Flatbread Fridays

BistroWithWine

Over the course of these Summertime posts I’ve mentioned how I wanted to focus on lighter fare, as long as the focus remains on pizza.

Lets face it, the majority of us love pizza.  Nutrition value is out the window.  We want our comfort food any time of year.  It’s something that bonds us together.  There’s a multitude of ways a pie can be made.  That’s one of the many things that makes this thing so fun.   It doesn’t discriminate even if our tastes may.  And that’s another joy.  We all don’t love the same flavors.  If we did, that would be boring.

Thicker dough is not my friend.  I’m not sure whose friend it would be.  Bread is a tough one and while the weather is hot and bright, it’s easy for me to get bloated and full without hardly eating a thing.  The yummy pizza crust becomes a challenge in these months.  This isn’t a complaint.  I’d take this weather all year round.

This brings me to a surprise discovery.  And we’re back at BistroRx in the Patterson Park neighborhood of Baltimore, MD.

But is it really that much of a surprise?  Just because a place isn’t known for their pizza, or in this case flatbreads, doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed.  It just gives expanded options and I will be taking full advantage of such.

BistroPieWithWine

As we were enjoying our wine (for more on this bottle click here), a small plate was necessary.   I almost decided on a salad or random finger food, but the answer was right in front of me.   We went with the Margherita and what a superb choice.  If I went in another tangent or direction, this post doesn’t happen.  There’s a little dramatics for you.

BistroPie

I had no idea the shape would be just as immaculate as a regular pie.  But what is a regular pie?  It can be anything you want it to be.   Nevertheless, this crust was superb.  It was thin enough to enjoy in the heat.  And that pesto was dazzling.   It can make any pie a winner and this would win some titles if they were handing out belts, or trophies.   Hopefully this praise is on par with those rewards.

Besides the pesto and crust, the mozzarella and tomato sauce make this simple recipe on the level of some of the better za’s I’ve had recently.   This flatbread never had a chance.  If I was feeling unreasonable I’d have ordered another (and maybe another).  It was that stellar.

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I will be frequenting Bistro more.  I’ve had quite a few meals and this was on that level of pristine eats.  I’ve mentioned some of the other diamonds I’ve had, and you can read more about that here.

The energy and the vibe certainly helped.  Outdoor seating didn’t hurt either.

I’ve made friends in the neighborhood, some who just moved in and some were here temporarily, they have praised Bistro’s food above most, if not all, of Baltimore.  I can understand why.  It’s top flight and I want more.  I’m pining for another meal from there as I near the end of this post.  They’re closed now as of this writing.  Maybe some other time.

Yes I know this experience didn’t take a place on a Friday but it makes for a great, albeit cheesy title.  I’m fun and funny.

Until next time,

Ideen

 

Creating Art

PastaLaVistaPie4

It’s been 10 years since my first Artscape, and I’m in love with this event more than ever.  My reasons are the same for me as for many others.  There’s the first time we attended this event and it’s novelty, the art we witnessed, the performances, the food, the comradery, the energy, and everything in between.

For a while I felt the local flavor was deteriorating.   Apparently I wasn’t alone.  There was an outcry for more local food vendors and respective artists from the area.   And now for the last two years we’re seeing a renaissance.

My post last year was up the day (and weekend) of Artscape.  This time I chose to post something after the fact.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to come up with for this be all of festivals, but I sensed something was going to find me. Surely, one of the many great pizzerias and restaurants in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood would offer up some great write-ups.  Not yet at least.

As I was alluding to, the local flavor was in full bloom.  There were stands for all types of cuisines; whether you were looking for burgers, soul food, Caribbean, vegan, or maybe just a smoothie, it was there for you.  I indulged in a few of those eats as well, but this is a pizza discussion and I will stay the course.

PastaTruck

This brings me to Pasta La Vista Baby! Yes, with an exclamation point.  Now I had seen these guys in random parts of the city for years, and never brought myself to order anything from them.   I don’t know if the stars weren’t in alignment or what, but this was long overdue, as long as they had pizza.   After perusing the menu after the fact, I’m even more fortunate than I first realized.  There’s no pizza listed but lucky enough for the crowd, they had a white w/ spinach on the big board. That’s what I went with.

