Category Archives: Lists

The 38 Essential Pizzerias Across America, March 2014

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Americans love their pizza, whether it’s thin-crust, New York, deep dish, Detroit, bar, New Haven, Chicago, grilled, California, tomato pies, or Neapolitan-style. 

Fortunately, there are pizzerias across the country catering to all of these styles and more, at just about every price point. But which of these restaurants qualify as absolute must-stop pizzerias for the novice as well as the pizza snob? Last Fall, Eater unveiled the first-ever Eater National Pizza 38 in the grand tradition of the lists local sites have been putting out for years. And now, it’s time to revisit and update this guide to the 38 essential pizzerias (and restaurant pizzas) across the country.

Check out the list HERE and see if your favorite pizzeria made the cut.

I’ve eaten at Apizza Scholls in Portland, OR, Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, NY, Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland, OR, Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Santarpio’s Pizza in Boston, MA and Serious Pie in Seattle, WA and they were all unique and delicious!

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See The 10 Most Iconic Movie Props Ever Sold

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Monday’s Premiere Props Hollywood Auction Extravaganza XIII has some impressive items: a sword from Kill Bill, a gorilla mask from Planet of the Apes, the Riddler’s hat from Batman Forever.

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These films would have been different without these pieces; some films are so connected to their props, they become symbols for the movie.

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And so cinephiles clamor to get their hands on these objects that embody their favorite movies and are willing to pay a fortune to get them. $200,000 for a small metal tube, $78,000 for a suit of clothes: if it graced the silver screen, it’s worth more than gold.

TIME takes a look at the 10 most iconic movie props ever sold and you can see them HERE.

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Complete List of The 56th Grammy Awards Winners

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View a complete list of the 56th Grammy Awards winners HERE. Viewers watched performances from Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Jay Z, Beyonce and more.

Daft Punk took home album of the year at the 56th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

The duo beat out the likes of Sara Bareilles, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Taylor Swift with their album Random Access Memories. Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams’ also won Record of the Year for “Get Lucky.”

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The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time

TIME interviewed burger historians and experts to determine which patties made the biggest impact on the burger industry—and the world at large. Check out the 17 most influential burgers of all time HERE.

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The In-N-Out Burger – Whereas McDonald’s focused on fast, In-N-Out focused on food—its signature burger, which debuted in 1948, was made from locally sourced ground beef and fresh vegetables. That approach may have prevented In-N-Out’s expansion (it has just 294 locations today, compared with McDonald’s 34,000-plus), but it certainly hasn’t dampened foodie enthusiasm: the In-N-Out burger routinely tops best-of burger lists, and has inspired the launch of other higher-end fast food chains, such as Five Guys.

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Rolling Stone Lists 61 Reasons To Love 2014

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Beginning early in January, there are can’t-miss concerts, new and returning watercooler TV shows and specials, albums from rock legends, and the release of big-budget popcorn flicks that’ll have everyone talking. 

HERE are Rolling Stone’s top picks for the music, movies and TV to watch out for in 2014.

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THE FIRE WIRE: Favorite Gadgets, Tools & Gizmos

I have always loved gadgets, gizmos and tools. For the last 6 years, I have had the pleasure of reviewing and writing about all kinds of helpful and time saving devices. One of the perks of writing this blog is when UPS shows up with packages and I have no idea what is inside, only to discover the next cool gizmo. It’s like Christmas for me every week and I am always thankful! With that said, here are 10 favorites of mine from the past few years that I still use and enjoy today!

Zibra Open It

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This was the first device sent to me for review and I still use it every week!The Zibra Open It Universal Package Opener ($12) is designed to open all types of retail packaging. This universal tool offers you a sturdy safe way to open clam shell packaging with ease and snip those pesky wire twist ties and plastic zip ties. This handy tool also offers you a box cutting blade that is neatly hidden in the handle with a safety locking feature and a small screwdriver, perfect for getting into those battery compartments on toys.

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Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger

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Hotel rooms and airport terminals never seem to have enough power outlets to charge all the devices today’s traveler brings along. Now you can add outlets and peace of mind on business trips and vacations with the Belkin Mini Surge Protector ($24.99).This new design features three AC outlets and two powered USB outlets – perfect for MP3 players and mobile phones.

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Kelvin.23 Urban Multi Tool

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The Kelvin.23 Urban Multi Tool ($30) is super functional, compact, rugged, ergonomically correct and styled for urban living. This device is perfect for small apartments where space is limited; it’s like having a toolbox in your kitchen drawer!

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With the Kelvin, you can hang pictures, you can tighten up a loose ceiling fan, you can measure small spaces before buying furniture too large for them. No more running around the house, trying to remember where you last used the Phillips head. Everything you need is in the Kelvin, just waiting to help out with your next project.

Gerber Fit Light Multi-Tool

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The Gerber Fit Light Multi-tool ($41) is a toolbox that fits in your pocket. Available in orange or slate blue, this sleek clever device contains 10 handy tools that you will use every day. Under the compact, colorful housing you will find tweezers, bottle opener, micro cross driver, micro flat head driver, scissors, fine edge & serrated Blade, interchangeable large cross and flat head driver. The large components lock for safety. Also included is a powerful 25 lumen LED light, strong enough to be used as a stand alone flashlight to light your way on the darkest nights.

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UE Boom Speaker

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The UE BOOM wireless speaker ($200) offers 360-degree immersive room filling sound in a compact stylish battery-powered device.

At a weight of just above one pound, and just over a half-foot long, these cylindrical speakers are also made to go anywhere, easily slipping into most bags. The handsome device is coated in an acoustic skin (available in a range of colors) that makes it resistant to water and stains. Other features include wireless connectivity with a 50 foot range, 15 hours of battery life and the ability to chain multiple speakers together through the free UE BOOM app (available for iOS and Android) to play them in either stereo-to-stereo mode or traditional left/right stereo mode. Oh, and for such a small speaker, the UE Boom sounds awesome with room filling clear sound! One of my favorites from this year!

