New patches on old garments

Parkallen Restaurant

7018 109 Street

Parkallen Restaurant has redefined itself. Once home to mediocre pizza and decent to good lebanese cuisine, the restaurant is now the proud owner of a fancy decor and a massive wine list. They had a free food function a couple weeks ago (trying to stay current with these posts) in celebration of their new look and list, and I was shocked to find out that the restaurant’s food, including their less-than-mentionable pizza, has not changed.

Their wine list is impressive though (if you’re impressed by things like wine lists). It is definitely the biggest list in Edmonton and has rare and vintage wines from all over the world. They even have a rare bottle that was rumored to have been given to a cabbie from Rick Mercer that is worth 50,000 dollars.

Yep, a restaurant with a website that looks like this sells a 50,000 dollar bottle of wine.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to dump on the joint’s food too hard, it’s just that something doesn’t seem to fit:

“Well let’s see, I guess I’ll have the burger….it’s still 10 dollars, right? Ok. Give me a side of onion ring also, hmmmm….. and I’ll take this 50,000 dollar bottle of wine . Thanks”

Anyways, here’s where I pull up and say the nice thing at the end: Parkallen Restaurant has the best wine list in the city.

These are my thoughts.

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Did Jamaica pizza?

Indies Pub and Grill

8 Holburn Road

Kingston

So there is pizza in Jamaica. I know that sounds like an ignorant thing to say but to be honest I didn’t expect there to be very much ‘za in the tropical paradise other than resort town chain restaurants. Dominos is pretty popular here in the capital city and there is Pizza Hut next to Juici Patties on Knutsford blvd in New Kingston.

Also in New Kingston (it figures, really), the Indies Bar and Grill boasts to be the “Home of the Original Jamaican Pizza”. I smell tourist trap.

Indies was the first place (not first bar. First Place) I visited to on my first visit to Ja-ay but I just had a Red Stripe and chicken. The place was alright but the lighting was weird.

One night, across the street, I was sitting on my hotel’s veranda shooting the shit with ex-pat and current-dirtbag Mikey (not his real name), when a confirmed cutie strolled passed us with a box of pizza. I played it cool while Mikey went in for the kill.

“you gonna finish that whole thing?” The pervy grin on his face gave it all away: he had no interest in the pizza.

After some late-night confessions, Mikey disappeared into the night.

Oh how good things come to those who wait. Soon after Mikey left, the pizza-cutie returned with a half eaten pizza and offered the rest to me. We got to talking and she told me that she is from the O.C. (the place, not the show) and she is doing some sort of military thing in a small village in the country. She was in Kingtson to party with a friend.

[these are not her and her friend partying, this is a shot from a party held at the Bar.]

Granted it was the discards from a valley girl (can i say that about Orange County? Is that what O.C. is short for?), but the pizza was pretty gross. Dry crust, thin cheese and too-think, too-spicy pep. The restaurant’s sign might’ve read “Home of the Original Jerk Pizza”….probably should have eaten the Jerk Pizza instead of writing a review based on barely visiting a restaurant and barely eating their pizza. There is always next time.

[Ok, poll time: when I wrote “Oh how good things come to those who wait” above, how many of you thought I was referring to the pizza and how many thought I was referring to the return of the cutie?]

Anyways, Jamaica’s sweet, Kingston is great and my heart go out to everyone that has lost family and friends in the recent violence downtown. I wish everyone safe passage through the city.

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm  Comments (2)  

Brad Scott and the the B Street Bland

B Street Bar Wood Oven Pizza
11818 111 Avenue

After learning that Edmonton’s The Falklands were once paid in pizza for a gig, I immediately made plans to hit up a joint with their gitman Mark.

I had been to the  B-Street bar (actually on 111 street) for karaoke once and, aside from finally learning how good Wynonna could be, did not have much to say about the place. I expected grimy dive-bar, but found a place that was very clean and modern (read: not what i’m into). I did not know that they were a pizza joint until making plans with Mark, who informed me that they not only serve pizza, they woodfry it in a stone oven. Very exciting.

In fact, the pizza was very dissapointing. The sauce was bland, the pepperoni was  cold-cut style and the dough was dull. I shouldn’t be so hard on it, but for a place that advertises woodfried pizza, I expected a little more. The joint may not look like a grimy dive-bar, but it sure tasted like one.

