Friday, April 17, 2015

Morgantown Edition: Habanero's Mexican Grill

HabanerosWith the demise of Carmona's Cocina Mexicana in Morgantown, a new space opened up in the Suncrest Town Center that a new Mexican restaurant has taken over.

(Don't worry, the owners of Carmona's opened "Rosemary's Thyme" - with the same items - in Preston County if you're craving your Carmona's fix. I know lots of people who are devotees.)

Habanero's Mexican Grill features some of the same Tex-Mex in town that many have come to know and love. Burritos, chimichangas, quesadilla, nachos, fajitas, tacos, tamales and even fish tacos are the main menu items here.

It's no secret that Mexican food is not my favorite. I don't love crazy spicy foods - occasionally I'll do, like, medium heat. But, I feel like many of the "Mexican" restaurants in town serve kind of mushy, bland food. But, I was willing to give Habanero's a try.


We parked, walked in and ordered at the counter. I always have a mini meltdown trying to order Mexican food because it's all so similar, so it's like I'm rushing to solve the puzzle of what has the perfect combination of items I'll like. I took the guess work out of it, really, when I ordered the Burrito Durango, which seemed to be their kind of signature burrito here.


Anyone can make a chicken taco or a beef burrito, right? So, I wanted to try something unique to this place. The Burrito Durango features a giant 12" flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, beef and shrimp, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, rice and beans, topped with melted cheese and tomatillo sauce.


My first concern was when he laid out the tortilla on a tray - not a plate - the actual tray. You know, the thing underneath the plate that people take back to the top of a trash can after they're done with their meal. I just prayed this one was clean. But once he finished making the thing, he moved it to a plate. Then, they didn't have their credit card machine hooked up yet, so it was an old school scan an imprint of my credit card. No fault there, they had just opened.

HabanerosSo, how was it? It was OK. It was OK just like most of the other Mexican food in town. Was it awful? No, it was average. It was some overcooked shrimp, flavorless chicken and beef with rice and peppers. The cheese was good - cheese makes everything better. I think things had been sitting out a bit too long because the meat was tough.

HabanerosChips and salsa tasted like chips and salsa.

I think I'm always looking for something to make a place unique - is the meat super flavorful and tender? Is there a special sauce they make on their own? Do they use a special blend of spices? What sets you apart?

And I just didn't find it here.

Grade: C
Habanero Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Morgantown Edition: Fat Angelo's Pizzeria

Fat AngelosUniontown-based pizzeria Fat Angelo's has been operating a branch in Cheat Lake's former Anthony's Pizza location in Ashebrooke Square for quite some time. I was waiting for all the branding to be officially changed over, but once the anticipation was killing me.

Fat AngelosThe restaurant was recently featured on Restaurant Roadtrip and showcased "The Beast," a gigantic 50-slice pizza -- 60 inches! Then there are the specialty pizzas - like the Mountaineer, which has kettle-cooked chips, a ranch base and cheese on cheese on cheese. Other specialty ones include the Perogie Pizza, the Mightly Whiteee and the Chicken Club Pizza.

Fat AngelosThey also have these stuffed pies - which apparently just leaves the sauce on the outside.

Any of that sounds great, right? So, my friend Kayla and I ventured to that side of town. There's a simple sign "Pizza" out front. Seems easy enough. Inside, we walked up to the counter, took a brief look at the menu and ordered small pies. I wanted just a regular one to test the waters here. So, I got a small four-cut pizza with mushrooms.

Fat AngelosWhen my pizza came out, I was happy to see a thin crust with the toppings sprawling out to the edges. I picked up a single slice, with stringy cheese resistant to come along for the ride. The slice was flavorful in a way I wasn't expecting. The sauce definitely has a sweeter flavor. The crust was good - thin - and the cheese and mushrooms were tasty. I kind of mulled the flavor of the sauce over. I like it. I like the hint of sweetness, but I think a bit of a balance would have suited it a bit better. I do like it, a lot actually, but a hint of spice maybe would help balance it out.

I'm glad there's a pizza place on that side of town - and it's pretty good - and I think I might have to stop by when I'm here again.

Grade: B
Fat Angelo's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chestnut Brew Works and Taproom

Chestnut Brew WorksMorgantown's nanobrewery has expanded -- and now includes a full-fledged taproom.

Chestnut Brew Works, home of my favorite beer Nate's Nut Brown Ale, has opened its brewery and taproom in South Park at 444 Brockway Avenue and will have a grand opening Friday at 4 p.m.

Chestnut Brew Works
Chestnut Brew Works

Owner and head brewer Bill Rittenour graciously allowed me to feature him in a story for a magazine a few months back, and we've had kept in touch. He invited me to a soft opening last weekend before opening up to the public.

And, you're in for a treat.

Chestnut Brew Works

This place is great! It's small, but easy to find, being right along the main road. About five parking spaces are located to the left of the building. The front side is glass, so it's nice to have a little view of the busy Morgantown street. There are only a couple high-top tables and the main bar, so if you'd like a seat, get there early.

