Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Eating Continues!

I'm back!  Sorry that I haven't posted in such a long time!  I think I'm going to just start posting on more than just pizza.  I eat ALL the time!  I just haven't eaten as much pizza as I used too!  Tonight, we are going to a restaurant called Hearthstone Coffee House and Pub. 
http://www.hearthstonecoffee.com/
More to come on how good it is later!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Small Experiment

I'm conducting a small experiment. I'm starting a vlog on http://www.youtube.com/ . A vlog, for those that might not know, is a video blog or video journal. 
My channel is: http://www.youtube.com/user/pechin6
I've already have four official vlogs up.  I also have some older videos on there of some other stuff!  If you get a chance, go ahead and watch, subscribe, thumbs up, all of that fun youtube related stuff.  I'll keep posting them.  Hopefully, they will improve in quallity as I go.  I'm really new at the video editing thing.
I'm doing this for my own entertainment.  Maybe it will entertain you too! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meet You At Arni's!

http://www.meetyouatarnis.com/

I'm going to be completely honest here.  I'm biased. Arni's is and always will be my favorite pizza.  It's pizza and the company have been near and dear to my heart since I was a child.  My elementary school best friend's mother started working there when we were maybe six or seven years old.  I got my first job there when I turned sixteen years old and worked there all the way through high school.  Every time my family has a reunion in Lafayette, we all eat together at Arni's. If I go to Lafayette to visit my parents, I still want to eat there.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arni's_Restaurant
Arni's even has it's own wikipedia article!

Arni, the man who started Arni's originally started Arni's as a Pizza King franchise.  After a couple years of that, he decided that he wanted to be his own business, and so, he changed the company's name to just Arni's, and started changing some of the recipes as his own.  The original Arni's is in Lafayette's mini mall called Market Square.
The recipes from Arni's pizza and other things, like salad dressings, are amazing! 
This is the look of the menu.  The old menu that they had for years and years was a large one page menu that told you everything they had, but it didn't have anything extra, like pictures of descriptions.  The new menu has a few more pictures and a lot more descriptions.

They do have a full bar and can make just about anything for you to drink.  The friends that went with us were requesting random drinks, and the bar tender made them.  For soft drinks, they sell Coke products. Not my absolute favorite, but they carry Mr. Pibb, which I like.

