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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Brooklyn, NY: It's The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Hamilton’s
2826 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Between 5th Street 4th Street
Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Flatbush
Phone: (718) 438-0488
Prices: $$$$


As Roseanne Roseannadanna always said, "It's always something, if it's not one thing, it's another" ....

It is the little things that stand out in your mind, good or bad, that shade your opinion of a place. In Hamilton's case, it was a mere 50¢. More on that later.
We sat outside after being seated for 10 minutes before a server arrived to greet us, but when she did, I ordered a Bell's Two Hearted IPA , but all the drafts are $6-$7, MUCH LESS than most places in the NYC metro and they have a GREAT SELECTION. I had to hunt down another server because ours was nowhere to be found, ordering a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog (also $6 on the menu), but after another 10 minutes our food had arrived and still no Smuttynose, so I reminded our server. It arrived 5 minutes later while my dinner cooled whether it needed to or not.
My wife ordered the large Salty Pretzel ($4) and a Mac and Cheese appetizer ($8). The Mac and Cheese arrived with my sandwich, but we had to remind the server about her pretzel which took an additional 5 minutes to arrive. The pretzel was good, but it was hot from the oven and too crunchy, not warm, soft, and chewy as a good pretzel should be. The mac and cheese was tasty and a decent size portion for an appetizer.
My Reuben Sandwich ($15) was piled high with "house made corned beef", sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. It was very good overall, but the house made corned beef had a slightly strange aftertaste which I could not quite put my finger on, or my tongue in this case. The accompanying potato wedges were scarce, but decent, nothing special.
When the check arrived, I have to admit that it was one of the smallest totals we have seen since arriving in NYC, but the Smuttynose was listed at $7 instead of the $6 stated on the menu. I called our server over, showed her the menu and the check, and asked her to make the correction to the $1 error. Those things happen. But when she came back, she had NOT deducted the $1 error, but had discounted the check by a mere 50¢! Rather than argue about the 50¢, I simply deducted it from her 20% tip along with a tad more for her inattention during our meal. After all, it is always the small things folks.

CombatCritic Gives Hamilton's 5 Bombs Out Of 10 After A 2 Bomb Service and Check Error Deduction ... More Bombs Are Better!
Five Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

TripAdvisor - Top Contributor

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Brooklyn, NY: It's The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Key Words: Hamilton's, Hamilton, bar, grill, pub, beer, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"

Monday, May 30, 2016

Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine ... We're Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!

Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza

214 Hicks Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Between Montague Street and Remsen Street
Brooklyn Heights
Phone: (718) 858-1010
Website: dellaroccospizza.com

BEST NEAPOLITAN PIZZA I HAVE HAD OUTSIDE OF NAPLES (ITALY), but most expensive beer I have seen in my life. I am torn on my rating for Dellarocco's because the pizza was wonderful with a thin, soft, yet firm dough, perfectly baked with just the right amount of burnt spots from the 800+ degree brick oven. 
The service was excellent. Sabastion, our server, was attentive enough without hovering or interrupting our conversation and the pizzas arrived post haste as they should from an 800 degree oven. The decor is rather modern, sterile, and boring, not what I would expect in a Brooklyn pizzeria.
I ordered a pint of IPA, but am glad I specified a pint because Sabastion, our server, was nice enough to tell me the $6 IPA was closer to a 1/2 pint than a pint. Where we come from a pint of craft draft ale runs $4-$6, so paying the equivalent of $12 a pint is a non-starter in my book. No beer is worth $12 a pint no matter how good it is or where you are ... "We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!" Wine is equally overpriced by the glass, although there were several bottles in the $30 range, a more reasonable investment.
The toppings on the "Dellarocco" ($16), smoked Buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sliced sweet Italian sausage, red pepper, garlic, and basil were reminiscent of pizza Napoletana, not too much, not too little. They even had olio picante (EVO infused with red pepper), the perfect accompaniment to my salsiccia e friarielli pizza ... buonissimo. This is my go-to pizza when in Naples, so my expectations were not high, however, the Dellarocco was THE BOMB folks! 
My wife had the "Zucchini" (also $16) with the same superb dough topped with a wonderful zucchini cream, mozzarella, thinly sliced smoked prosciutto, and extra virgin olive oil. It was also delicious, light and flavorful with just the right amount of ingredients so you could taste each individually.
The pizzas are even the right size for pizza Napoletana (about 13 inches), unusual in the States where most places serve a 12 inch individual pie. An inch makes all the difference folks (I'll leave it at that). Their prices are nearly three times what you would pay for a similar pizza in Naples, but this is NYC (Brooklyn actually) and I have seen prices for an individual pizza ranging from $20 to almost $30, so I do not consider Dellarocco's pizza a bad value. The beer is a different story because I found another place in Brooklyn with several excellent craft draft "pints" in the $6 to $7 range, so stop gouging your customers and lower your beer and wine prices.
CombatCritic Gives Dellarocco's Brick Oven Pizza 8 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Ridiculously High Beer And Wine Prices ... More Bombs Are Better!

