and he drove us to our breakfast destination, Tony's Restaurant in Kingston. 

      Since Joe wrote the Roadfood review, I knew we were in good hands.  On the way over, he warned us of what to expect.  Still, I was not prepared for what I was about to see. 
       
      When we walked in, the owner Jimmy Zambito greeted us with some off color remarks that went right over my head, which Joe had to tell me about later.  We walked through the front room which has the counter seats and grabbed a table near the window in the back room.  They do have a long menu of different breakfast items and another list posted on the wall.

      But seriously, how could I pass up something called a Fat Bastard omelet? 

      Truthfully, I wasn't sure what all was in the omelet when I ordered it and couldn't name all the ingredients while I was eating it.  I can tell you that it packed a serious flavor wallop.  According to the review, this omelet manages to squeeze in sausage, meatballs, onions, hot peppers, cheese and homemade sauce.  On the side is some sausage parmesan and Italian toast.  The omelet comes with excellent sliced thin and well done home fries.  Just a fantastic breakfast!  As a service to my "friends", here is a photo of me eating a "Fat Bastard". 

      Who wants to be the first one to make a joke?
       
      Johnny also got the Fat Bastard, while Joe ordered and ate the Italian Benedict.

      Soon after we started eating, stanpnepa joined us.  I believe that Stan had the Fat Bastard also, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, I have long been a fan of Stan's posts and he was just as good a guy in person.  Not too much later, another Roadfooder I have always wanted to meet, Mosca showed up on his way to work.  He pointed at the Fat Bastard and said he will have that, although he thought he was getting the Italian Benedict.
       
      I did take lots of photos inside Tony's Restaurant, but lots of them have political overtones that would set off plenty of arguing, so we aren't going to post those.  But I can tell you that if you are easily offended, don't eat here.  Don't complain if your food is taking too long, because that will probably just set Jimmy off.  Here is a photo of him cooking in the window.

      I didn't have the guts to take a front photo of him when we were walking out, since he was throwing a tirade about one of the customers asking why his food was taking so long.  I hesitate to say that, since I don't want to make it sound like this place is unfriendly.  I felt very welcome here.  Just understand going in that there are some rules and you need to follow them.  If you are looking for a nice relaxing restaurant, where the servers coddle you, go somewhere else.  If you want great food, served up with a hefty dose of attitude, then this is a place you must visit.
       
      Mosca departed before we did, promising to hook back up with us later in the day.  On the way out, we had this photo taken of the four us.

      From left to right: Joe, Johnny, Stan and myself.
       
      Tony's Restaurant
      708 Wyoming Avenue
      Kingston, PA
      570-288-6612
       
      Before we split up, Joe had one more stop he wanted us to see, which was the Majestic Lunch in Pittston.  I don't remember just how old the place was, but I think it goes back to the 1920s.  Here is Joe and Johnny standing out front

      and an interior view.

      The menu was covered with what seemed like decades old food stains,

      which always warm a Roadfooders heart.
       
      Both Johnny and I started with shakes, me a chocolate and him a vanilla. 

      Delivered in silver beakers, they were thinner than I prefer but still had really good flavor.  Joe is a regular here and ordered one chili dog and one chili burger, so that was good enough for us, too.

      Our dogs had chili, mustard and onion.  The chili is a classic Greek chili that is not hot or sweet.  I could have done without the ketchup on the burger, but the chili worked just as well here.  Both the burger and dog were on the smallish side, which was perfect considering all the eating we had planned for the day.  Majestic Lunch is just the type of hot dog shop that every town should have.
       
      Majestic Lunch
      20 S. Main Street
      Pittston, PA
      570-655-8888
       
      Joe dropped us back off at our car and we finalized plans for where and when we were going to meet for dinner.  Johnny and I headed off for our next destination.
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/25 16:00:29
      Ahi Mpls.
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:49:02
      Cool, looks like the lunch special PRICES are also decades old.....
      Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
      Double Chili Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:52:02
      Does anyone else besides me think that Stan and buffetbuster could be brothers?
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:54:30
      Awesome--so this guy must be the PA version of Kenny Shopsin.
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:55:08
      No, Bruce/Sue, I thought that too.  Very similar faces.
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 15:58:54
      Bruce Bilmes and Sue Boyle

      Does anyone else besides me think that Stan and buffetbuster could be brothers?
      Really?  Okay, which one of us is the Babyface and which one is the lumberjack?  Or am I getting my weekends mixed up?