The garlic bread is awesome!  It's prepared with garlic butter at the Arni's commissary and frozen.  Then, there are little grills that, when the server puts in the salad orders, she's supposed to go ahead and cook the bread.  Our server failed to do this.  Our bread came out about ten minutes after our salad, which is about when the pizza came out too.  And no, the picture isn't flipped, the liner was actually backwards in the basket.  Not that I'm supposed to be that picky. I don't even give that much attention to detail, but you can see it in the picture, so, I mentioned it.  
This is a Junior Salad.  Junior does not mean small. We usually get one and share it. We just get our own salad dressings.  He gets ranch and I get french.  Arni's makes their own dressings and has for years.  I think I heard my friend say, "What is the house salad dressing?" and the server said, "Most of them are."  The only ones that aren't are the "light" kinds.  Now, I don't know if they got bigger bowls, or if they are putting less in the salads now, but for some reason, the salad looked smaller.  I used to make these salads, and I swear, I made them bigger.  It also seemed like all of the ingredients were to the side of the bowl.  He and I split the salad and had it all gone in a matter of minutes.  I love the french dressing made by Arni's! I always dip the garlic bread in the dressing. They also have a Senior Salad, which has the same ingredients, but is usually twice the size.  The ingredients are: iceberg lettuce, radishes, cheese, ham, green onions, and croutons. I know there's a stigma about iceberg lettuce being unhealthy, and let's face it, with the amount of cheese, croutons, and dressing on this dressing, this isn't really the healthiest salad in general.  But oh, does it taste awesome!
Then, there's the pizza.  This is the Deluxe pizza. This is the kind of pizza I usually get when I go to Arni's. I know, you're probably saying, "But Pechin, this isn't your usual bacon, tomato, and mushroom!"  Well, the Deluxe toppings are so good, I don't have to stick to my usual. In fact, I don't think I've ever had an Arni's pizza with tomatoes on top or bacon.  The Deluxe toppings are: sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers.  The sausage is a nicely seasoned sausage, but it's flavor is not overwhelming.  The pepperoni is ground into little square pieces and not the round pepperoni that you see normally on pizza.  The green peppers are cut into small square pieces.  The onions, which are normal white vidalia onion, are cut into inch size pieces.  The mushrooms are normal button mushrooms, which have a good light flavor.  The cheese is just a generic white cheese, probably mozzarella, that melts nicely and has a good cheesy flavor.  The tomato paste is just that, tomato paste.  There are no extra seasonings in it.  It has a nice sweet tomato flavor.  The crust, which you can barely see because it is covered by toppings, is a very light crust. It's just there to hold the toppings.  I finished every bite of this pizza before we left.  Sadly, that meant, there was nothing left to eat the next day!
There are some atmosphere things to mention.  The original Arni's at Market Square in Lafayette, IN has three rooms.  It has a main dining room, which is decorated with pictures of things around Lafayette.  It has the Loading Dock, which is the bar area and you much be 21 to enter.  The Loading Dock has the front end of a semi with a scale in front of it right inside the door.  If you take your kid to sit on the scale, the bar tender will honk the truck's horn and probably scare the crap out of your kid!  (Which is always funny for some odd reason!)  Then, there's the Toys in the Attic.  This room is decorated with toys from over the years.  There's a train that circles on section.  There's all sorts of toy memorabilia around the room.  This room is fun for every kid to see toy history, and adult to look around and remember which toys they played with as a child.   If I were looking for a pizza place to take my kids or family to in Lafayette, this is the place to be!
There are also many locations that are just pizza counters, no servers.  These locations are made to satisfy the customer that likes take out.  You can eat inside, but you'll be eating off of paper plates and drinking out of Styrofoam cups.
That brings me to the Indianapolis area Arni's.  When the location was up on Michigan Road, the theme or the main dining room was Cycling and Bikes.  Again, this was a fun place to take your kids and family to look around and see the history.  There was also a bar with life size cardboard cut out caricatures of old movie stars.  This room was also fun to look around.  Now, for some reason, they had to shut that location down, and the moved to 96th St. and Gray Rd.  This location is just trendy, all the way down the the tall bar stools at the tables in the bar that I don't fit on.  (I'm only 4'10" people!)  It makes me extremely sad to see that Arni's has gone "trendy!"  I thought the point was that Arni's was the anti-trendy!  You went for the atmosphere and the food!  I'm not always big on trendy.  If that's what I want, I go to Applebees or T.G.I. Fridays.  
In remembering Arni the man, he was a business genius! He also treated all of his employees with respect.  For your birthday, you always got a "Birthday Bonus" that went up by how many years you worked for the company.  Arni was Jewish, so, he didn't have a "Christmas Party," but every March he had a "Winter Party" and fed everybody and gave out prizes.  There was always a costume contest, which I won dressed as a cow, which had a huge prize.  We also played Bingo for hours with huge cash prizes and trips.  Arni and I had a constant conversation going about why he wouldn't open an Arni's in Bloomington.  He didn't like IU.  He was an avid Purdue fan and supported the Boilermakers.  I then came to find out, he graduated from IU!  
At his funeral, there was a HUGE line to wait in to see the family.  Arni Cohen died at the age of 69.  He wasn't very old.  He had started turning over a lot of the responsibilities for the restaurants over to his sons. Arni's did not start doing much franchising until after he died.  Arni didn't really want the company to become franchises, he wanted them to all still be family owned.  His sons wanted to turn the business into a franchise.  Arni Cohen loved his company so much! I'm sure he would be proud of what it has become in the last eight years.
I give Arni's in Indy 3 pizza pies out of 4 due to some server issues and the trendiness.
I give Arni's pizza and food 4 pizza pies out of 4! My first 4 pie rating!  The food is always amazing! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Donatos

http://www.donatos.com/

We went to Donatos Pizza at Shadeland and 75th St. last night for dinner. I find the layout Donatos kind of confusing and overwhelming.  We walk in and were immediately greeted by a guy.  We said hi, and started staring at the menu board.  It was set up like a fast food restaurant, but the print was kind of small and hard to read.  The guy finally realized I was trying to read and interpret the menu and offered me a paper menu. That actually helped me out a lot.  I had on my really strong glasses, and should have been able to see and read the menu.  The guy was still standing there and waiting for us to order, while I was trying to read through all of the specialty pizzas listed on the menu.  I finally gave up and ordered my regular: bacon, Roma tomato, mushroom pizza on a hand tossed crust.  By this time, I was so hungry I couldn't think straight or make any rational decisions anyway, so, I may as well stick with the normal toppings.  I also ordered the garlic cheese bread with tomato sauce as an appetizer.

