Raleigh is my home, and I love it here. It’s a perfect place to raise a family — big enough that we even have a pro sports team, but not so big that we have all the hassles. We even have a pretty good food scene, but, unfortunately, not as good as our neighbors in Durham and Chapel Hill. It’s getting better, and I’m confident that it will improve even more over the next several years.
But there are three types of restaurants I’m dying for in Raleigh.
Number 1. A top-notch, kick-ass pizzeria. I’m talking Pizzeria Bianco good. Or Grimaldi’s/Patsy’s/Pick Your Coal Oven NYC favorite good. Where the crust, the sauce and the toppings rock. Where the oven is so damn hot that it only takes them a couple minutes to bake the pie. Where there’s good char on the bottom and the pizza isn’t loaded down with canned pineapple or barbecued chicken or other atrocities. And if the sauce would never even think of having a granule of sugar in it.
Number 2. A GREAT burger joint. No, not a Five Guys. No, not a Mojo’s and their overcooked patties. No, not a full-service restaurant that happens to have good burgers on their menu. I want a place that grinds their own beef (a mix of tasty cuts would be good), bakes their own buns, and yes, even makes their own condiments. The burgers should be cooked over a wood fire, but if not, over an open flame. I want beer. I want fries. I don’t want much more than that. No, my friends, Char Grill ain’t all that. Their burgers aren’t all that flavorful, but they do try (and I do enjoy them just fine). I don’t want to pay 11 bucks for a burger, either. Eight is just about right, if it comes with fries. And not shoestrings, either. Slightly thicker than those. From fresh potatoes, cooked twice until brown and crispy.
Third, a really, truly great taqueria. We’ve actually got some decent ones, but I want meat that’s been smoked, along with some chili peppers. I want house made tortillas, preferably hand made. The al pastor should be truly slow cooked with fresh pineapple. The carnitas need a tender middle, with just a touch of external crunch. And the salsas should be fresh and impeccable.
These places reside in my fantasy world. But I think they’ll be coming, soon enough. And I’ll be there.