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FiftyThree Pencil

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Fifty Three, the company that brought us the Paper app for the iPad has introduced their take on the artist’s stylus, the Pencil ($50-$60). Available in either graphite or walnut, and inspired by the shape of a carpenter’s pencil, this stylus sports a range of features that let you create digital art more easily. Palm rejection makes sure that Paper doesn’t pick up the presence of your hand while you work, while the built-in eraser lets you simply remove mistakes. Bluetooth connectivity, a month of battery power, and a highly sensitive tip make it wonderful to work with every time. The Walnut version contains magnets that let you stick the Pencil to your iPad Smart Cover for convenient carrying.

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WORX SD SemiAutomtic Driver

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The WORX SD SemiAutomatic Driver ($40) is the most convenient cordless screwdriver ever. There’s always a pesky loose screw somewhere around the house, and your screwdriver never seems to fit – until now. The WORX SD stores all the bits you need directly in the tool, so the bits never get lost and there’s no more wasted time fumbling around for the right bit. Plus, the 4V MaxLithium battery stays charged for up to 1 year, so your WORX SD is always ready!

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Apple TV

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We use our Apple TV ($99) everyday to watch movies, Netflix, listen to music and check out family photos! The small device features 1080p programming including iTunes movies and TV shows, Netflix, Vimeo, photos and more in HD. With iTunes in the Cloud, customers can purchase and play their favorite movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store and watch them instantly on their HD TV. The new simpler, refined user interface makes it easier than ever to access your purchased movies, TV shows and music with iTunes Match right from iCloud. With AirPlay users can stream or mirror their favorite content from their iPad or iPhone 4S to Apple TV.

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Energizer LED 3 in 1 Tripod Flashlight 

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Powerful & Portable, the Energizer LED Tripod light ($30) is a handy multi purpose tool that’s ideal for the home, garage and workshop. The pivoting head is designed to spotlight specific areas. The light contains foldout legs for hands free applications. To light up larger spaces, switch on the side panel for bright and powerful area lighting. Up to 150 lumens of area light for up to 100 hours or 100 lumens of focused beam for 10 hours.

Little Giant Select Step Ladder

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The Little Giant Select Step Ladder ($199) is the only multi-position stepladder with independently adjustable sections that create a 5, 6, 7 or 8-foot stepladder and can be safely used on stairs or sloping ground. Easy to use rock locks and a select grip handle allow you to telescope the legs of the ladder to increase or decrease your desired height. If your job requires you to stand on a ladder for a long time you will appreciate the extra deep rungs and comfortable built-in standing platform!

This lightweight ladder weighs only 23 pounds but can hold up to 300 pounds yet it is small enough to store in a pantry or closet for easy access.

The Select Step comes with a unique top cap known as the AirDeck Safety System. This combination magnetized utility tray and safety handrail stores in the base of the ladder when not in use. The AirDeck contains slots and holes to store your tools, a tray for screws and nails and a fitted tray for paint containers plus a handy rail for added stability.

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THE FIRE WIRE 2013 Holiday Must-Have List: Toys

Here are my top suggestions for kid’s playthings for 2013:

Plamobil PopStars! Stage

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Play a sold out show featuring your own tunes with the Plamobil PopStars! Stage ($40). This MP3-compatible set allows young pop stars to belt out their favorite lyrics, drum up awesome beats, and wow crowds with radical guitar solos. Just hook up an MP3 player with the enclosed cable and choose your favorite chart topper. Set includes four figures, stage with flashing lights, drum set, two guitars with guitar stands, microphones, two preloaded tunes, built-in speakers, and other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten.

InnoTab 3S Wi-Fi Learning Tablet

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Now you can own the next generation of our popular Wi-Fi learning tablet, the InnoTab 3S ($100). This tablet offers a wealth of fun, age-appropriate learning games for kids, plus new ways to play and learn. Kids and parents can exchange and share their text messages, photos and more over a kid-safe Wi-Fi connection using VTech Kid Connect1. Browse kid-safe and parent approved websites to find even more learning fun right from the InnoTab 3S. For even more value, some InnoTab 3S come bundled with a rechargeable battery pack and AC adapter eliminating the need to buy expensive replacement batteries. With the InnoTab 3S, the learning fun never has to stop!

Jagger the T-Rex

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Transform from a motorized construction truck to a powerful dinosaur with VTech’s Jagger The T-Rex ($70)! With voice recognition technology, this mighty toy dinosaur is yours to command! This electronic toy fuses two of boys’ favorite things—dinosaurs and vehicles—into one awesome play experience your child will love! The biggest of all the Switch & Go Dinos, Jagger is 16″ tall and easily transforms from a dinosaur to a crane and back again. Jagger’s motorized wheels and jaw make him walk, drive, launch the drill and more in response to 20 voice commands in both dinosaur and crane modes. His LCD screen displays cool customizable dinosaur eyes and driver animations. Press his buttons to learn dinosaur facts and hear wild sound effects. Jagger also includes a small T-Rex that transforms into a bulldozer. Plays 90+ sounds and phrases.

Glow Pet Unicorn

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Make bedtime something to look forward to with this fun Glow Pets tie-dye unicorn pillow pet 16-in ($29). Part of the popular Pillow Pets Glow Pets collection, this sparkling multicolor unicorn is part squeezable plush toy, part ultra-soft pillow. This smart 2-in-1 design is great for kids who always need to have their favorite things close by. And those who are afraid of the dark love how it lights up the night.