Anyways, Mark was wonderful company, but the pizza sucked. Check out the Falklands at a pizza joint near you.

The following photos, taken from the bar’s website, leave me with some some thoughts: Does Brad Scott only play 11 cover tunes? That is just not enough to start a cover tune night (ask Mark), and since when does hosting a Cowboy-themed Karaoke night call for a “we shall overcome-everyone on stage” type of celebration?


Dear Mama

Mama’s Pizza

10531 107 Avenue Nw, Edmonton

I often romanticize the idea of a young couple falling in love and building a future together. Hand in hand, together against the world, they push forward taking on life’s challenges. This exciting life journey usually begins with the renting of the first apartment where the seed of the young couple’s special bond is planted. One of the most poignant aspects to this fantasy is the first dinner in the new apartment, which I always imagined to be a candle-lit, take-out meal on hardwood floor surrounded by boxes from the recent move. Just a beautiful thing. Recently this fantasy became a reality for me, as I moved into a new apartment with a loved one. And as is usually true, reality is never as sweet as a dream.

Phil and I moved into a cozy one-bedroom apartment on 109 ave, near 109 street. The building had been uninhabited for many years, so we had to get power re-connected. Due to confusion from both EPCOR and my landlord (not me), we were without power for 3 days. No biggie; we stepped with the 2by4 (is this even a saying, I’ve been using it for years……think it’s supposed to be like ‘roll with the punches’). The walls in the building are paper thin, and we could hear our neighbours crystal clear, forcing Phil to share a bed with me at nights. It is also freezing.

Despite all this, Phil and I decided to celebrate or new life together by picking up a pizza. We called up our new neighbour/old friend Jon, and moseyed on over to Mama’s Pizza on 107th Ave. I had eaten at Mama’s before, but was too distracted by the awe-inspiring mural art to take note of the pizza.

True to my fantasy, we sat on the floor of the apartment surrounded by boxes and ate our pizza. We snaked a single light that was plugged in to a hallway outlet and listened to Jim Reeves on Jon’s portable turntable.

Mama’s pizza is good. The joint doubles as a Vietnamese Noodle house, but we ordered a large Bacon and tomato pizza regardless. Crust was near perfect (a bit greasy, but good greasy), and bacon was near-disgusting. Somehow these things balanced each other out, making for a decent pie. Despite its decent taste, Mama’s will likely be remembered more for its wild mural art than it’s pizza: a sloppy, seemingly unfinished Edmonton Oilers mural, a similarly sloppy Eskies mural, and an extremely elaborate and far-from-sloppy painting of London’s Tower Bridge. Just wild.


The more that I think of it, that night wasn’t the fantasy-crusher that I made it out to be. It was a blast making jokes with Jon and Phil, and the pizza was good. There was just something that seemed missing from my romanticization……Probably the romance.

Update: phil has since left me for both a cheaper apartment and a cheaper room-mate. but hey, I ain’t mad at cha

Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 9:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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Chuck D Cheese

A friend of mine (Sarah P) stepped up to the plate and offered to do a guest review for SliceofLife. I am forever grateful. Check it out

chuck e. cheese’s

14245 137th Avenue NW, Edmonton

Recently, a few mates and I found ourselves on the north side- not that north side- the north west of edmonton. we had about an hour to kill before seeing mariah carey grace the silver screen in Precious (authors side note: two thumbs up). and looking for a distraction and something to eat we had to look no further than the opposite end of the parking lot to the chuck e. cheese (14245 137th Avenue NW).

You may be familiar with this establishment from younger days where the chuck served as a dim and grubby backdrop for many a birthday party. the matted fur of the mascot and his animatronic movements had you reaching for the swamp water with one hand while reaching into the cesspool of plastic balls with another (to promptly throw at another child’s head). well, times have changed and while some of the old standards are still around (namely the animatronic mouse and self-serve soft drink machine), the atmosphere is now less a lounge and more like a casino for children. with pizza.

