Memorial Day Moves

Now that we’re officially into Summer, I am grateful and happy to incorporate pizzerias near the Maryland and Delaware beaches.

For part of the Memorial Day weekend, I took a drive to the famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) town of Dewey Beach.   It’s known for it’s bars, clubs, and other various social activities.   So how is their pizza?

Well for my first visit, the results are not good.

Grottos

One of the most visually noticeable establishments in the resort town is Grotto Pizza.  So this is where our inaugural Summer themed posts will commence.

I’ve been here several times before, so I knew what I was getting myself into.  I was preparing for the worst, as previous visits have made me wonder why I keep coming back.  Well it’s because it’s convenient and it’s right there.  And the outside decor and entrance is very welcoming and approachable.

I wish I could say the same about the clientele.   I know it was Memorial Day Weekend.  So it was going to be busier than usual and the staff might be overwhelmed.  When I walked in there was a decent line of a half dozen people, so I didn’t expect to wait too long.  It was about the wait I expected.

If it meant the pizza would taste better, I’d be happy to wait longer.  But not on this day.

GrottosSlices

I ordered a cheese and pepperoni slice each and both felt soulless.     I know Grotto has been known to add a lot of sauce on their pies, which is ok.  It’s a little sweeter than sauce I’m used to.  It just didn’t come together.   I do like that there was a decent amount of pepperoni thrown on that particular slice.  It just didn’t taste like a good piece of pepperoni.  I picked a couple off and ate them on my own and it didn’t taste fresh.   The crust and dough felt soggy, boring, and gross.

Unfortunately,  I barely finished a third of either of my slices.   They were that bad.  And I don’t like wasting food.  But I didn’t feel good eating this pizza.  I paid nearly $8.00 total for both slices.  I don’t see any justification for charging that amount.

When I was a kid I would eat at the many various locations near our great beaches.  And I seemed to recall, it tasted much better back then. Or maybe I’ve grown up and my tastes have expanded.

I didn’t go into this looking to trash this establishment or other pizza places on the Eastern Shore.  I went into this with an open mind knowing the time of year, the patrons, and the business of the weekend.  Nor was I expecting high end, brick oven, or artisanal pizza.  What I do expect is that the pizza tastes good. That’s not asking much.  And this didn’t even come close.

We all a whole Summer ahead of us.  And more beach pizza recaps will be coming.

I hope you all had a great holiday and enjoy your weekend!

Best,

Ideen

I Love Annapolis

I wanted to wish congratulations to the Class of 2015. Many Universities are having ceremonies this week and that includes the Naval Academy.

BellaItalia

I actually helped with the set up and break down of the stage and seating, for their ceremony one year ago.  In honor of graduation day, Memorial Day, and my sentimentality for our capital, I will be reviewing Bella Italia.  Which is walking distance from campus.

As you can see, there isn’t much to the website.  I basically posted all that can be seen.   I’m not sure if it’s still a work in progress or it’s going to be left alone.

But most importantly, how is the pizza?   This is a recap over two visits in the past month.  Which happen to be my first and second visits ever respectively.  Two slices and two visits!  Hehe.  Let’s get to it.

BellaItalia1

For round one, I got my order to go.  My first slice was a White with spinach and mushroom.  There really wasn’t much to it.  It was a decent slice. The vegetables tasted fresh.  The white didn’t taste as good as other ones I’ve had.  The dough and crust were good. It just didn’t wow me.  It was decent at best.

And number two was the Meat Lovers deep-dish style pizza.  This was fantastic.  It blew up me though.  I’m glad I tried this, as I don’t always see the Chicago-style slices available to patrons.   I took my time eating this. It was the perfect amount of crust.   I would be lying if I said I finished this right away.   It tasted just as good as a leftover meal the next day.  The meat and cheese really blended together into the pie.   And you can see it’s loaded with pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon. And they didn’t skim on the toppings!

BellaItalia2

And for my second visit,  I dined in.   The interior is very quaint and doesn’t feel contemporary.  It does give a hole in the wall vibe and I can appreciate that. The staff was very friendly both times.

For my first slice, I ordered the cheese.  This wasn’t good at all.  It might have been in the oven too long and tasted too crunchy for my liking.  There was a little burnt taste in my mouth as well.  This wasn’t the worst cheese I’ve had.  But this was disappointing.

I wanted to end my post on a high note and I will do just that.  The other purchase shown above is the white with pesto, grilled chicken, and penne!  This was wonderful.  The chicken and pasta tasted fresh, and pesto is one of the marvels of this universe. And I always smile when I see toppings buried under the cheese.  It’s similar to finding hidden treasure!  The simple things and metaphors is what life’s all about. This is one of the better slices I’ve had since doing this blog. I was happy I ordered this and went out of my comfort zone to try something a little different and unique.

So there’s some great slices and some not so up to par, in my humble opinion.  I’m in the area a lot.  And I’ll be definitely giving this spot a look again.  For a recap of a previous Naptown pizza place, click here.

I wish you all a Happy Memorial Day Weekend.  Stay happy, healthy, and have fun!

Best,

Ideen

To Serve, with Love

UncleMaddios

I recently took a nice drive down to Dulles, VA and the great things always find you when you aren’t looking. Well, maybe I looked a little.  While I was here, I investigated any nearby places in the area and to my pleasure, I found a gift from the universe.

UncleMaddiosCollage

Everything about Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint is done right.   The food, the staff, the images on the walls, and the overall energy of this place, make this a can’t miss.  I can’t say enough good things about the overall presentation.

But most importantly, how is the pizza?  Well what I ordered will go down as one of my favorites.

The set up here is of the assembly line variety.  You can order a custom pizza or create your own!   The concept is simple, but for a pizza, could be hit or miss. This is a certifiable hit.

