Good Eats, Beats and Feats Around BIG EAST Cities - Part I

GO KNIGHTS Cincinnati is just one of the several new towns UCF fans will get to visit during BIG EAST road trips.
Cincinnati is just one of the several new towns UCF fans will get to visit during BIG EAST road trips.

Dec. 9, 2011

Knight Head Read John Denton's Knights Insider |  Twitter LogoTwitter |  Facebook LogoFacebook

By Brian Ormiston, Eric DeSalvo, Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - Supporting the Knights on a road trip can be one of the most memorable experiences for Black and Gold fans. And with UCF accepting an invitation to join the BIG EAST, fans have a chance to visit some of the nation's best cities coast-to-coast. New York, Chicago, Washington, Cincinnati and Philadelphia are just five of the towns UCF will invade in the near future.

So we take a look at 10 of the cities in the BIG EAST, five during football season and five more during basketball season, in which UCF fans will quickly become acquainted with on the road, highlighted by some of the top restaurants, attractions and fun facts of each town.

Today is part I - football season.

Football Season
Good Eats
-Zip's Café - On gameday in Cincinnati, fans can expect some overall stellar eats that won't break their budget back very far. Located in the Hyde Park/Mount Lookout area of town, Zip's Café comes highly recommended by former Bearcat students. says the American-style eatery is the fifth-best restaurant in town, and 88 percent of the 925 voters "like" the establishment. The "Zips Burger" is the standby at $4.75, and $5.25 with cheese, but if you are feeling exotic, "The Train Wreck" will tickle your taste buds with grilled mettwurst and shaved ham all on top of your burger.
-Graeter's Ice Cream - Don't skimp on dessert when you are in town either because Graeter's Ice Cream has you covered. Since its founding in 1870 by Louis C. Graeter, the Queen City and its visitors have been enjoying his ice cream for generations. With 15 Cincinnati locations, this after-dinner treat is a can't miss.

Good Beats
-Ride the Ducks - Head across the Ohio River into Newport, Ky., for a unique experience aboard vessels constructed after the classic World War II DUKW amphibious vehicles. Spend 45 exquisite minutes on the tour, including 25 minutes on water, checking out landmarks such as Paul Brown Stadium, World Peace Bell and the Serpentine Wall.
-EnterTRAINment Junction - From Cincinnati, drive on up I-75 to West Chester where EnterTRAINment Junction awaits. Advertised as "The World's Largest Indoor, Interaction Train Display," it also boasts the A-Maze-N Funhouse with a mirror maze and much more. Buy the Choo Choo + Zoo Zoo pass for admission to both the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden as well as EnterTRAINment Junction for only $24.99. EnterTRAINment, A-Maze-N, Zoo Zoo? These names are worth the price of admission.

Good Feats
-Benadryl was invented at Cincinnati by Dr. George Rieveschl, who was an assistant professor researching muscle-relaxing drugs in the early 1940s when he realized the powerful potential of the antihistamine, then being tested as a muscle relaxer.
-Forbes Magazine ranked UC as one of the world's most beautiful college campuses. A panel of architects and campus designers named 14 schools - 10 U.S. and 4 international - in an unranked listin 2010.

Notable alumni/attendees/faculty
-Baseball Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Miller Huggins
-Basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson
-Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the commander and pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima
-Kevin Youkilis, two-time World Series Champion and Boston Red Sox first baseman
-Joseph Strauss, designer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
-Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon taught aeronautical engineering and performed research from 1971-79

Connecticut (Storrs/East Hartford)
Good Eats
-Frank Pepe Pizzeria - When the Food Network names you "Connecticut's Best Pizza" you must be doing something right. Since 1925 Fran Pepe Pizzeria has been bringing residents in the greater Hartford area thin crust pizza baked by coal ovens. The original store is 40 miles north of Hartford in New Haven, but promises to be well worth the drive.
-a href="">Max's Oyster Bar - Visitors to the Hartford area in the mood for some seafood need to look no further than Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford. Offering a variety of menus for different times of day, Max's meets the needs of any seafood connoisseur.

