Chew On It
Blogs » Chew On It
By Andrew Kochirka GoErie.com staff blogger
Food has been an integral part of Andrew's life from a young age; from cooking with his mother and grandmother to creating recipes in his own kitchen. Now he scours the area's non-chain restaurant scene to find the best of the best of local food from chicken wings to French cuisine.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-878-2230

Pizza

Places where the Beard ate Pizza
Posted: May 18th, 2010

Rocking this week’s poll with 135 votes, Uptown Brown’s was the first destination of my local pizza tour.  I made my way up to East 30th and German streets with my friend Shawn.  Neither of us had ever been to Uptown’s before, so we were both pretty eager to try their pizza.

When we walked in, it was easy to tell what kind of place it was; small, homey, and packed.  With most of the patrons being regulars, it has a really welcoming feel inside.  We sat ourselves at the bar, and within minutes I was approached by Maryann, co-owner of the establishment.  We talked about how long she had owned the bar, talked a little about the regulars, and finally about what I came for, the food.  She gave us a few minutes with the menu and then sent Cookie out to take our order.  Elise “Cookie” Wurst has been the cook at Uptown’s since they have had a kitchen, and for good reason.  We asked for some suggestions from her and then placed our order: a large (10-cut) half pepperoni and a small (6-cut) chicken bacon ranch.  The latter was suggested by many people, so we had to try it.

After chatting a little more with Maryann and watching a little One Tree Hill, our pizza arrived steaming hot.  Just from the shape of the pies, I could tell that they were hand stretched.  The crust can be ordered thick, medium, thin, crispy, you name it…they can do it.  We just ordered ours normal, and it was a good choice.  It had a great thickness and was just the right amount of chewy.  The sauce, which is also made from fresh ingredients, had a great tang to it.  The blend of cheese was perfect too.  It was mozzarella with some provolone, and maybe some Parmesan thrown in.  It was thick and had a great creamy consistency.  The pepperoni they use is top notch as well.  Not many places use the slices that curl up when they are cooked but I am really glad that Uptown’s does.  The chicken bacon ranch was incredible as well.  With large pieces of chicken, crispy pieces of bacon, chunks of tomato, and a fantastic flavorful ranch, I don’t think I could have asked for a tastier pizza.  The crust stayed crispy and strong though loaded with all of these topping, and I could still taste the cheese through it all, which I loved.

After crushing through ten of the fourteen slices, we both were ready for a nap.  I took the rest home and ate it today for lunch.  It was just as good cold the next day.  Thank you, Maryann, and Cookie, for making my first trip to Uptown Brown’s a successful one.  I can not wait to go back and try more pizza…and probably their wings.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Uptown Browns on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: May 25th, 2010

Mama Mia’s Pizzeria is yet another location in Erie that I had never been to … until last night.

I wouldn’t be able to count the times I have driven past 5154 Peach St. and never stopped.  I made my way up there around 7 p.m. with my normal eating crew and took a seat at one of the four tables.  With two people both working behind the counter, I figured this was an “order at the front” kind of place so I grabbed some menus for us and looked over our options. Keeping with my theme from last week, I made my way to the counter and ordered a large half pepperoni half plain and a small chicken ranch pizza. On my way back to my seat, I grabbed two cans of ginger ale from the cooler, which made the visit that much better.

After a few minutes, one of the workers brought some plates and utensils followed by two steaming-hot pizzas. I started with some slices from the half pepperoni. I watched them stretch the dough, so I know it was hand tossed and not a pre-made shell. The dough was fantastic – nice and thin throughout. The crust itself was a little chewy and pretty light. The sauce was well seasoned. I personally prefer a little more cheese on my pizza compared to what we got. The pizza was already greasy so maybe more cheese really wouldn’t have been better for your waist, but it would have helped the flavor. The pepperoni was fairly standard, but delicious. The flavor sank all the way down, even into the crust, and made the sauce that much better.