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It’s different and cooked on a nice flat bread, almost pita style.  On a hot day like it was, this was necessary.  Thicker dough is not going to work in the heat. It’ll bloat you silly, or maybe that’s just me.

The staff working the truck were all smiles.   My lunch was during the earliest part of the event so it wasn’t too crowded and I imagine they weren’t overwhelmed.  This was a deliberate move on my part.  I wanted my food with little wait time.

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This was a charmer.  For $8 it was a personal joy and a smidgen of a bargain. The only downside was the added ricotta to the side.  And ordinarily it wouldn’t be.  It was a bit rich for my taste but otherwise this is a great choice. The pizza on its own was enjoyable and pleasing to my sensibilities.  Wow did I just say that?

PastaLaVistaPie1

Even for its size, I was able to make two meals out of it.   I picked up a delicious burnt taste under the crustand,  and flipped it around to see just that.  The charred taste really does wonders. So my educated and over-analysis tells me this was grilled?  This is a winner.  The spinach complemented everything and was the perfect vegetable to go on top (and from within). I’m not sure anything else would.  This was well thought out.

PastaLaVistaFlipped

If they make other pizzas, I’d love to find them again.

Here is their contact info if you’d like to get well you know, get in contact.

Best of all, here is their story.  There’s some soul behind this operation.

For my pals in Baltimore and everywhere else, I’ll leave you with a few images from Artscape.  It was transforming.  At certain times I felt like I was in another world, yet knowing I was still close to home.  I’m not sure these brief pics depict that.   But what is telling is for my friends in the city, you may recognize someone in one of these photos.  This was not planned, and I had no idea until after I glanced at my pics earlier today. Life is funny like that.

Hope your Summer has been rocking!

Best,

Ideen

A Safe Bet

SafewayPizzaDone2

After last weeks hard-to-top post, it was meant to be that I take it down a couple of notches and shake things up a bit.  I mean this with all sincerity, last week is something special.  Read it if you get the chance.

I was at a crossroads on what to write for this week.   Not every post is going to be or meant to be profound.  It’s pizza we’re talking about.  It’s supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and maybe inspirational. There I go again.

SafewayPizzaBox

And this is no way meant to denigrate my review of Safeway’s Signature Select Spinach & Mushroom Pizza. That was a mouthful.  Speaking of which…

…But first a little intro.

I was turned away at a few places where their respective kitchens were about to close and no more orders were going to be taken.  A couple of these are some of the heavier hitters in Baltimore.  Ah well, the tease continues.  I’ll get to those when it’s meant to be.

SafewayPizzaPreHeat

But instead, good old reliable, 24 hour Safeway was footsteps away.   My fellow pizza pals have suggested I write about a frozen pizza here and there.   It’s good to change it up and either by hook or a last ditch effort, this is what we’re getting this week.

Let me be honest.  For $5 it’s hard to complain about anything, unless it’s an absolute disgrace.  This was nowhere near that.   The alfredo sauce really adds some zip to an otherwise standard pie.

And even though I’ve grown up from the little kid, who loved frozen pies when I was young, I secretly hoped the spinach and mushrooms would look like how they do on the front of the box.   Once again, not this time.  Maybe one time it’ll work out for me.  Insert sad face here.

SafewayPizzaDone1

The dough rose nicely post heating.  And that golden brown tint along the crust is always a treat.  I can’t say this stacks up to certain pizzerias creations or other frozen pies, since there’s nothing for me to compare it too.  Not yet at least.   But the dough and crust was a mix of soft and crunchy in parts.  That could be the way the oven heated it, the way the dough was made/frozen, or universal elements that are inexplicable.  I dug it though.

For a night out after the bars or on a random day where the pickings are slim, this pizza does the job.  Scratch that, this pizza works whenever you want it.

I was full after just a couple of slices, so this can last you a few meals if dining alone, or it’s perfect to share among 2-3 people.  And for only $5, you’re almost making money on this pizza!  And money is cool.

I’ve been a fan of Safeway’s Signature items, and the za only continues to reinforce my belief.

Supermarkets across the globe have frozen pizzas from all over the place.  So this may just be the beginning.  I may have opened up pandora’s pizza box, or this may not be revisited again for months.  Time will tell.