This is said paper menu.
To be honest, I've never been impressed with Donatos pizza. My boss always orders it on the rare occasions when he buys us pizza for lunch.  He always orders either completely veggie or completely meat loaded thin crust.  Obviously, not what I would order for myself.  I'm not a big fan of pepperoni on pizza.  After being on a low salt/no salt diet for over a year, it is way too salty after being cooked and causes me heartburn!  I love pepperoni by itself when it hasn't been cooked.  I could sit and eat a whole package!  But I digress, and I don't normally do that.

Trash can  containing all of the paper products and condiments.

After we ordered, we went and filled our cups with Pepsi products and sat down. I had Dr. Pepper for my beverage.  We all know I love my Pepsi products!  Then, I went to where the plates, napkins, forks, straws, red pepper, and Parmesan were located and loaded up.  They were right above the trash can, which kind of grosses me out a little bit.  We chose a table and sat down. 

We waited about five minutes for the garlic cheese bread to come out.  It was a sub bun with butter, garlic and a three cheese mix on it. The sauce for the cheese bread had a really good flavor to it. It was very savory with a good Italian seasoning to it.
When they brought the pizza out to us, they had accidentally already put it in a box.  The guy apologized when he brought it out to us. I said, it was OK because there would probably be left overs to take home any way. 


I liked the thick crust much better than their thin crust pizza.  The crust has a bit of garlic on it.  I still saved the extra sauce from the cheese bread to dip it in.  The bacon had some odd size chunks, but it had an OK flavor.  It wasn't too salty.  The tomatoes were nice fresh Roma tomatoes.  I just wish they had put more on the pizza.  There was barely a slice of tomato per slice of pizza.  The mushrooms were very light in color, almost see through, and very light in flavor.  The cheese could have been a little more flavorful.  Maybe we should have gotten the three cheese blend. The sauce was the worst part.  It seemed like there wasn't enough!  I couldn't taste it.  Good think I had saved the sauce from the cheese bread.  In general, this pizza could have used more tomatoes and more sauce. 
The toppings also kept sliding off of the slice of pizza, but I couldn't eat it with the plastic fork.  The fork would not cut through the crust very easily.  For the price of the pizza, I am not very impressed with having to use paper plates and plastic where when eating inside of the restaurant.  It's set up like a fast food joint for pizza, but costs too much for fast food.  Also, loud rap music was playing the whole time we were there.  I actually like rap music, but I thought it doesn't exactly create a great pizza restaurant atmosphere.  They do have a free meeting room/ party room, I'm sure with the purchase of food.  I give Donatos 2 and a quarter pizza pies out of four.  I wouldn't exactly recommend this as one of my favorite pizzas. 



Monday, March 14, 2011

Bazbeaux Pizza


http://www.bazbeaux.com/
This weekend, we had a birthday shindig for a friend at Bazbeaux on Mass Ave.  The first interesting thing about this outing was, I didn't realize Bazbeaux had moved across the street from it's location.  We had walked there from the Starbucks down the street and saw huge white paper blocking all of the windows.  That was a little worrysom.  But when you finally get really close to the paper, you can see that it says in tiny black pin markings, "Moved across the street next to Ball & Bisquit."  Well, after finding it, we walk in to realize, they wouldn't let the coordinator of our outing get seating together for such a large group.  Part of the group had got there at five, and were seated at a fairly large table.  Another part of the group had gotten there at 5:30 since, this was a "Surprise" for the Birthday girl that all of her friends and family were showing up while she was eating pizza.  Then, another part of the group was showing up at six.  (Some even showed up later than that, but most of us were done by about seven.)  When a couple more of the six o'clock group got there, I put our name in for a table.  I told the guy seating people, we were part of the birthday party, and he seemed very annoyed.  Then, after about twenty minutes, part of the original group had left, and the coordinator asked us to sit down where they had been.  I went up and asked the other person taking down names, and she said she would find out. Then, the first guy came back, and I explained, we were offered spaces at the original table.  He seemed extremely annoyed and blurted out, "WHATEVER!" So, I went and sat down with the group. 
I usually end up with the same guy as my server almost every time I've gone to that Bazbeaux.  He's the guy with the bald head and the blonde handlebar mustache.  This time, we had a new guy. As soon as he realized that we had sat down and wanted to order, he got our drink orders.  Baxbeaux carries Coke products, which includes Mr. Pibb. I like Mr. Pibb!  He came back with the drinks and asked for our order. 