I moved on to the chicken ranch next. This pizza just looked fantastic. I am sure the chicken was just breaded chicken sliced into thin strips and placed on a bed of ranch dressing and a blend of cheeses. It was tasty, but I couldn’t really put my finger on what it tasted like. I’m not sure if there was some flavored oil put down first or if it was just the spices in the ranch dressing coming out after being cooked. Whatever the case, the pizza had a ton of flavor. Onion and garlic were prominent but it didn’t look like either was on the pizza. The crust was just as good as the first and the cheese was even better. The cheese was spread out and made for a chewier bite. Maybe the first pizza had enough cheese and just a little too much sauce.

Both pizzas were very enjoyable and reasonably priced. This is a great option for those who don’t want to eat at the chains in the area. For the record, I ate my cold leftovers while I was writing this and it was still awesome. If you want to order for yourself, the number is 814.864.3718.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Mama Mia's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 1st, 2010

You have got to break away from the norm sometime.

When I want a good sandwich or sub, Papa Joe’s at 3826 West Ridge Rd. is one of the first places I go.  All the times I have been there, I have never sampled their pizza.  Being Memorial Day, they were closed last night so I had to order some food today for lunch.  The pizza can be ordered regular, thick, or thin with your choice of four sauces: red (tomato), pink (tomato and garlic), white (oil and garlic), and ranchero (tomato with chipotle peppers). With help from my coworker Steve, we decided to stick with the running theme and order a regular red large half pepperoni half plain and a medium chicken ranch pizza.  In just about 15 minutes, I had fresh pizza ready to go .

The large pizza was cut into a grid versus a pie.  Obviously, the cut of the pizza does not affect the taste but I really like the slices in the middle that don’t have crust on them.  Pulling apart the slices made it look even better.  The cheese stretched from slice to slice and the crust was nice and firm.  The homemade dough was a little on the plain side for me.  It had a great texture and consistency but it was a bit too dry.  I felt that the sauce was the same way.  It was good and had that home-style taste but it was missing something, something to make it more flavorful.  The cheese was fantastic, stretchy and chewy and it had a great flavor.  The same went for the pepperoni, nice and greasy.  I was out of ranch here but I can only guess it would have been delicious to have some to dip my pizza into.

Like last week, the chicken ranch was awesome and I felt as though it was better than the traditional.  Large chunks of chicken breasts with thick slices of tomato on top of fresh mozzarella and ranch, all covered in crumbled bacon.  The mozzarella really made this one for me.  Since it doesn’t melt fully like cheddar or provolone, it kept its texture and taste.  I am normally not a fan of tomatoes but the acidity of them mixed with the saltiness of the bacon and the cheese was perfect.

When it comes to new and creative, Papa Joe’s knows how to do it right.  The pizzas overall were good and partnered with their other food, Papa Joe’s is a hit.  I would like to try some of their other specialty pizzas such as the steak bomber and the buffalo wing which both sound incredible, but I will have to save those for another visit.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Papa Joe's Pepperoni Cafe on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 8th, 2010

This week was a very close poll.  In the closing minutes, 3 Chances won by just a single vote.

I made my way down to 708 Payne Ave. around 9 last night and it was packed.  Monday night is dart night, so it was full of teams eating, drinking, and playing darts.  My friends and I were greeted by the owner, Jackie Reddecliff, and the bartender/cook, Ashley Guthrie.  They showed us to a table near the back, and I decided not to bother with the menu this time and just order my normal large half pepperoni half plain and a large chicken bacon ranch pizza.  Ashley got us some drinks and got started on the food.

Though the bar was crowded, our food came out in good time.  The half pepperoni came out first.  I could see that it wasn’t hand stretched, but it looked so good it really didn’t matter to me.  The first thing I could taste was the tanginess of the cheese.  It was a blend of mozzarella and provolone, which cut down on the grease.  The cheese was on top of a fantastic homemade sauce that was actually a little on the spicy side.  Whatever the blend of spices were, they weren’t going to share their recipe.  Something that really made the pizza for me was the garlic butter spread around the crust, which gave it a ton of extra flavor.  The pepperoni made its half a little greasy, but it wasn’t anything bad.  It had a good amount of pepperoni on it, so you could taste it on every bite.

