Do Go Back To Rockville

ModernPizza

Rockville, MD, like most of Montgomery County, and like most of the Washington, DC area (I could go further) has expanded to the point where congestion and overcrowded is just a a part of the norm.

I have plenty of family in the area, so I will always have a reason to go back.  And I’m so grateful for that.    There’s other places I like to eat and like to visit.  And once in a while I get nostalgic, but it’s not really like that anymore.

However, along with all my amazing family, and the few friends that are still in town or nearby, I now have another reason to come back and visit.

ModernSign

I had most likely never heard of Modern Market until yesterday.  I say most likely because maybe I’ve passed by the one in D.C. or Bethesda and didn’t even realize it.

With 29 locations, and growing, this will be one of the larger franchises I’ve ever reviewed since the inception of this blog.

Yesterday I was on Rockville Pike with what seemed like the rest of the world, and just wanted to find something new to eat.  It didn’t necessarily have to be pizza.  But at the Congressional Plaza shopping center, so much has evolved and new businesses have opened up.

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This is nowhere close to the landscape that I recall as a kid.  I’m not saying that’s good or bad.  It’s really just evolution and the world we live in now.  It’s more of a business and more higher end stores than ever before.  It caters to the clientele and the people that live and work in the area.

So what used to house something else (which I honestly don’t remember) is now the space for Modern Market.  And I’m happy to say I’m a fan and will be happy to go back.  That’s it everybody thank you.   Haha no…

When I first walked in I felt a stuffy vibe. I can’t lie about that.  Rockville and the surrounding area takes pride in this and many feel it’s a term of endearment, or just a part of how it’s supposed to be.  That’s not something I identify with and never will.   It’s a huge reason why I don’t come back here as much as I probably should.  But I digress…

Those feelings alleviated quickly because they’re just feelings.  They’re temporary.  And I can live in my own universe at any time, and all the time, and not worry about anyone else. But I’ll still have to pay DC area prices and that’s a whole different conversation.

Spring is here and the intent is always to eat healthier.  Actually that’s always the intent.

ModernMenu

As a first timer, I wanted a half and half type of meal, which would include pizza.  Here is their menu, which is not as intimidating as I originally thought.

ModernPizzas

ModernPizza

Whenever there is a chance to get a seasonal or limited time pizza, I’m all about it.   The seasonal pizza is the Hot Honey and it’s fabulous.    Served on stone-ground wheat flour bread it has ingredients I don’t pretend to all know but there’s no pretending on the taste. It’s fantastic and kind to your belly, especially if you get the half.  The ingredients include creminelli salami piccante, goat cheese, arugula, organic red sauce, and Mike’s hot honey.

ModernSlice

I don’t know Mike personally but the honey really hit the spot.  And the little drips of honey on the plate made for a great presentation.  But everything shone through.  And I can never get enough goat cheese and arugula.

ModernSalads

 

ModernSalad

I got a half of that and a half (which looked more like a full, no complaints here) Farmer Salad.   Another winner. It was easy to eat and I may have liked it more than the pie.  Anything with almonds is almost certainly going to be awesome.  And yes.

ModernKombucha

The real treat was the Cherry Blossom Kombucha they had on tap.  Yes they have kombucha on tap!  I may get this is another universe and at another time.  But that alone, even if its seasonal, is worth the visit.  And how beautiful does that look?

ModernCalorie

What’s a real hoot is that they give you all the nutritional info on your receipt.  It’s a little thing that’s a big thing.  And it makes them stand out from the crowd just a little more than other places.  It’s not so easy to do but then it’s even easier than we even realize.

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The counter service is exactly what I needed on this day.  After just a few minutes my  food was ready.  And it was busy for lunch so the rapid-fire place my food was made may concern some, but it all came out splendidly.

And as for all the rest of the world. I wasn’t worried about them.  I sat in my own corner and in my own bubble, and felt content and felt happy.  I literally was in my own universe of peace and of harmony.

After taking a few photos, I enjoyed my meal for a good 20-30 minutes.  I lost track of time because for reasons that need no explanation I felt at peace.  No need for nostalgia or going down memory lane.  Because it’s the present tense and we’re in more a modern way of life.  Well it’s always been modern at whatever tine it is.  But it’s expansion of horizons, ideas, food, life, and everything in between and on the peripheral.