For a mere $30 you and your friends can enjoy the Munch ‘n Play Saver Combo (TM) which consists of a large pizza with 2 soft drinks and 25 tokens with which to bide your time waiting for that pie. we opted to split the pizza toppings and went for half super combo (peperoni, sausage, beef, black olives, green peppers, mushrooms, and red onion) and half cheese. The tokens were also divvied up and were played on a ms. pac man arcade and the classic carnival game, skee-ball. there may also have been a few “rides” on the horse and jockey game, for another post.

Our pizza arrived in a timely manner (author’s note: it was a weeknight and aside from one other “family”, we were the only patrons) and actually looked half decent. the crust: one notch above thin, crispgreasy at the edge and pretty delicious. the sauce: nothing remarkable about the flavor but an appropriate amount per surface area. and the toppings; i was slightly disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the sausages on the super combo side were those little round sausage bits (where do you even buy those?) that looked like chuck e’s pellets and were about as appetizing. the tasteless canned black olives, mediocre pep and fecal sausage amounted to one clear fact: the super combo was not a winner. on the other hand, the cheese pizza slices were – dare I say-  some of the best I’ve ever had. which is not surprising when you consider the chuck’s target customers, the 3-8 year olds. for this age group, cheese pizza is king. they know their audience and know how to deliver a cheese pizza that is broiled to pure perfection.

I don’t know if frequenting this establishment is the road I want to go down to obtain more of this cheese pizza in the future. it’s just too risky. i mean, they have a hand sanitizing stations and padded posts at every turn. it’s just too much to gamble showing up there with a serious hankering for cheese pizza and be confronted with innumerable germy kids hopped up on soda, let loose in a carnival of eternal birthday party. so i guess my question is, do they deliver?

Of interest, when googling “chuck”, chuck e. cheese appears as the first search result. right before chuck noris. zing!

Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Frank Saccomanno Story

Saccomanno’s Pizza, Pasta, and Deli

10208 127 Avenue, Edmonton

Without fail, I always miss the east-bound exit for the Yellowhead when driving north on 97th Street. No matter how many times I try and no matter how hard I try,  I never learn from my previous mistakes and blast straight under the overpass. After a recent exit-miss and subsequent double-backing, I noticed a pizza/pasta place that looked very promising. As my recent financial situation bubbled to the forefront though, the idea of visiting Saccomanno’s was relegated to the rear.

Recently, my friend Jared agreed to take me out for pizza, and I suggested that we take in a slice at Saccomanno’s. He had once been on a date to the restaurant/deli, and was very interested in a second visit. I was more than willing to make this date number 2.

Saccomanno’s Pizza, Pasta and Deli is exactly what its name says it is: an Italian delicatessen, a pizza restaurant and a pasta restaurant. The Pizza side of things is very simple. One size available (14 inches) and about half a dozen pizza choices. All thin crust. We settled on the capricciosa pizza, which had prosciutto cotto, olives, cheese (lots of cheese) and very little sauce.

Both Jared and I agree that the pizza was very good and highly recommendable. The thick cheese and thin sauce were definitely worth noting though. Just saying.

A serious highlight of  Saccomanno’s is its deli slash grocery. Jared and I grabbed our bottles and Peroni and took a stroll through the aisles (still very much a date at this point), picking up a few necessities such as deli meat, baby clams and couscous (please note the sarcasm. These things are neither necessities nor in my budget). It was great to finally be able to drink in a grocery store without worrying about store security though.

Jared was a complete gentleman. Not once did I feel that he was coming on too strong and he was more than willing to go dutch on the bill. Conversation was mostly about shinny and men’s hockey leagues. Mr. Saccomanno (we can only assume, really) was also a gentleman, thanking us personally for our patronage on our way out.

Despite the thin sauce, the only possible downside to the joint is its less-than-spectacular location. As long as the east-bound Yellowhead exit is as complicating as it is though, I think Mr Saccomanno’s will be just fine.

(quick note: I may have down-played the quality of the ‘za a little bit. It was really good. Better than most places, in fact. Was it the best of the best? Sliceoflife does not operate like Top Gun. I will say this though: there are 2 C’s in Saccomanno, boys……… Top Gun jokes.)