Our second pizza came out about halfway through the first along with surprise for the table.  The chicken bacon ranch was a monster of a pizza.  It was over an inch thick and looked awesome.  The pizza sauce was replaced with a creamy and zesty ranch dressing and covered in big chunks of chicken, chopped up bacon, and smothered in cheese all the way to the crust.  The cheese and the ranch made the flavor very rich, and it was tough to put down.  Needless to say, this pizza went much faster than the half pepperoni.

The surprise that arrived was a sample of their award winning Pat’s Potion wings. They were so excited to have us for pizza that they wanted us to try the wings that we missed out on in the first round of food.  These wings were great.  I was told that they were a combination of 14 different ingredients and was left to speculate what those were.  I could definitely taste the Cattlemen’s Gold, some hot sauce, ranch, and fresh garlic.  I used some blue cheese on these, and it was perfect.

I wasn’t too sure what to think going into this week but I was VERY happy with the result.  Thank you, Jackie and Ashley, for your hospitality and service.  The pizza was delicious, and I can’t wait to try more of it as well as other flavors of wings. I also want to give a special thanks to the mohawked gentleman wearing the Superbowl XX Chicago Bears Championship shirt. You truly made my evening magical.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Three Chances on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 15th, 2010

Sabo’s really was a surprise to me. I had never heard of it, let alone tried it, before this week. I didn’t foresee it being picked, but I am glad that it was.

This was another week I decided to eat during the day. I found a copy of their menu online, and my eyes immediately went to the specialty pizza section. I figured I would just stick to the same pizza I have been ordering until I spotted something that sounded better; Pierogi Pizza.  The description of this sounded so good, I had to order it. I called to order, and I made sure to ask for recommendations.  When the woman on the phone mentioned how popular the pierogi was, I knew that was going to be my choice.  In 15 minutes, I would have an extra-large half pepperoni half cheese and a large pierogi pizza waiting for me.

My coworker Steve and I made our way out to 7374 West Ridge Rd in Fairview, where we met the owners, Jim and Lesa.  I learned a little about the location, met the cooks, Joe and Barbie, and saw some fantastic food being made.  The dough and the sauce for all of their pizzas are homemade daily, so you know they are fresh ingredients. Jim informed me that their chicken ranch pizza was their most popular, so I asked him to make me a mini pizza to try as well.  The drive back to the office was a long one with the car smelling so good, but waiting was worth it.

Once back to the office, I started with the plain cheese. The flavorful sauce accentuated the rich browned cheese and really made for a fantastic pizza.  The crust was thin and crispy and easy to eat.  The pepperoni half was delicious as well.  The slices were very zesty and the oils from the pepperoni soaked into the crust, really bringing out the taste.

The mini chicken ranch pizza was great as well. This white pizza started with a ranch sauce and instead of large chunks of everything, this pizza was sprinkled with a blend of chicken, bacon, onions, tomatoes, cheddar and mozzarella. Every bite had all of the flavors in it, making the taste very even.

Finally was the pierogi pizza. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from this one.  It was a heavier pizza, but it was incredible.  The crust was layered with seasoned mashed potatoes.  Their homemade recipe was creamy and smooth.  The potatoes were mixed with sautéed onions and topped with cheddar, mozzarella and seasoned Parmesan cheese.  The potato was spread all the way to the crust, and the thick cheese really gave it a sensational taste.

The drive to Fairview is quick enough that I will be sure to make a return visit to try more of their food.  Thank you to Jim, Lesa, Joe, and Barbie for the top-notch pizza.  My office is already hooked so I am sure you will be seeing me again soon.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Sabo's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 22nd, 2010

After nearly seven years of living in Erie, I finally made it down to Edinboro to try John’s Wildwood pizza.

We got on the road around 6 o’clock.  The drive down on Route 99 is a nice one and takes you straight to John’s.  Since school is no longer session, it was pretty dead when we arrived.  John’s doesn’t offer any specialty pizzas, though they do have gourmet toppings like grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese.  All of their pizza can be made ranch, white, or with their traditional marinara sauce.  I ordered my usual; a large half pepperoni half cheese and then I made my own with ranch, grilled chicken, and bacon.  Fifteen minutes seemed like forever, but we grabbed some seats and waited.