I wanted to save my favorite part about Modern for the end.  Their story says it all.

ModernFront

Anyone who takes a chance, quits their jobs, and decides to follow a passion should always be lauded and celebrated, especially if they succeed.  This place has succeeded.  And the goal to use natural ingredients and appeal to everyone’s fancy and dietary restrictions, is a wonderful thing and a perpetual goal that is always going to be there.

Now I realize why they’re changing their menus every season.  It’s for us, but as just as much for them.  So it’s for everybody.

This is a place for everybody.  And I can’t wait to come back to Rockville or maybe another location.

I hope every Spring outing can turn out like this.  It easily can.

Ideen

 

After All, It’s Just Pizza

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I mean it really is.  You, me, or anybody else can rant and rave about a place, rip it to shreds, and/or seek all the good and bad in the details of any pizzeria or restaurant.  It’s the experience, the ambiance, the hopefully good company you were with, and those hidden gems of information that only you might notice, and either keep to yourself or want to share with the world.  Which I like to do sometimes.

But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just pizza.

JustPizzaFront

After not doing a single post from the beaches last year, I’m already getting it in going in March, with the appropriately titled, Just Pizza, of Bethany Beach, DE.

If you’ve been to Bethany Beach you know how quite and cozy this town is.   It’s the antithesis of the chaotic nature of the nearby beaches in Maryland and Delaware.

Bethany is sentimental to me.  Many beaches might mean something to you too.  I have fond memories of a kid taking family trips here.  It was a superb getaway for our family go to away, if even just for a few days, from the familiarity of home.  I mean that’s why we take vacations right?  But I don’t remember a pizzeria being so close by.

Where my family usually stayed was right across the street in one of the condominiums or hotels.  But I remember the charming and approachable shopping center where Just Pizza currently stands.  In a town like this, the more things change, nothing changes.  And in a way I love that so much.

So this pizza is not amazing.   I wouldn’t even call it great.  But they’re not a place that claims to be world class and a five star restaurant.  If they did, I would judge them differently.

Literally, it’s a carry-out place that’s one of the more smaller spaces you’re going to come across.  With just a few chairs in the waiting area, it resembles an doctor’s office more than a place to grab some eats, if you will.

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In the honor of how simplistic this place is, I went simple  I got half cheese and half pepperoni for the road.  I was the only one waiting and I felt my pie took quite a while.  It felt about 20-25 minutes when I was promised 15.  It’s a minor detail but it’s worth noting. Perhaps it adds to the easy-going nature of the town, or maybe it really took that long.

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I’m not going to say it was worth the wait. The pizza was ok but like I said, it’s not going to win any awards.  But I will say, it did remind me of the beach.  That might not make sense initially, but something about it just tasted like it’s from the beach.   I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s a thing where my mind is telling me what to sense and what to taste, and predictably (or not) it’s evoking feelings of the beach and sand, and who knows what else I remember from growing up, and maybe now.

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The crust is a bit rougher than usual but it had a buttery taste to it that I liked.   The cheese and pepperoni were just what I thought it would be, good and greasy.  But it may be too greasy for some.

Nevertheless, I’ve talked to a couple of friends that know what they’re getting when they order and it gets the job done.  And for most of us, when it comes to pizza, that’s all we need.  All the other details don’t always matter.

Folks for are at the beach looking for a quick (well I hope so, order ahead of time of course) pie or other standard fare to go, this is going to make most people happy.  If and when I’m staying or visiting here again, I will likely eat here again if it was an option presented to myself or from a friend, or family member.

Speaking of which, it’s so funny that I used to not appreciate the peace and quiet of this town like I do now.   It’s the top reason where I feel partial to small towns and small businesses like this.  They’re depend on support from locals and tourists in season a like. And I’m always happy to support any local business, because they’re still the soul and conscience of small towns likes this and even bigger cities.

JustPizzaMenu

Next time I’m back  I will absolutely give them another try.   For my friends who want somewhere quiet and would like to avoid the commotion of the bookending resort towns of Ocean City and Dewey Beach then this is perfection. They don’t have a website but more information can be found here and here.  At the time I was there, it was perfection.   But as the weather gets nicer this is a place that’s a safe house and an ally when one isn’t always around.