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:49 am  Comments (2)  
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Bad Boys II

Straight-outta-compton

Ragazzi Pizzeria e Bistro Italiano

8110-Whyte Avenue, Edmonton

In 1988, Eric Wright and ‘his band of many men’ had just as much of an impact on the world of typeface as they did the world of rap music. While N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” is often pointed to as the blueprint for gangster rap, the album’s cover art – and its seemingly innocent use of the Mistral™ typeface – has had an equally lasting effect on the way that many (maybe just me) view the world of brand design. Since hearing and seeing that record, I have never been able lay eyes on that typeface without immediately bracing myself to “witness the strength of street knowledge”. Plain and simple, the font has become synonymous (at least in my own private mind garden) with bad-ass gangsterism. I’m pretty sure this fact is not lost on the pizza boys from Ragazzi Bistro who a) use the Mistral™ font on their awning and b) are bad-ass.

Actually originally named Pizza Boys, Ragazzi Bistro was founded by the sons/nephews of the Tony’s Pizza Palace empire. With pizza sauce in their blood, it was only natural for the boys to start up a joint with their own youthful and edgy twist.  After a few years (ed. note: Slice of Life does not actually know how long) under the Pizza Boys moniker, they changed their name to Ragazzi – Italian for boys – in an attempt to class-up their image. Just like NWA’s move from Compton to Riverside (Ice Cube said it in “No Vaseline”, so it must be true), you can take the bad-ass out of its natural habitat, but you can’t take the natural…habitat…out of the…oh nevermind. What I am trying to say is that despite the name-change and fancy decor, Ragazzi Bistro is still a fun loving, exciting, and bad-ass pizza boy’s club.
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Between myself and 3 buds we split a large “NY Spice” and a large “Calabrese” with a plate of Gnocchi (again) for another bud. The thin crust, Italian-style pizzas are very good and are highly recommended. The service was great, the music was weird and the dessert was delicious. It is a bit on the pricey side, but you get what you pay for: quality ‘za.

It wasn’t until I approached the counter to pay, that I realized the full charm of this place. The staff (the aforementioned brothers/cousins) are amazingly kind and very funny, talkin’ both shop and shit about the Yanks and Phillies.

This place has really good pizza, and is a great restaurant to eat at.

Also, this just in:


Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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I’ll ask ‘er

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Caribou Cafe

1867 Glenn Hwy
Glennallen, AK 99588

If you have been following SliceofLife, then you’ll know that I drove the Alaska Highway recently. Also, if you have been following SliceofLife, then you’ll know that I have not done a proper pizza review in a while. Simply put, that trip had enough of an impact on my pocketbook that I have recently been forced to cut certain pleasures from my life. First thing to go: paying money for pizza. As some sort of comprimise to my loyal readers I will do something that I never thought I would do and review a non-Edmonton pizza joint.

Glennallen is a small town in Alaska, roughly half-way between Tok and Anchorage. More importantly though, Glennallen is home to the one-and-only Caribou Cafe, a modest roadside diner and serious pizza maker. My 2 travelling partners and I decided to stop-in at the Caribou Cafe for the same reasons that anyone else would: it is the first restaurant on the side of the highway. We were pleasantly surprised.

After waiting the abnormally large wait-time time to be seated, we posted up at the counter and sipped on coffee while waiting for a Ham and Pineapple pizza. Our choice of seating allowed us a great view of the inner workings of the restaurant and staff dynamics. The staff, which included 2 Eastern European waitresses and a 13 year old child, were very sweet. My favourite moment came when one waitress was cutting a piece of birthday cake for a customer and the yung’un brought 2 birthday candles for the cake. Pleased with his foresight, the waitress (his mom?) was quick to exclaim “you are wonderful” to the kid. Even if this pizza was bad, I knew this place was great.

After a quick trip to the washroom, I got lost and stumbled into an empty room filled with tables, chairs and one large signboard that read Panther’s Pizza leaning against a wall. When our order came up, we finished our coffee, took our pizza, and returned to my Toyota Corolla in order to make good time.

Caribou’s Pizza is great! The crust was perfectly cooked and of perfect thickness. The cheese was not too thick and left a lot of room for the tasty sauce.

I was so impressed with their pizza that I was left with some questions. How could this modest establishment, tucked away in a small town on the Alaska Highway, be responsible for some of the best pizza I have tasted? Do other travellers know about this joint? Is this a local favourite? Why do they not advertise their pizza specifically?

