Buon Appétit

Buon

I have wanted to write about Buontempo Brothers Restaurant, since I began this blog.  And I organically hoped to be in downtown Bel Air, MD to be able to try enjoy some unique slices.  And this week I was fortunate enough to do so.   Oh and you better believe, they have some creative ideas for pies.

Just as important, they have a friendly staff that has always greeted me and as far as I’ve seen, all of their patrons with a friendly hello and some pleasantries.   I have only lived in the area for over 6 years, but I always get the feeling, that there is a strong sense of community and it’s frequented by a lot of regulars, that have been coming for years.  There’s a lot of love going around.   It just feels like what a pizza place/Italian restaurant should be.

And that love translates into their cooking.

Simply put, I love their pizza.  And you see how aggressive their menu is.   You see some selections that are atypical of many pizza parlors.  And ever since, the first time, I visited them in 2008, it’s been nothing short of fantastic quality.

My indoctrination came from their Tuesday special.   A purchase of any large pizza, would get me a second large cheese for just $2.00.   Worth it’s weight in gold, and za!

My favorite slice of theirs, is the Chicken Pesto, and I’ve continuously raved many times on how much I love pesto.    I will review this slice in time, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone again.

First off, I ordered the Mediterranean and as you can see below, I barely made it to the party.

Med

I will say, that their crust has always stood out to me.  I can’t put my finger on it.  I don’t know if it’s something in the water but, oh my goodness, it’s divine.  I sense there might be some parmesan or butter embedded in the crust, or I could be tricking my into thinking as such,  But it’s top notch.  I could’t resist the pesto anyways, as we’re drawn to each other like magnets.   But this is a damn fine slice.   With the aforementioned pesto, eggplant, feta, tomato, and spinach piled on top of a traditional cheese slice, this is a certified winner.  I was so happy to try this and will be seeking it out again.   I know, many of us, myself included, can’t help but devour a pizza very quickly.  In this instance, I tried to savor this.  The flavors and the soul behind this slice, coming together, was pure ecstasy.

My second order, the Stuffed Spinach, almost didn’t have a chance.   I’m glad I got it though, and for folks that love bread, this is amazing.   But it’s too filling for me.   But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try another stuffed pie again.  It’s all a matter of taste.  I was pretty full after the first choice.

Spin

I could hardly eat the crust but, the spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella inside was a real winner.  Toasted to perfection.   On a thin crust, it’d be even more magical.  The marinara sauce, on the side, added some more flavor, that was already bringing some good ones.  Still a solid slice, just not something I would go for, on a regular basis.

I’ll tell you one thing that’s cool, they reheated both and to my pleasure, the slices, ended up being stuck together.  Now some people might find that annoying.  I find that cool.  And the theme of this blog has been about soul, joy, and fun.  And how can you not get a kick out of this :

Duo

I had to break the two pies apart, and perhaps that’s a source of good luck or just great food.

If you’re in the Bel Air vicinity, I suggest going here.  There’s a vibrant energy that keeps many of us coming back.   One review of this place will not do it justice.  More to come.

Best,

Ideen

In Plain Sight

pasticcio

There’s a lot of places we go to, because we like it, love it, out of necessity, or out of habit.  And then there’s you don’t even know exist or unintentionally take for granted.   Many of us drive by such locales to and from work everyday.

Pasticcio, in the Can Company part of Canton, might be one of those places.    Until a few years ago, I didn’t know it existed either.    But they have some mighty good slices.   They also have a full menu and a stocked bar, which is set up nicely to the side.

In the half dozen or so times I’ve been in, I’ve always felt a good energy and a good welcoming aura walking in.   The staff has always been friendly, and that’s an understatement.

One of the charms of this place, unintentional or not, by the pizza trays, is there his no signage describing which each pizza is.  So I always find myself asking one of the team members each time what certain pies area.     Always fun.  In turn, their online menu seems limited but in person it’s anything but.   They change their specials daily, and even the big ing.board with their specials list doesn’t feel intimidating.

All I’ve had their are slices, but next time, I would love to get something else.  It all looks so beautiful.

I usually do types of pies, but I was in a great mood, so let’s do another!

elookatthat

The pictures above don’t do this justice.

As I mentioned, the descriptions were not available, so I am going to describe each one, based on what this amazing person told me.

Going clockwise, we have Grandma’s Slice, which is squared shape and with a thicker crust.   And I could taste something  different about it, I just can’t put my finger on what it is.  Maybe it’s left to be mysterious and under the radar.  Seems to be a common theme throughout.  The yummy pesto and marinara are layered over the cheese and that’s it. Simple. Awesome. Delicious.