      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 16:00:54
      LOLOL.  I thought in the other thread she was talking about Chris & Amy, but I could see it with you and Johnny too.   You would be be the babyface.  Does that make you sad?
      bethgrd
      Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 16:26:07
      I grew up about 1/4 mile from Tonys in Kingston. My dad used to eat there all the time!
      Love their roasted sweet peppers on sandwiches. It's cool you visited my old "hood! My mom now lives about 1 mile in the other direction in forty fort.
      Too bad you missed Victory Pig down the street, Vic Mars in Edwardsville for good hardshell crabs and steamed littlenecks, and Hottles in Wilkes Barre for great food.
      next time.
      beth g
      ken8038
      Double Chili Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 18:42:29
      <<Awesome--so this guy must be the PA version of Kenny Shopsin. >>

      Great minds must think alike, that's exactly who I thought of when I was reading the latest installment of this trip report.

      For those of you who are not aware of who Kenny Shopsin is:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shopsins
       
      post edited by ken8038 - 2009/03/25 18:51:35
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 19:19:52
      Well, this should be interesting... here is Jimmy:



      He's standing right here and now, as I'm typing this! He knows that he has customers from all over the country... but he didn't know why until now. "Oh, yeah, the internet, I heard about that!" So, I showed him why. Jimmy says hello, and "Thanks Cliff!"
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 19:38:31
      Hi there Jimmy!  ken, did you know that Kenny Shopsin has a cookbook now?
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 19:57:22
      bethgrd
      Too bad you missed... Vic Mars in Edwardsville for good hardshell crabs and steamed littlenecks....


      Vic Mars closed, a victim of the current economy. At least that's what Mrs Mosca told me the other day.


      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 20:16:43
      Mosca

      Well, this should be interesting... here is Jimmy:



      He's standing right here and now, as I'm typing this! He knows that he has customers from all over the country... but he didn't know why until now. "Oh, yeah, the internet, I heard about that!" So, I showed him why. Jimmy says hello, and "Thanks Cliff!"


      Mosca, That's too funny.  Did you sell hima car?
       
      I warned the guys going in that Jimmy is miserable on Saturdays.  He is the ONLY cook and he will probably serve about 200 people between 6 and 2.  BTW, that gentleman is 75 years old.
      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 20:19:47
      Who wants to be the first one to make a joke?

      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/25 20:35:33
      Naw Joe, he just comes in to say hello every now and then. He's friends with Gino, who I work with. Gino from Gino's Shoe Spot? His son.
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/26 07:28:54
      WHEW!!!  Glad to hear that Jimmy liked what I wrote.  I would not want to have someone who cooks that well be mad at me!
       
      Mosca, you definitely outdid yourself with this one.  Having a photo of Jimmy with the trip report in the background is priceless. And JoeRogo, that man looks mighty good for being 75.
       
         

      ken8038
      Double Chili Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/26 08:00:40
      <<ken, did you know that Kenny Shopsin has a cookbook now? >>

      I only found out when I was looking for a link about him to add to my post. It's mentioned in the Wiki article. I'll have to check it out.
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/26 12:07:19
      bb,

      Man, I knew you would love that! It's not often that you get to know that they guy you said good things about got to see them, and that he appreciated it. Of course, if you'd have panned him... I would have given him your cell number and your home address.

      He's a great guy, he said he's only cranky on Saturday mornings. I don't know anyone who laughs as much as he does, outside of the kitchen anyhow.
      stanpnepa
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/27 06:43:01
      Maybe Buffetbuster and I are long lost cousins?   We both have the "will drive 50 miles out of the way for great chow" gene!
       
      Mosca, the photo of "Jimmy standing in front of a photo of Jimmy on a computer screen" is a classic.  It's become my new screensaver!
       
      I was at Tony's on a Saturday about six months ago...and the place was packed.  Jimmy was very backed up at the grill (this great food takes time!) and was firing off one-liners repeatedly.  My favorite was...:"If one more person walks in the door, I'm walking out!".  Another..."This is my punishment for being so good"!   
       
      Tony's is quite a place!
       
      Can't wait to see what everyone thought of the Old Forge "Old Forge" Pizza.   Great report!
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/29 20:11:25
      During our breakfast, Mosca had raved about a place near where Johnny and I were headed.  I listened of course, but when the magical word, PIE, was used, I knew we must include this in our travels.
       
      The name of the place is Village Farmer & Bakery in Delaware Water Gap, PA.

      Johnny noticed this sign

      on the way in and was intrigued by the hot dog/pie deal.  But considering we just had hot dogs and were on the way to Charlie's Pool Room for mealies, he made the correct decision and passed.
       
      As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by this overwhelming sight. 

      One of the employees was arranging pies by the door, so being a smart***, I asked if if they had any pies today.  Without missing a beat, she replied, "Oh I'm sorry, we are all out!"
       
      Because we were going to be driving around for hours, we couldn't buy anything that required refrigeration, which really limited what we could purchase.  With teary-eyes, we passed on such pies as strawberry

      and pumpkin cream cheese.

      It also meant we had to pass on these fine looking chicken pies, something both Johnny and I enjoy very much.

       
      One thing we could enjoy while driving was cookies.  And this place had a huge selection of interesting and unusual cookies. 

      We should have coordinated it a little better, because we both bought the same kinds.  But we did agree the clear winner was the cranberry orange oatmeal. 

      These cookies were super soft and you could clearly taste the cranberry and the orange.  Delicious!
       
      Pie wise, I grabbed a mini strawberry rhubarb

      to take home for my mother since that is her favorite.  She didn't go into detail, but she enjoyed it very much.  For myself, a mini shoo fly,

      which I didn't end up eating until Monday at lunch.  It was still good, though I'm sure it would have been better a couple of days fresher.  I also grabbed an apple crumb, which was a gift to someone else, so I can't tell you how it was.  Johnny grabbed a peach crumb and a mini shoo fly and we were out the door, excited about the next stop.
       
      Village Farmer & Bakery
      52 Broad Street
      Delaware Water Gap, PA
      570-476-9440
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/29 20:15:01
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/29 21:35:33
      The  Little Giant pies get soggy after a day or so. The filling stays good, but the crust gets gooey. As you can attest, there is a very high filling to crust ratio in those babies!

      What I love about Village Farmer is that "pie" doesn't imply any limitations whatsoever; if it can be made into a pie, they make it into a pie. If I lived closer to them, I guarantee you I'd be dead, killed by too much pie.
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 08:00:49
      Oh that table . . that's like viking heaven for Buffetbuster!
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 11:47:07
      Our visit last year to Charlie's Pool Room

      in Alpha, NJ is one of our all-time great Roadfood experiences.  Not only did we love our hot dogs, here called mealies, the atmosphere and the time spent with the Fencz brothers was memorable and enjoyable.
       
      Joe Rogo had warned me about Joe Fencz's memory, but I still doubted he would remember me, since it had been almost a year since my previous visit.  When I walked in, Joe looked at me and asked if I had been here before.  I said yes, he hesistated and then got a big smile on his face and called me by my real name and that I was from Pittsburgh.  Then he called me buffetbuster and I just had to laugh.  He looked at my cousin and asked if he was Johnny from Baltimore.  I don't know how he does it, but Joe actually remembered us.
       
      We sat at the big round table and both Johnny and I ordered three mealies each. 

      These are medium sized hot dogs, sitting in fresh, steamed buns.  What really makes the mealies something truly special is the Hungarian sauce, which is both slightly sweet and mildly hot.  John Fencz makes all the hot dogs on a skillet and is absolutely meticulous about how the onions and peppers are arranged on the dog.  All mealies look just about identical.  It is clear that there is true dedication behind the making of each hot dog and doing it the right way.  I really like this hand written sign about the hot dog sauce.

       
      These hot dogs are positively addictive.  You can't imagine how many times Johnny and I have spoken about the way we have been craving them since our first visit.  I call Johnny fairly frequently about going on trips with me and he usually has to say no because of work.  When I mentioned that I was hoping to stop at CPR on this trip, he made sure he would be along.  We both wolfed our hot dogs down quickly and Johnny promptly ordered two more.  They are that good.  Neither of us are hot dog experts, but these are clearly the best we have ever had.  There is a sign on the wall about someone eating 17 in one sitting

      and we both truly think that we could possibly eat more.  I surely would love to try.
      BTW, there really is a pool table here,

      but I have yet to see it being used.  The attraction here is definitely the hot dogs.
       
      I do have one complaint about our visit on this day.  And that is there were other customers.  This limited the amount of time we got to chat with the Fencz brothers and in fact, I barely saw John at all, since he was in the back cooking.  Still, Joe had plenty of good stories and told us about a recent visit by Roadfooder porkbeaks.
       
      Johnny and I ended up spending about 45 minutes and I wish it could have been longer.  My buddy Mike is a big hot dog lover and we have talked about possibly spending a weekend this summer eating hot dogs around New Jersey.  And since I know that Joe (Hi Joe!) will undoubtedly be reading this, don't be surprised to see me again in a few months!
       
      Charlie's Pool Room sits squarely in my all-time top 10 Roadfood restaurants.
       
      Charlie's Pool Room
      1122 East Boulevard
      Alpha, NJ
      908-454-1364 
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/30 13:22:08
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 12:50:51
      I can totally see why--'an irreverent little sauce'--and the hand-drawn primitive picture of Brandon Petrillo.  I love it.
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 13:18:07
      Nancy-
      One of the really cool things about CPR is simply that it still exists.  This is the type of place that seems to be disappearing nowadays.  A place that only sells hot dogs, from a house in a residential neighborhood?  Talk about having lots of strikes against it.  But the hot dogs are so good, they are doing just fine.  Joe mentioned to me in my previous visit that if not for the internet, they might be out of business.  I'm sure they get lots of local customers, but they told me stories about how far away people come for mealies and I believe it, because I am one of them.  This place has so much unintentional personal charm, you could never create the atmosphere if you tried. 
       
      Love live Charlie's Pool Room!!!
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/30 13:19:53
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 14:01:00
      Before Johnny and I headed back to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area for a night of Old Forge pizza, we had one more stop to make.  That was Pappy's Orchard and Lisa's Kitchen in Coopersburg, just south of Allentown.  This place was just recently added to Roadfood.
       
      Oh man, was this out in the middle of nowhere!  We went down lots of winding two lane roads through farm country before we finally spotted this sign.

      We parked in their small lot next to a barn,

      where a couple young farmhands were working.  No sign of Pappy or his orchard, but the sign led us into Lisa's Kitchen

      where the baked goods were for sale.
       
      A woman walked out of the back and greeted us and asked if she could help us with anything.  It turns out this was owner and baker Lisa Urffer,

      who I talked into posing in front of the goodies.  Since we were still making up our minds what we wanted to buy, she offered us an opportunity to try the peanut rolls. 

      Actually, she gave Johnny two while I was busy taking photos.  I am still shocked he didn't scarf them both down himself!
       
      There are lots of jams, jellies, apple butters and the likes for sale, but we were mostly interested in the baked goods.  Beautiful looking shoo fly pies (here listed as Sho-Fly pie and on the brochure as Shofly pie)

      and something I have never seen before called funny cake,

      which sure looked like a pie to me.  Anyone ever try funny cake?  Anyway, we were once again limited in what we could buy because of the lack of a handy refrigerator.
       
      So we focused in on the whoopie pies.  I have always thought of whoopie pies as a Maine thing, but they are apparently quite popular here in Pennsylvania, too.  The banana whoopie pies

      looked wonderful and since I love banana desserts, I figured this would be my favorite.  Delicious, but the oatmeal whoopie pies

      were even better.  Not overly soft with a slight crunch, the oatmeal cookie part was fantastic.  The inside goo was very light and very sweet.  I did also buy a traditional chocolate whoopie pie,

      which was eaten by my secretary, sinced she loved the February photo on the Roadfood calendar so much.
       
      Johnny bought much of the same things as I did, except that he grabbed the last bunch of black bottom cupcakes, which I forgot to try or photograph.  They sure did look good, though.  Once I got in my car, I took a photo of my haul

      inside my bag.  The big thing in the middle is a Jewish apple cake, which was super moist and reminded us so much of the cakes our grandmother used to make.
       
      Once we were back on the road, Johnny couldn't resist digging in.  Here he is eating a whoopie pie

      and he somehow managed to get some of it on the windshield.  Way to go Johnny!
       
      When we got back to the room, we had little more than a half hour to rest before we were meeting the others for dinner.  Since he had not been feeling well all day, Johnny immediately fell asleep.  I was planning on just leaving him there and I wrote him a note telling him where we were going, so he could meet us later if he felt better.  Just as I was walking out the door, he opened his eyes and said, "How soon are we leaving".  That boy hates to miss a meal!!!
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/30 14:06:38
      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 14:16:25
      buffetbuster
       I also grabbed an apple crumb, which was a gift to someone else, so I can't tell you how it was.
       
