11 Mar 2010 @ 8:53 PM 

*Yes, I know… but really.. it was WEAK!

Greetings Omaha Pizza Lovers….

I have some dismal news… It seems that our week 5 contestants in the Super Bowl of Pizza performed so poorly that we have decided to skip posting their names and results.

Ok, I declined posting the results to my co-workers… but you, my avid, pizza-ravenous readers… YOU CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!

I will set it for “Read More” as to not to start a blog war…. So you’re going to have to click it to read it.
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Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:02 PM

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 11 Mar 2010 @ 8:25 PM 

I would like to apologize to everyone for getting these results out late. 

Our results for last week’s challenge are as follows:

 

Oscars

Big Freds

3.55303

Yuk: 1.75

3.0303

Yuk: 2

 

 

We went to have Pudgy’s Pizza and they were not open for lunch.  So at the last minute we had to scramble to find Pudgy’s stand in.  Oscar’s was at the top of the cut list so we quickly grabbed it.  As such we were surprised to have it knock off Big Fred’s.

Now for my personal feedback:  The majority of us, being in Omaha for years, LOVE Big Fred’s.  You go, you get the stuffed hamburger Pizza and you drink beer and you sit and B.S. with family and friends… We love it.  And the Pizza that we got, was actually rated higher than some of the others that we have rated.  It just didn’t rate high enough.  If Fred’s was in any other bracket so far, I think it may have won out.  No, I know it would have won.  We love it. 

Oscar’s Pizza though… We were floored.  Nobody, and I mean nobody…. expected it to be so damn good.  It was the first time in this contest that I was surprised in a good way.  I liked it so much, that I dragged my family, and my brother and my dad and his wife out to have it.  I even ordered wings and I have to say.. Guinness and their Double Buffed Wings… I was in fat-boy heaven.  (Look for an Oscar’s inspired Hot Wing Challenge soon.)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2010 @ 08:30 PM

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 12 Feb 2010 @ 7:29 PM 

Week 3!

 

Your tasters have indulged and have chosen a winner…

Mama’s Pizza

Johnny Sortino’s

3.06027027

3.21027027

 Johnny Sortino’s holds off Mama’s

Mamma’s Pizza scored a grand total of 116 points while Johnny Sortino’s edged them out with 121.  Yuk Factor for Johnny Sortino’s was a whopping 2.22 while Mama’s oozed further down in the overall score with a rating of 2.77…

 Long live the pie and on to week 4!!!

Random comments:

“Pepperoni was somewhat close, but in hamburger, Mama’s sucked.”

“Mama’s was burnt. (Next portion was edited because of content talking about the less than appealing appearance.) Too much hamburger.  Pepperoni was pretty.  Johnny’s – liked the flavor of the beef and crust.”

“Couldn’t finish the Mama’s beef slice.  Flavorless sauce and bad tasting beef.  Sortino’s tasted good but a bit low on the quantity of Pepperoni.  Beef was good Quantity.”

Now none of those were my comments, just random comments taken from the sheets that came back from rating. 

This week, I was pleasantly surprised.  I actually thought that they were both good and the best week so far for Pizza.  There was plenty of flavor and toppings and pizza to go around.  Everything was fresh and the sauce from both, in my opinion, had some zing.  I was rooting for Johnny Sortino’s all the way… but I didn’t tell anyone this week for fear they would vote the other way for the third straight week.  Normally at Johnny’s I get the Supreme (everything on it) with extra cheese.  After a few slices you fall into a deep coma… Good stuff.  I am excited, because today, even though it lost, I was able to try a new place.  Mama’s, you lost by 5 points.  I think that you have some awesome potential and a good Pizza.  I think Sortino’s was just a hair better.  I think that if you could have not burned the crust, you may have won.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 12 Feb 2010 @ 07:29 PM

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 05 Feb 2010 @ 7:06 PM 

You have again picked a winner!!!

 With an average score of 3.002525253….. and a YUK Score of 2.25  DON CARMELO’S PIZZA!!!!

 With an average score of 2.604651163….. and a YUK score of 3.25  FRANK’S PIZZA!!!!

 My co-workers have chosen Don Carmelo’s Pizza in a head to head challenge in week 2.  

 

Frank’s Pizza

Don Carmelo’s

Average Score

2.604651163

3.002525253

Average Yuk

3.25

2.25

Total Score

2.471590909

2.888613861

 Comments from 3 random comments:

“The size of Franks was better, but without a doubt Don Carmelo’s out scored in all categories but ‘YUK’.”

“They Both Taste Pretty Bad, but Don Carmelo’s is much better.  The Spice on Franks made it really bad.”