Designed to delight, the Glow Pets sparkling unicorn pillow pet is colorful, light-up fun from horn to hoof. The psychedelic tie-dye multi-color coat is ultra-cool, especially when illuminated from within by 20 bright LED lights. This combination of exciting color and brilliant sparkle is as magical as mythical beast herself. The long-lasting lights with 20-minute auto shut-off are designed to sparkle through thousands of snuggle sessions, and they stay cool to ensure comfy cuddling.

Hello Kitty Dynacraft 16 inch Girls Bike

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Your little one will love riding around in style on this Dynacraft 16 inch Hello Kitty Girls Bike ($100). The bike features lots of fun Hello Kitty details and graphics all over! Features Hello Kitty basket, streamers and training wheels.

The bike weighs 29.5 pounds and measures 36.2 x 17.8 x 7.8.

 Laser Pegs EDU1000

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Looking for a fun way to teach reading, writing and arithmetic? Check out the light up Laser Pegs EDU1000 Educational Blocks ($100). The kit comes with 12 Letter Blocks, 12 Number Blocks,12 Word Blocks and a 3D Lite Board. Each block contains an LED that illuminates when connected to the 3D Lite Board. Combine and stack the blocks any way you can to make different words, sentences and equations. All of blocks are compatible with the other Laser Pegs construction kits so you can build and learn at the same time. With more than 35 fun games included for the beginner or advanced pupil, these blocks are a great way to get kids exited about reading, writing and arithmetic. For fast clean up, the building base doubles as a storage unit.

Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror

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Girls can give themselves mess-free, makeup-free makeovers with the Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror ($70)! The virtual play is brought to life in a way that only Barbie can deliver — using cutting-edge technology. Your tech-savvy girl can enjoy endless styling playtime with a console that turns her iPad (not included) into a digital makeup mirror! Just download the free app, available at the App Store, and then slide your iPad into the vanity frame — the makeup lights turn on, and the app and front-facing camera recognize your face. Use the applicator wand to apply virtual makeup to your image onscreen. Select the perfect eye shadow and lipstick color. Even add glitter or try a ready-to-wear look. Use the “erase” icon to selectively remove makeup with a swab, or “wash” your face to remove all makeup and start again. The possibilities are endless!

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18 Standout Burgers You Should Try Now

If America has a national sandwich, it’s the hamburger. 

George Motz, noted host of Travel Channel’s ‘Burger Land,’ and author of ‘Hamburger America’ (and producer of a film by the same name) guides us through this varied landscape and provides us with a short list of truly notable burger establishments from across the country

Motz says there are a few key components to any great burger, but the most important is that it’s made of freshly ground, single-source beef. He’s also especially fond of shining a light on classic spots that frequently go unmentioned in gourmet top tens. “When you walk into a burger restaurant, and all they’re talking about is their beef blend or how much they love their butcher, you know you’re in the right place,” he says. In that spirit, here are 18 dining spots that Motz says make burgers that deserve special recognition – some classic, some exotic, some bizarre, all delicious – and that should be on any devotees burger bucket list.

Check out the list HERE.

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Two Boroughs Burger, Two Boroughs Larder (Charleston, South Carolina)

Like Halley’s Comet, a Two Boroughs burger ($11) is a rare thing of beauty. If you’re lucky enough to score one – just 24 are made every Wednesday, and only after 5 p.m. – you will achieve a kind of Motz-ian burger bliss. The main event here, which is cooked in a black-steel pan, is made from two five-ounce patties of local beef, ground with a proprietary spice blend, topped with slices of Nueske’s bacon, a drippy Mornay cheese sauce, and an ever-changing special pickle, all on an artisanal benne-seed bun. Once, when Motz brought in about six people and nearly decimated that night’s supply, he found his burger topped with a kale-kimchi combo as that night’s pickle option. He won’t stop talking about it to this day. “The people who make these are burger savants,” he says.

Two Boroughs Larder
186 Coming St. Charleston, SC
843-637-3722

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The 30 Best Christmas Movies Ever

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas movies we all know and love, which have become part of everyone’s family tradition over the last few decades. 

Empire readers voted for their favorite seasonal films, and HERE are the results and there are a few surprises in there.

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America’s 15 Best Pizzas

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country’s best pizzas a truly challenging task. Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that’s just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

Check out their list HERE and see if you favorite made the cut.

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Apizza Scholls, Portland, Oregon

One of my all-time favorites made the list…Apizza Scholls. This Portland, Oregon institution has some of the best pizza in the Pacific Northwest — and that’s using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. If you aren’t up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore ($25): margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That’s amore!

Apizza Scholls
4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR
503-233-1286
Monday – Sunday 5pm – 9:30 pm

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The 50 Funniest Stand-Up Specials of All Time

Flavorwire put together the definitive list of great comedy specials created for television, home video, or digital. HERE is the 50 best of all time with a couple of extras to boot.

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The 5 Best Sandwiches In Los Angeles

So you’re stuck in L.A. traffic, your belly is rumbling and you’re craving a satisfying delicious sandwich. Well, here are 5 suggestions from THE FIRE WIRE that will have you thanking me.

Please note that this list is in no particular order and I’m sure that I missed a bunch of great places that you are free to add via a comment below.

I alleviated burgers and hot dogs; they will appear on future lists. Grab a napkin before reading this as you may drool…

1.) Philippe’s Original French Dip

Philippe’s “French Dipped Sandwich” ($6.75) is the specialty of the house and consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts (First timers should start with the roast beef).  Singled dipped gets the top roll juicy, double dipped = top and bottom of the roll.

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Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added (I like the Swiss). To accompany your sandwich they offer a tart, tangy cole slaw, homemade potato and macaroni salads and large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickles. Try their homemade mustard which complements the sandwich to perfection. Remember, “it’s hot, but good.

Cash only, paper plates and communal tables with some booths.