I ordered us a Greek Salad with Spinach instead of lettuce with Cucumber dressing for me and Ranch for him.   We split a small.  I prefer Spinach over lettuce any day.  Plus, since it's a "Greek Salad," I find the spinach better with the "Greek" toppings.  Maybe I decided that spinach was "greek" in my head.  I don't think that is really the case.  On the salad, they put pitted olives, feta cheese, shaved parmesian cheese, and tomato.  Their Creamy Cucumber dressing has a very cool creamy taste with a good hint of the cucumber flavor, which I love! I've tried bottled Creamy Cucumber dressings, and nothing is as good as Bazbeaux!  I forgot to ask, and I couldn't find on the web site whether or not Bazbeaux makes their own salad dressings.  The ingredients they use for the salad always seem extremely fresh. 
 
For pizza I ordered the B.O.T. with Wheat crust.  I LOVE the option to get wheat crust at Bazbeaux.  Even though pizza isn't always healthy, the option to have wheat crust makes you feel a little better about eating it! Now, you may ask, what is a B.O.T. pizza?  Well, the B. is... you guessed it, Bacon,  the O. is onion, and the T. is Tomato.  It also has fresh cut basil all over the top of the pizza.  The bacon is in nice size pieces and had a nice smokey flavor.  The tomato are cut into chunks instead of slices and are very fresh.  The onion is red onion, which not only had a nice sweet flavor when cooked, but adds to the visual effect of the pizza. The sauce is sweet with a little bit of tang.  The sauce almost looks like it could be freshly crushed tomatoes.  The cheese is pretty creamy and melts very well.  The only thing about the crust is, it's a bit on the crunchy side.  I always save some of my Creamy Cucumber dressing to dip my crust in. 
I find that Bazbeaux has a comfortable atmosphere with local flavor.  The move to across the street gave the Mass Ave location a ton more space.  Maybe that will help them get more people in and seated faster on busy nights.  That has been an issue in the past, 45-60 minute waits in a very small confined space.  I have been to this location and the Broad Ripple location, and both have the same type of atmosphere.  I've never had a huge problem with group seating before this time.  They do like to have all of your group there before they will even take your name.  More restaraunts are becoming that way around this area.  I would recommend Bazbeaux as a whole package, the atmosphere and the food.  They are also known for their specialties pizzas. You can look those up on the website's menu.  I give Bazbeaux three and a half pizza pies out of fourth!  Totally worth the experience!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monical's Pizza

http://www.monicalspizza.com/

Tonight my sorority had a fundraiser at Monical's Pizza in the Glendale shopping center.  With a flyer that the restaurant provided, 20% of the bill was donated to the sorority.  The inside is a lot more spacious then it looks from the outside. It had a homey atmosphere.  We were greeted by a woman as soon as we walked in the front door.  We were seated. 
This pizza place carried Pepsi Products.  That always makes me happy!  I had a Mountain Dew: Milk of the Gods! (That was for my niece!)
I started out with a round of bread sticks with nacho cheese as an appetizer.  When I asked if they had cheese dip, the server told me they had two kinds of cheese dip: Cheddar and Nacho.  That's pretty amazing!  The bread sticks were very soft with only a little bit of salt for seasoning. There may have been a little bit of garlic too.  I really liked them with the nacho cheese combination. 

I ordered a 10 inch pan pizza with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Mushrooms. I ten inch pizza is probably enough for three people, especially after eating the bread sticks. The tomato and mushrooms were pretty fresh.  The bacon pieces were cut into nice sizes and had a nice flavor and texture. 

Here is a slice by itself.  The sauce was sweet with a nice touch of italian spiciness. The pizza had a nice thickness to it. It almost was thick enough to be deep dish.  I would go back to Monical's Pizza.  The prices are reasonable, the employees are kind, and the food was pretty good.  They also carry other dishes, like sandwiches, salads, and pastas.  I give Monical's 2 and three quarter pizza pies out of four.  The next time I go, I will probably try a sandwich. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Uno Chicago Grill/ Pizza

Uno Chicago Grill claims to be the "Birthplace of the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!"  I'm not so sure about that. Here is their web site: http://www.unos.com/

Ian and I went there for lunch one day.  We ordered the usual Bacon, Tomato, Mushroom toppings for our Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza at Uno's for lunch.  The wait for the pizza was about twenty minutes, which isn't too bad for a deep dish.  Ambiance was between a trendy or current restaurant and a little bit of old italian thrown in there.  There seemed to be a lot of people with really young loud kids that day.  Not that I don't like kids, but it seemed strange for that many to be there in the middle of a work day.
Maybe the balloons are to attract the little ones.

Our table looked like this:
They do have Mr. Pibb to drink, which makes me a happy person!  Sometimes it's the little things in life!  The pizza came it and it looked pretty good!
The toppings were actually a bit over whelming.  The tomato was fresh, but the bacon and mushrooms were kind of on the soggy side.  The sauce had an ok tangy flavor. 

The crust wasn't so great. It was on the soggy side.  Every time I cut into it, the bottom of it came off and stuck to the plate.
That is the bottom of the crust stuck to the plate!  Uno isn't one of my favorite pizza places, especially for Chicago Deep Dish.  I would have the local restaurant, WB's. 

They did have this cool nutrition kiosk in there front entry way.  You can see the nutrition information on all of the food they sell. You can also build your own pizza.  We looked at the information for a tomato deep dish.

It looks exactly like the informaiton on the food you would find in a grocery.  I really like this idea and wish more restaurants would use it.  I do give them an A+ for the availibility of the nutrition information. 
As a pizza, I give this pizza 2 pizza pies out of four pizza pies.  It's ok in a pinch, but I would reccomend going somewhere else if you have the time.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Giordano's Pizza

In December, we made a trip to Giordano's pizza in downtown Chicago.  This place famous for it's original Chicago Style pizza. In fact, Jenny McCarthy has it shipped to her in California because it is her favorite!  Recently, I read that Giordano's is filing for bankruptsy.  The lull in the economy has hit the company hard. 

When you order a deep dish pizza, either get there before you are going to get hungry, or order cheese bread.  We ordered cheese bread.  It takes the Chicago deep dish pizza over forty-five minutes to bake.


This is the Pizza my niece and her boyfriend ordered.  It had green peppers and some other things on it.  I didn't try any of it, but it looked really good!


Ian and I ordered close to our usual, but Giordano's doesn't have regular old bacon, only Canadian Bacon.  Our pizza had tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausage.  I was really bummed that they don't have bacon.  As my niece and I always say, "We love to eat the little piggies!"  I'm sure the vegetarians are going to hate us for that one! The ambiance of the restaurant is very Italian old style.  See the checkered tables?
When I lived in the greater Chicago area, I probably had Giordano's a total of maybe three times.  It was so good, but not really in my budget. It was always an event to go out for it. 

The Chicago style pizza has crust, then cheese, then tomato sauce, and then, the toppings.  This picture is to show the huge slices of fresh tomato on top, which were awesome!

In the deep dish style, there is a ton of cheese.  I love cheese, even though I am lactose intolerant.  After the forty-five minute wait and our cheese bread, the pizzas arrived at our table.  We dug in!  The crust is pretty delicious. The cheese is quality mozzarella. The sauce has a really good crushed tomato texture and a nice amount of Italian seasoning that makes it a hearty marinara.  The toppings are fresh except I really hope that they would add bacon to their plethora of toppings to choose from.  The sausage has Italian spices in it. 
I give Giordano's Pizza, the God Father of Chicago Deep Dish, three and a half pizza pies out of four pizza pies. 
The next time you are in the Chicago area, I would recommend stopping in and trying this pizza for dinner.
Here is their web site.
http://www.giordanos.com/

6/4/14- Edit: In recent news, we found out that Giordano's is opening an Indianapolis location! We are really excited and can't wait!