Eight Bombs Equates To:
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Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

TripAdvisor - Top Contributor

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

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Dellarocco's of Brooklyn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine ... We're Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!

Key Words: Dellarocco's Brick Oven Pizza, Dellarocco, Dellarocco's, brick, oven, wood, pizza, pizzeria, Brooklyn, NY, CombatCritic, Napolitana, Neapolitan, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Washington DC: Airbnb - Private Suite Near The Capitol

Private Suite Near The Capitol!
1644 Gales Street NE #B
Washington, DC 20002
Host: Kelley And Summer

Prices:
$75 x 6 nights             $450
Cleaning Fees        $10
Airbnb Service Fee    $55
Occupancy Taxes*     $74
Total                       $589



Not sure why we paid $75 per night when the room is advertised at $65, but the room was clean and the price very reasonable for a central location in DC just a 10-15 bus ride from the National Mall. 
Pros: 

1) Easy walk to two buses, the X2 which takes you down H Street to the White House and the X8 which goes down Maryland toward the Capitol, terminating at Union Station (for transfers/Metro).

2) There are Safeway and Aldi supermarkets within a 10-minute walk of the house.

3) The room/bath are private and have nearly everything needed for a short stay (microwave/small fridge/Keurig coffee maker).

4) The neighborhood was relatively clean and people in the area were extremely nice, courteous, and helpful.

5) There are numerous diverse and reasonably priced bars and restaurants along Benning/H Street and within a short walk from the location.

6) There is a washer and dryer in the home (see cons) as well as a laundromat just a block away.

7) The wi-fi was fast, free and reliable. Never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies.

8) We were alone in the home the majority of the time, except for Lola (their sweet chihuahua) who kept us company occasionally, and it was relatively quiet (for a big city).

9) Ample parking on the street near the house and we were provided a city parking pass for our entire stay, never moving the car.

10) No TV


Cons: 

1) No Metro in the area and the X8 bus only runs until a little before 10pm, so plan returns wisely.

2) The room/bath are small and there is no place to put clothes. We had to keep everything in our suitcases, storing one under the bed and one on the sofa, leaving only one space on the sofa and the bed on which to sit. If you have a lot of luggage (more than one or two bags), this may not be a good option for you. 

3) The neighborhood is a bit on the rough side. The homes in the area are somewhat run-down compared to areas near the Mall and we observed some rather "sketchy" characters (I won't elaborate on what they were probably doing) around the laundromat two blocks away on Benning. A man we met at a bus stop told us that someone was robbed at gunpoint one evening just two blocks from the house. However, we felt relatively safe and welcome in the area, and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark.

4) We were "discouraged" from doing laundry in the home due to complaints of "high water usage" by Airbnb travelers.

5) We were alone the majority of the time, but it would have been nice to meet both of our hosts (we met Summer on day one for a few minutes), get to know them a little (one of the perks of Airbnb), and get some "local flavor" and tidbits about the area and city. 

6) No TV

CombatCritic Gives Kelley And Summer's Private Suite 7 Bombs Out Of 10

Seven Bombs Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

TripAdvisor - Top Contributor

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!