Philippe the Original
1001 N Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-3781

2. The Oinkster’s Old Fashioned Chicken Salad Sandwich

You can’t go wrong at this place, everything is good. I recommend

The Oinkster’s old fashioned chicken salad sandwich ($6.75) contains pulled roast chicken, house made bread-and-butter pickles, topped with mayonnaise, tomato and onion on focaccia bread.

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Also try the Oinkster Pastrami and the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich.

The Oinkster
2005 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 255-6465
Hollywood location coming soon!

3. Porto’s Cubano Sandwich & Ropa Vieja Sandwich

Porto’s has three locations that are always crowded but the lines move fast. Save room for the delicious baked goods.

This is a toss up between the Cubano Sandwich and the Ropa vieja sandwich.

The cubano ($4.85) features slices of slow roasted pork, savory ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, butter with a mustard and mayonnaise mix on crusty cuban bread served with a side of addictive plantain chips.

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The Ropa vieja ($6.70) sandwich is loaded with traditional Cuban style shredded beef, bell peppers, onions, and tomato sauce on Cuban bread also served with plantain chips.Eat half, enjoy and dessert and then enjoy the other half as a midnight snack!

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Porto’s Burbank
3614 West Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505
(818) 846-9100

Porto’s Glendale
315 N Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203
(818) 956-5996

Porto’s Downey
8233 Firestone Blvd.
Downey, CA 90241
(562) 862-8888

4. Mendicino Farms Philly Cheesesteak Pretzel Melt

Sophisticated wine country inspired ingredients composed with a fine dining approach to flavor pairing make Mendocino Farms the premier eco-artisan sandwich concept.

My pick is the Philly Cheesesteak Pretzel Melt…savor the homemade spice rubbed shaved roast beef with gooey smoked gouda fondue cheese, caramelized onions, spicy pickled peppers on a panini grilled Dolci Forno pretzel roll. THE BOMB!!!

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Pair it with one of their hearty soups or delicious sides such as spicy Giardiniera potato salad, Drake Farm’s feta with basil pesto shells or almond Romesco shells with roasted peppers (YUM!)

Mendicino Farms
175 S. Fairfax Ave Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323)934-4261

Mendicino Farms
California Plaza
300 South Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 620-1114

Mendicino Farms
Citibank Building
444 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213)627-3262

Mendicino Farms
735. S. Figueroa Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213)430-9040

5. Bay Cities Italian Deli Godmother Sub

Since 1925, Bay Cities Italian Deli has specialized in homemade, authentic Italian specialties, like freshly baked pasta dishes and mouth watering sandwiches.

The meatball sub is great but if I had to pick only one sandwich, the I would go with the Godmother ($6.60 small / $8.80 large)! Mountains of Genoa salami, mortadella coppacola, ham, prosciutto, tangy provolone on Italian bread that is baked daily. If you ask for the works then it comes with mayo, mustard (yellow, honey or dijon), onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing and mild or hot pepper salad. I like mine with light mayo, all the veggies, oil and mild pepper salad…Delizioso!

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Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-8279

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The 25 Best Inventions of 2013

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What makes an invention great? Sometimes it solves a problem you didn’t think could be solved. Skyscrapers can’t turn invisible. Pens can’t write in midair. Paraplegics can’t walk. Except now they can. And sometimes an invention solves a problem you didn’t know you had. Maybe you didn’t realize you needed to eat a doughnut and a croissant at the same time, or resurrect an extinct frog, or turn your entire body into a living password. Now you do. Check out TIME’s list of the best things that were invented in 2013.

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America’s Best Sandwiches

Travel and Leisure searched the Nation for the best lobster rolls, BLTs and banh mi. 

Check out their list of the best sandwich shops in America that do the classics right or find unexpected ways to improve them!

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Philippe the Original, Los Angeles: French Dip

This cash-only Chinatown deli hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1908. Philippe’s claims to have invented the French Dip and the specialty of the house takes thinly sliced meat double-dipped in its juice, served on a crusty french roll and finished with beyond-hot mustard. Make friends and eat in at one of the communal tables.

 

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Things You No Longer Need Because of Smartphones

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BuzzFeed takes a look several things that you no longer need now that you have a smartphone.

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Zagat Ranks The Best Burgers In 20 U.S. Cities

It’s National Burger Week and Zagat just posted their list of the top burger joints in 20 U.S. cities, according to their local surveys. Check the list out HERE. How do their picks stack up to your local favorites?

Here is one of my favorites:

Mr. Bartley’s
1246 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
617-354-6559

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Mr-Bartleys

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“Burger buffs “can’t leave Harvard Square” without “squeezing in” “elbow-to-elbow” at this “charm”-heavy “landmark” for “amazing,” “sloppy” patties with “ironic names that make the daunting task of choosing” from the “mind-boggling” variety of toppings a “laugh”; even with no bathrooms, a cash-only rule and what some would say is “spotty” service, it’s “too much fun” – and a “bargain” to boot.”

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The Big Chills: TIME Ranks The 10 Greatest Stephen King Movies

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The release of the newest version of Carrie offers a timely Halloween reminder that Stephen King has now brooded over our pop-culture landscape for 40 years. Both King’s debut novel (in 1974) and the first of a never-ending stream of King movie adaptations (in 1976), Carrie was most people’s introduction to the horror author’s world.

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King’s novels and short stories are effective as movies and some of the world’s finest directors have filmed King stories. In fact, the best King movies often come from top-notch directors such as Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg and Frank Darabount.

Stephen King slams Twilight franchise as ‘tweenage porn’

TIME ranks 10 of the best Stephen King film adaptations and you can check them out HERE.

The list is as follows:

1. Carrie
2. The Shining
3. The Dead Zone
4. Stand By Me
5. Misery
6. The Shawshank Redemption
7. Dolores Claiborne
8. Apt Pupil
9. Secret Window
10. The Mist

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The Great American Menu, Ranking Regional Foods Across The U.S.