Good Beats
-Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry - The University of Connecticut's School of Fine Arts and the Ballard Institute hold workshops for all ages in the areas of toy theater, rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets and mask making. This might be time to watch some Swedish Chef. Why? Well, why not!
-Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream - Travel over to Griswold, Conn., for some farm fresh ice cream and a seven-acre corn maze. Choose from flavors such as coffee mocha crunch, bubble gum, pistachio, frozen pudding and the mootastic (we just made that name up) purple cow. Also visit farm animals, journey along on an exciting hayride and enjoy some of the most dramatic duck races in New England. We have never seen these races in person, but they have to be dramatic if they involve ducks.

Good Feats
-Every year, 600 gallons of water and 60 tons of dirt are combined in UConn's mud volleyball tournament for students.
-All UConn huskies are named Jonathan in honor of Jonathan Trumbull, who served as the Continental Army's Paymaster General in the Revolutionary War and the 16th Governor of Connecticut. All but the first - a brown and white husky - have been white with one brown eye and one blue eye.

Notable alumni/attendees/faculty
-Meg Ryan, actress
-Jeremy Leven, screenwriter of The Notebook
-Rebecca Lobo, ESPN analyst and former WNBA player
-Bobby Moynihan, Saturday Night Live cast member
-Numerous NBA players including Boston Celtics' Ray Allen, Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay and Detroit Pistons' Ben Gordon
-Numerous WNBA players including Seattle Storm's Sue Bird, Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi and Minnesota Lynx's Maya Moore
-Walt Dropo and Charles Nagy, MLB All-Stars
-Sara Whalen, Women's Soccer Olympic Silver Medalist
-Ronald Mallett, physics professor and researcher in time travel

Good Eats
-Jack Fry's - Highly recommended as the best steakhouse in Louisville, Jack Fry's boasts an impressive menu that doesn't just limit itself to red meat. Other high-class items to choose from include duck, salmon, lamb chops, ahi tuna and lobster campanelle. If those entrees didn't send you over the top, the dessert menu will. It features chocolate bourbon pecan pie, white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake, caramel apple tart and fruit cobbler.
-Wick's Pizza Parlor - Touted as the best pizza place in Louisville, Wick's Pizza Parlor makes sure customers get what they want on a pie when they walk through the doors. Boasting 15 one-of-a-kind pizzas, including the Mexican, Philly Cheese Steak and Wick's Cajun BBQ Chicken, visitors to this famed eatery will not go home disappointed.

Good Beats
-Louisville Mega Cavern - This man-made cavern allows visitors to ride on a tram to discover a rocky world of limestone and over 100 acres of underground passageways beneath the city. The cavern is classified as a building, and is the largest building in the state of Kentucky. One of the most surprising items stored underground here is the original film of The Wizard of Oz.
-Waverly Hills Sanatorium - Claimed to be one of the scariest places on Earth (the alligator-invested shores of Lake Jesup at night could rival this place), it began to house patients suffering from tuberculosis in 1919. Today, brave souls can experience paranormal activity for themselves, including entering the Death Tunnel while on full overnight tours at only $100 per person. However no one under 18 years of age is allowed.

Good Feats
-Louisville surgeons successfully administered the first hand transplant in the United States in 1999 in a 15-hour operation on a 37-year-old man who lost his hand in a fireworks accident 14 years earlier.
-Former Louisville basketball player Derek Smith claims to have invented the high five. According to the story, Smith and teammate Wiley Brown invented it during a pre-season practice in 1979, the same season that Louisville went on to win the national championship.

Notable alumni/attendees/faculty
-Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America
-Frank Neuhauser, First winner of the National Spelling Bee in 1925
-Johnny Unitas, NFL Hall of Famer
-Deion Branch, Super Bowl XXXIX MVP
-NFL Pro Bowlers Bruce Armstrong, Ernest Givins and Tom Jackson
-Former NBA Players Wes Unseld and Darrell Griffith

Rutgers (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Good Eats
-Stuff Yer Face - With a name like Stuff Yer Face, what better way to do it than with a famed stromboli. Stuff Yer Face says that a "Boli" is a sandwich made with your favorite stuffings of either meats, vegetables or seafood, along with cheeses and savory sauces, wrapped in a freshly made pizza-like dough and baked to a crispy, golden brown. The combinations are endless as there are 32 different types of stromboli listed on the menu and 30 different stuffings you can either add or subtract.
-Thomas Sweet Ice Cream & Chocolate - Literally just a hop, skip and jump from campus, Thomas Sweet has been bringing good times and great ice cream to the New Brunswick community since 1983. Thomas Sweet continues to produce all of its ice cream on-location, using the finest confections, nuts and superior dairy products. They have more than 100 classic and original ice cream flavors from the top-secret Thomas Sweet recipe book, as well as soft frozen yogurt, ice cream cakes, refreshing sorbets, smoothies and ices.

