Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Wilmington’s New Sub Place

Capriottis Sign

We had heard that Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop makes some of the best subs across the country. I knew down the road we would have to come to our own conclusions about that statement. It proves to be sooner than later. They have shops across fourteen states and their newest one happens to be in Wilmington, NC. Only a couple of hours from us, we decided to head for historic Wilmington for some photos and grab some lunch at Capriotti’s newest location.

The shopping centers in the area made it an ideal location for Capriotti’s.  But I was surprise that they pick a location that already has a few sub shops within few hundred feet. I’m guessing that Capriotti’s feel they deliver a superior product and once you try a sandwich you’ll be hooked. The layout was very clean which was expected for a new place. As soon as we walked in Capriotti’s, we were greeted and educated about the menu by the staff. The first thing I noticed about the menu was the size options: 9″, 12″ and 20″ subs.  I was very tempted to go with the 20″ meatball sandwich but I was still committed to my new diet plan. If two people were having same sandwich, the best deal would be to split a 20″ sub. The cost would be around $7.30 for 10″ while normally 9″ cost $7.59.  ( Sample of menu at very bottom)

Inside Capriotti's Sandwich Shop ~ Wilmington, NC

Inside Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop ~ Wilmington, NC

The most popular and famous sandwich on Capriotti’s menu, “The Bobbie”: Homemade Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo. Basically the sandwich is described as Thanksgiving meal that you could have any time in the year.  A very interesting sandwich but I lack the fondness for cranberries. Even before I left the house I knew the meatball sandwich was my goal for lunch. I’ll be honest, I usually eat at fast food style sub shops, where the meatballs taste artificial and the bread becomes soggy from the sauce. The complete opposite can be said about Capriotti’s meatball sandwich ~ the meatballs were large full of flavor and the bread manage to stay together. Overall a very well done meatball sandwich and I should have gone with the 20” version.

Caprtotti's Meatball Sandwich 12" ~ Their own signature homemade meatball recipe and topped off with Provolone cheese, grated Romano cheese, and sauce.

Caprtotti’s Meatball Sandwich 12″ ~ Their own signature homemade meatball recipe and topped off with Provolone cheese, grated Romano cheese, and sauce. It’s hard to make a meatball sub look pretty. All that matters is the taste.

Josh decided that he would try the 12″ Grilled Italian. He said it was awesome and the only improvement was if the cheese was more melted. I think the new staff was still learning “timing” with the hot subs because my cheese needed little melt too.

Capriotti's Grilled Italian ~ genoa salami, capacolla and prosciutini makes for an awesome sandwich.

Capriotti’s Grilled Italian ~ genoa salami, capacolla and prosciutini makes for an awesome sandwich.

The verdict about being the best sandwich shop in the country still up in the air. It would be only fair to check out other worthy opponents. But I will admit they have very good meatball sandwich and anytime I’m on the road near a Capriotti’s, I’m stopping for a 20″ sandwich. Hopefully Jerry or Nick is not afraid of cranberries so I can get “The Bobbie” review.

specialmenu_CAPCapriotti’s Sandwich Shop

3501 Oleander Dr. #2
Wilmington, NC 28403
capriottis_lower 

Ria’s Bluebird, Done Right Their Way

Ria’s Bluebird, a breakfast institution in the heart of Atlanta known for world-famous pancakes. Only a few miles away from the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca Cola. We read in countless articles that many writers put Ria’s Bluebird on top ten list of best breakfast joints across the United States. It was our time to decide the validity of these claims.

We arrived on an early Monday morning in September, much to our delight the place was not hopping yet. We were able to walk in and stake our claim to some good day starters. Before we jump in about the food, I have to make note of some observations I made while waiting for breakfast. Ria’s Bluebird is kinda on the small size on the inside, a very limited amount of seats. I can easily see how a line of people outside the door waiting to hear “Next” on busier days of the week. In our readings of Ria’s Bluebird, we came across a comment that stated “Hipsters frequent this establishment often” . No bother to us, we did see one patron that fit the hipster bill. A very interesting gentleman with very short cut off blue jean shorts and classy handle bar mustache. He helped himself to some coffee with a cup he brought in himself, walked around for a few minutes talking with the locals, and constantly grooming his fine tuned mustache. This only added to the very interesting atmosphere of Ria’s Bluebird. Now lets get to the food.

Looking at half the seating available at Ria’s Bluebird. Get there early.

