The $10 Challenge: Papalinos NY Pizzeria

A big ol' slice of Papalinos.

(Blogger’s note: No one guessed this location. Let’s try again this week.)

I received a firm affirmation that Rob is The One when we stopped in Papalinos NY Pizzeria for a quick dinner.

I wolfed down a slice of pizza with the speed and vigor of a teenage boy while my better half shook his head and stared in amazement instead of fleeing down Baxter Avenue.

I had eaten at Papalinos once before with a group of girlfriends before Catholic trivia night (we party hard, y’all). This was a situation in which the company overshadowed the food, and I was more focused on giggling with the girls than taking note of the nuances of pizza. So I decided to return to Papalinos with my normal partner-in-food, who is willing to forgo dinner conversation so I could stuff my face and take notes about it.

A rotating and sometimes surprising list of toppings and straight-from-the-oven freshness have made Papalinos, a relative newcomer to the Louisville pizza scene, a place that is worth going to more than once.

At a glance, Papalinos doesn’t seem so different from other places serving up New York-style pizza, a genre characterized by gigantic slices served on a paper plate. But Papalinos adds its own touch to this familar category of pizza. The restaurant makes many of its toppings in house, such as Italian sausage, meatballs, cured bacon and roasted red peppers. The crust is crisper than its more malleable counterparts (such as Spinelli’s), which makes folding the slice in half more difficult but holds up well under the weight of hearty toppings.

Papalinos puts most of its energy into its pizza, therefore only offers a few additions to the menu — breadsticks ($5), salads ($6), calzones ($10), canoli ($3) or Italian ice ($2). But with such good pizza, there’s really no need to dress up the menu. Stick with what you know, I say.

A slice of pizza begins at a budget-friendly $3. Veggies are an addition 50 cents each, and meat toppings are 75 cents apiece. Papalinos also offers toppings of the day, which can range from sauteed peppers and onions to roasted squash to blackened shrimp. The possibilities of topping combinations can make it difficult to place an order. On both visits to Papalinos, I was the person who let other people cut line while I studied the menu.

For the Challenge, I selected a slice of pizza with roasted red peppers, spinach and green peppers. Because each slice is made to order, I had to wait about 10 minutes for my pizza. It was well worth the wait. The red peppers, which are roasted in-house, were juicy and tangy and were my favorite topping of the three I selected. The spinach and green peppers were tasty, as well. The whole thing was piping hot, which forced me to eat the slice with my mouth half open to let  in some cool air. It wasn’t a pretty scene. Sure, I could have waited for the pizza to cool off, but my belly wasn’t having the wait.

One slice of Papalinos pizza is a very sufficient meal that will leave you with some spare dollars for a beer or fountain drink. And the pizza is good enough to justify gobbling it down in a hurry – even if it is embarassing to loved ones.

Notes about Papalinos:

  • Follow Papalinos on Twitter to find out what the restaurant is offering as the toppings of the day (or TOTD as the pizzeria refers to them).
  • The dining area of this narrow restaurant can get crowded quickly. On a nice day, eat outside so you have a bit more elbow room. Or have a seat at a counter, a great place to people watch on Baxter. But stay close enough so you can hear your order called.
  • The restaurant is open until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and it delivers to you folks in the Highlands (lucky).
  • Papalinos recently introduced a frequent buyer’s card. Present this at the counter, and you get a hole punch for each slice you buy. After five slices, your sixth one is free.

The Facts:

Papalinos NY Pizzeria, 947-949 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, Ky.

One slice of pizza: $3

Red peppers, spinach and green peppers: $1.50 (50 cents each)

Total (with tax): $4.77

Mission: Accomplished (EASILY)

The $10 Challenge: Spinelli’s Pizzeria

(Blogger’s note: This is a restaurant that multiple people have recommended. Think you know of a better place? Let me know.)

There’s a few foods and restaurants that can drive a woman to gluttony.

Baked Cheetos maintains a high post on the list of items that will drive me to eat in excess, as does Mama Eats’ spaghetti and oatmeal-raisin cookies.

Last week, Spinelli’s Pizzeria triggered a voracity in my appetite not seen since I discovered Five Guys in 2007.

Exhibit A:

Leave this to the professionals, kids.

And it even has the same effect on others. Exhibit B:

 

The future Mr. Ashlee Eats. See why I keep him around?

Now let’s talk about what drove me to such un-ladylike behavior.

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The $10 Challenge: Shah’s Mongolian Grill

(Blogger’s note: I am actively taking recommendations for future $10 Challenge sites. My fiancé, Rob, has been urging me for months to try out the restaurant I featured this week.)

A table of young men began to sing along with the Ke$ha song that blasted through the speakers the other night as I ate a dish full of chicken and veggies at Shah’s Mongolian Grill.