To locate the nearest Safeway by you, click here.

Back to our regularly scheduled pizzeria journey next week.

Best,

Ideen

I Love Luna

LunaFullPie3

The stars aligned for this one, big time.  I’ve been fully engrossed in these blogs for well over a year-and-a-half.  The best experiences are the ones that happen organically and unplanned.  That fact has been reiterated many times over.  But I can’t say it enough.  Life can be magical and majestic if you let it.   This leads me to what I’ll look back on fondly and say it was one of my favorite experiences, Luna Blu of Annapolis, MD.

LunaFront

Just a day removed from writing this, I found myself in beautiful Downtown Annapolis and got in touch with a dear friend who works in the vicinity.  In previous attempts, timing wasn’t in sync and schedules didn’t always match.  It’s only because the first encounter was meant to be on this day.  You know I have a flair for the dramatics but this story and the build-up has to be told.

We met at her office and after doing the grande tour, we reconvened on where to get food. After a few suggestions on where to eat in her town, she suggested a place where she has had an outstanding working relationship. Yes, the aforesaid Luna. And she mentioned they served pizza.  The theme of thoughtfulness is going to permeate throughout this post.   She recalled my blog and this was the perfect merging of everyone benefiting from this visit.

I rarely mention names here, mainly for the sake of imagination and letting the experience tell the story itself.  But in this case it’s necessary.  My dear friends’ name is Rebecca and she runs Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA for short) of Anne Arundel County.  In the past she mentioned how generous Luna Blu has been in helping with her events.  I’ve lucky to have been a part of several events and seen the multiple bottles of wine and food donated to CASA.  It’s a beautiful thing when people help one another.  It inspires me to want to do more when I see the height of altruism.  I get those warm and fuzzy feelings.  And you can never have enough of those.

On this beautiful Summer day this translated into our meal.  And I mean from top to bottom.  I was introduced briefly to the owner Erin, who was everything Rebecca says she was and more.

LunaSalad

With the gorgeous day, the sunny skies, and the positive energy radiating all over, everything else would be gravy.  Luckily, we didn’t order gravy.  We glanced over the menu and saw they do lunch combos.    I would love to do that another time but instead we split the Spinach Salad with Grilled chicken, and the main event, the Chicken Pesto Pizza.

 

LunaPieMenu

How many times have I sung the praises of pesto over these many months?  This may have been the best display of this most magnificent of sauces.  And the actual presentation of our za reminded me of large pies I used to get when I was a kid on family outings.  I responded like a kid when this yummy goodness came out of the oven and onto our table.   The salad and the chicken was delicious.  The same authentic pieces of grilled chicken were piled on high on our pie.

LunaFullPie4

Chicken, mushrooms, pesto, ricotta, and mozzarella is a combination for the ages.  The pesto and ricotta blended together is a first for me.   Maybe I never paid close attention to similar pizza styles I’ve had in the past, but this was art.

LunaFullPie7

This is the New York Style I’m more accustomed to.  It wasn’t the typical crunchy NY Style pizza I’ve been getting at many pizzerias lately.  This was its own style, its own class, and in a universe all its own.  The golden brown that circled the crust was almost too pretty to eat.  Fact of the matter is the whole pizza itself was just so stunning.  Yes I took a lot of pictures and numerous ones have been posted.

LunaFullPie3

On one of the hottest days of the year thus far, we each barely had a slice.  That just meant a couple of days of meals.   The way the to go slices were prepped was as pleasant as the original order.  Our waitress (who was wonderful by the way) packaged each slice with wax paper in between each.  Who does that?  That’s the meticulous care you only get from a place that cares.  She mentioned they would taste even better reheated.  And boy she was right.  That’s the true test of a pizza.  Does it taste better after the original heating?  The answer is an infallible one.  Delish!

From the moment leading up to our meet up, the discussion, the walk up, the dining, and the departure was sheer perfection.   I love seeing good people succeed and great things happen to great people.  This is what’s happening here.

In a not so frequent instance, I will be back in a few month with a further elaboration.  The reasons will be obvious come round two.   And I’m going to love it.  I think you will too. Maybe I’ll try the Wine & Pizza Pairing on Thursday.    That wine list looks incredibly tempting.  I can’t wait to go back and try a glass or two, heck maybe a bottle.