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Albert Burneko and illustrator Jim Cooke have put together the Great American Menu, a list of signature regional foods from each state in the United States. According to the ranked list, Illinois’ Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is the best regional food in the country.

Check out the Great American Menu HERE.

Here are the top 10:

1. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (Illinois)
2. Shrimp and grits (South Carolina)
3. Mission-style burrito (California)
4. Crab cake (Maryland)
5. Peach pie/cobbler (Georgia)
6. Gumbo (Louisiana)
7. Key lime pie (Florida)
8. Fried green tomatoes (Alabama)
9. Stacked enchilada with green chile (New Mexico)
10. Marionberry pie (Oregon)

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Experts Name Top 20 Toys For The 2013 Holidays

Each year experts at The Toy Insider name the top 20 kids’ items for the holiday season. Below are the “Hot 20 Toys,” for 2013 categorized by age.

For ages 0-2:

Big Hugs Elmo (Playskool-$60). Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo loves getting hugs, but he really loves giving them! Along with getting a hug from this hugging plush toy, little ones can pretend with Elmo, and even dance, sing, nap, and cuddle with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street pal!

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Go! Go! Smart Wheels Construction Playset (VTech-$35). Construction time is fun time with the Go! Go! Smart Wheels Construction Playset by VTech! Push the included SmartPoint Dump Truck to hear imaginative phrases, music or sounds at each of this toy construction set’s six SmartPoint locations. Pick up and dump play pieces into the waiting toy dump truck with a tall, rotating crane and working claw to develop motor skills with role-play fun. Your little one will learn about numbers, weight concepts and shapes. The SmartPoint Dump Truck engages your child with three sing-along songs and many unique phrases teaching the letter “D” and more. Maneuver the toy truck around to the cargo loader, move the pieces along the conveyor ramp and stop at the weigh station. The learning doesn’t stop there! This toy construction set’s sixteen track pieces reconfigure and connect to other Go! Go! Smart Wheels playsets (sold separately) to encourage your child’s creativity. It’s playtime with miles of learning! Unsure if 15 or 16 track pieces.

Go! Go! Smart Wheels Construction Playset

Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car (Fisher-Price-$60). The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car puts baby in the driver seat of a fun-filled stationary vehicle with all-around learning and play. The interactive lights and sounds dashboard keeps baby busy with a light-up baby “GPS”, horn to honk, gears to shift, and more. With over 75 sung songs, tunes and phrases, and three modes of play, there’s plenty of fuel for learning adventures and fun!

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Twilight Turtle Tunes (Cloud b-$52). Twilight Turtle Tunes T3 – the first Cloud b character to feature wireless Bluetooth technology! Utilizing a new free Twilight Turtle Tunes app provided by Cloud b, parents can choose from a pre-set library of melodies and sounds that can be combined to create a customized mix to play wirelessly via Twilight Turtle Tunes’ speaker. A premium app will also be available for $1.99 which will allow users to access their personal music libraries to create totally unique mixes. By utilizing Bluetooth, the melody and twilight effect can be programmed for up to 24 hours.

Twilight Turtle Tunes

For ages 3-5:

Despicable Me 2 Talking Dave & Laughing Stuart Minions  (Thinkway Toys-$50). Dave has 55 Minion sayings & SFX. Press his pocket to hear Dave talk with funny expressions! Press his pocket again or move his head for another response/expression! Banana Mode – Press the back of Dave’s tongue and he will think you are feeding him. Then press his pocket or move his head to hear him make a farting sound! “Feed” him more than once to hear super fart sounds!

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Stuart has over 45 Minion sayings/giggles in Original Voice! Press his pocket to hear Stuart talk with funny expressions! Press his pocket again or move his head for another response/expression! LOL Mode – Quickly press Stuart’s pocket 6 times to activate his Laugh Out Loud mode. Press the pocket again or move his head to hear him laugh out loud!

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Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center (Just Play-$90). The Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center is a terrific new roleplay toy for kids who want to be just like Doc McStuffins and diagnose and treat the many ailments afflicting their toys. This large playset has 10 different built-in features, including lights and sounds, the talking Big Book of Boo Boos (which is featured in the show), light-and-sound x-rays, a movable scale, a growth chart, a bandage sticker dispenser, and an eye chart. It also comes with a Lambie figure that activates sounds and phrases. There are also purple-and-pink versions of all the tools necessary to provide a complete check-up. The set also includes a pretend cell phone.

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Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole (Innovation First-$50). This new breed of gravity defying Nano V2 bugs can now climb up vertically, horizontally, around corners, through loops and tubes, to the tip top of any Nano V2 habitat set. The Black Hole enables Nano V2 super-fans to customize the design and layout of the three-story set, unleashing kids’ creativity.

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LeapPad Ultra (LeapFrog-$150). The LeapPad Ultra learning tablet comes packed with 11 apps and tons of fun features, designed by educators just for kids.* Write. Draw. Snap photos. Make videos. And enjoy new peer-to-peer play that’s safe out of the box. With so many ways to create and explore, LeapPad Ultra is the ultimate kids’ tablet to inspire a love of learning.

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Sofia the First Talking Sofia and Animal Friends (Mattel-$38). When Sofia becomes Sofia the First, she must adapt to an extraordinary life of royalty and learn how to be a princess – inside and out! Her lessons are taught by a variety of teachers, including Sleeping Beauty’s fairies, fellow princesses and her many animal friends. Thanks to her magical amulet from the King, Sofia has the power to speak with animals, and this doll celebrates that gift in grand scale. Beautiful large-scale Sofia doll interacts with the included animal friends: Clover the Rabbit, Mia the Bluebird and Robin the Robin – just like in the Disney Junior series! To activate, girls simply bring one of the sculpted animal figures close to Sofia’s amulet. Her amulet will glow, and the two will “talk” with one another. All together, Sofia and her three animal friends unlock more than 30 phrases! Sofia is princess-perfect in her signature purple dress, and her matching purple amulet is a matching purple looks magnificent with her glittery tiara and loose wavy curls. Girls will love reliving moments from the Disney Junior film and series with the added fun of sound to really bring the characters to life! Includes 10-inch Sofia doll and three animal friends.

