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La Rosa and Son

1/2 I don't care what anyone says, this is the best pizza I've had in the area (whatever the heck you want to call that area…Cobble Hill? Boerum Hill? Carroll Gardens North?). For such a scary Italian-American neighborhood, they don't do so well with the pizza. But La Rosa? They're alright. The staff is friendly and the wine is cheap (it even says so on the menu). (4/31/04)

Not bad, not bad at all. Maybe I've grown overly skeptical over new neighborhood restaurants. I don't know what it is with areas where professionals and families congregate begetting mediocre eats. La Rosa and Son has that readymade, built new to look old vibe, but compared to the blah pizza churned out at practically every legitimate old school Italian-American joint in the immediate region (and believe you me, there's more than plenty), I'm not complaining. Purists might say the pies are a little heavy on the cheese, but I'm no stickler, having grown up on the west coast loving gooey Hawaiian toppings (you could get killed trying to order ham and pineapple here). (5/21/04)

La Rosa and Son * 98 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY

Golden Arches

Costcutters_1  Hey, there's more to Elizabeth than Ikea. On the way to Trader Joe's in New Jersey, we'd always pass this golden arch that had nothing to do with McDonald's and wonder what treasures might lie within. Now I know. Cost Cutters is like a giant, independent drug store with a dash of Odd Job thrown in, housed in a '60s storefront.

All of your toiletry, snack food and Rubbermaid staples are covered. Cost Cutters epitomizes the concept of notions–it does put ideas in your head. Most of the products are average priced, but there are random doozies like super cheap Stewart's soda (I don't even drink soda but was seduced by a key lime four-pack) and weirdo brands I thought were long defunct. Who knew Aziza still made eye shadow? I wouldn't say Cost Cutters is worth going out of your way for, but if you ever find yourself on Elmora Ave., do stop in. Make an afternoon out of it–go wild afterwards and eat a sack of slyders at the White Castle up the block. They post seating time limits on the wall, but don't let that deter you.

Cost Cutters * 190 Elmora Ave., Elizabeth, NJ


New York City isn't a cheesesteak kind of town. They always want to spruce
things up, sometimes ruining items that are best in their basest forms. A
proper cheesesteak comes with cheese whiz (and onions, if you ask me). "Wiz
wit," you know? And so Wogies' sandwich did. The buffalo wings were a nice
balance of heat (quite heaty) and buttery richness. Let's not think about
our cholesterol for a moment, alright? The place is a little sports bar-ish
and odd for the area, but it's worth trying if you're into unhealthy
delicacies. I would rate it higher than the other newish Philly place,

Wogies 39 Greenwich Ave., New
York, NY

Deep-fried Mars Bars

When I first heard about this scary Scottish treat a few years ago, I was hesitant yet curious. (Then I heard about the Scottish deep-frying pizza and decided they’re mad geniuses.)

Recently, these coated candy bars have gained minor popularity–-they’re even served at the Chip Shop near my apartment. They’ve fancied theirs up, plating them drizzled with raspberry sauce and sprinkled powdered sugar. In fact Chip Shop’s gone as far as including deep-fried Twixs, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Twinkies (good, but the cake shrinks into near nothingness), among others. I even saw Nigella Lawson deep-fying Bounty bars with pineapple on the side the other night. I was wowed.

One could deep-fry any sweet, for sure, this recipe is only a base. Any fish batter would work as well, but some people like things spelled out.

4 Milky Ways (which is the same as a UK Mars Bar)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of baking soda
Milk or beer
Oil for frying

Chill the candy. Meanwhile, mix the flour, cornstarch and baking soda. Add your chosen liquid until you have pancake batter consistency. Heat oil to around 365 degrees, same as if you were making french fries (yes, I know purists fry fries twice at two different temperatures). Dip the candy in the batter, then fry away. The coating should turn golden brown, give it a couple minutes.

Serves 4 good sports or 8 pantywaists


Ok, I’ve since gone nuts with this theme. A few years back, I bought James a deep fryer as a gut-busting birthday gift. Up until recently, it had primarily been put to savory uses. But after moving in together, I thought a housewarming parting was in order. And what better way to warm a house than with piping hot oil?

The idea of a B.Y.O.C. Party was born. Everyone was encouraged to bring their own candy to be deep-fried, and bring they did. The massive pile of Oreos, Twinkies, Mallomars, Almond Joys, Cadbury Eggs, Reese’s and assorted sweet treats was unofficially dubbed “Deep-Fried Candy Mountain” (if such a locale actually existed, I’d be packing my bags posthaste). It was beyond a bonanza.

The thing with fried candy is that you can’t eat a ton of it, and it’s not the speediest way to feed a group. Only a couple items can really be fried at once, so satiating twenty or so guests must be done in shifts. It worked out well, though, and everyone was able to put in requests for their fried goodie of choice. Good things come to those who wait.

So, the supply ended up being higher than demand. Our downstairs refrigerator (never mock a two-fridge household) still has crisper bins full of sugary souvenirs in their wrappers, and two months have passed since this unhealthy little experiment. I’m sure this problem will soon be rectified, since I’m a sweet tooth utterly lacking in self-control.

Scene of the crime

Deep-fried cheese-stuffed tomatoes

Cadbury egg

Candy Mountain

Raw leftovers