      Village Farmer & Bakery
      52 Broad Street
      Delaware Water Gap, PA
      570-476-9440

       
      Hey Cliff, Thank you again for the pie.  Margaret and I thought it was excellent.  My Father-in-Law told me it one of the best he ever had.
       
      I drive by the Gap almost every week.  Let me know if you need and "Emergency Pie" shipped out to you. 


      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 14:23:44
      Also, excellent discription of CPR.  (Hi Joe, Hi John!!!!)
       
      You know I could eat at CPR almost every week if they only were open on Monday's.(Hint, Hint)


      post edited by joerogo - 2009/03/30 14:26:40
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/30 15:21:41
      The whoopie pie has had a lot of attention lately: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/dining/18whoop.html 

      But I like to think some credit goes to one of my other favorite movie critics/culture writers, who also likes to tackle desserts he falls in love with from time to time: http://djmrswhite.livejournal.com/339765.html

      Now I really want some Jewish apple cake.  (Is it circumcised?)  /rim shot
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/31 11:42:18
      We met up with JoeRogo and his lovely wife Margaret outside of Ghigiarelli's

      in Old Forge at 6:00PM.  Somehow this place is pronounced Gingerellies, which I never would have guessed.  Joe warned me that outside it may be 2009, but once you pass thought those doors, it was the mid 1950s again.  The decor, the customers and even the waitress only looked like they had been here a long, long time.  I found this rather charming.  There are many Old Forge style pizza places in the matter of a few blocks, but Joe thought this place was the best of them.  In the beginning of a theme for the night, the menu was on this little stand.

      Not a large menu, but just about everyone comes here for the pizza.
       
      But first, Joe had us try a couple of their more unusual dishes.  Johnny and I had menudo before in Texas, so the tripe

      was not a completely new experience.  The taste of this wasn't really too bad, but the texture in my mouth is what I had a hard time dealing with.  We both sampled it, but neither of us will be ordering it again anytime soon.  Joe finished it off easily.  Next was something new to both of us, sofritto

      which if I remember correctly, was fried calf hearts.  Chopped into small chunks, it had a beefy flavor, but with a liver-like texture.  This was better than the tripe, but still hardly a favorite.  Joe also happily finished off this dish.  Even though I enjoyed trying different and unusual things, I was now very much looking forward to the pizza.
       
      Mosca joined us just about the time that the tray of red pizza arrived.  He sure knows when to show up!  Here he is getting us started.

      The tray was composed of 12 long rectangular pieces

      and I knew right away that the best ones would be the ends with the extra crust.

      The sauce tasted very fresh and slightly sweet and the crispy crust was delicious.  But the big surprise was the onions were still crunchy.  How they do it, I'm not really sure, but it is a wonderful touch.
       
      We also tried some of the white pizza, too.

      Mosca described this perfectly as "a grilled cheese sandwich with rosemary".  We also liked the crispy bottom crust on this and the top was more doughy.  Good, but the red pizza was better.
       
      Deciding, that we should make a night of it, we walked across the street to try another pizza place.
       
      Ghigiarelli's
      511 S. Main Street
      Old Forge, PA
      570-457-2652
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/31 13:22:24
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/31 11:48:31
      And they say Southerners eat things that other folks would throw away . . . :)
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/31 13:15:47
      The pizza place across the street is called Rovello's

      At this point, Margaret decided a pizza crawl did not appeal to her, so she said goodbye for now. Like at our previous stop, the menu is on a stand in the middle of the table.
       
      Since we just shared a tray of pizza and still had one more stop after this, we decided to not overdo it here and had two slices of red pizza each.

      The sauce did not taste as fresh here, but the main reason it took a back seat to Ghig's IMO was that the crust was not as crispy and the pizza itself was doughier.  We did like the mild creamy cheese, which we guessed was Monterrey Jack.  This was not bad pizza at all, but I think all four of us agreed that Ghig's was better.  Mosca also ordered a tray of the white to take home to the misses.
       
      We also split an order of the gnocchi.