JustPizzaPie1

I’m not sure if this mean the beach posts will resume.  I did many back in the Summer of 2015 (those posts can be found here), and that feels so long ago.  We shall see.

But for now I will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and wish you a happy and safe one as well.

Ideen

 

Fame and Fortunatos

FortunatoSlices

I know right.  That’s the title I came up with and I’m sticking to it.  Actually I could change it at any time but I don’t see that happening.

For as long as this blog has been going, and we’re past two years now, I always knew I would get to writing about Fortunato Brothers of Towson.

FortunatoFront

Dating back to 2000, I’ve been a semi-regular visitor of this pizzeria.  And it’s a pizzeria alright.  There’s nothing cute about the inside.  There’s pies on display for slice ordering, a standard soda machine, and a few tables for indoor dining.   First and foremost, it’s all about getting food to go.

I’ve seen it cramped at times with patrons waiting for their orders.  I haven’t seen it quite to the point of being uncomfortable, but it’s been close.

But to tell you the truth their pizza has never done it for me.  It’s not like it’s bad.  Most pizza isn’t truly bad, it’s just that for an establishment that has been around over 40 years I would hope their pizza would be on par with some of the best, if not the good ones, in the area.

I don’t think it’s ever come close.   It’s good enough that I come to get a quick slice from time-to-time, but I’ve always felt it to be averages.  It’s a decent slice and a solid price. And usually two slice with a soda will cost around $7.  No complaints with that.

The main issue to me is the quality.

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This go around I went with a chicken parmesan and a white spinach slice.

FortunatoChickenParm

First, the chicken parmesan was adequate but something was missing.  The pieces of chicken were missing that taste and texture that would complement a pizza.  It doesn’t have to be award winning but I’d like a little more flavor.  Something just felt off. The cheese and sauce were fine.  It made for a decent slice but nothing more.  I will say that the crust was fantastic.  It’s enough to eat if you’re in a pinch for a slice but nothing out-of-this-world.

FortunatoSpinach

Next up is the white spinach.  Again, the crust was good but not quite on par with the chicken parm.   I don’t know what happened but the spinach and tomatoes didn’t work here.  They didn’t taste fresh.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the cheese either.  This one surprised me even more.

It almost seemed that the veggies have gone through multiple heating and then re-freezing.  That means the pizza itself has been heated and then cooled again overnight.  I have no evidence of that other than a feeling and based on past experience of similar issues with similar pizza pies.   That doesn’t explain why the crust was still good, or maybe the crust being just a tad below the first slice might explain enough.

I’m not against saving food but for the sake of making money and reusing slices that seemed have sat out too long, that’s disappointing.

You know me.  I look for the positives in all instances of pizza.  But the negatives outweigh anything else.  And this how it’s been for me for quite some time.

I know people who love their pizza and sing the praises of how this is the original Fortunato’s and it’s the best.  I don’t see if that way. Yes this is an interesting local chain. It’s branched off with other locations but they’re not all connected, if any of them are to begin with.  This version has always been just there to me  It’ll be a place I’ll get something to eat in a rush and that’s about it.    The staff over time has always seem to be laid back.  Maybe they’re too laid back?

This is the beginning of something.  Or maybe not.  I don’t make posts with the intent of not following up or referring to later.  There is significance with all of this.   I will be exploring the  various Fortunato locations in the area to see if there is a connection even when there isn’t.    This could make for some interesting discoveries.  I still don’t know all the details so that’s where the discovering will come in.

Here is their menu and online ordering info for our friends in the Towson area, or the county/city line.

My hunch tells me I got something good for next week.

Ideen

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

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And I mean that.  Ceriello Fine Foods of Brewers Hill and Belvedere Square has that cozy Italian Market feel that resembles a throwback to markets you might have gone to when stores like this were more prevalent, and a lovely meeting place in your neighborhood to talk about anything.   Or if you’re lucky there’s one close to you that still keeps all the traditions and goodness of why you came in the first place.

ceriellostorefront

I can’t place my finger on why places like this draw me and so many others exactly.  At least for it’s the hope I’m supporting local businesses and that my support is going to a place with good intentions that mirrors the customers intentions.  I hope that makes sense.  I also think my overly sentimental nature wants to believe that these business come more from the heart than more larger and national chains that are strictly business and don’t always bring the personable aspect to how they run their operations, versus say a local one.