Next down the line is, the Deluxe, with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.   And I don’t usually eat pepperoni slices, not out of spite, just because it’s not one of my preferred toppings.  But this was wonderful as well.   Everything was baked into the cheese perfectly.  And the thin crust is just as great as the aforementioned Grandma’s slice.

The white pizza, with ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms was next.  This was good, but my least favorite of the three.  I feel maybe since I tried the other two first, that my palate may have been thrown off a bit.   And I’ve also had some amazing whites.   You don’t often see mushrooms added to a white pie, so I loved that very much.

All in all, this was a rousing success, and I like the fact that this is readily available to us, in a wonderful part of town.   This is not something to be taken for granted.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Strap Happy

strap-outer

My pizza analysis brings me back to Towson, where the neighborhood continues to grow.  And many shops, services, restaurants, and of course pizza places (more to come) are popping up.   This ain’t a college town anymore. But what has remained a constant is Strapazza.  There is nothing fancy or avante garde about this place.  You know what you’re getting from here.  And it’s usually a winner. I have been eating here since the early 2000’s, and they are the model of consistency.

Aside from getting a sandwich or a pasta dish on rare occasions, it’s all about the pies for me. The interior of the place is quaint and feels like what an Italian restaurant might feel like. So I ordered the New York Style (Thin Crust) Cheese and the Campagnola, which is the aforementioned cheese pizza, but with chicken sauteed with mushrooms and onions over it.

Here’s how they turned out :

strap-pies

I’ve always liked the concept of random toppings going over the same plain pizza.  For one simple reason, if the toppings don’t taste right, you can take them off, and it’s back to being cheese, with a little remnants of what you didn’t like.  But it can’t be too bad, right?

For this round, the add ons remained and the Campagnola tasted great.  It helped that I had a huge appetite and I barely ate anything all day.  The chicken tasted real, as did the veggies.  The grilled onions easily could go on any cheesesteak sub.  They were delish.

The cheese pie, by itself, was delightful.  And the thin crust brought me joy.

There is nothing blow away about their creations, but sometimes you need that.  And since I was starving, this was the perfect kind of pizza to have.

Not every pizza has to be immaculate or artisan, to be called great.  Sometimes you just need some reliability and comfort. And that’s what Strapazza is. There are some intriguing selections on the menu, and I will be back soon to try.  And a corresponding review will follow.

Finally, I will always support the local restaurants first, pizza, or any food for that matter.  So that’s why I try to stay within the mom and pop, and independents, if at all possible.   Thanks so much and I can’t wait to do this again.

Best,

Ideen

Wegmans, A Place For Friends

wegmans

Or maybe a place for pals, if that’s more to your liking.  I sure do love Wegmans.   I think I visited my first one, when it opened up in Hunt Valley, MD about 10 years ago.  Originating nearly 100 years ago from Rochester, New York, they are growing in popularity and locations.   If you’ve been inside, you know it’s like the Disney World of food stores.  But, It’s more than just that.  It’s a place of joy, inspiration, and happiness.  And of course it’s a place where plenty of wonderful things can be purchased.   Let me not get too carried away here.  The heck with it, let’s have fun. It’s time to evoke emotions.

Anything you want to go, is here; from sandwiches, sushi, salad, soup and of course the hot bar with international foods from all over this wonderful planet.  But this is a pizza blog.  Time to make moves.

I must say, I love their cheese, white, and pepperoni pizza.  Perhaps in the future I will review those.  I will just say they are great.   And there will be more posts regarding Wegmans pies soon.

The specific store I visited for this installment was at Boulevard At Box Hill in Abingdon, MD.

This post will be about the Chef’s Creations, and they are constantly changing :

Slice #1 : The Bacon Cheese Blue Cheeseburger (pictured at the top of this post, on the left) : Oh my goodness.  This was heavenly.   I find their pizza dough to be exquisite.  It’s cooked in their ovens to perfection.  It wasn’t too crunchy nor too soft either.  It tasted like I was eating a naan or pita bread.  And that’s how their dough has resonated with me.  And the mozzarella and blue cheese melted together, with the bacon and hamburger meat is an incredible combination.   Phenomenal stuff.

Slice #2 : The Spinach Ricotta (pictured on the right) : Well something went wrong here.   I could tell it was siting on the tray for a while, as it was starting to look a bit old.  The pizza tasted great, but the crust was too crunchy.  The ingredients were great but needn’t have been out this long. I won’t fault the store, but I will fault time.  It just felt like eating potato chips.

But this will not discourage me from coming back.  In my opinion, they have some underrated pizza.  Maybe because it’s a grocery store and not a specific place to get an amazing slice or pie.  I will be returning and hope to bring another inspirational take on the Wegmans experience.  And with more pictures.

Best,

Ideen