A Very Special…

wawaveggiepie

I love today.  I’m also sad the holidays are winding down.  Christmas means so much to so many.  It’s about the friends, the family, and the love.

Oh and there’s all that food!

I wish there was a feeling of love all the time.   But as several wise folks have said, it all starts with me.   Maybe the holidays wouldn’t feel so special if it were to occur throughout the year.   So it’s up to me, you, or whoever to spread cheer and positivity as much as possible.  I adore the sentimentality.

And speaking of such joy…

wawalogo

Wawa is sentimentality at its height.   Ever since my first visit in 2000, I’ve been captivated ever since.

When I discover a new Wawa store driving on a highway or a random stretch of road I’m compelled to go in, even if all I get is a coffee or tea. It’s the energy of the store.  It’s an attachment to the good that it represents.  I can never have enough.

In here it always feels like Christmas.

So to my pleasure it was great to discover that they serve Focaccia Pizzas. This is a fairly new discovery.  I think they were introduced back in the fall of 2014.  That’s the first time I saw them.

wawapizzas

I’ve had all 5 pies listed, and they’re not going to be the best pizza you’ve ever had.  And you shouldn’t expect them to be.  But they’re enjoyable on the soft and squishy focaccia bread provided.

If you’re expecting world class pizza, you will be disappointed.   I do find the bread to be heavy and prefer to share the individual pie with someone else.  It’s ambitious to finish this on my own.

Over the course of recent history, I’ve had the buffalo chicken and the vegetable.   I found them both enjoyable within the expectations set forth by myself and within Wawa’s food quality.

The buffalo chicken sauce is really in-your-face and might be a bit arduous for some, but I took my time eating this.   The cream cheese was a bit dense and a substantial amount was thrown on there too.   The chicken and provolone were great.  They really made this pie.  It was the simple stuff that was the best.  I’ve seen this pattern before.

I dig the packaging too.  That can be seen above and below.

The vegetable one I had this week.  Doesn’t it look and feel like Christmas?  Ah those colors are magical. How are the flavors?   The spinach, tomatoes, and onions are magnificent.  I’ve enjoyed them on my subs and I enjoy them here.   This almost looks too pretty to eat. But I ate it.  And I picked the cheese and vegetables off at times when the bread was too much to eat.   But I will gladly get this one again.

A gentleman noted how amazing it looked when I grabbed my pie.   It tells me that he and many others may still not realize pizza is on the menu.

For folks who have been there, you know what you’re going to get. And it’s usually good.  This is not going to be the greatest pizza you’ll have and I doubt you would expect it to be.  But you will likely find joy, peace, and comfort here.  This isn’t just during the holidays but all year round.

For more on this fun store, you can go here and here.

I go to a store at least five times and will be headed there later today.  Yes they’re open on Christmas! Yes!

I will conclude with that.  I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and anything else you celebrate.  This is a special time of year that I wish was perpetual.   But once again, it’s up to me.  It’s up to you.  It’s up to all of us.

All the best,

Ideen

Square Biz

LedoCheese

I’ve been enjoying Ledo Pizza going back 20+ years and I am happy to report it’s just as good as I remember.

When you’re much younger and when it comes to pizza, everything is likely to taste world class.  It’s the greatest thing we’ve ever eaten.  Then maybe the next thing you eat is the best thing ever. It’s less complex to think like that.   Your horizons have yet to expand and your tastes are so simplistic.   In a way it’s so endearing and so innocent.

The simplicity comes from the square pieces.  It doesn’t get more accessible than that, literally and figuratively.

However, we grow up.  Our lives change, our interests change, and so do expectations.    But Ledo always rings true.  It has never disappointed.   Truthfully, I don’t think it ever will.

I’ve been to so many locations, with so many friends and family over the years that I feel it’s a part of me.  Sometimes we’ve dined it but usually it’s been a carry-out order.  That may lend itself to how busy me and my contemporaries are.

The holidays are a time to be busy but also a time to relax.  I should relax and just get on with the recap.

The pies ordered were from the White Marsh location.

You know the cheese is the standard bearer and it was great here as usual. One stand out for me is the sauce is a little sweeter than what you might find at other pizza hangouts.  But it’s so good.  The crust is heated perfectly.  Sometimes there’s parts that are crunchier than others, especially around the corners, but that’s all part of the fun. And it’s so quick and comforting.

We changed it up bit and also got The Cannonball which includes parmesan, meatballs, with basil thrown on top.  The meatballs may not have been what you find at an upscale Italian restaurant but that isn’t the point.  It works perfectly here.   The parmesan and basil thrown on top is a wondrous touch and makes for a superb visual.

LedoPair

You know what you’re getting and it’s perfection.  It’s a state of pizza bliss and euphoria that you don’t get everywhere.

LedoSlices

I’ve praised many a place but this is a different kind of positivity.  I can’t compare this to others, not because of the shape or because it’s a local chain.  It’s maybe something I can explain later.  Not now. Just maybe some things are better left unsaid or kept eternal.

That didn’t mean to come off as dramatic as it intended.  I just love this place.  Maybe it’s the little kid from within still feeling like one whenever I enjoy their pies.

LedoStoreFront

If you’ve never been here then I would highly recommend giving it a go.   Locations are listed here.

In traditional fashion, I love the community and fundraising pages.

Gift cards and other fun things can be found here!

I wish you all a continuously joyous and happy holiday.

Best,

Ideen

Always Bet On Red

RedStarBuffChicken

This post is 14 months in the making.   If you’re looking for a positive, uplifting, and energizing post, then you’re going to be delighted.  That’s my goal. It’s the holidays and it’s a myriad of emotions but I want to side with the joy, peace, and spirit of what it’s all about.

Yes, pizza makes everyone happy.  This is why I decided to do this after months of deliberating.   Dramatic much?    It’s all about enjoying yourself in whatever you can and whatever you’re doing.

I’ve always adored Red Star.    I sometimes feel smitten.  It’s a place off to the side of the commotion on Thames Street in Fells Point and I suspect that’s how many people like it.

For me it’s always been the starting point or official meeting point before or during a festival of special event.   Two of the big ones being Fells Point Fun Festival and the Old Thyme Christmas which took place this past weekend.

I exhausted the Fells Point posts when the fun festival was rescheduled. But I made reference here that there was one more place I hoped to get to. This is what I was alluding to and a few friends had known that.  It’s a bit exciting and a tad melodramatic to speculate on what is coming and how I would frame it, but I’m loving every second of this one.

Back in October of 2014 during a previous incarnation of the fun festival, we ate upstairs and I saw pizza on the menu.  First, I never knew there was a dining area on the second level and I never knew they had pies.  If they’ve had then for a while I’m sorry it took so long guys.

If I remember correctly, the pizza may have been squared shaped but I stand corrected if that wasn’t the case.

When some pals said they would be able to join in the holiday festivities, I knew this was the week to write about it.  Call it a prophecy, clairvoyance, and or maybe just some holiday cheer.   This is one of the places that inspired this blog.

RedStarMenu

This will be a recap of their entire pizza menu.  Very exciting I know!  It’s the completist in me that showed up for this one.  That’s five pies and I will attempt to truncate the verbiage on each.

Pie #1 is from Fells Point Festival Day 1:

Per the friendly bartender’s suggestion I ordered the Prosciutto.  This was fantastic but you’ll see a recurring theme, I could barely finish half of this. It was so filling and full of sensational toppings.  The garlic makes this pie for me.  The arugula was delightful too.

As you see I picked off the toppings and enjoyed them in solitude. It jokingly became a white pizza. This wasn’t the intent, yet this was gorgeous.  I enjoyed my time solo before meeting up with friends.

A nice glass of vino will be accompanying some of these works of art.   I shared my leftovers of day 1 with friends, and the reaction was universally positive.

Pie #2 is from Fells Point Festival Day 2:

I went with the mushroom.  I’ve always had an affinity for them however they’re prepared.  I enjoy them raw. I also enjoyed them on this pie.   This is how a pie comes together with the right toppings and nothing gets misdirected or forgotten.  The caramelized onions taste perfectly and complement the balsamic drizzle.  The goat cheese does it for me.

Again, I couldn’t finish it but that’s more on me than the pizza itself.  I enjoyed the leftovers.

Pies #3 and #4 are from Old Thyme Christmas this past Saturday:

RedStarFries

But before that, we ordered a bowl of garlic and sweet potato fries mixed together.  Yes a bowl and not a plate.   This was stellar.

The buffalo chicken might have been my favorite.  It wasn’t too spicy and just felt so comforting. Maybe because we were about to drink a plethora of egg nog, that this was the right prep for it.   The celery does it for me.

And the presentation charmed the heck out of me.  They all look great but this one I find just a little more special. Why?  I don’t know.  Ask me tomorrow and I might say another one is my favorite.

The cheese was exactly what you want.  You can judge any place by how their plain is. And if they’re doing that right, then it’s concrete and unequivocal evidence that everything else will fall into place.

Finally, pie #5 was a carry-out order from yesterday.

Notice some Christmasesque colors?

This was the Mediterranean Veggie and this was the one I came closest to finishing it.  For OCD sake I wanted to get this to finish the five-pack.  I’ve said it ad-nauseum on here and with friends that pesto makes everything better and it does.

This felt like a thinner, flakier crust than the others but that could be all in my head.  And that’s not an insult.  The thinner crust across-the-board worked perfectly for all these pies.

The word count is a bit high so I will conclude this momentarily.  Go here. I love the atmosphere.  And over the years the staff has always been pleasant and attentive.  The dimly lit lights add character as well.

I’ve had all kinds of great food here and will look forward to doing so again.

This place is a labor of love and I look forward to showing more affection to well-deserving places again throughout the holidays and into the future.

Take good care and happy holidays!

Best,

Ideen

 

It Just Feels Real

ConstantinoPie

It’s not like I’ve been looking for the perfect time to write about DiPasquale’s, but this might be it anyways.

I love this place so much.  A lot of Highlandtown (and Baltimore in general) locals come here on a more-than-regular basis and still think they don’t go in enough.

The aura and energy is second-to-none.  I always love walking in here and checking out their wines, their market & deli, and just appreciating their history altogether.

100 years plus in they’re still going strong and are as popular as ever.   They know what they’re doing.  And the staff has always been so welcoming and approachable during every visit I’ve made.

Honestly, I don’t go enough.   I try to go at least once or twice a month and I don’t always succeed.  Folks such as myself live for their subs.  Some  for their pasta.  Now I and many others may be pining for their pizza.  I am in love.

DiPasqualesOven

For the longest time I didn’t even know they served Brick Oven Pizzas. How foolish of me.  I doubt doing a blog would have led me to find out. I’m sure I’ve known about their pies for over a year or have I?

The two pies I will present to you may have some similarities and a familiar look to them.  Tis’ the season, so by happenstance or not, the colors are apropos.

ConstantinoPie

Back in July of this year I ordered the Constantino. This is magical.   This pie was heated to perfection. Just look at the precision amount of burn on the dough.   The mozzarella cheese is some of the best I’ve ever had.   I love spinach and tomatoes so this is all just making my day.  And the fresh grilled chicken pieces thrown on top make this a sure-fire winner.

ConstantinoYum

ConstantinoSlice

Needless to say this pie never had a chance.  I devoured this in minutes.   I may sound like a fat pig but this was glorious, outstanding, and resonating. I’m salivating for one as I expound on this for you now. Notice the colors of shade of the pie?  Was this a little foreshadowing of the holidays.   Can I be that clever?  Maybe.

I only wish I took my time and savored it more.  Great pizza is meant to be eaten slow and appreciated.   I do appreciate this pie but I’ll be a bit more leisurely the next time.

DiPasqualesGiardino

And speaking of next time, my second purchase took place yesterday. I went with the Giardino.

Once again the dough and cheese were magnificent.   I was excited to know what vegetable would go on top, as the menu leaves it open-ended.

To my pleasant surprise, I got a Christmas looking pie. The red and greens looked so beautiful.  This was a visual I’m grateful to have captured.

The pizza was good but not like the aforementioned Constantino.

I love eggplant but maybe it didn’t fit my palate.  I love asparagus, red peppers, and spinach as well.   As individual veggies I loved pulling the pieces off and noshing on them on their own.  For me, as a pie the flavors may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

GiardinoSlice

And I had no problem finishing it but it wasn’t up to the level of the previous choice.  I know some people love it and will continue to.   Maybe my expectations were very high.

This only means I need to keep coming back and on a significantly regular basis.  I want more pizza pies!  I love this place and I love everything about it.  There’s a history and authenticity that you don’t get with the newer shops, the chains, and the box restaurants.  I’ll support local establishments like this as much as I can.  They deserve the business.

And speaking of supporting local, the timing of this post is no accident.

The Holidays In Highlandtown kick-off celebration takes place today.   I will be attending and hope to see you there.

It’s a neighborhood I’ve fallen in love with much more recently.  There’s so much character and so much soul that I can’t help but be drawn to it.

Look forward to seeing ya.

Happy Holiday Season!

Best,

Ideen