      Johnny really enjoyed this dish, but the rest of us found the pasta too doughy.  The Italian sausage (sorry, the photo didn't turn out) that came with the gnocchi was sliced thin and had a fair amount of heat to it.  But my single favorite thing here at Rovello's was the fantastic meatballs, shown in the photo.   Packed solid, with great flavor, we could have eaten a bunch more of the meatballs.
       
      As we headed to the car, I noticed this sign

      declaring Old Forge the pizza capital of the world.  As much as I enjoyed the pizza here, I'm not quite ready to make that statement.  But with so many pizza parlors in such a short distance, there is an undeniable pizza culture that has to be respected.  And I would love to come back in the near future and try some of these other places. 
       
      Rovello's Cafe
      502 S. Main Street
      Old Forge, PA
      570-457-9843
       
      We still had one more food stop to make before we called it a night.....
      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/31 13:40:51
      Nancypalooza

      And they say Southerners eat things that other folks would throw away . . . :)

       
      Hey Nancy,  Italians don't throw nuttin' away
       
       


       
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/03/31 14:15:53
      Well the meatballs and the pizza look to die for.  I'd have to defer to you though sir for the tripe and the sofritto, no matter how good they look.
      stanpnepa
      Double Cheeseburger
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/03 00:55:19
      We ordered a tray of Ghigiarelli's Red tonight.  It was outstanding.  I'm taking 3 cuts for lunch on Friday.  As a Catholic boy, eating this kind of pizza on a Friday in Lent can not be defined as a sacrifice!  :)  
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 11:07:44
      Sorry this is taking so long to finish up.  I am having some computer difficulties.
       
      Our final destination for the night was another place that JoeRogo reviewed for the website, Ooh Ooh Bird Cafe.  A bar with a lot of character and characters, this was a really fun place with good food.  It was so dark, it made it difficult to get a decent shop of the outside of the building.

      But I still had to include this shot because of the snow blowers (I think that is what they are) in the lower right corner.  The owner also apparently does small engine repair work.
       
      Continuing with the theme of the night, the menu is the little stand in the middle of the table.

      Food wise, they started us off with a salad, which I don't think we ordered.

      This was actually a pretty good salad, but I sure didn't drive all the way to NE PA to eat a salad at the Ooh Ooh Bird.  Another item I don't think we ordered but they gave us a bowl of anyway was the taco bait bake. 

      The guys generally dismissed this as something for a little league game, but I enjoyed the soft noodles and taco ingredients.  I would definitely get this again as a side.
       
      We split an order of the golden, crispy fries

      which were delicious.  These were so good, they reminded me of the ones seved at The Original Hot Dog Shop back home.  Cousin Johnny went with the hot wings,

      while Mosca enjoyed the butter and garlic wings. 

      Both wings were neither underdone (I HATE flabby undercooked wings) or dried out from being overcooked.  Just perfectly crispy.  The huge amount of garlic of Mosca's wings give it the nod as the better of the two, but they were both winners.
       
      I went with the chili cheeseburger. 

      Unfortunately, after a day full of bouncing from restaurant to restaurant, I had no more room.  I did get it boxed up and had a few bites back at the hotel.  But it wasn't the same as having it warm at the restaurant.  On the way out, I took a photo of the namesake bird.

       
      Back outside, we said our goodbyes.  It was great to finally meet Mosca and not just because he is a big Pittsburgh sports fan.  A special thanks to JoeRogo who was a terrific host and tour guide for the day.  It was funny that everywhere we went, Joe was constantly running into people he knew.  He is obviously THE MAN in the NE PA.  Johnny and I are both looking forward to coming back to the area and sharing meals with JoeRogo, Mosca and stanpnepa again!
       
      After one of the busiest eating days of our lives, Johnny and I stumbled back to our hotel room for the night.
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/04/07 11:14:42
      buffetbuster
      Porterhouse
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 12:02:36
      Sunday morning, Johnny and I slept in until around 8:00, since we weren't in a real hurry on this day.  When we finally got rolling, we drove to a little town north of Scranton called Mayfield and had breakfast at the Mayfield Diner

      In the Roadfood review, the author says that the overhead sign is out for repair and it apparently still is.  When we walked in around 9:00AM on a Sunday, there was only one other group eating.  They soon left and we were the only customers during our meal. 

      Not a good sign!
       