Cozy and quaint describes the inside perfectly.  For a quiet place to dine and to detach from the rest of the world, this is your place.  I could go on with the superlatives all day, so I will…And here’s one more for the road! :

LunaSlice

This was the perfect Annapolis day.  I look forward to many more.  I love this town, and love to spend it with awesome people.

For more on CASA and all the good they do, click here.  For more on Luna Blu, click here.

More to come on this most inspiring of places.

Much Love,

Ideen

Four For The Fourth

VitosAllFour

It’s already July and that makes me sad.    Some people view the upcoming 4th of July Holiday as the halfway point.  Halfway point of what?   Ah I don’t even want to say it.

The intrigue continues as I’m literally going to review four slices that I (sort of) purchased earlier tonight.  How quickly I forget how apropos this was going to be.  I’ve expounded on different ways but I’ve never been one to believe in coincidence.

VitosFront

I found myself at a familiar place, Vito’s Pizza in Baltimore.  For my friends in Baltimore, you might be asking which Vito’s exactly?  There’s too many to count.  Or maybe I just don’t feel like counting.  No, I just don’t care.  This is my Vito’s today and their website offers no help and that’s fine with me.

Sometimes we just want pies without all the other bells and whistles.  Even though a multitude of businesses have some form of a social media presence, some like to live in the past.  I’m ok with the past and the simplistic way of going about things.

To be specific, the neighborhood is called Cedarcroft.  This is the first time I’m hearing this.  I’m not sure what to make of it.  I find the whole thing hilarious, but it’s really not that funny.  Haha.

I went to a university not far away so Ii’ like to consider it Towson/Baltimore border.  I don’t know if this place existed when I was a student, but nevertheless now the place is infiltrated with them.  Students.

The vibe in the area is something I subconsciously (wait what?) paid attention to, but never put my finger on why I was drawn to this place.   But I figured it out on this night. There tends to be a sense of community and togetherness in the plethora of neighborhoods behind the strip mall where this pizzeria stands.  Whether it’s genuine, artificial, transparent, or hollow, it’s there and I can’t escape it nor do I want to.

Enough of the metaphysics, how was the pizza?

VitosCheese&Veggie

I’ve always loved the cheese and veggie here.  That continues on this visit.  Keeping it simple is the theme of this post.  The cheese is essentially an extra cheese with delicious pizza sauce and that crust is masterful.  Throw on some onions, peppers, and other various vegetables and you got the latter slice, which also was stellar.

VitosChickenDuo

The breaded buffalo chicken was good but as great as it’s been in the past.  My only thought is the lack of buffalo sauce.  Otherwise this was good.  The barbecue chicken was not edible for me.  I’ve never liked that combination on a pizza but this was disappointing here.  3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

But why did I get 4?  Well I came in late enough that the owner was trying to get rid of as many slices as he could.  He messed up my order and basically gave me that barbecue chicken for free.  But I think he would have done so anyways.  He almost gave me the equivalent of a large pie to go but I wasn’t feeling greedy.  Hopefully those slices didn’t go in the trash as they tend do to at close of business hours.  And no, I’ve only had tiny portions of my slices, I may be able to get a total of four meals out of them.

The owner is funny.  He seems like a real Italian.  At least I want to believe that.  He isn’t friendly or standoffish.  But he has the look of a guy who works hard or maybe just carries himself like he does.  I wouldn’t expect him to recognize me but he always has this same snarky and dry sense of humor with me and his other customers.   Hopefully that’s his way of showing appreciation.  Otherwise I could see my people would be turned off.

Speaking of which, he did double charge me on my meal, so look at your bank statements after the fact.  This shouldn’t dissuade you from trying a slice.

Neither should the lack of atmosphere on the inside.  I’m all for ambiance but this is just a pizza after all.  Those beautiful distractions are eye-candy but the pizza has got to be yummy.  That’s a technical foodie term by the way.

If you like solid pies that are bigger than usual and a throwback to what an authentic no-nonsense pizzeria might feel like, this is right up your alley.  If you’re looking for something inspiring, you might get it outside, or maybe that’s just me.

Happy 4th,

Ideen