Acton Trader Joe’s Expands, and other local stuff

Trying to keep up with more local news.

It looks like the Acton Trader Joe’s over on Great Road has taken over the old R.E.I. space and started to move things around.  When I was there last week they were in mid-move.  Unfortunately, still no wine or other alcohol.  One of the store workers seriously doubted that they will ever have those.


Happy National Pizza Day!

On this, our most wonderful day, I am snowed in at home near Boston, dreaming of my favorite past pizzas.  Here is a hastily compiled list of memorable pizzas from my life.  I’m sure some are missing but these are the ones that come to mind on this cold Thurdsay morning.

From growing up in East Aurora, New York, I’d be remiss if I did not mention Pasquale’s first – they are still around and still awesome.  I grew up eating their pizza as well as that of the cardboard-like stuff from Wallenwein’s and also the awesome stuff at the since shuttered Uno’s Pizza (no, not that Uno’s chain) that was situated next to the East Aurora Middle School.

In high school, I was lucky enough to get a job at La Paloma Restaurant in Alden, NY.  I started out washing dishes there but eventually was allowed to participate in the pizza and sub making.  La Paloma had some of the best pizzas in the area, and I took part in the painstaking process taken by the DiChristina family on a weekly basis to make the dough, shred the cheese, and prep the wings and other food required for an awesome small-town Italian restaurant in the 90’s.  Though the elder DiChristinas have both passed, the restaurant was run by their son Frank, and now their grandson.  Absolutely worth stopping by if you are ever on Rt. 20 in Western New York.

As an adult, I branched out to the City of Buffalo and ate some great pies at Bocce Club Pizza, Just Pizza, and of course, La Nova Pizza (delivers anywhere in the country!) Finally, at both the North Buffalo and Williamsville locations of Romeo & Juliet’s.  The last of those became our go-to when we lived over there and this was some of the best pizza to be found in Buffalo (and also some awesome service and a nice restaurant).

Here in Boston, pizza is a different game.  There is a greater variety of styles and varieties of pizzas and pizza restaurants.  Nothing will replace my Buffalo pizzas, but there are still some awesome and sophisticated places out here.  Starting out with an oddball but really, really great place called Emma’s Pizza.  Gwen worked there for many years back in the early 2000’s and they treated her like Family.  From the owner to all the longtime employees, Emma’s was always the best room for a meal of their cracker-thin crust pizza with a wide variety of ingredients.  Sadly, their main location closed down a few weeks ago and they are only open at their South End location offering delivery and take-out.  Make sure you stop there if you are in the area!

I can’t get away with Boston Pizza overviews without mentioning the ever-present Pizzeria Regina.  Though other pizzerias in the area could be more ‘authentic’ than this place, they still have arguably the best and most accessible Neopolitan pies in the area.  For the best Regina experience, visit their original North End location – the pizzas are the best there and it is a truly unique dining experience.

Other Boston pizza places worth honorable mention are Stoked Woodfired Pizza, founded by a former member of Letters To Cleo, also All Star Pizza Bar, an offshoot of All Star Sandwich Bar and the East Coast Grill, Charcoal Guido’s over here in Waltham, MA, and Max and Leo’s in Newton – another wood-fired pizza place.

Since I’m sitting at home today, resting up and taking care of homework and housestuff, I have time to perform an oven self-clean and also defrost some emergency-dough.  I always keep some spare Wegman’s pizza dough in case of snow emergency!  So tonight, we will be stuck in the house, improvising some pizzas to celebrate National Pizza Day 2017.  Too bad I didn’t have any emergency wings in the freezer, but that’s for another holiday anyway.

Lastly, I can’t recommend this book enough.  It is a great pizza book by a great baker, Peter Reinhart.  His ‘The Bread Baker’s Apprentice‘ is still my #1 cooking book.  This book, ‘American Pie‘, first covers his trip to Italy and describes Neopolitan pizza in good detail.  Then it goes along to give pizza recipes, tips, and you can bet this has all been vetted before being published.

Food & Wine’s ‘Best Wings in America’ list is blind to the better wing places in Buffalo

If you know me, you have heard this rant before and I will spare you the long version.  In short, every list of ‘best chicken wings in the U.S.’ generally cite the Anchor Bar of Buffalo, NY as being on that list.  Yes, their wings are edible.  They are not bad.  But they are absolutely NOT the best wings in Buffalo.  There are multiple places, including two of my favorites, Gabriel’s Gate (the absolute best) located in the Allentown section of Buffalo as well as the Bar Bill, located in my hometown of East Aurora, NY, which both offer better wings than that of the Anchor Bar.  I understand I am being repetitive here, but yes the Anchor Bar was first, but this fact does not make them the best and I really wish that all these “listicles” would take a moment to do some research before simply throwing the first place that comes to mind on their lists.

Food and Wine’s List:

Alton Brown is a Golden God

A great article on Eater re: Alton Brown’s Christmas episode.  Worth a read.  Good Eats was my absolute favorite food-related show and I still reference it when looking for the best techniques to make particular foods, such as his scrambled eggs technique as well as his Thanksgiving turkey episode.  I have seen Alton Brown give a talk at Buffalo State University a couple years ago, which was both awesome and embarrassing (for some of the stupid questions asked of him by the audience.)  Recently, I have heard from an acquaintance who met him in-person at a book signing in Boston that confirmed that he was a very warm and nice person, despite his apparently brusk personality seen on Iron Chef (a show I admit I have not seen.)

Additionally, if you are looking for new Podcasts, check out the Alton Browncast.  He gives a lot more info than just food-related stuff, talking about himself, his other shows, and other ephemera.