Shawn: I was originally going to order the famous pancakes with pecans/bananas but I saw an old friend on the menu that I had not seen in a while. Mr. French Toast, my favorite breakfast buddy, who I had not sat down with for some time. The plate was piping hot and loaded with maple syrup. They did not cheap on the syrup, it was actually overflowing the plate. The bananas and maple syrup was the best part of the dish. The best maple syrup I have ever had, granted that I never had maple syrup from local Vermont maple farm. The bananas melt in your mouth with goodness. All bananas should be served this way. I’m not a breakfast person in general, but this dish could make me do it on the daily. I’ll give this dish 9/10 losing a point for just average french toast slices.

French Toast ~ Myer rum dipped brioche with caramelized bananas

Nick: He had the special omelette of the day which was bacon cheddar with mandatory sides. Ria’s Bluebird has strict rules against substitution of sides. The Ria’s standard with special: 1 meat, 1 starch, and 1 bread. Nick’s standard with special: 2 starch and 1 bread. Denied because the chef feels the dish has been perfected the original way and should not be altered for integrity of guest experience. We always give respect and it prove to be a non issue.

Nick’s Feedback “As soon as the waitress told me the special was a bacon cheddar omelet I was sold. It was the best omelet I have ever had in my life. However, I am deducting two points from my rating because I was unable to substitute a side. I simply wanted extra potatoes instead of a meat. I don’t like sausage and there was already bacon in my omelet. My rating is 8/10. Amazing food and definitely a fan of everyone sleeved with tattoos!”

Special omelette of the day: Cheddar Bacon with skillet potatoes, bacon, & warm biscuit

Overall:

A great experience with the added luck of being seated promptly. A lot of good menu items, some people could view the pricing on the high side. But I always felt, the price you pay always matches the quality when it comes to food. So for us the pricing is justified. It’s too early for us in our adventure to call this place “Top Ten” but it definitely left a long-lasting memory.

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NASCAR Hall of Fame, Checker Flag or 5 Car Wreck

The NASCAR Hall of Fame was not on our original game plan when we visited Charlotte. Our goal was to tackle the Intimidator at Carowinds, but we were unaware that they would be closed during the weekdays in late August. So we quickly needed an alternative fun place to visit to make the 4 hour trip worthwhile. The NASCAR Hall of Fame caught our eye. Not because we are die-hard race fans (We are only average fans) but due to the “over 50” interactive stations at the Hall. So we decided to head to the NASCAR Hall of Fame . Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys!

The admission for the Hall was $19.95 which was a fair price for the two hours we were wondering around the place. They will give you a “Hard Card” at the admission counter which you take it to the first station to create a profile for the interactive experience throughout the Hall. Be mindful and pick a nickname that would be proper for the general public because it may show up on the big screen for all to see. Make use of the “Hard Card” throughout the Hall to get most out of the experience and you will receive a final score at the very end of the Hall. A very cool idea.

The very first area we discovered was the Great Hall with Sunoco Glory Road leading up to the third level. They have a number of historic cars on display in this area. They did an amazing job showcasing these cars and very creative way to get people to the upper level. Way better than an escalator or elevator.

One of the many historic cars located in the Great Hall

One of the cars on display on Sunoco Glory Road

The third level has the Hall of Honor. NASCAR did a terrific job honoring their legendary drivers. The lighting, displays and video screen around the upper dome, they all come together to set the appropriate mood. If you’re a die-hard racing fan this area is a “Must” visit.

Hall of Honor

The rest of the third and fourth levels hold the majority of the interactive stations of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. They help people get a better understanding what happens on “Race Day” and the progression of racing through the years. The two stations that were the most fun were the Kobalt Pit Challenge and iRacing Simulator. The Kobalt Pit Challenge allows two people to simulate a timed pit stop in NASCAR. None of us wanted to show our pitiful attempt at changing a tire, but we did capture two guys that put on a clinic on how it should be done. (Video Clip) The iRacing Simulator was an extra 5 dollars, but it was worth every penny. Jerry and Shawn both jumped in a car to race on the Bristol Track against other visitors which consisted of 2 pace laps and about 12 laps of racing. Jerry did very well, but Shawn managed to get the 3rd fastest lap time overall for the day and still only finished 7 of 8. The controls take some practice so make sure to visit the practice area first.

iRacing Simulator: Each car holds two racers. The race is broadcast on the big screen along with the fastest times of the day.