And Ceriello is a growing company.  They’re originally in New York and now have added a few more in the state, as well as expanding into New Jersey, and now Maryland. The local flavor is still there.

The feeling I’ve been getting from Ceriello is that they do things the right way.  And they’re making it effortless.

I’ve always had a good feeling and food service every time I’ve visited.  Whether it’s ordering a sandwich, wine (click here to read about the wines pictured throughout this blog) prepared foods, pasta, other various groceries, and of course pizza.

And in the less than one year they’ve been open, they seem to have made a positive impact on the local community in Southeast Baltimore.

This is the first time I’ve tried their pizza.  Luckily, in Baltimore they do have a strong sandwich and pizza menu that seems to have expanded greatly from the link here.

I’m glad I took a picture of their choices here that were in front of the oven.  Oh wait, I got a picture of this beautiful oven too!   So after debating on which pie to get and agonizing over a couple, I went with both.  Yes, when all things are undecided, go with both.  And I’m so glad I did.

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First up is the one I originally wanted and almost hedged on, the Quattro Stagioni aka The Four Seasons.  For our pals in Maryland this is for us.  We’ve experienced all four season the past few weeks weather wise, this made perfect sense.  Little did I know that the pie would actually be divided by the four toppings on separate parts of the pizza.  This looks genius, crafty, creative, and most of all beautiful.   What I did notice that even though peppers were on the menu, I’m guessing onions were the substitute.  And believe me, whether or not that was a honest mistake or meant to be in place of the peppers, I’m happy with that.

ceriellofourseasons

The toppings tasted fresh and I mean fresh.  Maybe even farm fresh.  But I’m no expert on what’s farmed or not.  But the mushrooms, caramelized onions, and zucchini tasted like they were from another universe. Maybe that’s how they’re truly supposed taste, just plain natural. And in my usual true-to-form I took plenty of liberties into picking piece of off my pie and enjoying them on their own.   The prosciutto, or cotta, was also really tasty, and a nice dichotomy to all the vegetables that dominated the pie.

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The mozzarella cheese worked perfectly as a backdrop but was not lost in the shuffle. Cheese is always the heart and soul of any pizza. Without good cheese everything else goes down the tubes.

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I did want to mention the crust.  The way this was heated made the dough soft and chewy which in many instances works perfectly.  Some people aren’t going to like that.  It’s not your New York or crunchy thin crust style.  But it’s a style that is the perfect comfort food for any time of comfort.  And it’s still cold, but by the time you read this it could feel like close to Summer in the Maryland area, but the point is still there.  This is a pizza you can fold in half, or appreciate it for what it is, with the perfect charring and tasty crust.

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It paired with an interesting white wine (more on the wine will be updated this Wednesday here).  As you can see above I got all four seasons in these two slices.  So exciting I know!

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Next up was the pizza maker’s suggestion and favorite, the Pizza Polpetta, which was the Meatball.  And man they did meatballs much differently than I expected.  I’ve had meatballs on top of pies which can sometimes cause a mess, fall off, and be too much to eat in one bite.  Not that it wasn’t tasty or created in their vision, but sometimes less is more.  This was more.  The meatballs were baked into the cheese. and they were sliced in the most precisely cut small pieces.  I did not expect that but was pleasantly surprised.   The caramelized onions which seemed to be familiar, oh wait haha, and the provolone really made this pie.  The red sauce and mozzarella once again played second fiddle but in a good way.

I wanted to show you the inside of one of these slices, so without sounding gross, this literally is a dissection of the sliced meatballs and onions with slices of provlone baked under the mozzarella.   I know, so cool right?

This paired with a standard Chianti.  And pizza with meat and red sauce screams an Italian red.

For more on the wines, go here.

The list of their pies is boundless so if I get the opportunity, like I’ve said about many places before, I would love to come back again.  But regardless of that, this place has so much to offer.

And you don’t have to live in the area to get all the  good products and good energy they have to offer.

Here are some links to help you in that direction.

Here’s their list of stores and contact info.

To order by phone, click here.   And here’s where you can order gift baskets and their catering info.

