The Man Who Ate the Town Goes to Mozzarella Fellas

Last week, Stephanie and I were invited to Mozzarella Fellas to taste their fare. 

The location is spacey with a comfortable atmosphere. There’s a to-go bar up front where you can watch all the magic happen and then the rest of the dining room has some cool embellishments like sparkly cubes in mason jars dangling from the ceiling. It was nice. The servers were all friendly.

We were told that we were getting a large sampling of their food to give us an idea of what MF was all about.

The first things that came out were the “Fellas Mozzarella” and “Cauliflower Bites.” The Fellas Mozzarella is basically their house-made deep-fried house mozzarella. It was pressed and compact and crunchy, but the cheese inside was gooey. Great seasoning and taste. It was served with their house-made marinara sauce.

Fellas Mozzarella

The Cauliflower Bites came to us (and are on the menu as such) in both buffalo and bbq flavors. I was kind of skeptical when a friend of mine told me about them but, wow. They way they do them, which I assume is grinding them up and pressing them and then frying them and tossing them in sauce, makes these babies taste just like boneless chicken wings or bites. It was amazing how much they really were chicken-like. But, Stephanie was happy that I was eating plants and I was happy that they didn’t taste like cauliflower. You may get a hint of cauliflower here and there and that’s fine. I don’t mind cauliflower, it’s just not my favorite. If I could do this at home, I’d eat much more of them.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Next came the “Fellas Margherita.” This is one of their specialty pizzas with a house-made crust, house-made mozzarella, house-made marinara, garlic, pickled red onions, sweet basil, heirloom tomatoes and a tangy balsamic glaze. The crust was done quite well. It wasn’t overly chewy or tough that you nearly lost teeth pulling apart and it wasn’t burnt. There’s something to be said for wood-fired pizza but I believe this was done in an electric oven. I’m not saying I like one or the other better, I think I like them equally. But, sometimes they can be overdone. The heirloom tomatoes were acidic and more of that house-made mozz. The pickled onions were slightly tart and paired well with this pizza. We have started eating a lot of Caprese salads and this was like that but on pizza crust (which is basically what a Margherita pizza is).

Fellas Margherita

We then got two pappardelle dishes. One was “Pappardelle Carbonara” and the other was my favorite dish of the evening, “Pappardelle Bolognese.” Both are made with house-made pappardelle noodles. The Carbonara is made with smoked prosciutto, egg, black pepper, green onions and parmesan cheese. I loved the creamy egg mixture and salty prosciutto matchup. Black pepper made it earthy while the green onions gave a little bite and all of that’s a great thing. But, the star was the Bolognese. It’s made with an “eight-hour house-made meat sauce,” house-made marinara, basil and Parmesan cheese. The eight-hour meat sauce, I believe is made from veal, beef and pork. It was meaty (I know, duh), acidic with the tomato-y marinara and the earthy basil.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Finally, we were served a “Pie – O – My” dessert pizza. It’s made with the house-made pizza dough, Nutella, strawberries, bananas and coated with a sweet powdered sugar. Yum!

After it settled down a bit, owner Brian Ricciardi was able to come out to speak with us. He’s a young guy and has a passion for what he’s doing. One thing that MF is making a name for themselves doing is having a lot of gluten-free options as well as vegetarian-friendly options and he says that’s a lot of his business. He’s proud of that and that he can offer it to his diners. I have plenty of friends who are either gluten-intolerant, sensitive to gluten or have a full out-and-out gluten allergy. You can get sandwiches on gluten-free bread and small individual pizzas with gluten-free dough.

MF’s sandwich selections include a Philly, grilled chicken, chicken parm, a “Brando” (salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, house mozz, pickled onions, tomato, pesto aioli), a meatball parm, prosciutto, a jackfruit filly (mushrooms, bell peppers, sautéed onions, mozz, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ranch), jackfruit bbq (arugula, pickled onions, fried shallots, ranch) and a vegan chicken parm, which must just mean the chicken because it has mozzarella and parm on it and I don’t think those fall under the moniker of vegan.

Pie-O-My

They have several salads, including the standards and a strawberry arugula salad. I like the sound of that. Sweet juicy strawberries and peppery, crunchy arugula? Yes!

They have make-your-own pizzas and a long list of specialty pizzas. Some of those include the “Camel City” (mozz, marinara, bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, pepperoni, sausage), “Popeye” (mozz, ricotta, spinach, garlic, olive oil), “S-P-O” (mozz, marinara, sausage, roasted peppers, onions, basil, parm) and a “Nashville Hot Chikin” (mozz, cheddar, pickles, tomatoes, marinara, ranch drizzle). There are plenty more on the menu and remember you can get that on gluten-free dough.

You know one of the things I’m going to look at is the beer and wine selection. He had New Sarum’s 142 Blonde Ale and I really dig that beer. Stephanie had a red wine and I didn’t write that one down. We both liked it, though.

Brian has a great thing going here and he’s a cool guy. We did talk a little about my “official sponsor” DiLisios and it turns out he worked with Maria Di Lisio’s brother at another pizza joint. He spoke highly of them. So, I didn’t feel too guilty that I went to another Italian restaurant. And, really, they do different things so it wasn’t the same anyway.

You can find Mozzarella Fellas at 336 Summit Square Blvd in Winston-Salem (that’s the Sam’s Club parking lot off of University Parkway) or on their website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And, if you or your friends are gluten-free and are missing your Italian food… this is the place for you. Tell them that I sent you!

Want To Be On a Podcast?

Hiya listeners, readers and soon-to-be-viewers of everything The Man Who Ate the Town. 

As you probably know, Kelly Bone hasn’t been on the podcast in a while. She has not left the podcast. She is still very much the cohost of the show. What she has been doing is working a lot more, she got injured a few weeks back and she’s working on a major life and work project in which she has asked for a little time off. So, with her permission, I’m going to look for a “stand-in” to help me with the podcast until she is able to return.

What am I looking for in a cohost? Well, you need to know about food. Preferably you have at least a slight knowledge of the food scene here in Winston-Salem, or maybe even another town. But, we obviously talk about food and want to make sure that the host(s) are at least as knowledgeable as I am, which could be perceived to be “not much.”

You have to be able to record during the day. Right now, I try to record on Mondays around 3 pm, however, I can do it on Tuesday early afternoon as well. Monday is my preference.

This is a non-paid gig. I make very little money doing what I do and Kelly is a “volunteer.” Any prospective cohosts would need to be as well. You may get some perks but that’s not guaranteed.

This is on an “as-needed” timeline. The moment Kelly is back in the game, the seat is hers. Now, prospective cohosts may be asked to join as a three-person crew, but that isn’t guaranteed.

Prospects must be willing to be on mic, potentially on camera and do some research for the show. It’s not incredibly time-consuming but I do need the cohost(s) to come prepared.

I don’t know how long this gig will go on. I am willing to break it up among several cohosts but my preference is that it be one person willing to sit in.

I don’t care if you are male or female. Just be a good match.

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or suggestions as to cohosts, send me an email.

Thank you in advance!!

Taking My Place at the Table for a Second Helping

I was honored to be a guest contributor to Triad City Beat, for their “Dinner Guest” column in “Triad City Bites.”

This time around I stayed with the minimalizing sodium theme and talked about making spaghetti sauce. Executive Editor, Brian Clarey, allowed me to use my humor in it and I was proud of the result.

So, if you’ll do me the favor, you can read the article either in the print form, which can be found all around the Triad, or you can read it on their website, and you can do that HERE.

Thank you so very much Brian and Triad City Beat for the opportunity.

And, thank you to our readers and listeners for supporting our blog and podcast.

The Man Who Ate the Town Featured in Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine

So, I’ve known about this for a while but I’ve held off on saying anything until I had actual “proof” of it.

©Jay Sinclair

I was featured in the Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine this month, which is “unofficially” their food issue.

Michael Breedlove contacted me to put my two cents in about meals/dishes/etc in Winston-Salem that I just couldn’t live without. They contacted a few of my foodie friends/blogger friends and asked them the same things. Chef Travis Myers and Willows Bistro got my vote (well several of them did, but this was the one that was highlighted as “mine.”). But, that wasn’t the end of it.

Michael also interviewed me about this blog and the podcast that goes with it. So, instead of me doing a lot of “self-horn-honking” I’m just going to point you over that way, for those who aren’t subscribers to Winston-Salem Monthly, which, unfortunately, I am not. But, you should be! It’s a great little publication.

I’ve gotten a few shoutouts because of it. I’m proud of it, I must say. And, I got a Kelly Bone mention in, too!

Here’s the article. Thanks, Michael, Suzy, Jay and all others over at Winston-Salem Monthly!

Biscuitville’s 2018 Bake-Off Championship

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the Biscuitville 2018 Bake-Off Championship Finals (for Management) at Biscuitville’s headquarters.

©Biscuitville

Now, when I’ve thought of biscuits in the past, I didn’t think of anything exciting or outstanding or really even interesting. Before I got into the “food blogging” business, I didn’t think about biscuits at all, really. But, now that I’m fascinated with food and the food process (not to be confused with processed food), I totally rethink everything food. Even down to basics.

I was invited down and there and enjoyed watching the management finalists do their thing. I know what you’re thinking. Biscuits are flour, shortening, and milk, right? Yes, this is true. But, in that room, where we were all watching a big screen connected to a webcam that was showing us everything going on in this kitchen, all eyes were glued to the “action” happening.

It truly was fascinating.

So, what was going on, here, you may ask? You see, Biscuitville has “certified biscuit makers.” This means that biscuit that you get at Biscuitville isn’t made from any ol’ joe. It’s made from people with extensive training and, well, certification. From what I understand it’s a bit of a rigorous process that takes time and dedication. You don’t just get up to the counter and start making biscuits. And, once a year the company holds a bake-off competition, both with regular employees and with management which includes shift leaders and “operators,” which is Biscuitville’s name for the managers of their restaurants.

The science behind the making of these biscuits kind of goes unnoticed until you realize that they’re all doing it the same way and that the techniques are all identical. But, each person does add their own little twists and flair. It was interesting to watch all the contestants watching the others closely. They’re all friends and were cheering each other on, but it was played off as “ribbing.” They were supportive of each other but each wanted to win.

Contestant Amie Cook on the screen we observed from

There were six entrants and to watch them set up the station to their preferred, personal, comfortable workflow status was actually very interesting. While they were all doing the same thing, some put their sifter in a different spot or placed their shortening in a little corner that made them comfortable. Then, we watched them measure their flour (the timer started with the flour hit the scale), add the shortening, mix the two before adding the milk, all the way to flouring the work surface and rolling out the dough, it was truly a spectacle. Again, each identical but each different in their own ways. Then the contestants that were observing from the meeting room would count how many biscuit discs were cut out from the dough, then reworked and then recut until all but a small ball of dough was left.

“She got 22 on that first cut, wow!” I heard.

Claps and applause were given after each contestant came from the kitchen, so yes it is a competition but there was plenty of professional courtesy going on.

What were the stakes, you may ask? Well, first there’s bragging rights. These biscuit makers take this really seriously. The contestant, along with the restaurant they’re representing gets to say, “look we did this!” It also lets the customer know their “home store’s” biscuit makers are top notch.

Another thing is the prestige. Biscuitville makes sure that their certified biscuit makers are recognized, even if they don’t win the competition.

And, there’s money. The winner gets cash money. I won’t say how much but it’s substantial. Actually, being as this was the finals, each of the contestants was already winners. They had won the semifinals to reach this spot and each finalist also got cash prizes just for getting through to this round.