Chestnut Brew Works

I quickly ordered a flight, which includes Class II Wheatwater, a light-colored and refreshing wheat beer brewed with coriander and orange peel; Halleck Pale Ale, a delectably hoppy beer without the harsh bitterness; Nate's Nut Brown Ale, an English-style brown ale with hints of chocolate and nuts; South Park Porter, a black-colored robust porter with roasted coffee and dark chocolate character; and finally, Your Best Hoption, an IPA with a ton of hops flavor, which accentuate the citrus, piney and fruity characteristics. Start at 12 noon and work your way around so your palate isn't blown out with the hoppiest ones. All five samples of the beer for just $7.

Chestnut Brew Works

I honestly love all of these beers. Yes, I'm biased. But Bill is very, very smart. He knows the science behind crafting a perfect beer - and it shows. They all have excellent flavor profiles, even though they're all quite different. I love the Wheatwater for an easy drinkable beer, while I truly enjoy the flavor of the Nate's Nut Brown Ale. The Halleck gives you that hoppy flavor without being overwhelming. South Park Porter gets a bit more intense with the coffee flavor, and Your Best Hoption is for the serious hopheads.

Easily my favorite brewery in the state ... and maybe beyond.

But wait, there's more.

Chestnut Brew Works

The taproom? It has food! Just a few menu options to help complement the beer. There are the options of dips - hummus, back bean hummus or buffalo chicken dip. And you can choose your chip - tortilla, pita, pretzel or quinoa. Quinoa? Yep, quinoa chips. They're actually really quite good. I'm a fan.

We ordered the buffalo chicken dip with quinoa chips. Delicious! The chips are good and less greasy than most. The dip was cheesy and rich. Seriously so good.

There are also two options for paninis: a cheese melt and a pepperoni roll melt. The cheese melt has American and cheddar cheeses, while the pepperoni roll melt has mozzarella, provolone and American cheeses and pepperoni, of course. Each are $6.

Chestnut Brew WorksI ordered a pepperoni roll melt (which comes with a side of humus). I went with the black bean hummus and tortilla chips. I love the taproom take on a regional food - the pepperoni roll. It's definitely more indulgent with a nice layer of melted cheese, but it's a nice version of that food we all love so much.

Chestnut Brew WorksChestnut Brew Works
Oh, and I can't forget the best part: growlers. I can now take a growler - branded with Chestnut Brew Works - home filled with my favorite beer. There's also some merchandise like shirts and pint glasses available.

I left with a full belly from tasty food and a flight of beer plus a full growler for just about $26. That's a pretty damn good deal.

You're going to want to check this place out. Just be sure to let me know what you think. :)

Chestnut Brew WorksGrade: A
Chestnut Brew Works and Taproom on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Batton Hollow Winery

Batton hollowBatton Hollow is a newcomer to the winery business in West Virginia. I first saw them at the Clarksburg Italian Festival, but I wasn't able to visit their actual location until recently.

The winery, located in Lost Creek, has a tasting room and the owners are very friendly and accommodating.

In general, Batton Hollow wines are not as sweet as others typically found at other local breweries.

Batton hollowMy favorite was the Vidal Blanc, which was a dry white, but with some fruity notes. The Seyval Blanc was also semi-dry, but I wasn't too keen on it. The Chardonel was a sweet white wine, which I really liked, and the Riesling was sweet - but not as sweet as you'd expect from a Riesling. The classic red was a nice dry red wine, and the rustic red was a semi-dry red wine.

Batton hollow
 Has anyone else been here? What are your favorite wines?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Morgantown Edition: Ali Baba

Ali Babas

Ali Babas

Have you missed your Mediterranean food fix in Morgantown? Fear not, for Ali Baba is back up and running.

Ali BabasThe restaurant had closed, then reopened under a different name, and then some other confusion. But now it's back under the original owner.

I've been here a handful of times, with my review being three years ago (THREE YEARS AGO?! HOW?!). But since it's a new place under a new owner, I wanted to give it another go.

Ali Baba is located in the Morgantown airport. It is a bit odd, still, to walk through an empty airport and right through waiting areas. But once you see the elaborate decorations and rich fabrics, it no longer feels quite so empty.

In fact, the restaurant was pretty busy when I was there for dinner.

I ordered the gyro platter, which came with a choice of two Mediterranean salads: I chose hummus and tabbouleh.

Ali Babas

Our server brought out a single thing of hummus and put it in the middle of the table. I wasn't sure who the hummus belong to - me or my friend, Kayla, but we both ate it anyway. I love their hummus. It's a nice blend of garlic and spices and has a good flavor overall. Pair it with their fluffy pita, and it's delicious.

Ali Babas

Ali Babas

While we're devouring this hummus, I see another table order the crispy onion appetizer. We ordered it, too. The fried onion pieces were good, but I would love if they had a signature sauce - like a spicy ranch or something. I dipped them in ranch, and they were OK.

Ali BabasMy entree, which I ordered on the recommendation of our server, was fantastic. Everything is so flavorful and fresh here. A block of feta cheese, slices of meat and fresh pita made for mini sandwiches with some hummus and tabbouleh on the side. Freshness is key here.

Ali BabasFor dessert, I ordered the knafa, which is this shredded dough stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese. Syrupy and sweet and a satisfying ending to a meal.

Ali BabasGrade: A
Ali Baba on Urbanspoon