And for our friends in Baltimore, here is their food menu, that I know has grown immensely.

What a treat this was. Seriously, this was two fantastic pizzas.  And I look forward to having more again, in times of comfort or any season I care to celebrate, or all four!

ceriellopizzawine

Oh by the way, they do a pizza and wine night.  For our friends in Baltimore you have may experienced this.  I have yet to have the pleasure.   I hope I get the opportunity.  Oh and…

Happy Early Spring,

Ideen

& A Lot More

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I had been greatly anticipating the opportunity to write about &pizza, but only if the circumstance and proper location presented itself.   I know not every week can nor should be an existential piece on why we love pizza, and why it brings such joy to our lives.  But it certainly makes for a fun discussion, and more importantly, what’s the point if there can’t be enjoyment.

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That’s why I find great satisfaction in finally finding the proper instance to talk about my experience with this charming and fascinating pizza paradise.

This is not my first rodeo with &pizza.  But previous visits didn’t feel right to elaborate on. I’m hoping that makes sense.  There should be a little story behind the neighborhood, the time of day it was, the mood,  the ambiance, and all those other quirks that can make the pizza experience all the more memorable, or in some instances forgettable but fun to make fun of.

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My visit to the historic Barracks Row location, checks off many of those boxes and brought a little something more to the table than I expected.  How I ended up here is just one of those meant to be scenarios.  But in my traditional curious sense, I needed to see what was nearby, in terms of shopping, food, and of course the za.

It’s funny because I used to spend a lot more time here in what feels like a lifetime ago, but I didn’t recognize it at first.  Some of the bars and restaurants look the same but other than that, like most major cities, more stuff and more stuff is has come and is coming. That means a few more chains but hopefully more local business as well.

&pizza is a local chain that is only going to continue to grow.  With stores in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, and soon to be in New York, you know it’s only going to get bigger.

But it originated in DC first (here is my history of DC area pizza), so that’s where I’m going to begin.

What I loved instantly about this location is the warm welcome from the two team members working the counter.  It was a little bit after lunch hours so maybe the chaos of people had subsided, and they could be a bit more personable, but this was from the heart. And I sensed these folks would be like this no matter how many customers were waiting and how high the stress level may be.

That kind of kindness is usually going to make your food taste better.  I truly believe that. There was a personable aura that is always appreciated.  And this is in Washington, DC, which isn’t the most welcoming and people tend to be in a rush around-the-clock.

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I wanted it simple, so I went with the Gnarlic.  Yes that’s exactly how it’s spelled.  I wanted a white pizza with some veggies and on whole grain bread.  Yes you have your choice of white or ancient grains.  I wanted to pretend I was eating healthier.  Maybe I was.

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This is over-the-counter style, so everything is made and heated in front of you, and ready to serve in five minutes.  Because I was one of the few people at the time, that wait time felt even shorter.  Maybe time just stood still.

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While I was waiting, I noticed the craft soda machine.  I guess I never noticed that before.  I usually never order a beverage in a quick place like this.  It’s usually water.  But for the sake of the experience and trying something new I went with the Pear + Fig Elixir.  This was something special.  I highly recommend this.  What’s funny is while I thought it tasted amazing, I had forgotten that it was pear and fig that it was tasting.  It was a fruit punch that was a punch to the heart and soul, but in a good way.

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So my pizza came out and boy does that look beautiful right?

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This was a thankfully light and crisp pizza.  Like I stated I’d been here before but never found it memorable, until now.   The garlic and onions were the stand outs.   It was just like eating a simple flat bread or pita bread like I’ve done many times before.  I wasn’t in the mood for thick and doughy crust this time.  And since the weather was nicer this encouraged a lighter fare.   What did surprise me is I didn’t taste much of the pesto that was drizzled on beautifully.   Maybe it was meant to taste light?  But that part wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.

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The cheese also tasted lighter, which I definitely welcomed.  I just adored the shape of this pizza pie.  I adored so much of it.  And the charm and the ambiance of the place certainly helped.  As did seemingly having the whole place to myself for a bit.