Clearly, this University of Louisville-adjacent restaurant was not the best place for a young woman who has wiped her hands of the college crowd.

It’s hard to discuss Shah’s Mongolian Grill without a thorough description of the restaurant’s atmosphere, which  overtakes the great food offered there. First, a little bit about a Mongolian grill. These restaurants give patrons the opportunity to select meats, veggies and sauces of their choice that an employee collects in a bowl and dumps on a huge, flat grill. Here’s a peek at the selection:

Though the grill is right behind the register in plain sight, it was the sweet smell of flavored tobacco that grabbed my attention when I arrived at Shah’s.

Continue reading “The $10 Challenge: Shah’s Mongolian Grill”

Bits and pieces: Starbucks, honey buns and other food news from the web, 1.10.11

 

This is worth gold – at least in jail. Photo courtesy of Collin Anderson via Flickr.
  • You can always count on the St. Petersburg Times for a great story, but I never expected to find such a gripping narrative about honey buns. In the prison system, honey buns are a substitute for addictions, an effective bartering tool and, in some cases, a motive for murder.

 

  • Paul Mason, who was once the world’s heaviest man, has filed a lawsuit against Britain’s health system for sending him to dietitians who did not diagnose his eating disorder, according to an article from the New York Daily News.

 

  • I love sushi, but I’m not shelling out 250,000 pounds for a tuna fish like this wholesaler did at a recent Toyko auction.

 

  • Residents of the Highlands in Louisville will be welcoming a new neighbor soon. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will erect a 5-foot 6-inch tall crippled chicken statue at 1578 Bardstown Road, according to an article in LEO Weekly. Here’s what PETA Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement:

Our chicken statue will remind Louisville residents that KFC’s suppliers break chickens’ bones and often scald birds to death as a result of KFC’s refusal to implement the animal welfare standards recommended by members of its own advisory council

 

  • Words – who needs them? Starbucks is streamlining its logo by eliminating the company’s name and the word “coffee,” according to Reuters. Check out the logo here. What do you think?

My favorite posts of 2010: Will I ever burn off all these calories?

 

 

      

    

I felt the regret 10 minutes later.

I should start reading past blog entries whenever I’m feeling unproductive.

 It turns out that I did a lot more than I thought in 2010 – and had a lot of fun doing so.

I had some interesting adventures full of good food and good people. Here are some of my favorites: 

  1. Ashlee versus the Donut Burger: Think I exaggerated about the peril of eating a cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts? Scarf one down and tell me how you feel 30 minutes later. I could have really used some Tums that day when I ate this monster burger at the Kentucky State Fair.
  2. Chicken Fest and KFC, y’all: A couple of friends and I visited Laurel County, Kentucky, birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken and home of the annual World Chicken Festival. The highlight of the trip was meeting a handful of Colonel Sanders lookalikes. I’ve never seen so many white suits and moustaches in one place. The chicken wasn’t what I expected, but you can’t beat eating a KFC two-piece meal in the place where it all started.
  3. Adventures at Aldi: I love Aldi. Every visit is filled with glee when I look at how many reuseable bags I fill for half the price of other stores. Let’s face it, I might name my first child after this grocery chain. It’s not local, but the prices are right for someone on a tight budget. My four tips for shopping at Aldi remains one of the most-read posts on Ashlee Eats.
  4. Some dude named Emeril: Celebrity chef, author and television host Emeril Lagasse stopped by Louisville for the first-ever Fork, Cork and Style event at Churchill Downs. He had some really nice things to say about the city, and it made my heart squeal with pride.

The $10 Challenge: China Inn

Ever heard the phrase, “Sex is like pizza – even when it is bad, it is still pretty good”?

I’d like to replace “pizza” with “Chinese food.”

Crowded buffets and hipster delivery guys have provided me with a steady stream of greasy, fatty, Americanized Chinese food for years. But each dish, no matter how mediocre, has satisfied my craving for something foreign enough to be exciting, yet familiar enough to be comforting.

China Inn manages to quell the need for Chinese food and go above the minimum expectations for this style of food. I’ve spent the past several hours trying to think of something witty to say about China Inn, but really, it comes down to this: China Inn is pretty darn good.

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The $10 Challenge: Mark’s Feed Store

I lived in Louisville for 17 years, but there was a lot of stuff I missed.

I didn’t discover all the shops along Bardstown Road until freshman year of college. I didn’t go to the Kentucky Derby until I was assigned to cover the event for the Lexington Herald-Leader two years ago. And I drove on Frankfort Avenue for the first time in February.

But the latest $10 Challenge made me hang my head in shame.