Title: Washington DC: Airbnb - Private Suite Near The Capitol

Key Words: Airbnb, Washington DC, Washington, DC, Kelley, Summer, private, suite, Capitol, US, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"

Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks ... Luigi's Is THE BOMB!

Luigi’s Pizza Fresca

2401 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Fairmount, Art Museum District
Phone: (215) 769-8888
Prices: $$$$

The owner, Luigi, is from Naples (Italy), my wife's hometown, so he knows how to cook proper Italian. The food is incredible, the portions huge, and the prices extremely fair.
We found Luigi's after a short visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, just down the street a few blocks (they are also just a few blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). A simple place, it looks like a takeout pizza joint where you can get a slice and a soda and sit if you want, but the menu is much more extensive than you might think. Beside pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and salads, they offer chicken parmigiana, veal parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken cacciatore, all $10.95, including a large side of pasta ($2.50 more for gnocchi, tortellini, or ravioli).

My wife had a panino (singular - "panini" is actually plural in Italian), the Four Season ($8.95) with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, oregano, and basil on fresh focaccia and an order of fries ($3.50). The panino was very big and delicious, and the fries hot and perfectly cooked. The focaccia was obviously made in-house, soft on the inside and slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned with olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt on the outside. I ordered the Veal Parmigiana ($10.95), coming with a massive side of tortellini ($2.50 extra for a total of $13.45). The veal was the best parmigiana I have had in memory and the portion was huge (see my photos) with four good size breaded veal scallops covered with the best marinara I have had outside Italy and fresh, warm, gooey, delicious mozzarella. Then there was the tortellini, a meal in itself,  perfectly cooked "al dente" and tossed (not drenched) in a superb Bolognese (meat) sauce just as it should be. I did not think I could eat all of it when they brought it to the table, but it was so good I could not help myself, cleaning both plates by the time we were done.
The bill came to a little over $30 for the sandwich, fries, veal, pasta, and two fountain drinks, a mere pittance for a meal as good as this one. Their service and hospitality could not have been better or friendlier and the food is one of the best "values" I have experienced in a long, long time. Grazie Luigi ... a presto!

CombatCritic Gives Luigi's Pizza Fresca 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "WALL OF FAME" ... More Bombs Are Better .... Luigi's is THE BOMB!


Ten Bombs Equates To:


"Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for 'Heard Understood Acknowledged.' Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response." - Urban Dictionary

"The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH 'refers to or means anything except no' ... Regardless of its meaning ... the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit." - WarChronicle.com

"The U.S. Air Force stole 'HOOAH' from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said 'screw it, let's go with HOOAH' ... thanks Army ... HOOAH! - CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

TripAdvisor - Top Contributor

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

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Luigi's Pizza Fresca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks ... Luigi's Is THE BOMB! 

Key Words: Luigi's Pasta Fresca, Luigi's, , Luigi, pasta, fresca, Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania, Italian, pizza, museum, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Philadelphia, PA: When in Philly, Eat A Lazaro's Cheesesteak!

Lazaro’s Pizzeria & Grill

1743 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Rittenhouse Square
Phone: (215) 545-2775

We had lunch at the U.S. Capitol after a tour from our U.S. Senator's office, so we were not extremely hungry. Lazaro's was not far from our Airbnb pad, so we decided to stop in for a cheesesteak after a walk downtown. Good choice.

You order from one storefront and either take-home or eat-in inside the room nextdoor. We ate-in.

We ordered a whole (2 foot) Cheesesteak Deluxe ($15.00) to share, coming on a fresh baguette with chopped beef, American cheese and sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms as well as an order of Curly Fries ($3.75). The cheesesteak was not a disappointment and the fries were hot and crisp, not burnt. Bravo!

CombatCritic Gives Lazaro's Pizzeria and Grill 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More bombs Are Better!


Seven Bombs Equates To:



 

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

TripAdvisor - Top Contributor

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Philadelphia, PA: When in Philly, Eat A Lazaro's Cheesesteak! 

Key Words: CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"

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