      The place seems to be run by a cute young family.  When she wasn't taking care of us, the mother had the little girl help her wipe down the counter.  We received really good service here.  The menu didn't have anything particularly unusual, so we both ordered omelets.  Johnny had the Farmer's Omelet,

      which contained evenly diced pieces of peppers, mushrooms, onions and bacon.  My ham and cheese omelet was fine,

      but fairly mundane compared to his.  Both of us gave high marks to the soft, buttery and well seasoned home fries.  But my orange juice and the ketchup both tasted bad.  This is a nice little place, but nothing I would go out of my way for again.
       
      Mayfield Diner
      417 Main Street
      Mayfield, PA
      570-876-2781
       
      From here, we split up, me back to Pittsburgh and Johnny back to Baltimore.  On his way home, he stopped at Haag's Hotel in Shartlesville.  He told me the food was fine, but the service was unbelievably slow.  He did enjoy the Shoo Fly pie he grabbed for the road.
       
      I also had a stop in mind during my trip home.  Being a short distance from University Park, I had to detour to the great Penn State Creamery.

      Parking used to be a bit of an issue here, but there is a garage behind the store that is free for 30 minutes, which is much appreciated.  They have plenty of milk

      and other dairy products available, but the must eat item here is the world class ice cream.  Here are the available flavors that day.

      Lots of flavors I have never tried that I'm sure are delicious, but it is practically impossible to go away from my two favorites, Peachy Paterno (loaded with lots of peaches)

      and Bittersweet Mint.

      Every bit as good as I remember.
       
      Penn State Creamery
      Curtin Road & Bigler Road
      University Park, PA
      814-865-7535 
       
      On the way home, I got a call from a buddy saying a group of my friends were getting together at a Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Penguin's hockey game.  I felt no desire to take pics and the wings were a far cry from what I ate at the Ooh Ooh Bird Cafe the night before. 
      post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/04/07 12:09:13
      CajunKing
      Sirloin
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 13:23:44
      Ok, i purposely avoided this thread for a few days so I would be wowed when i came back to it.

      I was right......    WOW

      Cliff, you must have been in nirvanna at those two pie shops, lots of wonderful choices.

      The funny cake is an unique cake/pie made by the area amish PA Dutch.  (sorry)

      you pour the chocolate filling into the pie shell and then cover it with the cake like batter.  In baking the chocolate and cake layers invert.
      It is delicious, next time yall should try one.

      Yummmmm jewish apple cake, when we lived in Cherry Hill, NJ our neighbors gave us the recipe for JAC and it has been one of my favorites ever since.

      Peachy Paterno is my favorite when at the creamery, the other would be the cinnamonamonamon, creamy with a bite and crushed red hots...

      post edited by CajunKing - 2009/04/07 13:36:24
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 13:24:27
      Lovely finish.  Did you color-correct the picture of the chili cheeseburger?  Joe's original photo (or the one that was used on the front page, might be one and the same, I can't remember) was the topic of a lot of conversation when it first went up.  I think I would like the Ooh Ooh Bird.
      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 20:28:50
      Nancypalooza

      Lovely finish.  Did you color-correct the picture of the chili cheeseburger?  Joe's original photo (or the one that was used on the front page, might be one and the same, I can't remember) was the topic of a lot of conversation when it first went up.  I think I would like the Ooh Ooh Bird.


      Hey Nancy,  I think Cliff's chili cheeseburger looks just like mine.  I beginning to think that I am the RF whipping post.
       
      Nancy, The OOB is such a great place.  If you are ever in the area.........
      joerogo
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 20:34:01
      buffetbuster, That was some eating tour.  It was a pleasure to meet you and Johnny.  It was about time that I met my neighbors also, Mosca and Stanpnepa.  It was great food and great company all day long.
       
      About me knowing a lot of people.  Remember what I said, "sometimes I know TOO many people" 
      Tony Bad
      Fire Safety Admin
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 20:59:19
      joerogo

      I beginning to think that I am the RF whipping post.
       


      Think? You mean you still have doubts? We must not be hitting hard enough. 

       
      Nancypalooza
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 21:19:09
      Joe, people just know that they can give you the business, a la Lumpy Rutherford.  ;)  Listen, if I am ever in the area I am making a beeline, I promise.
      Mosca
      Filet Mignon
      Re:Weekend in Northeast PA 2009/04/07 22:05:39
      Man bb, every time you add something to this I get the warm and fuzzies all over again. It was great!
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