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What Guy Fieri ate on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ at two New Smyrna Beach restaurants

EntertainmentWhat Guy Fieri ate on 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' at two New Smyrna Beach restaurants

A large crowd gathers around a large TV at Panheads Pizzeria in New Smyrna Beach, Friday night September 9, 2022, to watch the airing of Panherads Pizzeria's episode on Diners, Drive-in and Dives.

Guy Fieri’s highly anticipated “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” episode, which featured two Volusia County restaurants, finspanlly spanired on Fridspany.

Fieri visited New Smyrna Beach restaurants Panheads Pizzeria and The Garlic back in June and tried two dishes from each eatery. 

To celebrate the local success of these businesses, let’s break down each dish Fieri ate from how it’s made to what the Mayor of Flavortown had to say about it. 

Warning: Do not read this hungry* 

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Panheads Pizzeria 

 This restaurant is “all about family and tradition,” Fieri said.  

Seek and Destroy pizza from Panheads Pizzeria.

Seek and Destroy Pizza 

The first step to this pizza is not the dough, but the brisket topping. 

To begin, a dry rub of salt, granulated onion, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic and brown sugar is rubbed onto the brisket, which is then smoked for four hours, cooking low and slow at about 270/300 degrees. The meat is then wrapped in foil and put back in for another six hours. Now I know this isn’t a barbecue joint episode, but I think I could have eaten the brisket alone and been satisfied. 

With the brisket ready to go, the dough preparation begins, but without a mixer. Chef Eric Ross uses his Grandma Mabel’s recipe composed of 80-degree water, salt, sugar, yeast, olive oil and high-gluten flour which is hand-kneaded for five to six minutes then proofed overnight and again before cooking. 

The restaurant makes 300 pounds of dough a day, taking Ross about three hours to prepare; now that’s dedication. 

Ross believes using a mixing bowl “beats the dough to death” hardening the gluten and giving it a chewier texture, not ideal for pizza dough. Creating the dough by hand results in the delicate crust Panheads is known for. 

Next is the pizza sauce. Ross goes with an Alfredo instead of the classic marinara. He makes a roux with butter, garlic and flour that is then deglazed with white wine and finished with heavy cream, half-and-half, and a house season blend of kosher salt, white pepper and granulated onion. Once brought to a simmer, Ross adds in Parmesan cheese. 

Of course, he hand-rolls the dough using his grandma’s roller. Ross ensures not to over-roll it, which causes a clay-like texture. He then pokes tiny holes into the dough, known as docking, which allows steam to escape, creating a desirable crust. 

Ross assembles the pizza in the order of dough, Alfredo sauce, the dry rub seasoning, mozzarella, provolone, brisket and caramelized onions on top of the brisket to help deter the beef from drying out and is baked at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Lastly, it is topped with sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire and salt blend with fresh basil. 

“This is so mindful and so cheffed,” Fieri said, complimenting the not-overly smoked brisket, perfectly balanced horseradish sauce and creamy Alfredo, and tender dough with a good chew. “Outstanding.” 

Grandma Mabel’s Gnocchi

Gnocchi from Panheads Pizzeria.

The gnocchi is prepared by combining eggs, salt, riced russet potatoes (breaking the potato into rice-size pieces to create a lump-free, smooth texture) and high-gluten pizza flour that is all worked together until combined well. The dough is cut into small, squarish pieces that are then dropped into salted boiling water. 

The gnocchi is tossed into Grandma Mabel’s butter bacon sauce; the name of this sauce alone has me hungry. Ross begins by rendering out the fat from the bacon. The diced onions are then cooked in the bacon grease and butter. This simple sauce tops off the gnocchi with Parmesan and fresh basil. Lastly, fresh focaccia bread is paired with the dish to soak up all the bacon goodness. 

“That’s fantastic; you look forward to biting into these tender little pillows,” Fieri said. “The bacon butter sauce is sweet and a little salty, the Parmesan adds perfectly, and the fresh basil kind of blooms.” 

“That gnocchi right there, I’ll take against anybody’s. It’s outstanding,” Fieri boasts. 

Sometimes, simple ingredients create the most flavorful dishes and Panheads’ gnocchi proves that perfectly. 