“Don’s pizza is much smaller than Frank’s.  I also didn’t have any Sauce on Don’’s”

Now… I have to weigh in on the subject.  I am a HUGE Fran’s fan.  I personally feel that it has been the best pizza in town… but lately… something has happened to the sauce…  It’s gotten a little weak.  It used to be strong and well spiced… now it’s too bright and doesnt have any zing.  I’m sorry guys… you are still my favorite and my go-to pizza place… but I need more out of you.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:08 PM

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 29 Jan 2010 @ 10:41 PM 

Recently there was a contest at another branch of the company I work for in Connecticut to crown their king of pizza. Not wanting to be out done by people from the east coast, my office is getting together to do our “Super Bowl” of Pizza. We’re in process of building our “Pizza Grid” of our competitors which we should have out next week.

This week we pitted La Casa against Zios in a 3 pie battle. 

The rules are as follows: 3 Pizzas will be ordered from each location. A hamburger, a pepperoni, and a cheese. Each pizza will be rated on crust, sauce, toppings, cheese, “eww” factor, and general overall like or dislike.

La Casa —————————-Zios
Total 2.878787879                  Total 2.878787879
Yuk 2.875                                   Yuk 2.2857142
Total points: 95                           Total Points: 95
Net Points: 92.125                    Net Points: 92.714

As you can tell Zios squeaked by La Casa.

Comments include: “I didn’t like either, but Zios was better all around. Zios looked like a pizza. La Casa more closely resembled an oil drip pan.”

“La Casa: Too Garlicy Zios: Good, but so-so crust”

“Zios: Crust Limp, Greasy, Cheese is weak”

For the record, my preference is La Casa between the two. Who knew that Zios would win… I will keep you posted.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:09 PM

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 14 Dec 2009 @ 10:13 PM 

I think I was issued a slight challenge the other day…or perhaps it was “gentle ribbing” over the frequency with which I recommend a certain restaurant…

HOWEVER…

Have you ever tried the chocolate cake/chocolate bomb (I have no idea what it’s called on the menu) thing at HIRO?  I mean…SERIOUSLY?

I’ll write more later…I have to go slap my momma it was so good!

(P.S….did you know they’re opening a NEW restaurant downtown?  SERIOUSLY!  I’m going to HAVE to go back to work just to support the gas money to drive out there every week!)

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 14 Dec 2009 @ 10:13 PM

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 24 Nov 2009 @ 5:27 AM 

With the economy taking a big dump here lately and comfort food finally getting some of the gourmet recognition it deserves, hamburgers are getting a little bit more press and more of the spotlight. Lately, I had been hearing some buzz from co-workers on two new burger joints going in. One is 5 guys burgers and fries and the other is Smashburger. Funny thing is I have been meaning to go to each and review them… ok.. yeah.. well… Apparently I haven’t reviewed jack squat for a while. To be honest, I haven’t been able to go out much and when I do, I go to places like Hiro because I know what to expect. (Quality food and quality service) but since I have not Posted anything in a while… I figure I should flex my descriptive muscle and start writing again. That being said… Here goes nothing..

The Nebraska Rifle season for Deer opened weekend before last. I had taken the day off of work in hopes of getting all my errands done, get the last trip to Sheels in and then get out to door and make it to the hunting ground and set up shop. What I thought was going to be an early start, got off late. My wife and I had some time to kill and we were driving on L street and decided that perhaps that day was going to be the day to hit Smashburger. We pulled in and crossed the parking lot with plenty of anticipation. It was 11:30AM and we could see that the place was already packed. We walked in and it was standing room only. There was no place to sit. Every table was taken and there was a line to the door. My wife spotted a table that was about to empty and made a B-line for it and claimed it as ours. Meanwhile, I stuck it out at the counter and put in our order. 1 Husker burger and an order of fries. Then a double baja burger and an order of what they call smash fries. Then I ordered two drinks. I received my plastic “10” and two cups. I filled them at the drink station (one diet coke and one coke zero) and then headed off to meet my lovely bride who was fending off a hoard of angry drunken midgets bent on usurping our table(sorry, just kidding). I sat down with her and started talking about kids and work. A few moments later a few ladies showed up with our food. They came out in rectangular metal baskets with paper lining. Our fries rested atop this basket in a conical shaped basket with fries in each. My wife had and order of fries and the husker burger which came with cheese and A-1 . I ordered a double meat Baja burger and smash fries. It was a well played attempt to bring some class to the a common burger.

