Charlie's Hamburgers, Folsom, PA


Burger Archive

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No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Assorted Sandwiches from Paesano's Philly Style, Philadelphia, PA

Where: Paesano's - 152 W. Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA - 267-886-9556  Open everyday 11am - 7pm

What: PAESANO - $8.50
Build: Beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, peperoncino, sharp provolone & fried egg

What: ARISTA - $8.50
Build: Whole roasted suckling pig, broccoli rabe, Italian long hots & sharp provolone

What: GUSTAIO - $9.50
Build: Roasted lamb sausage, sun dried cherry mostarda, Gorgonzola & roasted fennel

What: BOLOGNESE $8.50
Build: Crispy fried lasagna bolognese, smoked mozzarella & fried egg

As for all the truly great sandwich makers out there – Tony Luke's, Shank's, Primanti Bros., etc. – I'm hear to tell you (if you don't already know) that although these sandwich shops have all held the #1 title for signature sandwiches from time to time, Paesano’s is without question, in a class by itself.

With that being said, it's not going to be easy to do these sandwiches justice with mere words. In fact, I should really just step away from the keyboard and tell you to go there to see it for yourself…especially since my photo documentation is almost nil because I was so blown away by this food, I forgot to pick up the camera until they were almost gone so I'm going to apologize in advance for the half eaten photos.

But to keep with the spirit of my blog, I feel I owe you just a little insight as to what you'll experience at Paesano's, so here goes...

 Let's face it, finding the best place to eat is very easy…all you need to do is look for the place with the full parking lot or the line out the door. Simply put, empty parking lot = food sucks, and Paesano's proved this theory correct. The length of the order line said it all, and I was poised and ready, especially after a great recommendation from our Philly-raised host this weekend. 

This is the type of tiny joint that has the storefront window fogged up all winter long. The moment you set foot in the place you're hit in the face with big aromas that punch you like a prizefighter. The interior walls are plastered with giant black chalkboards crammed with simplistic hand written menus. It's the type of place where reading the menu items while waiting on line builds so much anticipation and appetite, you find yourself trying to talk yourself into going slow and not eating too fast. I began to repeat to myself, "try not to swallow the sandwich in one bite.” 

After reading all the menu items and their ingredients, I thought it was odd that so many sandwiches were made with a fried egg on them (I don't think it odd anymore).

Please keep this mind:
It's not just the combination of ingredients that stand out here, it's the QUANTITY of each ingredient within each sandwich that makes them great.

 I really can't go any further because I’m afraid I just won't do this place justice, so in a nutshell, here are my comments on each sandwich:

 The PAESANO: The brisket was extremely tender and juicy with flavor and spices that were as undecipherable as they were delicious. The richness of the egg, the peperoncino along with the horseradish and provolone cheese was nothing shy of perfection. For me, this was one of the best things I ever put in my mouth. 

The ARISTA: Again, for those of you who are experimenting with pork, broccoli rabe and sharp provolone, please step aside. Yours is not as good as Paesano's. Fact of the matter, it's not even close. Tender meat? This pork was cotton soft, the broccoli rabe was done with oil and garlic to perfection and the cheese spoke for itself. With all these incredibly rich flavors there was only one thing that could cut through all the richness while adding a contrasting flavor.. The Italian long hots - they shot this sandwich off the charts and into orbit. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Fantastic sandwich!

 The GUSTAIO: We originally ordered three sandwiches, but I couldn’t get the ingredients of the Gustaio off my mind so I ordered it (just read those ingredients, how could you not order that?). I thought the flavor combinations were perfect – if not for the overly salty sausage, this would have been in contention for my #1 fav (meat = waaaay too salty).

The BOLOGNESE: If you are a true macaroni lover you've probably wondered (at least once) how great it would be if you could package a pasta dinner into a handheld meal. Look no further. This is it, and this is fantastic. I was never a great fan of bolognese sauce, but it's very possible it's because I just never had it as good as this.  The gravy is to die for and even though the "crispy" fried lasagna is not so crispy at all, it doesn't matter. 

An honorable mention goes to Philly's bread. I'd put it up against some NYC breads (I said some because NYC breads are still the best in the world). 

 Note: If you could find a sandwich as good as any one of these in NYC it would be at least 4 to 5 dollars more per sandwich...just sayin'.

 This is the Paesano...

More Paesano...

Here is a 9 photo sidebar of the 9th street Italian market in Philly...

 Street Fare...

Exotic meats butcher.... 

More street fare...

