An Ocean City Favorite

Whether it’s the locals in town or folks on vacation, people have sung the praises of Trattoria Lombardi’s (or just Lombardi’s for short) in Ocean City, MD.

When I mentioned to my fellow pizza pals that I wanted to focus on pizzerias by the Maryland and Delaware Beaches, Lombardi’s was the top request and suggestion.

I am grateful to only live a couple of hours from the Eastern Shore.  And I am grateful to have made a visit to this famous restaurant during 4th of July weekend.

And the fact that it was during the holidays will be taken into consideration.

Lombardi'sEntrance

The interior is very authentic.  It’s an older restaurant and I like it that way.  There was really no chance to take photos inside, since it was such a sea of humanity. And what I would try to capture would be lost in the shuffle.  The place was packed and the lines to get a table or even to order food to go were growing by the minute.  There was such a frenzy and I wouldn’t expect anything less during such a hectic time of year.

I ordered three pies to go, for my friends and I to enjoy.

Lombardi'sMenu

While scanning the menu I was pleased to see a special Summer Pizza.  Of course I had to satisfy my curiosity.

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Unfortunately this was my least favorite.   The tomatoes and basil on the white pie really didn’t click for me.  It wasn’t bad.  It just didn’t come together how I had hoped.  The dough on all three were cooked very well.  It was the right about of crispness and softness at the same time.  The visuals are a delight.  I love how the  cheese looked so magnificent melted into the crust.    But for this one, maybe it was a rush job.  The tomatoes don’t need to be cooked all the way but it felt like they were thrown on at the last-minute.

Lombardi'sWhite

Next, we have the White Pizza.  I didn’t realize until I was eating it that it had onions.  I thought it was a mistake or a few onions had spilled over from another order by mistake.  It wasn’t until I looked at the menu that I saw this was their special version.  And I really liked this one.  I found this very tasty and love how the onion is a part of this pie.  If you look close you may be able to see them in this picture.  This was my favorite of the three.

Lombardi'sCheese

And finally, it’s the Cheese.   So many people have told me this is one of their favorite pizzas at the beach or anywhere in Maryland for that matter.  So I had high expectations.  They did not reach them.  I thought it was good but it didn’t turn out as great as I hoped.  I’m not sure what I was hoping for but this was a notch or two below that.

Nevertheless, my buds and I ate this pizza up over the next couple of days because it was very good.  And it tasted great reheated.  But I don’t think it’s quite the blow away pizza others have touted.

But as I previously stated, I understand this tasting fell on a holiday weekend, so I will definitely give it another go.  And I would eat here again anyways, either in-house or carry-out.  I found this to be a very good but not quite the amazing feast I felt would happen.

Lombardi'sSignage

In a way I blame myself for such high expectations.   But I can’t way to go back on another day and have those same expectations.  I believe the hype!

Lombardi'sToGo

If you’d like to read my previous resort themed pizza posts, click here and here.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

New Orleans Finest

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The pizza shown here is art.  That’s all I can say.

I have been waiting for the right time to talk about the first of several pizza places I visited in New Orleans. There is no right time, but I didn’t want to wait too long.  And the Summer is always ideal.   I have so much good to say about Reginelli’s that I’m freaking out on where and how to begin.   Well I believe I just did!

I need to write whatever I can to do this place justice. Plain and simple this is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.  One in particular was such a stand out, I was genuinely getting goose bumps while I was having this pie.

About a month ago, I made my first ever visit to New Orleans, and of course I enjoyed as much as I can in the limited amount of time.  I did a lot of sight-seeing, a lot of eating, a lot of drinking, and a lot of living.

I had researched a few pizza places I wanted to visit, for this blog.  And I did get to a couple of those, but the best things in life tend to happen unplanned.  And this is what happened here.

After a day of exploring I found myself in the Central Business District just strolling along with no worries, no headaches, and no sense of direction.  That last part is not a negative.  It’s good to get lost in a place you’ve never been. These are the events that make you stronger and are so liberating.