The sun was shining, house music was playing inside, and I had a beautiful view of DC and a mix of locals and tourists strolling along enjoying the view.  Is this DC or another dimension?  How about a little bit of both.  And &pizza is a big a part of that.  There’s a feel good vibe that should be the norm but still might be the exception.

pizzabox

This is only the beginning of my recaps of their pizzas.  They have a bunch of locations and a bunch of pizzas to try.  When I go them again will be up to the universe and some complete random series of events.  Or I just walk into a location, haha.  I feel like this set the bar very high and will be hard to match.  I welcome the challenge.

Their website is easy to navigate, for all your informational needs.   More scrolling and less clicking is m.o. here.

Stay gnarlic, oops I mean gnarley, or something.

 

Ideen

 

Fresh Market Pizza Party

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And that party was for one, me.  As in most of my posts, my dining experience has mostly been done in solitude.  If there were group outings or with a friend or two, then I most likely made it clear that I had some good company.  And how that might change dynamic of the experience and pizza itself.

This is a different kind of experience than what I’ve usually written about.   When making a frozen pizza in the comfort of your own home, it takes on a whole new life.  Even though we most likely didn’t make the pizza ourselves from scratch, there is something personal about heating it in the oven and enjoying a pie by yourself or with close family and friends.

It’s the whole ritual of looking for a pizza, seeing which toppings would make you and your serving company happy to eat without anyone feeling left out.  But when it’s just you, like it was in that case, the options become unlimited and no need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings except maybe your own.

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Per a recommendation from a close friend, I was told to visit The Fresh Market to grab one of their personal frozen selections and give it a shot.

But first I’ll give you my own personal experience of this grocery shoppe.

A little over eight years ago I was on a drive just like any others and stumbled across a new shopping district a little bit of a ways from the Baltimore area.   When I see a new arrary of stores and places to explore I’m naturally curious and love to discover something fun.   What I was grateful to notice was my first visions of this Fresh Market.

You know anything from the first time you walk in is going to feel wholesome, genuine, and simpatico.   Well not necessarily always but I would like that to be the case more times often than not.  But this is what I felt here.

It felt like a market.  You had your standard grocery aisles and in the middle you had fresh made sandwiches to order (and pre-made to go), your fresh meats, prepared foods, baked goods, and so many other fun things.

But aside from that nut you have a great selection of natural foods (nuts, raisins, dried fruits, sweet treats etc.), coffee, tea, and so many other amazing things.

Now what I just listed reads like any old grocery store, and that might be true, but something about the aura and energy in here just feels right. Maybe it’s the dimmed lights.  Maybe I’m just seeing things.  But something just feels awe inspiring in here at times.

But I had yet to ever try their pizza.  If I did, I forgot.  And that’s on me.

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So after a little poking around earlier this week, in the freezer section and refrigerated aisle, I went with the Margherita.  I wanted to keep it light, simple, and a little more down-to-earth, so this felt correct in theory.

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I’m immediately charmed by the packing.  It just looks so cool.  That’s a technical term by the way.  Any personal touch, even in the most simplest form, leaves a lasting impression and goes a long way.

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When I got ready to prep this at home a feeling of excitement came over me.  I don’t use my oven enough to begin with, so this was going to be a real treat.

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Upon opening my pie looked ready to be heated and served to a party of one.  Hey, that’s me!

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Details of all this are not necessary.  I just wanted to convey my enthusiasm over something so simple and heating a frozen pizza.

What was even more inspiring were the aromas I was getting through the oven while my pie was cooking.  Those Italian spices were just permeating my kitchen. It w as only a 10-12 minute heating process, so I was patient but I was getting eager to eat.

It wasn’t at the point of staring at the timer, but I just felt like a kid waiting to eat my pizza and periodically checking the oven to see if it was ready.  I’m sure many have been in these shoes before; as a kid, as a parent, or both.

freshmarketpizzaheated

How gorgeous does this look?  Those sights and smells were giving me goose bumps.  And that golden brown crust makes it look almost too good to eat.  But forget that.

But to my mild disappointment, the spices, cheese, and tomatoes didn’t translate from in the oven to actual meal time.

It felt like whatever I was enjoying with my nose never clicked when actually eating a slice.

When talking about a frozen pizza, it’s a different criterion versus your local pizzeria.  I’m not looking for world class and pizza of the year caliber pie.  But I do want it to taste good.