Claudio's Italian specialties...

Eastern State Penitentiary - you need to do a road trip here around Halloween

Back to the sandwiches...

3 guys workin' all the magic...

The Bolognese...

The Arista...

The Arista before we violated it...

 The Gustaio...

 Back end of the Gustaio...

Monday, September 15, 2014

3 Disney Foodfare Burger Reviews!

Disney Burger #1

Gasparilla Island Grill at The Grand Floridian Resort, Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Angus Bacon Cheeseburger

Lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, American cheese, artisan bun

I had high hopes for the Gasparilla Island Grill's burger…after all, I was staying at The Grand Floridian (which is just about as nice as it gets at Disney), and with fond memories of the great burgers at the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at Disney's Beach Club Resort, I couldn't wait to sample another Disney burger. Even with Disney bowing down to the political correctness of serving more healthful choices on their menus (sickens me), I was amped up; the glamour photos on the menu had me hook, line, and sinker.

But, in a nutshell, the burger was an EPIC CRAP FAIL. Great bun, great toppings, (at least Disney still puts the toppings where they belong – on the TOP of the burger) but the burger patty was a mystery meat that I haven't had the displeasure of eating since the late 60's, when hard nodules and indescribable textures were common place. What a disappointment. 5/10 on the BC rating scale (and I'm being generous). STRIKE 1

Disney Burger #2

Pecos Bill Tell Tale Inn and Cafe, Frontierland, Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Deluxe 1/3-pound Angus Cheeseburger

1/3 pound angus burger, bacon, onion rings, barbecue sauce, American cheese, sautéed onions and mushrooms, artisan roll, cheese sauce

Holy Cow! Just look at this beauty.... NOT! The bun and toppings were awesome, but the burger was the same mystery meat patty I just had at the Gasparilla Grill. Awful, just awful. This burger wasn't even close to fast food standards. Really? Is Disney that hard up for money that they can't spring for a decent quality meat for their $95 a day admission to the park guests? Appalling, just appalling. Seriously, this burger couldn't hold a candle to the frozen Drive-Thru Burger* I recently reviewed.
(and don't be fooled, the burger was no where near as good as my photos make it look).

5/10 on the BC rating scale (and I'm being kind for a second time).


Disney Burger #3

The Grand Floridian Cafe, The Grand Floridian Resort, Disney World, Orlando, Florida

The Grand Floridian Burger (of course)

Angus chuck cheeseburger, butter poached lobster and red onion marmalade with arugula on a brioche bun

Comments:Wow, finally, I was promised “the best burger in all of Disney” by Louise from Italy (or so her name tag says). Now wouldn't you believe that the Grand Floridian Burger is fantastic if it came from cast member and head server, Louise from ITALY? Yeah, same here.

To make a very long story short, the fact of the matter is that this burger was a pre-formed collection of mystery meat with an oddly shaped perimeter (much like that of a frozen Bubba Burger). It's probably a Disney-contracted low quality, money-saving item for Cisco or US foods to produce for them. It was no more than a larger version of the mystery meat burgers I have previously reviewed so I ended up purchasing my third EPIC CRAP FAIL burger in as many days, only this time with an added pish-posh seafood topping. Naturally the arugula was okay, but the onions were nauseatingly sweet.
Louise told me that the chef allowed all the staff to sample these burgers before offering them as a regular menu item and everyone was thrilled at the "high" quality and flavor of them.

Well, I'm here to tell you Louise, you need to stop eating dog food and try a human restaurant for a change, it'll do you good to see what humans eat.

BTW, while ordering, I was asked in a very professional manor, "how would you like your cheeseburger cooked?" I replied, “Medium-rare, will that be pink inside?” Answer: "Yes, very pink" (yeah, right, wait till ya check out my photos*).

Oh, and did I mention this burger cost $18.49? REALLY DISNEY? Your chef at the Grand Floridian is proud to serve this? And at that price? (He must be a fan of dog food too).

*Please click on photo #8 to enlarge it and you'll be able to visually see the meat texture and quality - I think you'll agree, it's some kind of pre-formed pressurized mystery meat. Honestly Disney food people, if In-N-Out, Shake Shack, Smashburger, 5 Guys and the myriad of other fast-casual burger joints can do affordable, decent quality food, why can't you?
Walt would never have sacrificed so much quality in order to boost his margins a little.

This was STRIKE 3 for me - three up, three down – EPIC CRAP FAIL's all around.

(And I thought the turkey legs were bad)...

Above is photo #8 - click to enlarge...