How could I spend the most formidable years of my life in Louisville, yet miss out on the greatness that is Mark’s Feed Store?

Sure, I had heard of Mark’s Feed Store. But for the longest time, I thought the business was a livestock supply company. So color me surprised when a friend told me about the great and inexpensive barbecue on which she feasted at Mark’s Feed Store. Those context clues were enough to inform me that:

  1. Mark’s Feed Store feeds people, not animals.
  2. The restaurant was ripe for a $10 Challenge.

Continue reading “The $10 Challenge: Mark’s Feed Store”

Bits and pieces: Fiji water, bear meat and other food news from the web, 11.29.10

Looks like that water in the square bottle won't come from Fiji anymore. Photo courtesy of Christian Haugen via Flickr.
  • It looks like things are getting ugly in the world of expensive bottled water. Fiji Water has stopped operations in the South Pacific islands nation where the company extracts water from an underground aquifer, according to an article in the Washington Post. The government in Fiji has accused the California-based company of avoiding higher tax payments. Fiji Water says its being unfairly singled out. But the company is mum on whether or not it will permanently shut down operations.

 

  • This article completely blew my mind. The St. Petersburg Times recommended baking holiday appetizers and desserts in muffin pans, which creates hors d’oeuvres-size portions. I wish I would’ve discovered this cooking method sooner. You get single-serving dishes in a fraction of the time it takes to cook full-sized meals. I tried the mini apple pies for my family’s thanksgiving dessert, and they were a hit. From the article:

Besides adding whimsy to the plate, foods prepared in muffin tins cook faster than they do in larger pans. Quick-cooking diva Rachael Ray is a vocal cheerleader for meatloaf made in muffin tins.

 

  • Korean artist Sung Yeon Ju has created a line of clothes made entirely out of food. Her creations are amazing – stop by the blog Project Rungay to check out her edible wardrobe.

 

  • Had any bear meat lately? A food writer and blogger tried it, and he said it was good, he writes in an article for The Atlantic. Historically, bear has not been an unusual meat to consume. But writer Hank Shaw explains modern man’s hesitancy to eat this big beast:

So why have I (and, I daresay, many of you) always felt ambivalent about eating bears? Was it watching Grizzly Adams as a kid? Winnie the Pooh? Maybe it was because I clutched a teddy bear every night when I was tucked into bed as a toddler. Hard to say. … But something else is at work here, a cloudy notion that bears are somehow different from deer or ducks or upland birds. Bears manage to be cute and cruel all at once—most of us balance, uneasily, the mental image of the fuzzy, huggy bear of childhood with the knowledge that at least some bears will happily tear you apart and eat you alive if given the chance.

    Bits and pieces: Thanksgiving news from the web, 11.24.10

      Gobble gobble, y'all. Photo courtesy of Alan Vernon via Flickr.
    • Each year, one lucky turkey escapes the dinner table, receives a Presidential pardon and lives a pretty cushy life in the process. The Food Network put together a fun slideshow about the process, and the Washington Post profiled the chosen bird, Courage, and his alternate, Carolina, last year.
    • This Thanksgiving, more folks in Louisville (and the rest of the country, from what I’ve read) need help, but donations have fallen flat, according to an article in the Courier-Journal. From the story:

    “What I’ve been really amazed by is the number of people who come in and feel somewhat ashamed because they say, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before,’” said George Sanders, executive director of West Louisville Community Ministries. “They’re almost apologetic.”

    • I’ve never had the urge to try the abomination that is turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with … stuffing), but in case you’re interested, here’s a recipe. Somebody should stuff some Tums in there as well.

     

    • Some calls to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line prove that there are such things as stupid questions, according to a piece from Reuters. The story lists some real questions that have been posed to the turkey experts throughout the years, including my favorite: “Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while bathing my kids?”

     

    • Need something to talk about at the Thanksgiving table? The good people of Smithsonian.com have compiled a list of science trivia about common Thanksgiving foods.

    The $10 Challenge: El Mundo

    When the people talk, I listen.

    And all the folks who have e-mailed, commented or tweeted about El Mundo had a clear message: this Mexican restaurant is the perfect destination for a $10 Challenge.

    So I used my birthday and my roommates’ big hearts (and wallets) as excuses to visit the Frankfort Avenue restaurant.

    El Mundo isn’t like most Americanized Mexican places that I’m used to visiting. Gone are the bad murals of haciendas and medleys of Spanish singing over the speakers. Same goes for the identical menus and indistinguishable dishes covered in melted cheese. This restaurant takes traditional Mexican dishes and shakes them down Kentucky-style by infusing food with local ingredients and giving the finger to what people expect from a Mexican restaurant.

    Continue reading “The $10 Challenge: El Mundo”