Rob Petrone has a total dream job. Over the course of 99 episodes as host of Restaurant Hunter on FiOS1, he’s eaten pizza with food writer Andrew Friedman at Fortina, demolished a buttery seafood boil at Holy Crab, ticked burgers off his bucket list at Squire’s, tackled the super slice at Pizza Barn in Yonkers, shucked oysters at Bread & Brine, and just generally chowed down all over this county, from buzzy restaurants to tiny, family-owned taco shacks. “What I love is finding those places that nobody else is talking about … that little taqueria, burger shack, or great Vietnamese place,” says Petrone. “For me, it’s all about the discovery.”
For the 100th episode, which airs March 29 at 8 p.m., the show is headed to The Blazer Pub in North Salem. “It’s going to be a lot of looking back on the wide variety of cuisines we’ve done over the course of a hundred episodes, the personalities we’ve met, the chefs and restaurateurs,” says Petrone. He’ll share the burgers with three chefs — Tarry Lodge’s Andy Nusser, Sherry Blockinger of sherry b dessert studio, and Nigel Spence from Ripe in Mount Vernon — who’ve made frequent appearances on the show.
“We’re not trying to be the first ones on the scene,” explains Petrone, adding that Restaurant Hunter is really as much about the stories of people and communities as it is about the food. “We use food as gateway to culture and people.” Check out five of Petrone’s most memorable moments below.
Tonight we dine on #sweetpea #guacamole! Yup … 8pm on #FiOS1news lower #HudsonValley, #RestaurantHunter is visiting with #JeanGeorges (@chefjgv) at @theinnbyjg for a candid conversation — and this “infamous” guac. Tune in! #EEEEEATS #instafood #Eater #lohudfood #westchester #westchestereats #PoundRidge
Sweet Pea Guacamole at The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges
“I ate this dish with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the height of sweet-pea-guacamole mania … the New York Times had tweeted this recipe and the Internet went bonkers. (Heck, even President Obama tweeted about it!) So here I am, with this legendary chef, eating the most-talked-about dish on the planet … The sweet-pea guacamole was good, but having Jean-Georges ask if I could “write a letter to the President” while I was eating it was even better.”
Lamb Under the Bell at Dubrovnik
“Having been to Croatia, I can tell you Dubrovnik is the real deal. The outdoor brick oven is a sight my wife and I saw while traveling the Dalmatian Coast. Owner Jerry Tomic made me “lamb under the bell.” It’s a dish you have to request a day in advance because it takes three hours to cook. Lamb, potatoes, herbs, garlic, and olive oil are cooked in the brick oven in a metal pot with a “bell” or domed lid that’s covered in embers. It’s the perfect rustic meal: dinner and a show.”
Margherita Pizza at Coals
“Westchester is loaded with great pizza, but no one does it quite like Coals. Their pizza is grilled … [and] the dough bathes in olive oil before hitting the grill, resulting not only in smoky grill marks, but a fried-like consistency. The crust is ridiculously thin, yet stands up to the blotches of tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella that cover the oddly shaped pie. I was blown away the first time I had it, and I’ve had it plenty of times since. Pair it with a burger (just do it; diet starts tomorrow) and one of the amazing craft beers on tap. Thank me later.”
Milkshakes at Madison Kitchen
“The crazy milkshake craze was just starting to hit the food world. I’m usually very anti these sorts of shakes — they’re built for Instragram, not for consumption, but the shakes Nick DiBona served me are different … For starters, they were appropriately sized, meaning you could consume one and not blow through your entire calorie count for the week. Most importantly, Nick was making his own Bona Bona Ice Cream. His creative flavors were (and still are) out of this world.”
Chernobyl Wings at Candlelight Inn
“I’ve never endured acupuncture. But what acupuncture looks like is what my mouth felt like after eating wings doused in the hottest level of sauce served at the iconic Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale. This was one where I sacrificed my face for good TV. The heat didn’t fully hit me at first. I got a little cocky thinking I could finish off a half dozen. Uh, wrong. I was one and done folks. Pins, needles, and tears. Best thing I ever ate? No. But definitely memorable.”