Smash fries, I must say, were a bit surprising. They are a seasoned fry, using oregano as their primary herb. They were hot, crispy and cooked to perfection. I really liked them. My wife’s fries were good too, but she didn’t have the seasoning. I would say that the smash fries are a win. My burger, the spicy baja, comes with pepper jack, guacamole, veggies, chippotle mayonnaise and jalapenos. I tore into this burger with a vengeance…. it was my breakfast after all. The meat was flavorful and you could see the wonderful crust on the meat from being smashed flat Each bit was seasoned and flavorful. I have to say I got lost in my food until I looked up to this person looking over the wall at me with a mouthful of burger bliss. I could tell by the fact that the line was moving slow and he wanted to try to find a seat. So I snapped out of it and began to rush through my food. My wife rushed through hers. As soon as we were done, we were ambushed by the wait staff trying to get us out the door.

Pluses: Darn good burgers. Great fries. Food came out fast

Minuses: SMALL dining area and not enough seating.

Overall Impression: It was a fantastic burger experience that I will do again. I would love to rate them higher but I felt we were rushed out to get out rable. They should have made it bigger from the start. I will suggest this place to anyone that wants a good burger.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 24 Nov 2009 @ 05:27 AM

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 23 Jun 2009 @ 7:38 PM 

Ok, I will admit we are big Food Network watchers in this house.  The Omaha Critic and I both love to cook, and inevitably on the weekend we end up watching something that makes us drool with food lust.  Often, that comes from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Guy was in Omaha at some point in the last year or two, and one of the places he covered was California Taco, on 30th and California.  After seeing it on tv, The Critic and I decided that one of these days we’d have to make it down there.  Well, we tried last weekend.  Sadly, we arrived right before 9 PM when the restaurant closed.  However, the guy at the door was nice enough to let us in to place a quick order to go – and thinking quickly on our feet, we ordered some beef puffy tacos – I think they’re referred to as california tacos on the menu.

The puffy taco itself is a piece of flatbread stuffed with taco meat and deep fried, after which they add lettuce and cheese.  In our to-go bag, they also included cups of red salsa and green salsa, to add a little extra flavor.

After waiting maybe 10 minutes, our order of 4 puffy tacos was handed off, and we headed out to the car, wishing we’d been there early enough to try the chimichangas and other treats on the menu.  Alas, we will have to visit again sometime in the future!

I will say, we both enjoyed the tacos.  Without the sauces, they were a little bland for our liking.  I liked the addition of the red salsa to the tacos, where The Omaha Critic preferred the heat of the green salsa.  The tacos were a good size and flavorful, and all in all, we both thought they were good.  The price?  It’s a little high perhaps for what it is and the location, but that’s based on The Omaha Critic’s Texas roots.

Pluses:  The food was good.  It didn’t take a long time, and thankfully, they still let us order as they were closing the doors.

Minuses:  It’s a little pricey for what it is, but it was still pretty good.

Overall Impression:  The puffy tacos weren’t enough to sell us on this being one of our favorites.  They were, however, enough to get us to want to go back and try more of the menu.  All in all?  I’m going to give it four french fries.  With salt and red salsa, Baby.

~~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:54 AM

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 23 Jun 2009 @ 7:28 PM 

This past weekend, The Omaha Critic and I duct taped the kiddos in the closet (har har…grandparents are wonderful things) and escaped for a long overdue date night.  Long overdue, especially since it was our anniversary!  (WOOHOO, go us!)  While our normal inclination is to head out to you know where for sushi, we instead decided we needed to do some work for the site here, and hit up a place we’ve never been before.

This time, that place happened to be LiT…the Contemporary Tapas Bar and Lounge on 180th and Center.  We arrived around 5 pm on Saturday, which obviously is a bit early for things to be happening at LiT.  Now, we’ll admit, we’re in our mid 30’s.  Our general impression was that LiT probably caters more to the 20-something set.  That said, the decore is very nice, upscale, and geared more toward a night out drinking than dining.

Alas, it is generally the food that we’re there for!  The Critic and I ordered four different tapas dishes:  crab fritters, shrimp cargot, candied coconut jumbo shrimp, and pepper encrusted beef tenderloin skewers.  I also partook of the drink menu, and ordered an ultimate chocolate martini and a dirty monkey martini.

Let’s tackle the food first.  The crab fritters?  Awesome.  The texture was fantastically light and the outside crispy.  The inside gave you a great taste of crab, witha sweet edge of corn.  The fritters were very enjoyable, especially when eaten with the creole remoulade and the chipotle honey.  Next was the shrimp cargot – or shrimp served in the fashion of escargot- fried in butter and garlic, and topped with melted havarti cheese.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the dish was quite enjoyable.  The Omaha Critic preferred the shrimp, I preferred the crab fritters.