Photographer Willy Stylist Xu

Wing Control Dusty Crophopper R/C Plane (Mattel-$35). The amazing RC plane that lets you become the heroic “flyer” from Disney Planes! The controller makes Wing Control Dusty Crophopper follow your every move, and his propellers start spinning when you drive him forward. He even has 3 pre-programmed moves he’ll perform at the touch of a button!

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For ages 6-8:

Battroborg (TOMY-$35). Get ready for the most advanced battling robots ever created! Battroborg motion controlled battling robots are here, and they are giving you all the power. You control the battle, you control the robot, you control your destiny. Knock out your opponent by serving up five contact punches to the head. Or take your robot to battle boot camp where you can master the art of combat by taking on the training drones. Battroborg’s advanced radio control technology also allows for you to host a Battle Royal where up to 20 robots can battle at one time. The game play continues in auto drone mode where you can battle against a self-activated Battroborg robot for up two minutes.

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Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler (Moose Toys-$25). Dust on the diamonds and bring bling to a whole new level! With the Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler girls can create and design their own glittering stickers that stick to any smooth surface. Complete with four different glitter colours, gems, a glitter roller glimmer pen and brush. Simply pick from a fun range of cute stickers, choose your glitter colours and get sparkled! Finish off your design using some Blingles Gems and your stickers are transformed from drab to fab!

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Disney Infinity (Disney Interactive-$75 Starter Set). Think of your favorite Disney characters and Pixar characters. The ones who took you on unexpected adventures and taught you about entirely new worlds. The characters you watched as they gained some great insight about their lives. The ones you watched through tear-filled eyes as they said goodbye to their loved ones or celebrated their new freedom. Think of all those characters and moments and answer this question: Which ones do you want to be? In the new Disney Infinity game, you get to choose! Play as dozens of your favorite Pixar and Disney characters across the various worlds they inhabit, and follow the classic stories you’ve memorized as you get to experience brand new twists and turns. Disney Infinity gives you the chance to be the good guys, the bad guys, and even the guys that just pop up from time to time. Fight the British and your former crew mates as the Pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. Try to destroy the world and Mr. Incredible as the evil Syndrome. Make your own decision on if you want to wreck something or not as Wreck-It Ralph, and so much more! Disney Infinity is more than a game. It’s a whole new way to experience your favorite movies of all time.

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Flutterbye Fairies (Spin Master-$35). Turn a young girl’s dreams into reality as they watch Flutterbye Fairies effortlessly dance through the air. Every enchanting flight puts the magic directly in their hands. Flutterbye’s gracefully glide across the sky guided only by the hands of young girls. There’s never been a more magical experience. Put the magic in their hands with the charming flight of Flutterbye Fairies.

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Mega Bloks Barbie Build ‘N Play Super Star Stage (Mega Bloks-$60). Get ready to rock ‘n roll with a packed crowd as Barbie and her friends put on the hottest show in town with the Mega Bloks Barbie Build ‘n Play Super Star Stage. Build this huge two-story rock show any way you want with 5 stage pieces and real concert controls that let you direct the show in two different ways. Mode One lets you start up the real multi-color flashing lights and change between four different songs as Barbie and her friends play their latest hits that will be sure to get all of her fans rocking. Mode Two lets you choose the music. Play or sing along to your favorite songs on the radio and the concert lights will flash and right along to the music. Put on a show filled with all of your favorite songs that Barbie’s fans will never forget. Special concert pieces like silver scaffolding, huge amplifiers, glittering blocks and a sparkling disco ball set the mood, while the stage elevator and large video screen lets everyone enjoy watching Barbie perform anywhere at the concert. Hit the lights, check the sound and roll camera as Super Star Barbie, Raquelle and Teresa get up on stage and rock the roof off with a keyboard, guitar and 3 different microphones.

Mega Bloks Barbie Rock Star

Skylanders Swap Force (Activision-$75 Starter Kit). Embark on an exciting new adventure with the Skylanders and the SWAP Force. For generations, the SWAP Force protected the volcano that replenishes Skylands’ magic. That is until an epic battle caught them in an eruption that blasted them apart, sent them to Earth and gave them the ability to swap powers. Only you can mix and match their tops and bottoms, put them on the new Portal of Power™ and save Skylands.

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For ages 9 and up:

Air Hogs Elite Helix X4 Stunt (Spin Master-$80). The Helix X4 Stunt is a high-performance RC stunt quad-copter! It is aggressively maneuverable and incredibly fast! Perform 3 incredible stunts with the push of a button as you flip, barrel roll and 180 flip. Its full 4-channel control enables the Helix X4 to easily out fly any obstacle and out stunt any other RC vehicle. Nothing moves like a Helix! Experience the future of flight with the agile Helix X4 Stunt!

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Draw Something Party Game (Hasbro-$25). Draw the party together with the unscripted, spontaneous fun of one of the most popular social games from Zynga. The Draw Something Party game has a lightweight, illuminated tablet with click-and-clear technology. This not only provides fast and easy pass-and-play, but there is no paper to waste. Everyone can play at the same time, and enjoy the unpredictable and silly experience of this social party game.

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Kurio Touch 4s (Techno Source-$100). The Kurio Touch 4S Android Handheld comes preloaded with over 30 games and apps as well as the Kurio Store, which provides access to thousands of videos, songs and more. With four fully customizable profiles, you can create one that suits your child with individualized content controls and time limits. Viewing and browsing are easy with the 3.97″ multi-point touch screen and 800 x 480 resolution, and the HD video player, music player and microphone offer a variety of entertainment options. 8 GB of integrated memory is extendable up to 40 GB with a microSD card (sold separately) to provide plenty of storage space for your files and apps. The handheld features a 1 GB RAM Dual Core processor for lightning-fast speeds and comes with earbuds that are specially designed for kids’ ears.