The crust was flaky , crusty, and falling apart, just how I like my frozen gems.  But as a whole, the pizza just tasted average.  I wanted more flavor and I didn’t get it.  I’m surprised but not deterred.

And it’s not to say I didn’t finish.  I ate the whole thing, because even though it wasn’t anywhere close to what I expected, it was good enough to eat.

I did get two meals out of it.  The second meal was a late night snack.  I knew it was at home waiting for me, wrapped in foil.  That’s a good feeling knowing a pizza you heated is ready for a second around.

And yes, I was secretly hoping the seasonings and tomatoes would come alive on a second try.  It didn’t happen but doesn’t mean I won’t try another one of their pizzas.  They have a vast selection to choose from, and  I’m willing to bet will lead to better results.  And just because I wasn’t floored by it doesn’t mean you won’t.  Give it a try.  For $5.99, it’s a great investment into trying something new.

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I don’t talk about frozen pizza much, but I would like this to be a regular thing.  I’ve had some amazing ones in my lifetime, and hope to cross paths with some of them, and share them with you.   Whether I continue this next week remains to be seen.  Maybe.

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To find the nearest Fresh Market in your area, click here.

In regards to that picture at the beginning of this post, my animal friends wanted to share in my personal experience, but no I didn’t give them any.  You don’t see me eating any of their pizza.  Oh wait…

For my previous foray into frozen pizza click here.

We also made pizzas once, to read more about that click here!

We’ll see what next week brings us.

Ideen

 

There Was A Reason For This

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As of this writing National Pizza Day will be yesterday, February 8th.   I would be lying if I said I knew this ahead of time.  And I would also be lying if I knew what about what pizza or pizzeria I would be writing about.   The biggest lie would be that I had something big planned all along.

I didn’t have to plan anything.  I’m sure I would have written about a great place, or what I would hope to be great, and celebrate National Pizza Day, and move on to the next week. But no, the universe always has a way of rearranging itself and working itself out for me. Anything is possible and usually is.   We tend to say these things but they don’t always have any meaning.

I want to believe that this has meaning. Either there was a reason for this, or the reason was presented to me and I still need to figure it out, or there’s nothing more.  And there’s closure.

The way I write about pizza makes it seem like it’s some cosmic and metaphysical experience.  To some it is just pizza.  But I tend to think when it comes to things your passionate about, there’s something bigger than us.  It’s a spiritual celebration of food, of feeling, and fascination.    And maybe some alliteration too, ha.

This encounter had such significance that I don’t know if words will be enough to convey how special this was.  I will do my best.

A very unusual set of circumstances brought me the town of Prince Frederick, MD.  Never heard of it?  Well I imagine many folks in Maryland haven’t either nor have the faintest idea where to find it on the map.  A few years ago I would have been one of those folks. This was only my second ever visit, and the first unplanned.

When I find myself in unique towns, like anyone, I like to drive or walk around, and do a little sightseeing.  The grass tends to be greener and everything looks larger-than-life. Perhaps many times it is.  What I do look for, without trying too hard, is a nice place to grab a bite, some coffee, maybe a museum, maybe a charming shoppe, and of course the joyous slice of pizza.

You know every town has a pizza parlor.  And hopefully it’s a locally owned one.  That’s one of the major points of all this, to support local and all the happiness it brings to peoples lives, to go somewhere comforting, where yes someone knows your name and you know the friendly folks behind the counter.

And it becomes a a tradition.

At first your just a customer, then an acquaintance, then a friend, then maybe even a good friend, and then essentially family.

That’s the true heart, soul, and backbone of this thing called life.   So with that I’m grateful to say I may have hopefully started a new, semi-regular tradition with a place I forgot, from my childhood, Pizza Oven Inn.

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And I mean it’s a truly forgotten place to me.  As it hasn’t been on my record for at least a decade. Funny the things we forget and with all the information we have, there’s so many pieces of information that become buried in our subconscious, never to return again.

Thankfully this one was revived and now retained.

It was a nice change of pace to be in Southern Maryland.  As I’m starting to heard home I do have a yearning to get some foods, you know, because eating is one of the joys of life and is fun.   I did some scoping around and located some pizzerias close to me, and I know one of them was going to become a part of this everlasting story I’m telling.  Luckily I bypassed one to get to this old-time looking strip mall.  I can’t explain how it looks, but it just has a feeling of a small-town shopping center that’s been around for a long time.  And the sentimentalist in me likes that.