On to the “main course” dishes.  The Critic took the shrimp, and I had the tenderloin (although we shared quite a bit, as you should withtapas.)  I will admit?  I wanted his.  The shrimp was great, as was the orange marmalade dipping sauce.  Is it better than The Critic’s other place to get coconut shrimp (Outback Steakhouse)?  No.  About the same.  Probably about the same price as well.  The tenderloin was good as well – tender and juicy, and great withthe sauce it was served with.  Bothplates came witha small salad with vinaigrette dressing that was very tasty.  All in all, the food was very good.

The price for the food?  Not a bargain.  The price aren’t huge – $10 for the crab fritters and shrimp cargot, $17 for the coconut shrimp, and $22 for the beef tenderloin – but when you consider that these are basically the same prices you’d pay for similar dishes at other local restaurants and get more food – it’s just a consideration.

Our other main observation about LiT is that the service?  It’s not so great.  The Critic and I are big on good service, and definitely try to show the love to those servers who do a great job for us (Hi Rusty, Sammy, and John!).  When we don’t get great service, we try to determine if there’s a good reason (really busy night), or if the server is just inpet.  Sadly, we have to say the server we had at LiT was somewhat inept.

I’d like to tell you how the Dirty Monkey martini was – but she brought me a second Ultimate chocolate martini instead.  While I didn’t mind the chocolate martini, I wanted to try something different the second time.  I’d have complained…but our server never came back for me to tell her.  When it came time to pay, we waited for a considerable amount of time for our server, and finally went up to the bar to pay.  If that was the type of place LiT was, we’d understand, but it isn’t.  So, the food was good, but the service was not so great.

Pluses:  The food was very good, the decor is nice.  For this I would have given it a solid 4 napkins.

Minuses: The service wasn’t great, and the prices are a little high for what you get.  These things degraded my rating.

Overall Impression:  It is probably a fun 20-something lounge, but I wouldn’t plan on it for dinner.  I give it 3 napkins.

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:54 AM

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 06 Jun 2009 @ 5:27 AM 

I know we’ve mentioned Hiro Sushi a time or two.  There’s a reason for that.  From the moment you walk through the door at Hiro, you are transported into a serene, beautiful world that delites the senses.  From the design of the restaurant itself, to the wonderful service, to the amazing food, there is no aspect of Hiro with which we can find fault.  Ok, that’s not entirely true.  They’ve become pretty popular, and it’s not as easy to pop in and get a table anymore!

One thing we have failed to mention here due to our pure love of their sushi is that Hiro DOES serve many other non-sushi items!  While we most frequently enjoy their sushi (Wasabi Stingers, Baby.  Wasabi Stingers.), The Critical Wife’s pregnancy, and occasional lunacy have driven us to order other things from Hiro’s Menu.  I can’t say that we’ve ever been sorry.

Over our five years of patronage, we have enjoyed both the Japanese and Chinese food served at Hiro.  This post, however, is specifically about the Chinese Menu.  The dishes we have most recently tried are Milton’s Chicken, Imperial Chicken, and the Peanut Butter Chicken.

The first thing you will notice about Hiro Sushi’s Chinese food is the extremely high quality ingredients.  Each dish is cooked to order, meaning that your food hasn’t been sitting around in a warmer, flash fried at the last minute, and served gooey or mushy after reheating.  The chicken is beautiful white meat – freshly cooked and not at all “ambiguous”.  There are no nasty bits or questionable pieces floating around in these dishes.  On top of that, the flavor overall will leave you amazed and impressed.  I challenge you to try Hiro’s Chinese food and tell me you’ve ever had better.

Price-wise, Hiro’s Chinese food may be a few dollars more than your average Chinese restaurant.  The thing is?  It is so worth it.  Every bite is fresh, hot, flavorful, and cooked just for you, when you ordered it.  The owners’ pride in their restaurant once again comes through in every dish.

Plusses:  Hiro’s Chinese food is by far the best we’ve had, and we have eaten A LOT of Chinese food, in a lot of cities, with a lot of “Ambiguous Chicken”.  The owners are also a big plus, as is the spectacular service we’ve come to expect at Hiro.

Minuses:  The only one we can force ourselves to come up with is that Hiro has gotten very busy.  Thankfully, the owners are opening a second restaurant in the Old Market area – so we expect this mini-minus to be resolved soon!

Overall Impression:   You will not find better Chinese food in all of Omaha than that served at Hiro Sushi.  The biggest problem is picking just one dish.  So we recommend choosing several.  Have we mentioned it’s also great cold the next morning?

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:56 AM

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