The entirely unfounded conclusion that I came to was that Caribou Cafe used to be a pizza restaurant called Panther Pizza that was forced to change formats and adopt a more northernly name in order to appeal to the middle-of-the-road tourists that pass through Glennallen on their way to Alaska’a largest city. As a general roadside diner and by pumping the wilderness angle in their name, the cafe’s business likely doubled and they never looked back.

A quick visit to their website put things into place however. Looks like Panther Pizza is the (still active) pizza and ice cream side of the cafe. The empty room with tables and chairs that I found was likely simply that side of the restaurant. No big mystery. It doesn’t matter, the place is dope and so is there Pizza.

Needless to say, the remainder of that day was spent, in the car, coming up with animal-restaurant alliterations. Winner: Salmon Saute-House. Loser: all three of us.


Published in: on October 7, 2009 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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So Icey Pizza

IC Pizza

11804 50 Street Nw

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IC Pizza is a a small Highland’s pizza joint on the corner of 118 ave and 50th street. I always used to see it on my way to the Yellowhead Flea Market (R.I.P.) and thought it had a weird name. It turns out that IC stands for International Computers and that the restaurant doubles as an Internet Cafe.

The staff is very nice, the pizza is very cheap, and it only took ten minutes for a small bacon and mushroom to be delivered to our parking lot waiting space.

Pizza: mediocre and hardly recommendable. My brother was loving the crust though. If I was living in the HIG area and was without a proper connect at the crib, I would hit them up for their bandwidth for sure.

Speaking of IC things, isn’t it wild how much mainstream attention Gucci Mane and his So ICey Boys received in 2009?  Some would say that it’s mostly the chain:

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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“I’ve got p’s on my wall, and I ain’t talking ’bout pizzas”

cool_breeze_greatest_hits_front

Chicago Joe’s Pizza and Pub

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Atlanta rapper Cool Breeze (aka a bunch of other names that start with the letter C) knows a thing or two about standing in the shadows. During OutKast‘s rise to power in the late nineties, Cool Breeze – alongside other members of their Dungeon Family crew – had a tough time gaining the recognition and acclaim that was being poured all over Andre and Big Boi. Despite the massive success of his Dungeon Fam posse cut Watch for the Hook, Cool Breeze never saw Ms. Jackson or Rosa Parks-sized royalty cheques. Always more concerned with being genuine and hard than having crossover radio hits, it is safe to assume that Mr. Calhoun never gave a damn about his position in the shadows.

Almost literally in the shadows of Tony’s Pizza Palace (depending on the time of day), Chicago Joe’s Pizza and Pub on 111 Ave is the Cool Breeze of Edmonton Pizza joints. It is a modest neighbourhood pizza joint that serves pizza and beer to its community, but never sees the type of accolades and awards that its neighbour Tony sees. Constantly on the lists and lips of Edmonton’s pizza aficionados, Tony’s Pizza Palace – with its old-country style pizza and near-perfect decor –  is often cited as the best pizza place in town. Across the street, Chicago Joe’s serves very different pizza and offers a very different atmosphere.

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Obviously enough, Chicago Joe’s serves Chicago-style pizza, complete with deep(ish) crust. The joint is your classic neighborhood pub: VLTs, stuffed animals crane game, Black Label (and only Black Label) on tap, and a TV in the corner. The bartender is super nice and quick with the jokes.

Like Cool Breeze, Chicago Joe’s is pretense-free, offers few frills and works hard at turning out their product. Don’t get me wrong, OutKast and Tony’s are both great (well, ‘were’ in the case of the former), but it is the personality and character of institutions like Cool Breeze and Chicago Joe’s that really make for an interesting experience.

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….well, this metaphor crumbles pretty quickly when I tell you that unlike Cool Breeze, Chicago Joe’s product is not very good. I had eaten their pizza before and was under the impression that they cooked a tasty slice, but the pizza from this last visit was undercooked and bland. What I should have done was compare Chicago Joe’s pizza to Chicago Hip House music: I love the idea of it, but it is usually pretty bad.

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm  Comments (3)  
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