The Garlic

Fieri describes The Garlic as “the amusement park without the rides.”

Pork Chops

Chef Michael Perri begins his pork chops by creating a dry rub of kosher salt, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper, granulated garlic, oregano and brown sugar. Once the chops are rubbed down in the seasoning, they are placed into a vacuum-sealed bag with a sprig of rosemary, herb butter and a block of sweet tea that has been reduced and frozen. The pork is left in the air-tight bags for 24 hours and is then sous vide at 135 degrees for three hours.

Sous vide is a method of cooking that uses exact temperatures to make a dish that has ultimately cooked in its own juices, creating a flavor-packed meal with perfectly cooked meat.   

Once the sous vide process is done, Perri seasons the tender pork chop with more dry rub and throws it into the wood-fired oven to get that nice sear and smoky flavor, we all know and love on meat. 

The chop is topped with a pineapple curry chutney. Perri cooks down poblano peppers, yellow onions, red bell peppers, garlic, pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar, curry powder, fresh ginger, brown sugar and fresh pineapple and lets it all come together and simmer for about 20 mins. 

The large pork chop is plated with chutney on top and is finished with roasted potatoes and toasty Brussels sprouts.  

“The sear on the chop is fantastic, the dry rub is delicious,” Fieri said. “The moister, the smoke, it’s just the perfume of it … . The chutney is like mad scientist stuff. Like Guy’s Grocery Games kind of crazy stuff. A spot-on dish. ”  

Spuntitori Italiano 

Italian sausage, homemade meatballs, pork shank and pulled beef, a meat lovers’ paradise. 

Perri starts by making a tomato sauce with extra virgin olive oil, yellow onions, garlic, oregano and basil. Then he adds in whole plum tomatoes and tomato puree. He lets it simmer for two hours and then adds in fresh basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and lastly immersion blends the liquid to make it more smooth. 

Next, the back of the rump (which is the top of the cow’s back hip) and gooseneck (yes, a gooseneck) is prepared for braising. The meats are seasoned in black pepper and salt and are placed in a pan with bay leaves, whole garlic, carrots, onions and celery and are then topped with water. This is covered in foil and broiled at 425 degrees for two to three hours. 

“It’s just shred-tender,” Fieri said as Perri effortlessly rips the meat apart. 

Next, the pork legs are roasted. Rubbed with just salt and pepper, the pork shanks are braised in hot oil, then covered in marinara and water, wrapped in foil, and baked in the oven for an hour and 44 minutes at 425 degrees.

Perri prepares the meatballs next. He blends onions, Italian parsley, eggs, Worcestershire and garlic and combines it with the house ground beef, pecorino, Italian seasoning, pepper, breadcrumbs and, to my surprise, oats, which makes the meatballs softer, a trick I must try now. 

Once the ingredients are incorporated, Perri makes 2-ounce meatballs and places them in a pan with beef stock to bake in the oven covered in foil. 

Finally onto the vegetables, well kind of. Onions and peppers are cooked down with Italian sausage, shallots and garlic. Once ready, the pulled beef, meatballs, pork shank, tomato sauce and chicken stock are added to allow all the flavors to fuse together. 

While that’s cooking, Perri gives Fieri a taste of the roasted garlic topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bread that’s brought to every table. 

Roasted garlic from The Garlic.

“That’s good with anything,” Fieri said.

Back to the Spuntitori Italiano, the saucy meat tops rigatoni pasta and is finished with basil. 

“Nice tender meatball,” Fieri said in between bites. “The Italian sausage is my hero of the whole dish. A lot of fennel, delicious. Not shy on the garlic; the tomato sauce is beautiful. It’s a symphony of flavors. Dynamite dish.” 

Coming up

On June 28,  Fieri was also seen filming another episode of “Triple D” at Millie’s Restaurant in Daytona Beach Shores after renowned Central Florida attorney John Morgan posted to his Facebook page: “Filming today for Diners and Drive-Ins … Millie’s is the best … had gator ribs and pork nachos.” The episode featuring Millie’s is set to air on Sept. 16. 

So, that means I’ll see you next week on the breakdown of “Diners, Dives-Ins and Dives” featuring another local restaurant. 

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