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Lego Chima Cragger’s Command Ship (Lego-$80). The ultimate swamp battle is on. Leonidas and Lennox are making a jet-bike escape with the Croc tribe’s CHI, but it takes more than that to outsmart croc prince Cragger. Fire up Cragger’s Command Ship and go after them! Activate the huge snapping mouth, swipe the croc tail and fire the CHI-powered missiles! Call in their Raven ally Rawzom to track them from the air or to swoop down from above and catch those CHI-nabbing cats! Then, deploy the stealthy mini boats and high-flying croc helicopter to stop them from ever leaving the swamp. Includes 6 minifigures with assorted weapons.

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New York Public Library Unveils Top 100 Children’s Books of The Last 100 Years

The New York Public Library (NYPL) today unveiled its first-ever list of the top 100 kids books of the last 100 years, curated by librarians, called “100 Great Children’s Books.” Marking the occasion, acclaimed children’s book creators Judy Blume and Eric Carle (who both appear on the list) participated in a panel discussion at the library’s Trustees Room and read from their popular works.

You can check out the list HERE.

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The Top-Earning Authors of 2013

Forbes’ just released this list of the world’s highest-paid authors. The top 10 are as follows. Click HERE to see more.

 1. E.L. James: $95 million

E L James - Book Signing

In addition to record sales from her sultry Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (bolstered by strong e-book sales), James earned an extra $5 million for the movie rights to the book, Forbes says. The film is slated to release in 2014.

2. James Patterson: $91 million

The world's best-selling author James Patterson

The prolific thriller author can boast that one out of every 17 hardcover books sold in the U.S. bears his name. Part of his secret to success? Releasing around 10 new books a year—often with the help of cowriters. When collaborating on a book, Patterson creates an outline, a cowriter does the first draft, and he finishes up with whatever other drafts are necessary. “Some people can’t get past the word cowriter,’’  Patterson told Parade last year. “Lots of shows and movies are written by teams, so it’s not such a strange thing.” But the Maximum Ride and Alex Cross author is no laggard: “I write seven days a week,” he said.

3. Suzanne Collins: $55 million

"The Hunger Games" Premiere - Los Angeles

Her Hunger Games series was already popular before the film starring Jennifer Lawrence became a sensation. But now, the former children’s television writer has reached the “Olympian heights of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer,” Forbes writes.

4. Bill O’Reilly: $28 million

Political Commentator BILL O'REILLY

Who knew the Fox News pundit had become such a successful writer? His nonfiction books Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy soared to the top of best seller lists, and Forbes predicts his next, Killing Jesus, could be even bigger.

5. Danielle Steel: $26 million

Danielle Steel

The romance novelist publishes an average of more than three books per year, totaling more than 600 million copies.

6. Jeff Kinney: $24 million

Wimpy Kid Author

Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is one of the most popular kids’ titles in recent memory. Plus, there have been three movie versions adapted from the books.

7. Janet Evanovich: $24 million

Janet Evanovich

The writer made her millions thanks to the New York Times bestselling Stephanie Plum detective series, as well as twelve romance novels and the Alexandra Barnaby books and graphic novels.

8. Nora Roberts: $23 million

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The longtime romance novelist has become “the queen of the e-book,” Forbes writes, with the 3.2 million digital copies sold in 2012 (she’s second only to E.L. James).

9. Dan Brown: $22 million

Dan Brown 'Inferno' Book Launch Event


Though Inferno, Brown’s latest Robert Langdon novel, didn’t reach the kind of success The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol achieved, it was still the best-selling book of the first half of 2013.

10. Stephen King: $20 million

Apple Store Soho Presents Meet The Creators: Stephen King, John Mellencamp And T Bone Burnett

The master storyteller has written best sellers and literary fiction that have made the leap to film, TV, and the stage. Still, he says it’s not the monetary rewards that keep him writing. “The major job is still to entertain people,” he told Parade in May. “That’s what we’re supposed to do—writers, filmmakers, all of us.”

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The Top 10 Cities For Pizza

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TripAdvisor on Wednesday released its list of the top 10 American cities for pizza, based on reviews of its traveling customers. The list is not led not by powerhouse metropolis New York or Chicago but by midsize San Diego.

The top 10 cities for pizza, as determined by TripAdvisor:

1. San Diego, California

Those traveling to seaside SoCal can enjoy authentic tastes of Italy just miles from the Mexican border. With more than 100 nearby pizzerias, those with an appetite can grab a slice at Bronx, Filippi’s, or Golden Hill’s Pizzeria Luigi where mouthwatering toppings include sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and homemade meatballs. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, “The pizza was just as good as being home in New York.”

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Filippi’s, San Diego

2. Las Vegas, Nevada

While visiting Vegas, travelers can step away from the slots to double down on some pie. Favorite shops include Secret Pizza located on the Strip, Nora’s where diners can devour the “Snow White” pizza featuring a medley of cheeses, and Grimaldi’s which boasts coal fired brick-oven pies made with “secret recipe” dough and the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. “Brooklyn pizza in the desert,” commented a TripAdvisor traveler.

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Snow White Pizza from Nora’s, Las Vega

3. Boston, Massachusetts

Those visiting Beantown can enjoy Regina Pizzeria located in the Italian North End where the flavors and golden crusts are made from an 80-year-old family recipe. Diners can also indulge at famous Santarpio’s in East Boston, serving savory slices since 1903. Travelers rave about shrimp scampi pizza and “The Works” which includes a variety of the freshest ingredients. “In Boston, the pizza is done the old fashioned way, the way it should be,” commented a TripAdvisor traveler.