Good Beats
-American Repertory Ballet - Man up and take your girl to the ballet for an evening of unforgettable delights on stage. This classical and contemporary ballet company will enter its 38th season next year and performs the annual Nutcracker each holiday season. That is a reminder that it might be time start your holiday shopping today. If you do not plan ahead and get the right gifts, you might not have that special someone anymore to take to the ballet in the first place.
-Stress Factory Comedy Club - While you can visit the club for some laughs, why not rent a comic? If "you need funny, we provide the funny." Stress Factory Entertainment works with some of the biggest names of the business, so hire a comic to impress your friends and add some heartfelt giggles to your night.

Good Feats
-Women were not allowed to enroll at Rutgers until 1972.
-Rutgers claims the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest gathering of people dressed as Where's Waldo (1,052) and the largest gathering of people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (786).
-Rutgers won 6-4 over Princeton in the first game of intercollegiate football on Nov. 6, 1869.

Notable alumni/attendees/faculty
-James Gandolfini, actor The Sopranos
-Kristin Davis, actress Sex and the City
-Calista Flockhart, actress Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters
-John Carpenter, the first champion of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
-Jim Valvano, best known for winning the NCAA Tournament while head coach of North Carolina State, and for his inspirational "Never Give Up" speech at the ESPY Awards just eight weeks before he died of cancer in 1993
-David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA
-Cappie Pondexter, Gold Medalist women's basketball

South Florida (Tampa)
Good Eats
-Taco Bus - With the food truck phenomena sweeping the nation, a stop at the Taco Bus in Tampa will be sure to change your perspective on "fast" food. Owner Rene Valenzuela traveled around the area in his bus, but eventually settled down on E. Hillsborough Ave. just off of I-275. The Taco Bus has a northern Mexican approach to food but you will find tacos with recipes that are typical for places such as Yucatan, Mexico City, Sinaloa and Puebla.
-Ribit's Bar-B-Que - While we are on the topic of non-traditional eateries, why not stop by Ribit's Bar-B-Que on S. Howard Ave. in Tampa. This unique restaurant serves up old school BBQ in a former gas station. Customers are able to sample various fares from around the nation as Ribit's serves pulled pork cooked to North Carolina tradition, Texas-style bisket, Georgia-style smoked sausages and Memphis-style chicken that will "keep you cluckin'." A weekend visit to Ribit's will add a new twist to your taste buds as fresh crawfish from Louisiana in a good ole fashioned southern boil can be had.

Good Beats
-Fun Flats Fishing - Living in Orlando, we are so close to some of the finest fishing in the world. So why not join Captain Mike for an exclusive fishing trip in Tampa Bay? Get your heart racing as you fight with snook, redfish, cobia and tarpon. Make it a four-person adventure for the entire day for just $600. If you are from up North, it does not appear this trip includes fishing for perch or walleye, sorry.
-Q-Zar Tampa - When was the last time you played laser tag? Better yet, when was the last time you were in your office and threw paper up into the air out of frustration? If you can answer either one of those questions and you do not like the answer, then it is time for Q-Zar, an inexpensive laser-tag getaway. Barney Stinson would approve if you bring your entire UCF tailgate crew and purchase a group package which includes pizza and sodas.

Good Feats
-Before settling on the Bulls, some names suggested for USF's mascot were Desert Rats and Florida Chickens.

Notable alumni/attendees/faculty
-Hulk Hogan, WWE wrestler
-Tony LaRussa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals
-Mark Consuelos, actor on All My Children and husband to Regis and Kelly's Kelly Ripa
-Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999