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So I see this Pizza Oven Inn, and from the window noticed they didn’t do slices.  So I felt like I was in a rush.  But a rush from what?  I was 90 minutes from my house, and anyways, I needed to enjoy my time in a place I’m rarely in.   But as I’m parking I almost drove away. You know how sometimes you’re indecisive when it comes to food, or just about anything? This was the dilemma.  And I’ve done this a bunch of times with a bunch of places I never ended up eating at.  I didn’t want this to be another what could have been moment.

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Before I walk in to a place, I may take a picture of the outside of a building to incorporate into my stories.   However, when I walked in, a gentleman who turned out to be a regular called me out on that.  And I wouldn’t say in a bad way.  But I did feel like I was made.  That happens from time-to-time. It was a pleasant exchange nonetheless.  But what this did lead to was…

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I got to meet the owner, Stacy, on her day off of all days.  This led me to explaining what I do and what I write about.  If it wasn’t for being figured out by one of their own, I’m not sure this conversation even takes place.   Lots of weird energy (in a good way) going around during this entire exchange.

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My first inclination is to get a small pie to go, as I still feel that I’m in a rush.  Stacy suggested a large to go.  And maybe even a square shaped pie.  At this point I feel like I’m at everyone’s mercy (haha not even close but for for dramatic purposes, sure why not) that she pegged me for a vegetable pizza man.  I took that as a compliment.

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So I went with the vegetable pie and resumed this fascinating conversation.

After a few minutes it came up how Pizza Oven Inn was a massive local chain going back decades.  And there were several near where I grew up, one being in Rockville, MD.  I started reflecting back on the past and realized there was one within walking distance from where my dad works (still does after all this time), and where my family still lives.

At this point I started getting goose bumps, and remembering how the outside of the building looked and the image of an even older looking shopping center (which still exists today in almost its original form), and another location where the community gathers and meets regularly.

While my pizza was heating, she made a call looking for verification the old Rockville, MD location and all was confirmed. It was a pleasant and surreal feeling all at once.  I got those warm and fuzzies.

I believe she spoke to her business partner, but I want to believe that phone call was made and received from a much higher place.

Their business has gone through many changes.  What was once a local chain with pizza shops all over the Maryland and DC area, is now down to two.  It has been taken over by a couple incarnations of larger chains, but for me, I’ll stick with the support of local.

So, after all that, how was the pizza?

It made me happy.  It made me feel like a kid,  The square pieces are always a welcome change from the standard pizza shape.  And many of us love that pizza .  They serve that kind of pie as well.

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The crispier pieces were from the end slices, and sometimes you found perfect charring on random slices throughout the pizza.   The vegetables tasted fresh.  And those tomato slices made that pie.

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I love olives, onions, peppers, and I adore mushrooms. This was all around happiness.

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For the first time in a while, I threw on oregano and parmesan cheese to enhance the flavors. It didn’t need much enhancement but for so many reasons this felt like a special occasion.

The pizza lasted me a few days, and I feel it tasted just as good, if not better, than when originally heated.   At some point I did finally take those pizza savers, (or as Stacy called them, Barbie Tables) off of the pie.  With all the excitement of energy of this day, I never thought to remove them.  I never thought to do a lot of things.  I just went with the flow.

And the flow is what makes experiences like this so amazing.

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I mentioned that two locations still exist.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back and if their own shoppe will be a part of that.  I certainly hope so.  This is an experience I’m going to be thinking about for a long time.  While it may seem too dramatic for some reading this, there’s a spiritual component of many of these visits, that I don’t always write about.  This one will resonate for some time.

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Pizza Oven Inn doesn’t have an official website, which I think adds to the charm.  But you can find them on Facebook.   I posted a picture of their chalkboard menu above, but you can also find it here.

I’m so fortunate to have been a part of something so special and something big.  I can only hope the next time I’m back in Prince Frederick, and I’m back at Pizza Oven, that the next story can be just as or even bigger than the next one.  I welcome it with open arms.

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On the other hand, if this was to be a one-time only deal, I will cherish this memory forever.

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Happy National Pizza Day!

Ideen