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Santarpios Pizza, Boston (Wicked Awesome…I’ve had it!)

4. New York City, New York

Travelers to New York City craving authentic, thin crust pizza will be in their glory as they bite into a scrumptious slice at one of New York’s famed pizzerias which include Lombardi’s, Di Fara’s, and Patsy’s. With outstanding pizzerias seemingly at every corner, diners will enjoy the city’s trademark thin crunchy crust, gooey cheese and savory toppings. “Home of the American pizza,” noted a TripAdvisor traveler.

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Lombardi’s Pizza, New York

5. Seattle, Washington

Pizza lovers visiting this Pacific Northwest hub will be thrilled to taste the city’s signature thick and hearty artisan pizza made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Downtown Seattle, locals frequent Serious Pie where guests can taste their homemade mozzarella and tomato creation, while the Flying Squirrel in Seward Park fixes its pizza with a fine selection of local meat. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, “Excellent pizza, high quality ingredients.”

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Serious Pie, Seattle (also quite good!)

6. Austin, Texas

Travelers visiting the “Live Music Capital of the World” can fill up on pizza before heading to a show. Renowned pizzerias include Frank & Angie’s, Giovanni’s Pizza Stand, and Roppolo’s where guests can try the “Italian Mex” pizza, which honors Austin’s Tex-Mex heritage with spicy flavors of jalapenos and red and gold peppers. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, “Best pizza outside of NYC.”

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Roppolo’s, Austin

7. San Francisco, California

The bridge is not all that is golden in the “City by the Bay.” With over 200 pizzerias, each serving heavenly slices adorned with bubbling cheese, savory vine-ripened tomato sauce, and golden crust, travelers are sure to experience “la bella vita.” Famed pizza shops include Delfina’s, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, and Del Popolo’s, a mobile pizzeria housed in a 20-foot transatlantic shipping container that boasts a wood-fired oven. “Best pizza west of Italy,” said a TripAdvisor traveler.

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco

8. Indianapolis, Indiana

Travelers to Indy can immerse themselves in a true culinary adventure tasting the tomato and cheese topped slices in this Midwest metropolis. Among the favorite pizzerias are Jockamo Upper Crust, Brozinni, and Bazbeaux. Located in the city’s Art District, Bazbeaux’s pizzas are carefully crafted using a blend of provolone, mozzarella, and Romano cheese and guests have the option of white or whole wheat crust—thick or thin. A TripAdvisor traveler said, “A pizza lover’s paradise.”

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Jockamo Upper Crust, Indianapolis

9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cheesesteak and soft pretzels are not all travelers will find on the menu in Philly. With a rich Italian heritage, this East Coast city offers over 200 pizza eateries that add to the flavorful restaurant scene. Among the notable shops are The Tomato Bistro, Tacconelli’s, and Tony’s Place which specializes in the “Original” thin-crust tomato pie. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, “Some of the best pizza anywhere.”

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Tomato Pie from Tony’s Place, Philadelphia

10. Phoenix, Arizona

Even in the desert travelers can enjoy a piece of the pie. Those visiting the “Valley of the Sun” will find scrumptious slices of airy, bubbling crust and savory cheese, paired with the perfect amount of fresh tomato sauce. On the menu at Pizzeria Bianco guests will find unique varieties including the “Sonny Boy,” and “Wiseguy,” homemade dough topped with wood-roasted onion, house smoked mozzarella and fennel sausage. “My favorite pizza in the world,” said one TripAdvisor traveler.

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Pizzaria Bianco, Phoenix

OK, so I have tried a few of these places such as Regina Pizzeria, Santarpio’s, Lombardi’s, Di Fara’s and Serious Pie and they are all unique and good but I still think the best pizza is from Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon.

Owner Brian Spangler makes dough daily (and when he runs out, he’s done). He uses an infrared thermometer to determine the prime hot spots in his electric oven. The result: a crispy crust, perfect sauce-to-cheese ratio and super fresh ingredients. If we ever go back to the The City of Roses, this would be our first stop to eat.

From a heart-stopping “New York White” to a superb sausage and spicy peppers, the pies are all delicious at Apizza Scholls and worth the hour wait!

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Apizza Scholls, Portland, Oregon – THE BEST IN MY OPINION!

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The 100 All-Time Greatest of Everything Entertainment Weekly Issue Hits Newsstands This Week

This week Entertainment Weekly has a special double issue that focusses on the the 100 All-Time Greatest of Everything. This keepsake issue includes lists of the 100 best movies, TV shows, albums and novels, as well as the 50 greatest plays of the last 100 years and more.

Some familiar geniuses show up on the lists: Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations hits the greatest novels list at No. 4, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street pops at No. 3 on the album list, and The Sopranos finds a home at No. 5 on the list of all-time greatest TV shows. (The issue also includes a tribute to the late James Gandolfini.) 

The 100 All-Time Greatest issue of Entertainment Weekly is on stands Friday, June 28.

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TIME Presents the 12 All-Time Great Summer Reads

To celebrate the beginning of summer, TIME editors have compiled a list of their favorite summer reads from the past 40 years. TIME factored in raw data, cultural impact and a bit of sentimentality.

What defines a summer read? To them, it’s the kind of buzzed-about book that seems to flourish in warmer months, equally ubiquitous on beaches and in subway cars.

Once you’ve perused the list HERE, take the poll and help crown the All-Time, Ultimate Summer Read.

JAWS 1st edition  Benchley 1975

Jaws, Peter Benchley (1974)  The film adaptation’s most famous line—“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”—appeared nowhere in the original novel. But the book was a massive success, and paperback versions could be seen on display in every bookstore in the summer of ‘74. The story of a small beach-town ambushed by a shark with a taste for human flesh stayed on the bestsellers list for almost a year, and offered avid readers a good excuse to stay out of the water during trips to the beach.

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