Winner, Maria Cabrera with Tim

The winner was Maria Cabrera who just became a US citizen a few months before and also was starting her vacation on that day. She was rated on speed, efficiency and who got closest to the “ideal biscuit,” which included, height, weight, a flat bottom and a ridged top. The flavor should speak for itself, as the same ingredients go into each, but the biscuit itself was the grading standard. This was Maria’s first time participating in the competition at all. According to her bio, she has been a part of the Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN® family since 2013. Starting as a Shift Manager in Mebane, she later transferred to Maple Avenue where she became an Assistant Manager. Maria then continued in that role at Alamance Road for almost a year before becoming Operator there. She says that Michael, her husband of 16 years, and their three children are what brought her to Biscuitville. Her family keeps her motivated, and there’s nothing she enjoys more than seeing happy customers and motivating people to their full potential.

Second place was Amie Cook. Amie is the operator of the Riverside Road in Danville restaurant (past Management Champion in 2011 and 2012; finalist in 2016, 2017).

Third place was James Cline.  James is the operator of the West Market Street in Greensboro restaurant (past Management finalist in 2017).

The other three contestants were: Ruben Negron, the operator at the Walkertown restaurant. This was his first year as a finalist.

Velma Hailey, the operator of the Aberdeen restaurant and past Management finalist in 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017.

Heather Mabe, the operator of the English Road restaurant in High Point restaurant and this was her first year as a finalist.

I have to say that what impressed me the most was the passion by with all of the contestants showed in their skills. It’s not just biscuit making to them. It’s a way of life and I don’t feel that any of that is too cliche. They poured their soul into making those biscuits, not just the ingredients. They busted their tails to get there and they take their jobs seriously. Even beyond the competition, the finalists want, collectively, for your Biscuitville experience to be a remarkable experience.

I apologize for not taking pictures of the actual event (other than to show what our perspective was), but while I was given an opportunity to glance into this remarkable event, I am going to leave some things to the imagination. You can watch the biscuits being made at your local Bicuitville.

I appreciate the opportunity to be able to observe and talk about it on this blog (and the podcast this week). Thank you, Kelly, at Biscuitville and Scott, Steve and Rebecca at Capture.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 71

In Episode #71, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

Kelly and Tim talk about:

  • Josh Trusler and his new Shokunin Ramen shop that will be opening later this year. It’s not a secret but the location isn’t there, yet. Be patient WSNC, it’s coming. Keep an eye out on this blog and podcast for more info as it gets nearer. We also talked with him about a lot of the local farmers. This is going to be great!
  • Food Holidays.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 70

In Episode #70, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

Kelly and Tim talk about:

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

A Whole New World. A Whole New Direction

So, here, this is the first post on the “new and improved” The Man Who Ate the Town blog. We’ve really neglected this blog over the last few years. We just spend so much time doing other social media things: Stephanie works for Second Harvest Food Bank in their social media/marketing and Tim does several podcasts and another blog called Useless Things Need Love Too. On that blog, Tim sometimes does restaurant reviews and he will repost those on here, as well.

TTTReal

Tart & Tangy Triad

We ate a lot of good food in Europe when we were getting married in Scotland and honeymooning in London, Paris, Bruges and Brussels. We eat a lot of great food in Charlotte.  We eat a ton of great food in the Triad, especially Winston-Salem, even more specifically, downtown.  We will touch on a lot of that.

On Tart & Tangy Triad, a food podcast, we talk a lot about those restaurants, food history, gossip and rumors about food establishments or people, national and local food trends and events that are happening in the area.  So, we’re going to let this blog act as an extension of those aspects of the podcast.  Now, of course, we want you to listen to the podcast and we want you to read this blog, so the content may or may not be in conjunction with each other, but we will have content that you’ll have to tune in, or read (or both) to get the info.  We record Tart & Tangy Triad on Tuesdays and it is available on iTunes and Stitcher, as well as on the website.  We also do an “Appetizer” video on YouTube that is released on Friday mornings.  Just look up Tart & Tangy in the search box and there you go!  Enjoy!

We also understand that there may be some lulls in the action on here, but we promise, we will do our absolute best to update as often as possible and make the content worth waiting for.  And with that, we’re signing off this post.  Bon appetit!

T & S