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When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Some friends wanted to play Quizzo this week and since two of us live Roxborough/East Falls area, we were able to convince the other “City Folk” to take the train out to our turf. We found ourselves at Billy Murphy’s Irish Saloon, just blocks from the East Falls SEPTA Regional Rail station. We also found out it was $4 burger night! The burger is an Angus patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion on a Le Bus roll. My friend asked the waitress if the onion was raw or cooked (I hate raw onion and normally just pick it off if it comes on a burger). She said it was raw but if we wanted, they could cook it. GAME CHANGER! Of course I wanted my onion cooked.

The burger came out pretty quickly since we beat the pre-Quizzo crowd. It was simple, no frills bar burger. The bun – a Le Bus Brioche – was slightly larger than the patty, but luckily not by much. The burger was cooked past my requested medium to almost well done, but it wasn’t bad; the Angus meat still had a nice flavor to it. I ordered a side of onion rings and slapped one of those bad boys on top of the burger, which really amplified the taste and gave it a nice little crunch. It was certainly better than the burger I had last week, and a steal at only four bucks! If it was cooked perfectly, I could definitely see this being my go-to neighborhood burger. Guess I’ll just have to try it again when we go back for Quizzo next week!

Burger rating: “B”

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Mangia!

In Riva has been open for a few months now and, despite almost being able to see it from my house in the same way that Sarah Palin can see Russia from her backyard, I hadn’t been there until recently. The menu is based on a southern Italian trattoria-style, featuring small plates, salads and pizzas so if you’re looking for your red-sauce joint favorites, this isn’t the place. Tuesdays are ½ price pizza nights if you snag the “secret password” from their Twitter account, so I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to check the place out.

We started with the tomato conserva vasi, a jarred spread paired with crotini bread that was similar to bruschetta. The tomatoes were mashed and sweetened with basil and onions, then topped with thin-sliced cuts of parmigiano cheese. I was reluctant to share it and kind of just wanted to eat it straight out of the jar, it was that good. I saved the rest to put on my pizza crust later at the suggestion of our waitress.


Next up was the crispy pork belly. Topped with an apricot glaze, the combination of sweet and salty flavors paired with the house Pinot Grigio was a perfect complement to the cool, summer night. Plus, it seriously got me considering replacing an out-dated honey glazed ham for the holidays with this modern, fruity twist.

Finally, our pizzas arrived. Instead of metal pizza pie trays, they plate them on your table atop giant, empty crushed tomato cans. We sampled three different pies: a Quattro formaggi with spicy, marinated tomatoes, the Polpette, topped with meatball, mint and crumbled feta, and the Speck and Pineapple, a spicy twist on a Hawaiian pie with jalapenos and thin-sliced prosciutto.

The Quattro Formaggi

I wasn’t sure how the mint would taste on the Polpette, but it actually turned out to be my favorite.

And despite my aversion to Hawaiian pies and peppers in general, the Speck & Pineapple was tasty as well. All pies are prepared in a wood-fired oven, Neapolitan-style with puffy, charred crusts and well balanced ingredients (no supreme meat-lovers toppings here!)

When we were leaving, we noticed a sign that said they would be offering a pizza making class. It definitely sounds worth checking out, especially if you’re like me and your home pizza-making skills involve throwing some sauce and cheese on an English muffin. I emailed them for more information and the pizza class will be held once a month on Mondays (October 1st, November 12th & December 3rd, if you’re too lazy to look it up) for the rest of the year and is $85 per person, which includes the class, a 4 course menu with wine pairing and tax & gratuity. It’s a total bargain when you compare it to the classes that are usually held at Cook.

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