OS Staff Picks: Best Campus Dining Hall Foods
Downtown State College offers a great variety of restaurants for its inhabitants. In a perfect world, everyone could afford to indulge in Chipotle burritos and Irving’s breakfast sandwiches on a daily basis. However, most days we find ourselves swiping our meal points away at the dining halls instead to save money.
Their convenience makes them the central food source for many students living both on and off campus. Picky eaters often resort to a cyclical rotation of chicken fingers and wraps, causing the dining halls to grow old quickly. To help keep your on-campus meals exciting, the Onward State staff is here to share some of our favorite dining hall dishes:
Alex Calderaro — Creamy Pesto Tortellini
Available At: Buffets
As someone who grew up in an Italian household, I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to pasta. I resent the fact that each dining hall table doesn’t have Parmesan cheese on it, and bring a pie of pizza back to State College with me whenever I visit home in New Jersey. However, the Creamy Pesto Tortellini is a sure-fire way to get the Italian food fix I need. The name of the dish accurately explains its contents: a cheese-filled pasta covered in a cross between Alfredo and pesto sauce. Although it’s not your typical home-cooked meal, the unique hybrid of classic dishes is pleasing to any pasta lover out there. It doesn’t make an appearance at the buffet often, but when it does, it’s worth the wait.
Mike Reisman — West Pizza
Available At: West Dining Commons
Come at me, haters. Sure, dining hall pizza is not the highest quality, but I would argue that it is possibly the best sober pizza in State College. It doesn’t taste like rubber, there’s actual sauce, and you’ve hopefullly never had it drunk so you shouldn’t ever be disappointed when you eat it sober. Plus, the slices are really small so you can have a few without feeling really horrible about yourself. And if a few slices don’t satisfy you it’s, all you can eat, so you can just keep getting more. It’s quick, filling, delicious, and best of all, it’s pizza. Long live West pizza.
Noel Purcell — Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Whipped Potatoes, and Gravy
Available At: Everywhere (but best at Redifer)
The feeling of having Thanksgiving dinner available every month in the dining commons is wonderful. The bread dressing is crunchy when you get the edges, but flavorful and warm otherwise. The turkey is freshly carved (at least in South), warm, and juicy, which is crazy when you consider the quality of meat on campus most of the time. The potatoes are buttery, creamy, smooth, and awesome. You can combine it all with gravy to form an awesome sandwich. It’s strange, it’s caloric, and it’s wonderful. The dining commons make a hell of a Thanksgiving dinner in February when Irving’s Holiday Turkey sandwich is long gone. It makes you feel at home. Plus, you can always go back for more.
Ben Berkman — Redifer Late Night
Available At: Redifer Dining Commons
Late night Redifer is a special place. Eager Schreyer scholars and sorority girls arrive in numbers, braving the cold walk from South waiting for the gates of the post-dinner food haven to open at 9 p.m. But every Sunday when it’s mozzarella sticks and monkey bread night, a special breed of hysteria and anticipation is deserved.
There is simply no better start to the school week than this Sunday night indulgence. The salty and sweet, the yin and the yang of caloric snacks. Sitting for hours under a heat lamp, the mozzarella sticks remain warm, if not stale. The monkey bread, coated with a layer of sugary frosting as thick as the bread itself, is sure to produce a glorious food coma. The tremendous regret that inevitably and immediately follows this consumption is never worth it. That is, of course, until Sunday night rolls around again.
Maddie Lippincott — Pollock’s Salads
Available At: Pollock Dining Commons
It’s probably super unconventional to favor a dining hall salad bar over all the other delicious alternatives offered around campus, but I kid you not, I am addicted to Pollock’s salads. It’s not even that the Pollock dining commons has super fresh toppings or super dark, juicy lettuce — it’s really all about the homemade ranch dressing. Pollock is the only dining hall on campus to my knowledge that makes its own ranch dressing and damn, it does it well. I could honestly drink a gallon of it and I don’t even feel bad admitting that for a second. If you’re trying to have the best salad of your life, go to Pollock. Get a nice, big plate of lettuce, throw some peas and cheddar jack cheese on there, and then douse it in ranch dressing. It’s so good that it’ll kind of feel like you’re eating 10,000 calories, but trust me, you won’t regret a thing.
David Abruzzese — West Wing’s Sandwiches
Available At: West Dining Commons
This one might be unconventional, but I’ll have to give my vote to West Wing’s sandwiches. It’s like Fresh Express mixed with something like “The Mix.” West Wing serves a ton of awesome sandwiches and I frequent the chicken tenders served on ciabatta. It makes a great lunch, which I’ll even venture to say is better than a West cookie. Sure, I’ll admit it’s probably just a close second, but either way, West’s food is the best.
Zach Berger — East Wing Night
I am over three years removed from my last East Halls wing night, and I honestly can’t remember if my nostalgic feelings are based on legitimately good wings or the fact that anything was a step up from ramen. Either way, there was nothing better than a big box of buffalo wings to spice up (literally and figuratively) a boring dorm room night. Perhaps it was the wings breaking up the monotony of Big Onion pizza, but with my limited memory of freshman year, there is certainly no dining commons food that stands out more in my mind.