Josh: What I liked about the Hall of Fame?
The history behind NASCAR, the memorabilia in the glass cases, the interaction activities.
It was an all around good time.

Jerry: What I enjoyed the most from my visit at the Hall was how it brought you every aspect of NASCAR and how it all started from the moonshiners to the 1st race at Daytona Beach to the Super Speedways of Talladega! Its great how the Hall allows you to test your skills with the simulator and pit crew tests. I would recommend a visit to anyone who loves NASCAR like me!

Shawn: During iRacing, I was going with Ricky Bobby ideology of racing “Only one speed ~ Fast” which in return I shared some rubbing time with the wall.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame was a surprise hit for us. We do not think you have to be a NASCAR fan to appreciate this place. They did a terrific job creating an environment that appeals to a broader crowd thus potentially gaining new fans. Well played NASCAR Hall, you received the checker flag from the Wanna See It All Guys.

Video:
Link to Video on Youtube

We have many more great photos posted in our Facebook Album worthy of a check out.

Mount Mitchell, Gets No Higher East of the Mississippi

Mount Mitchell Sign

Shawn and I decided to take a trip up to Mount Mitchell while we were in the Asheville area. It was a nice drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had never been on the parkway, but had heard it was an awesome road to travel on. It was a good hour drive up Blue Ridge Parkway (it was only about 35 miles but all the curves in the road slowed progress) to reach the bottom of Mount Mitchell. Make sure your gas tank is full because we didn’t see one gas station the whole way there.

View from top of Mount Mitchell

Once you turn off of Blue Ridge Parkway you will have to take another road pretty much all the way to the top of Mount Mitchell. They also have a nice restaurant looking over the mountain about half way up. After reaching the top there is a parking lot looking down on the road we traveled up on and all across the mountain range. As we stepped out of the car I noticed instantly that we were going to have a bug problem so bring plenty of bug spray. There were flies everywhere.

There is a short trail, but very steep, that takes you to the tip-top of Mount Mitchell. They have benches every 20 feet or so to stop and take a rest. When you get to the top you will notice a stone structure that is the grave of the man who discovered Mount Mitchell. Walking past the grave site is a bridge leading up to a platform area which is the highest point east of the Mississippi. This is the best view from the mountain.

Founder of Mount Mitchell Buried Here

We had a good trip up there. I think the drive up to Mount Mitchell down the Blue Ridge Parkway was more enjoyable to me. Do I recommend traveling to Mount Mitchell? Yes, because who wouldn’t want to stand on the highest point east of the Mississippi!

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Pigeon Forge, TN : Josh’s Breakdown of the Road Trip

Mountain Harbor Inn was a very nice place, ideal for honeymooners, or romantic get aways, not so much for 3 guys. Although the Condo of the Rich and Famous had 3 bedrooms so we didn’t get too many weird looks. Real relaxing atmosphere, right on the lake, pontoon boat rentals also available, away from everything but close enough to everything, plus Mountain Harbor Inn had a pretty killer breakfast.

Dollywood, I myself was not to impressed with it, they needs more rides. The rides they do have were pretty fun like Thunderhead and Barnstormer. We have a good pov video we put together using the GoPro Hero camera from the Barnstormer ride.(Jerry was with me on the ride and you can hear his excitement over the rest of the people)

I did not go on the River Rampage but Shawn and Jerry decided to jump on the ride. I discovered the water guns along the fence line used to spray unsuspecting people as they passed on the raft. I think I spent probably 3 or 4 dollars messing with people including Shawn, good times!

We went to eat at Mama’s Farm House, the drive there was interesting I was driving and about got us in  2 or 3 wrecks, but as far as the restaurant goes it was excellent, the servers brought it out in small portions and it was family style. The mac n cheese and chicken was good. I recommend you  check out if you are ever in Pigeon Forge.
After we were done eating needless to say I wasn’t allow to drive back to the inn.

Forbidden Caverns was a really cool place, it used to be an old moonshiner’s hide away. The Forbidden Caverns tour guide was pretty funny real theatrical woman and friendly and knowledgeable, pretty interesting stories behind the caves from indians to moonshiners. On the way back to the Harbor Mountain Inn  we also found where Bush’s baked beans was made.

Josh waiting to get inside Forbidden Caverns

As far as the whole town of Pigeon Forge, it was great. Pigeon Forge has a lot of shops, museums,and eateries along the main stretch of road. We were wanting to go on the cable car up into the mountain but for some reason Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort was shut down. The road trip was a pretty good time.