As I’m walking along I see this charming storefront and I also see pizza!  Whatever fate had in mind for me, I was meant to eat here.  And eat here I did.  I also ended up staying for a couple of hours.  More on that shortly.

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The staff could not be more welcoming.  I had a nice view of downtown NOLA as I had a cup of coffee, yes coffee, and a glass of water before I was ready to order.  They told me take all the time I needed.  It wasn’t too busy in there but I appreciate the sentiment.  And they were sincere about it.  I felt so at home and like a regular.  Maybe in a previous life?

I love their setup, I love their menus, I love everything about this place.  The interior felt so cozy and so welcoming.  I didn’t want to go anywhere.  It’s like I belonged here and in this city.  It was my last day here and this experience will always resonate with me.  This was quite the way to go out.

After everything I just got overly sentimental about, how was the food?

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There was so much on the menu I wanted to devour, but I could only get one pie.   And a small, personal pie would most likely suffice.    The friendly server who waited on me, Danielle, was so kind and so helpful in her suggestions.   She said I could do a half-and-half pizza.  Funny, that months into writing about these pizza joints, I never thought to do that.  Well here we go.  As a first timer, I went with the Gumbo, which includes andouille sausage, spicy smoked tomato sauce, crystal marinated shrimp, roasted eggplant, holy trinity and pickled okra.  That’s a lot to digest I know.  No pun intended. The second half was the Saltimbocca, which has garlic herb sauce, fresh spinach, marinated chicken breast and prosciutto with fresh lemon juice.

Can you guess which one really hit a nerve?

RegGumbo

Ironically it was the latter piece.   The Gumbo was very good but there was a lot of moving parts that it felt too much to eat all at once.  And this is meant as high praise  It was scrumptious.  The toppings, the sauce, the cheese, and the crust were cooked to perfection.   It just seemed a bit rich and hearty for me.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t eat again.

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But, I need to talk about the Saltimbocca.  I could dedicate an entire thesis on this one.  This is how a pie is done.  All you need a is few ingredients, the right temperature, and the right soul behind it, and you have a winner.   The lemon juice really put it over-the-top.  I would have never thought to put that or have that added to my meal, ever.  It’s such a simple and healthy that I no longer want to take for granted.

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The presentation was also out-of-this-world, I wish I could throw up a hundred pictures.  The display is sometimes just as important as the pie.  I mean you’ve got to be kidding me?  This is incredible.

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And speaking of not taking anything for granted, I want to thank Danielle for being so kind in allowing me to take pictures and getting her blessing to do a write-up on this place.  I think this is the first time I felt so comfortable talking about my blog to the actual spot I was writing about.

In addition, they accidentally gave me a large but charged me for the price of a small.  It’s the little details that I wanted to mention as well.   They didn’t have to do that.  But it’s the sense of family and community I got in there that makes me want to come back.

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Maybe I just felt at home, maybe its being on vacation, maybe New Orleans just hit me on a very spiritual level.

I can’t wait to go back.  I miss this city so much.

Best,

Ideen

These Boots

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Just in time for Artscape, I wanted to get around to writing about Two Boots in the Mt. Royal section of Baltimore.

For those outside of the area, if you aren’t familiar with this festival, its massive.  Major streets are shutdown and it’s a sea of humanity.  It’s really quite the visual.

This pizza establishment, based out of New York, is entrenched in the heart of MICA and the University of Baltimore.  Penn Station is nearby as well.  Because of the diversity of folks, from locals, students, business travelers, tourists, and passersby, you get a very unique energy when you go inside.

I would like to think that’s usually a positive.  But, the last few times I’ve gone it’s been a weird vibration of sort.  It could be what I’m seeing or it could be all the moving parts around me.  I’d like to think it’s a little of both.  It has been uneasy at times.

My most recent visits, have led to 15 minute plus waits for just a couple of slices to be heated up.  And it’s with little to any line in front of me, or people waiting for their orders.

However, I have never been the biggest fan of their food.  I’ve only had pizza but it as never blown me away.  And many times when I wanted a slice, because of the toppings, it would be gone.  That’s likely a combination of their popularity and so many people coming in and out getting whatever slice may be available.  And that happened to me on the eve of this event, which starts today.

The two I really wanted to get today were unavailable, and there was a 15-20+ minute wait time on the next pie to come out, which is understandable, just frustrating.

AnimalCo

The Animal Collective, which is a spinach and artichoke pie, had been decimated way before I got there, from what I was told.  I would like to give that a shot sometime.

Cleo

And the last slice of Cleopatra Jones was taken by the person directly in front of me.  It was a bit disheartening but the early or last-minute bird gets the worm.

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So with what was available, I ordered the Mr. Pink and because they were low on slices, a regular cheese. You can always judge a place on their cheese.

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The cheese nor the Mr. Pink I found enjoyable.  I could barely taste any cheese and I am not a fan of their sauce.   For the latter, the creole chicken didn’t taste particularly good.   It wasn’t fresh.  I was in New Orleans for the time first time recently and tasted some wonderful chicken, along with other meats. This wasn’t it.  I’m not all of a sudden an expert on southern cooking.  I just want it to delicious and feel good eating in the process.   These were both very mediocre slices.

TwoBootsDuo

And the cornmeal crust is an interesting topic of discussion.  Some of my friends love it more than regular dough.   I find it very coarse and rough.  It feels funny on my tongue and when chewing it.   It’s not likely to be an acquired taste.  Good crust is good crust. This isn’t it.

I wasn’t able to finish either slice and found myself pining for something else.   And the wait for my two slices was again, around 15 minutes.

With this major festival happening, the wait for your slices and pies will likely be much longer.   And a few of my peers love it, as might you.

I wanted to post about this because if you’re attending the festa, you may want something other than food truck or outdoor vendor to snack on.  Two Boots, with its wonderful storefront signage and charming names for their za’s will be easy to spot. And I wish them a massively successful weekend!

TwoBoots

It’s going to be a great for few days for Baltimore and the local businesses nearby. The positives that will come from this will be infinite.

TwoBootsSpecials

And because they have so many varieties, I will gladly try them again.  And I understand how busy they can be, so that may lend itself to rushed cooking jobs.   The staff has always been friendly and show a great deal of patience during busy times.

Most important of all, they have a large community presence and that always feels good to read about.

If you head down, see you at Artscape.  Enjoy!

Best,

Ideen

Tugo, or not Tugo

Ocean City, MD has always brought me found memories, from when I was a kid.   A lot has changed but a lot has remained the same.

There’s a lot more to do as an adult, in terms of bars, clubs, and restaurants.  But, this resort town prides itself on being a family destination, first and foremost.

I remember eating Pizzas Tugos when I was a kid and thinking it was the greatest pizza on earth.  Actually every pizzeria I ate at felt like the greatest thing in the world!

Either my taste buds have expanded or I just grew up.  Because these two slices I got were anything but the greatest.

TugosSlices

How great and greasy does that appear?  Well it may look appealing to the late night delivery and pick-up crowd, but that still doesn’t make it any better.

I understand this is a small sample size, but it was still disappointing.   It was way too loaded with grease and fat.  Now or a night after the bars, that might be just fine.  But I can only imagine what you’d be feeling the next morning.

It was also very salty.  I do like how there was loads of cheese bleeding into the to go (tugo? hehe) box.   But the cheese was a big mound of salt and other problems.

The sauce tasted a bit funny too.   It just didn’t go with the cheese or the crust.  And the latter was a bit soggy.  I tried to eat what I could, but I had to give up.

TugosBanner

Some of the other problems included the service.  There was no line in front of me, and I waited a good 15 minutes for my order.   You would think with all that time passing, that my pizza would be either heated up just right or a bit lukewarm, or maybe a little of both.   No, this was scolding hot and not in a good way.   My tongue burned but fortunately I survived and didn’t need a fire extinguisher to save me.

In keeping up with trying to find positives, I do like that they have their own design paper for carry out, which you can see in the first picture above.  Other than that I don’t know.    Well, the pepperoni was ok.  I picked those off and ate those on its own.

Now when many of us are at the beach, or away on vacation, our goal is not necessarily to look for amazing, knock your socks off pizza.  But it should at least taste good.   This wasn’t the worst but I found it mediocre and boring.   I don’t see the point in coming back to visit anytime soon.

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This shouldn’t sway you from not wanting to try them out.  You may love it.  I know a few who do. Here’s their menu.

Summer is in full swing, so more OC and Eastern Shore reviews will be forthcoming.    For a prior review from Memorial Day Weekend, click here.

All The Best,

Ideen

Neo Soul

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Things do have a way of working out so serendipitously don’t they?

Shark Week starts this Sunday and I had no idea I would have the great joy in writing about a pizza relating to this massive event.

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Per a recommendation from some good pals, I took the small trip to beautiful Annapolis, MD to one of the newest restaurants and pizza place in town, Neo.

Fortunately, I find myself in this mesmerizing town quite often, so I always welcome dining at any of their wonderful establishments.   My friends were recently dined here, during of the first weeks it was opened, and had nothing but stellar things to say about it. They said the pie, the vibe, the interior, and the location were awe-inspiring and were looking forward to returning soon.

I’m going to second that sentiment.    They’ve only been open since March, at the Annapolis Town Centre and all indications are that this place is going to rock the house.   I loved it.  I felt so at peace and spent nearly a good two hours there enjoying my pie, my wine, and the energy around me.

The timing of them opening in the Spring, with all the events and concerts nearby on the square could not have been any better.

So I’ve spoken about all the peripherals and details about everything other than the pie.  So how was my pie?

While perusing their menu I was indecisive in what to pull the trigger on.   So when it was suggested by one of the bartenders, who was very friendly may I add, to try the Great White, I was in. This was timed perfectly. I knew exactly what I would be writing about for today and got to try a new pizza in a new and clean restaurant.

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The ingredients are listed above.  You can’t throw enough superlatives on this one.   We have a pie for the ages.  The crust was toasted to perfection.  It was just the right about of crispness to it, and still soft enough to enjoy.   The balance between thick and thin was in perfect alignment.

That’s a lot of adventurous items for a whole pie.  But nothing got lost in the shuffle.  Some flavors stood out more than others.   The cheeses all complemented one another for some savory bites.  I’ve always said that I love tomatoes on a pie, or on just about anything. And it added so much here.   And the olive oil added a little flair where you didn’t think it would need anymore.

NeoSlice

What can’t be discounted is the freshness of the basil and the arugula.  As you can see, especially the arugula, looks and tastes wondrous.   You’ve got be kidding me.  I was enjoying pulling a few pieces of basil and arugula and indulging in them on their own.

I just low how pizza has hit all new levels of creativity and continues to expand.   That’s where the sun-dried tomato aioli comes in.   What a way to top the whole thing off.  I wish I could post a million pictures of this pie. It’s one of the most inspired and exceptional meals I’ve had.

I had grilled chicken added to mine, as the person seated next to me as well as a few other folks in house, had done the same.   That was a great call.

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I learned from the bartender and the friendly chef that their oven was imported from Italy.  I love how they’re going all out on this.

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Neo isn’t all about pizza.  As posted here and here, they have an expansive food and drink menu.  In traditional fashion, I reveled in my pie with a glass of red.   There was no rush in finishing this.   My sublime experience was two weeks ago. The staff didn’t know exactly when they would end the Shark Week promotion, but I’m going to assume that you have until at least next week to try this plate of joy

If you’re in the area I strongly recommend you do so.

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These are the places I really want to succeed.   I’m a staunch supporter of local restaurants and businesses, like many of us are.   I look forward to many visits in the future, and hopefully a couple more this Summer, to fully appreciate the warm weather and the towne center experience.

Thanks so much and Happy 4th!

Best,

Ideen