April 7, 2005

Finger Lake'n Good

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How sweet is it that our bars here close at 1? The lawless debauchery that could result from an entire extra hour of bar time is beyond mortal comprehension. People might actually have more fun, which is bad. Plus, the bars would probably make more money, which we know always leads to drug use and insider trading. Collegetown nightlife may be a little subdued, but at least we have good pizza. I have been to other institutions of higher learning, and their pizza is comparatively terrible — the regular slices are often way too doughy, the sauce sucks balls and the cheese is like silly putty. Many purists will argue that our pizza is in no way comparable to the pizza in places like New York City and Eastchester, New York, but I beg to differ.

What’s up with Mama T’s? I still see people inside, but they might actually be mannequins or hired actors, playing the roles of people who still eat there. Ever since Collegetown Pizza came along, the Mama T’s empire began to collapse like something built by someone who isn’t that good at building stuff. For years, Mama T’s was the only real pizza/Italian place in Collegetown — the pizza was good; crunchy crusts, good sauce, cheese and an array of interesting toppings made it a late-night staple. But three years ago, the one-man show at Wendy’s, where the roles of cashier, fry technician, 99 cent chicken nugget pimp master, ketchup cowboy and honey mustard enforcement officer were all assumed by 50 squirrels in a man costume, tragically failed. CTP then took over the precious real estate and Mama T’s earned a nemesis. To clear things up, the pizza at Mama T’s is no longer as good as it was and CTP is definitely better.

So what do I say when someone says, “Sinbad’s has the best pizza in Collegetown, and your fly’s open, idiot?” I zip my fly and investigate the validity of such a claim. But eating out and reviewing places in Ithaca is honestly kind of boring — we all know the restaurants here and it’s much more satisfying for me to make fun of people than it is to write reviews. However, like any other activity in Ithaca, going out to eat can be really fun when you’re drunk. So, my associates and I freshened ourselves up a bit and headed to Sinbad’s.

Sinbad’s offers Mediterranean cuisine and pizza. Think of it as a cross between Mama T’s and Aladdin’s. I arrived with my three distinguished colleagues: Eddie Perez Cortez, or EPC — early 20’s, white male, once tried to eat vanilla and brown sugar scented bathroom soap. Lawrence Poundmore (Larry) — dashingly handsome young adult novelist with a penchant for confident women and Bacardi 151. Darren Benziger III — son of legendary WASP Darren Benziger II (DB) and Newlyweds enthusiast. And myself — Puerto Rican style Jew with money in my hand and a tear in my eye.

We took our seats at one of the booths. While Darren tended to the food, the three of us passed the time with a rousing game of Connect 4. Surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait very long for our food to come — about 10 minutes for all of it. Here is what we sampled and our insightful commentary throughout the meal.

Buffalo Wings EPC: Awesome. Just the right amount of sauce. I can’t wait until Softsoap comes out with this flavor Me: Six wings for three dollars is a really good deal, especially since these taste so good. Larry: Pat’s (fraternity chef) wings are so much better. These are too soft, not manly enough and too dependent on blue cheese. (he looks at the wings) Blue cheese is your crutch!

Pizza, Chicken Parm, Thai Chicken, Chicken Alfredo, Buffalo chicken, Chicken Curry DB: You see? I told you their plain slice is the best in town. The cheese is gooey but not elastic. The crust is perfect and the sauce is bold yet inviting. Me: Uh huh. Honestly, Darren. If you want to begin a sexual relationship with Sinbad and his pizza, go right ahead. I really like the Buffalo chicken slice — it tastes more homemade than at the other places. The chicken curry sounds cool but is really not. EPC: The white pizza is awesome. I like the Buffalo chicken and Napolitano also. It’s not that crunchy though — you need that satisfying sound. Larry: Pat makes much better wings than this pizza makes.

Chicken Parm Dinner Me: Large amount of food for the money. The chicken is fresh and clearly separated from the breading, cheese and sauce — very homemade again, although the chicken is a little dry. Larry: (Forks nearly the entire dish, takes a bite without using a knife, we all become pissed). This is awesome. DB: Thanks, Larry — real classy, muffin man. This is really good. I don’t think the chicken is dry, my friend. For this price, it could be one of the best things I’ve had here.

Shawarma Larry: What the hell is this called? Beef smarman? Hahha. (Starts talking to his reflection in the window) I think this could fill me up. I like you — you’re a good looking dude. Me: Good god — this looks, smells and tastes like chewing tobacco. We went from the best value to the worst value. I like the sticky rice underneath, but this is just dry, salty crap and I think I’m starting to get a buzz. EPC: Nah — I like this. You’re crazy. The beef tastes good, a little bit like Skoal, which is cool because I love to dip. The hummus is okay, but some whole chickpeas might make it more authentic. DB: My father, Darren Benzigger II and I used to yacht in the Mediterranean and feast on nothing but Shawarma and dry oats. Larry: Your father is nothing compared to Pat’s wing sauce. They’ll fight — you watch and see. Who’s gonna win? The one who can … EPC: Quiet time has begun, you dirty lush.

Kofta Kabob Pita Me: Not bad. The meat is kind of bland and in desperate need of something acidic to sharpen the flavor. I wanted something more interesting. DB: You ruffian. This kabob is damn good. I like the way they flavor the meat with all of those herbs and spices. The veggies are also fresh and the pita has a good texture. Larry: (Grabs the Kofta kabob out of my hands and takes a huge bite) Mmm. This is so f-ing good (starts crying). This is the best meal I’ve ever had.

Caesar Salad EPC: The salad is actually full of green leaves, not crappy stems. Larry: We should throw this in the fryer and smother it in Pat’s sauce, then it’ll be a real salad. DB: My father would disown me and strip me of my Bavarian knighthood if he knew that I was consuming ephemeral “Caesar” style salads.

Final Words of Wisdom Me: Excellent cheese slice, great value and the Shawarma is pretty unappealing. The location of the place kind of sucks, but I just found out that they have free delivery. EPC: Two words: Buffalo Chicken Pizza … delicious. I love the d