UncleMaddiosMenu

With their plethora of menu options, I opted for the Portobello Pesto.  And I’m so happy I did.  This is a masterpiece.   I ordered this with the Whole Wheat Dough, and that was a call I’m grateful for.  What a wonderful tasting pita style flat bread. It really complemented the pizza well.

UncleMaddiosPie

Maybe there’s a bias, but this pie is a culmination of some of my favorite toppings.  The pesto, feta, portabella and white mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil all come together for something so simple, yet so wonderful.  I was happy to read that their dough is made in-house and that their vegetables are local and delivered every morning.  No wonder everything tasted so fresh! And the energy and love behind the making of this was obvious.

UncleMaddiosZa

I say love, because that’s what’s promoted throughout the shoppe.  Since I was a newbie, that staff was happy to help with suggestions and explain how the whole process works.  They were patient and never seemed in a rush, as on this day, there was a bit of a line.  But they kept it moving, while all the while grateful to help every customer the same.

Sometimes the pizza is enhanced by how great the customer service was.  And this is near the top, on both levels.  The positive vibrations put it over the top. The theme is love and love is a good thing.

I’d never heard of this place until last week.  I see it’s a chain that is growing in popularity.  If you’re every in the Dulles area, I strongly recommend eating here!

I wish them all the success and I can’t wait to try another inspiring item!

UncleMaddiosLotsOfLove

UncleMaddiosLove

All The Best,

Ideen

Road Trip To Annapolis

Mangias

I love Annapolis.  As the weather gets warmer, there will be more visits to this wonderful town.  And that means more pizza recaps.  This post will be dedicated to one of the more popular destinations downtown.

Charlie’s Bar at Mangia’s is in the heart of the city.  It has a great view of the nearby sailboats, tourists walking about, and other pleasures of the town.

Too bad the pizza leaves a lot to be desired.   I’ve been going sporadically over the past 10 years or so. And even though I never felt it was the best pizza, I don’t remember it tasting this poor.  Or maybe my tastes have changed.    They’re open until 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights. With that information in hand, we know the pizza is made to fit the later night crowd.   Unfortunately, that same pizza is also served to the daytime crowd.

Sometimes even bad pizza is good pizza.  And maybe that works in some instances.  However, this was abysmal.  I don’t want to reiterate this fact over and over.  So let’s get to my slices.

MangiasSlices

First up, was the cheese.  The crust was too crunchy and it didn’t taste like real cheese.    I could barely taste the sauce either.   I don’t think these were the freshest ingredients    I wish I could find some positives.

Second, was the white slice.   This did not taste like any white I’m used to.  But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be good. Just like the cheese, not all good whites taste the same.   If I didn’t know this was a white slice, I would have just assumed this was garlic toast.  And bad toast at that.

Finally, was the Spinach Ricotta.  Like the previous two, I’m not sure what I was eating.  The spinach tasted ok, but the ricotta didn’t taste as good as other places.

The gentleman who heated up my slices was very nice.  Otherwise, the other staff seemed very idle.  But this was during lunch hour, so not much else was going on.   But, I did say lunch hour.  I expect pizza to be a little higher in quality during the day as opposed to near closing time at the bar.   This was disheartening on so many levels.

I don’t go into these blogs looking to disparage anything or anyone.  I want them all to succeed, especially if their intentions are to serve good pizza and to benefit the community.

Fortunately, I will be reviewing more pizzerias in Naptown, in the very near future.   And I know the best is yet to come.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen

Isabella’s – Inspirational, Incredible, & Iconic

IsabellasStoreFront

It took me a while to get to Little Italy, didn’t it?   When I first thought of doing this blog, Isabella’s Brick Oven, was one of the catalysts.  I’ve eaten here a few times and have always had a positive experience. Simply put, their pizza is awesome.

And I adore Little Italy.  I don’t come here as often as I should.

Not all brick ovens are created equal.  I’ve had many a pie this way and some have tasted exquisite. Other have tasted atrocious.  This falls in the former category.

It’s been so long, I forgot what I’ve ordered here previously.   To make up for that and to support our awesome local establishments, I ordered three amazing pizza pies!

IsabellasCheese

First, was their Traditional Cheese.  This was a joy to eat.  Their homemade dough really shines through here.  The crust is heated to perfection.  And the way the mozzarella is baked into the bread is impressive. This is one of the best cheese pizzas in all of downtown Baltimore.

IsabellasBlanca

My second order was the Pizza Bianca.   Their take on the white pizza included feta.  And what a fantastic addition this is. How beautiful does that look?   The ricotta, mozzarella, and feta really come together here.  My taste buds were blown away.  Again, the crust is dynamite.  And feta is one of my favorite cheeses.  This is the kind of white pizza one can only dream of.  But then it comes true.

IsabellasLombdardi

Last and nowhere close to least, is the Lombardi.  We wanted to change it up this time.  So we got a specialty pie.   And special is an understatement. Putting a pie like this together is a stroke of genius. We have pancetta, gorgonzola, and walnuts.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  This was a lesson in Pizza 101 and all other courses combined.  I really wanted to take my time eating this and appreciate every bite. My last helping of it came together perfectly.  It’s as if the cheese, meat, and walnuts all hit each other symmetrically and with unison.  That was one of the best bites I can recall in sometime.

IsabellasAllThree

I can’t pick a favorite as I loved all three.  But Isabella’s is one of my favorites in all of the Baltimore area.  I can’t recommend this place enough.   They have many other pies I look forward to trying.  Their slices may seem smaller than what we’re used to. But I find it all the more charming.

The girl that was working yesterday was very kind and courteous. She seemed truly appreciative that I stopped in.  That always leaves a great impression.

And for being open less than 10 years, they’ve already made their mark in the neighborhood and the city.   I can’t wait to go back.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen