Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room

139 7th St. Pittsburgh, PA 15222(412) 281-5700properpittsburgh.com

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Proper indeed. I mean I knew they probably had game when I saw that a Brooklynite had given them five stars on Yelp, but I gotta give mad props to Proper for a slew of killer pies. Not to mention good salads and their candy bacon, which is to die both for and from. We only did take out though, so I can’t speak to the décor or service, but resounding praise is in order for the crust, sauce, toppings and sides.

Starting with the highs of the pies, I’d rank the prosciutto with Turkish figs and feta right at the tippy top, and that’s not just the honorary Turk in me talking. It really was harika (Turkish for “The Best”), so maybe it is the Turk in me talking.

A close second would be the Yelp revered Carnivore made with ample helpings of meat, obviously. But this pie is more about quality than quantity, which is why it was so good. Also, a pie with sausage and pepperoni is normally about as oily as the Exxon Valdez, but not this one. The Carnivore knows how to keep it under control. Respect.

In third I’d go with the Mediterranean pie, made with whole olives (not sliced), artichokes, arugula and feta. It’s like a Greek salad on top of a pizza and it’s, like very good.

And bringing up the rear for me would be the old staple, the Margherita. It’s good, but compared to the other pies, it’s a bit of a snooze. And I’m not just saying that because I’m incapable of appreciating the simple beauty of a Margherita. It’s just that when you distill a pizza down to just sauce, cheese and crust, all three have to be that much more impressive to impress.

But speaking of impressively simply things, Oh Lordy was the candy bacon that and then some. Two boxes of it disappeared no sooner than they hit the table, like dipping a cow in the piranha-infested Amazon River. Which will only make my next sentence laughable, because the salads were actually very good too, but after candy bacon, what are we talking about? Well, what we are talking about is an apple, walnut, dried cranberry and feta salad that far surpassed most pizza joint expectations. In fact, Proper did that handily across the board, and I’m not just saying that because it’s in Pittsburgh… Okay, that’s a flat out lie. I am TOTALLY saying that because it’s in Pittsburgh. Nicely done Proper. Consider me officially stupefied.

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The Ultimate Ice Cream (Packaged)

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Steve’s Ice Cream

Habanero Carrot, Bourbon Vanilla, Mexican Chili Chocolate, Scotch Chocolate. I’m sorry, but Ben and who? And it’s not just the ridonkulous flavors that make these pints evaporate faster than a teardrop in the Sahara- and no, it’s not the booze either, although it doesn’t hurt. It’s the cream. It’s so velvety it’s as though you are eating frozen cashmere. Sorry, I’m running out of metaphors and similes. But the point is that it’s more cream than ice, which makes for a very rich, very worthwhile cheat. Or reward. However you roll. Pick it up at Whole Foods or you can order directly online.

 

 

The Ultimate Short Ribs

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Daniel – New York, NY

I literally remember not a single detail about them other than the fact that post chewing, somehow it was etched in my mind that these where the end-all-be-all ribs of the short variety. Perhaps it’s because I suffered from such an intense foodgasm that I blacked out, lost in a blur of moist, beefy fractals. That or I was really drunk. Whatever it was, they left an indelible impression. Apparently.

Vinegar Hill House – Brooklyn, NY

Everybody comes here for the pork chop ever since Ted Allen went on Best Thing Ever and raved about it, but as much as I loves me a good pork chop, I actually think Little Owl beat them (take note Ted). But sadly, it’s what Ted overlooked that is truly remarkable. Their short rib stew with gorgonzola and roasted veggies is like nothing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Every bite is literally packed with so much flavor it’s enough to give your taste buds A.D.D. It’s not overdone though. It’s perfect. No, it’s beyond perfect. It’s my short rib soul mate.

Frankies 457

457 Court St. Brooklyn, NY 11231Phone number (718) 403-0033frankiesspuntino.com

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The knives are almost entirely for the Blue Crab pasta which was actually worth 5 knives. Unfortunately, the rest of the meal brought it down for me- with the exception of the sparkling rosé, but that’s not something they actually make, so I can only give so many kudos there.

As for the meatballs, while good, I think they pale by comparison to the balls at Ciano and Little Owl.

The crostinis, of which we had several were also just okay. The speck and ricotta being the best of the lot. Followed by the mushroom. The honey ricotta crostini at Eatery 112 Minneapolis puts these to shame.

But dessert was where things really went off the rails. The ricotta cheesecake was a complete waste of calories and did a grave disservice to every other cheesecake in existence that shares its name. It was so dry and flavorless I literally only had a single bite.

But WOW, was that pasta good. So was the service. And the decor, simple and somewhat quaint. Nothing too worthy of note. Granted we didn’t eat in the barn, which I hear is nice.

So, 457… I give you a 3… in knives. Not out of 10. That would be too harsh even for me.

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