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I WANT YOU INSIDE ME: "Lima beans are the white trash edamame."

This is a loooooong food blog... 

If you were looking for something edgier, shorter, or perhaps smuttier, you will not find any of that here and I really don't care.

(TLDR)

I was in Huntington, West Virginia last week for Rough N' Rowdy, and unlike the rest of the broadcast crew, I do not take private jets in and out of RnRs for a couple of reasons…

1) I am not invited to take the jet.

2) I get there earlier than everyone else in "talent" because I also host the weigh-in the night before the fights.

And 3) I stay at the venue later than everyone else because I also host the Ring Card Girl Contest immediately after the bouts while the rest of my colleagues scurry back to some private airstrip in order to return to their loved ones in a timely manner.

I shouldn't say it is just me that shows-up-early-and-stays-late because the tech team obviously is 'boots on the ground' for a longer time than, say, Dan or Dave.  Plus, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the only other member in content that mirrors my lengthier schedule is Frank the Tank, who is instrumental as a cohost of both the weigh-in…

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And the aforementioned Ring Card Girl Contest where oftentimes the young lady with the least amount of scarring wins…

(this picture looks like footage from the worst rap battle ever)

This is by no means a complaint… It's just the way it is, and I am just happy to now be involved with RnR on a consistent basis.  I am only letting you behind that curtain to set up the fact that, unlike other hosts and participants, I often have time to explore the exotic ports of call that we visit due to the fact that my commercial travel schedule provides me with more downtime.

So going back to the Rough N Rowdy before this latest one (in May), I knew that I would be in Wheeling, West Virginia for an extra day or so.  Therefore, I asked 2 hometown boys, Nick Turani and KB, for some local restaurant recommendations since I would be on my own (or with Frank) for at least lunch and dinner.

Surprisingly, the two were un-ironic in giving me multiple suggestions for places to eat, and even more surprising, the 3 places I tried on their recommendations were all home runs.

One was a bar that had very good wings (Alpha Tavern).

The second was a no-frills fried fish place (Coleman's Market) that was directly across a corridor from a bakery specializing in homemade pies that I think has since shut down (Oliver's Pies).

And the third (well, really fourth, counting the bakery) was DiCarlos Pizza.

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And here's a sentence that I never thought I would ever write without a West Virginian's shotgun to my head…

DiCarlos Pizza in Wheeling, West Virginia is my favorite slice of pizza in the world right now.

And before all the "pizza purists" who sit on toilets and correctly mumble, "I bet he gives it a 7.2" mere seconds before Dave declares a random Chicago slice a 7.2 start to sharpen their pitchforks, I did not say that DiCarlos was the BEST slice in America… But it is my favorite slice nonetheless.

I grew up walking distance from Di Fara Pizza on Avenue J, and was a bike ride to Totono's in Coney Island.  I used to go to John's of Bleecker religiously after basketball practice in high school and then watch real players at the West 4th Street Cage.  I've done New Haven maybe 4 or 5 times, been to Chicago more times than I can remember, and have had random slices in probably half the states of this once great nation of ours.

But right now… Right this second… The slice I like better than all the rest… The slice I am craving more than any other is the square from DiCarlos.

"Well, technically a 'slice' isn't a 'square', Large."

Shut the fuck up.

I am not recommending you road-trip to Wheeling just for this pizza… Although, if you do, I will come along AND pay for gas.

What I am saying is that if your travels bring you anywhere near that part of the state, it might be worth your while to stop in and try a square.

The square in question is very similar to Detroit style but with a sweeter sauce and not nearly as cheesy coming out of the oven.  It's not as thick as a New York Sicilian and the edges are burnt crispy onto the sides of the sheet pans they are cooked in. 

And what DiCarlos does that is different from all the others is that they put a handful of cold shredded cheese directly on the slice/pie AFTER it comes out of the oven… And that cold shredded cheese is either provolone or a provolone/mozzarella blend that has an almost smoky BITE to it.

All of which sounded like a fucking TERRIBLE idea to me before I tried it… BUT I fell in love with it at first bite.

I wish I took more pictures of it to document the structure a little better, but here is a close-up…

They give you a small baggy of banana peppers on the side, which is an excellent idea, and they also offer to put cold slices of pepperoni over the cold cheese, which is downright awful.

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My co-host was gracious enough to come with me on this pizza adventure (also gracious enough to allow me to pay) and I think the expression on Tank's face sums up his feeling about this style of pie…

He didn't really care for it.

But I did, and I can't wait to get back and have it again.

Before I move on, here's a plug for my firm… Barstool's One Bite pizza app rates DiCarlos a 7.6… Which I assume is above average.  

I do not care to put a number score on my experience because it would be worthless without scale, and Dave hasn't been there yet to give his millions of lemmings an idea of how they should feel, but I assume he won't be as floored as I was.

Decide for yourself if life ever brings you to the Northern part of the Mountain State.

.

.

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So that was May in Wheeling.

Fast forward to last week, and as I said at the top of the blog, I was in Huntington, West Virginia for the most recent installment of Rough N' Rowdy.

Again, being in West Virginia, I reached out to Nick and KB for recommendations, and this time instead of giving me multiple options, both fellas told me the same thing… There are no places to eat in Huntington, West Virginia.

Nick even went as far as to say, "You should remain in your hotel for the majority of your stay… Particularly at night."

Their dire prognosis spooked me, to be honest.  So I went into the trip with my head on a swivel and the intention of UberEats'ing the bulk of my meals in my lonely hotel room.

Well… I am back from Huntington, and happy to report that the ANUS boys were either pulling my old rusty chain OR Nick and KB are fucking idiots.

Giphy Images.

Huntington exists in the shadow of Marshall University, and although I didn't get to see ALL aspects of this Midwestern hamlet, there were quite a few places that I found downright charming.

One place in particular… Jim's Steak and Spaghetti.

Again, I was gun-shy approaching my stay, but after seeing the offerings that were immediately surrounding my hotel, I felt more comfortable venturing out slightly for a solo late lunch the day of Rough N Rowdy… Before everyone else arrived on their fleet of private jets and while Frank was off doing a hot dog review with a handful of dwarf fighters that he recently filmed an unfortunately non-pornographic boxing-themed movie with…

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(This is real.)

So I asked a couple of locals (who weren't named Nick or Kyle) and they all said to try Jim's.

I got there for lunch and was seated at a booth off to the side.

There was a small bowl with crackers alongside a couple of butter packets in a small ashtray on my table.  I figured they were leftovers from the diners before me who perhaps ordered soup and passed on the corresponding carbs.  But as other diners sat down, I realized the crackers and butter were a regional replacement for the more traditional bread basket left on tables in traditional Italian restaurants.

Out of curiosity, obesity, and sheer boredom, I made myself a little cracker-and-butter sandwich while I was waiting for a menu, and it was a tasty little treat.

Right away being in a family-owned local joint like Jim's put me in a good mood.

There was an adorable woman named Donna who was at the front of the house, checking on customers and reminding people to, "Save room for pie!"

There was a sizable counter plus a number of tables and booths to accommodate whatever level of privacy you wanted, and the place was immaculate… You could see the employees and owners took pride in what they were doing.

But here's the thing… There was no steak on the menu.

Giphy Images.

This sent up a warning flare immediately, so I asked my waitress (an attractive young lady who I later learned was named Kelly) if I could do steak and spaghetti… You know… Since it’s kinda on the brochure, and she quickly replied, “Of course!… How’s the ribeye off the dinner menu with two sides a salad and then a small order of our spaghetti for an extra $4.95 sound?"

Crisis averted, and I don't know how that sounds to you… But to me, it sounded great. 

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The choice of sides included stuff I see everywhere plus something called “butter potatoes” and something I don’t see on menus anymore… Lima beans… Or as I like to call them, "White Trash Edamame".

So the lima beans were a must, and I asked Kelly what the butter potatoes were, expecting that they would include some regional culinary trick that incorporates butter into a potato in a way I had never seen. 

I make a dish called Syracuse Salt Potatoes which are simply new potatoes boiled in HEAVILY salted water… Like a pound of salt to a gallon of water.  Although it seems like a rudimentary tweak to a mundane cooking method, that high saline content actually changes the boiling point of the water and cooks the inside of the potato to an almost creamy texture while leaving a coating of salt on the outside… They're fucking addicting.

So I asked Kelly what made the butter potatoes special, expecting an equally scientific answer and she simply said, “They’re boiled potatoes covered in melted butter… And they’re delicious.”

Fair enough… Apparently, I was overthinking it.

Lima beans, butter potatoes, a rib-eye cooked medium (I assumed it would be too sinewy to go medium-rare), and a side of spaghetti for an extra $4.95 it is!

Oh… And I got a salad… A side salad with French dressing.  

And I ordered “extra French, please” in case it was underdressed thinking the extra dressing would be on the side. 

Getting your extra dressing on the side might be the case in 9 out of 10 restaurants, but it is not the case at Jim’s.  

You want the only semblance of roughage in your meal to come with extra French dressing, then you get a salad absolutely SWIMMING in a sticky sweet Catalina-like puddle.  Not with a shot glass of dressing on the side to use at your cunt-y whim.  

And I would never complain because that’s how I ordered it, but OH MAN extra dressing at Jim’s is a very literal order… Lesson learned. 

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Then the lovely Kelly asked me what type of bread I wanted… “Rye, French, or warm rolls?”

ITV. Shutterstock Images.

I said to her that simple question posed a huge dilemma for a fat guy like me because I love rye and French bread (almost as much as I love French dressing), and she interrupted me (politely) before I could overthink yet another side dish saying, “Our warm rolls are delicious.”

Fair enough, Kelly… Warm rolls it is!

And then my meal came out…

That's a good-looking table of food, no?

The rolls were piping hot.

The steak was good enough that I regretted not going medium-rare… It was still tasty, and better safe than sorry, I suppose.

The little ashtray of lima beans was a trip down memory lane, and after I smothered them in salt and some of the ancillary butter from the potatoes, they tasted exactly how I remembered them back when they were the "Undisputed KINGS of Canned Vegetables."

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The butter potatoes were exactly as advertised… Delicious.

And the spaghetti was very good for West Virginia.  I've had better pasta dishes in Brooklyn and Italy, but I was pleasantly surprised that the noodles still had a slight toothiness to them, and the bolognese had a deep rich texture… They cooked it almost like a chili.

I dug in right away and would've never looked up… HOWEVER… The owner of the place recognized me.

His name was Bradley, he is the grandson of the original Jim from Jim's Steak and Spaghetti, and he and his dad Larry were running the joint now.

Brad sat down in the booth and we chatted for a while about the history of the restaurant and a ton of other topics.  My only frustration during our chat was my pasta was getting cold, but because places like this pride themselves on customer service, Brad had a waitress send over yet another ashtray filled with warm sauce, so I was able to "freshen up" my spaghetti as it got cold.

He also sent me over a piece of fried haddock with their homemade tartar, which is apparently a big hit all year round but particularly during Lent…

Then Donna sent me over a slice of chocolate cream pie and a cup of tea after she found out I wasn't a fan of blueberries.

And then they took me over to the booth JFK once sat in on his way to Dallas…

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(Kennedy needed another cup of coffee like he needed a hole in the head.)

But they inexplicably left me seated in the Chad Pennington Booth…

And then they showed me a pic of when Muhammad Ali stopped in for a bite…

It was just a lovely experience altogether, but at the same time, it made me incredibly angry.

Angry at the fact that millions of Americans are ignoring these local gems and heading off to disgusting chain restaurants every night. Putting their names on a list and getting little beepers that will alert them when it's their turn to overpay for cuisine that is bound to give them the runs.

Kathy Hutchins. Shutterstock Images.

Driving miles for Sizzling Fajitas! or Unlimited Breadsticks And Fettucini Alfredo! that was boiled in a bag… Essentially eating airline food without the hassle of being on a plane.

John Greim. Getty Images.

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All this, when instead, they could be giving business to family-owned non-chain restaurants that have existed for DECADES in town.

For God's sake, people… Stop going to Dominos and give the local pizza parlor a try.

Stop going to Taco Bell and find an old Mexican woman in a local cantina making barbacoa on an old hubcap.

Stop going to Shake Shack and go to a fucking diner.

Stop going to a place that cooks their bread in a steamer and hit a local deli.

Amanda Edwards. Getty Images.

It may hit you harder in the wallet… It may take a couple more minutes out of your day… But Donna, Kelly, Brad, Larry, whoever DiCarlo was, and the ghost of Jim from Jim's Steak and Spaghetti will nourish your soul as well as your stomach.

Take a report.

-Large


If you have some downtime this weekend, give the Twisted History of Corruption a peek…

TAR

-L