The pizzas came out, and they looked awesome.  I started with the plain cheese, and it was just that, plain.  I thought that the crust was on the tough side.  It was a little leathery and rather chewy.  It could have been a little heavier on the toppings but what was there had a great taste.  The sauce was flavorful, and the cheese had a great salty/greasy taste.  The pepperoni half had a lot more flavor, and dipping it in ranch only made it better.  I think the grease from the pepperoni slices actually let the flavors soak into the crust a little and made it softer.

The chicken bacon ranch was fantastic.  The crust did not get as tough, and the toppings were great.  The ranch wasn’t overpowering, and the tastes of the chicken and bacon came through.  The cheese on top got nice and dark but still stayed chewy.

Because John’s Wildwood Pizza is so close to Edinboro University as well as one of the only pizza shops in town, I can totally see why it is so popular with the locals.  Packed wall to wall during school, it is definitely a top choice for students.  Would I go out of my way to drive down and get it? Maybe. I would stop if I happened to be passing through.  I have also heard incredible things about their wings and subs so I will surely be returning to try the rest of the menu.  To order yourself, call 814.734.7355.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

John's Wildwood Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 29th, 2010

After two times on the weekly poll for wings, the Avonia Tavern finally won in the poll for pizza.

A friend and I made our way out there around 7 last night. It is only about a 10- or 15-minute drive from downtown to 7321 West Lake Road. The parking lot was packed when we reached the Tavern, but we didn’t realize how large the inside was until we got through the door. A server told us to sit wherever we wanted, so we grabbed a table out on the patio. Our server, Miranda, brought us some menus and took our drink orders. When she returned, I asked what she would recommend. She told us that the special right now was a Tuscan pizza, and other customers have loved it loaded with vegetables. I placed an order for a half pepperoni and half plain as well as half of a Tuscan with tons of veggies (it was a sheet pizza, so half was eight slices and a full was sixteen). During my wing tour, the Avonia Tavern was suggested many times so I also asked for a small order of their most popular wing flavor.

The wings came out rather quick so we dove into those first. They were their Carolina Kickers. The actual wings were great, well cooked and crispy. The sauce was a hearty, spicy BBQ. It tasted like the BBQ was just mixed with some sort of hot sauce. The sauce was almost melted onto the wings and made them sticky. Their blue cheese was a great addition.

Halfway through the wings, the pizza arrived. The first thing I notice is the small grease cup sausage pepperoni. So delicious. I started with the plain cheese to make sure I got the full flavors. The crust looked as though it was hand stretched, but Miranda insisted that it wasn’t. The crust was nice and well done and held up to the weight of the sauce and cheese. The sauce was homemade and very tomato-y. It was a little heavy on sauce for my taste. The cheese was layered on super thick and really made the pizza for me. I moved over to the pepperoni side, and it was just as great. An awesome thing about the Tavern is that they will bring out ranch in a squeeze bottle for you so it is very easy to put on your slice. The thick cheese and pepperoni made this half a little greasier, but it didn’t ruin anything. The plain and pepperoni were fantastic this morning cold for breakfast as well.

On to the Tuscan pizza. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The only thing that really made it “Tuscan” was the Italian/garlic seasoning on the crust. This square-cut pizza was topped with sauce, cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, peppers, and olives. I think I should have ordered a few less toppings. The pizza was stacked so high with veggies and cheese, the center of the pizza did not get cooked all the way. The edges with the seasoned crust were pretty good, but the crust in the middle was still pretty soggy and doughy. I would recommend trying some sausage, tomato, and if possible, asking for some salami as well. I would probably ask for it well done just to make sure the dough gets cooked all the way through.

Thank you to Miranda for the great service. I want to head back there sometime and try some of their other pizza as well as some of their other wings. To order for yourself, give them a call at 814.474.5347

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Avonia Tavern on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pizza
Posted in: Uncategorized

Switch to our mobile site