When In Pass-a-Grille…

BrassMonkeyPizzaPie3

Yes, I love saying Pass-a-Grille (the southern most point of St. Pete Beach) and will try to slip it into every conversation even if it makes no sense.

When I first touched ground in the Gulf Coast of Florida two months ago, I don’t recall what my first stop in St. Petersburg was, or what my first stop was to begin with.   My host friend, who is a dear friend, helped me get so much in that it looks like one long story, as opposed to a bunch of places that were just there and now are forgettable.

While some might be easy to forget, this trip is loaded with positive memories, and stories that I can take with me forever, wherever I go.

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One that really resonates, and gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling, is when my friend took me to The Brass Monkey.

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Now she had told me weeks prior that she visited a place that is owned and operated by folks who have ties to the Maryland area. That can only mean their love for Baltimore and Maryland area sports.  And that’s exactly what we’re talking about.   It took me a few minutes to realize I was in the presence of so much local sports posters and memorabilia. Not only sports, but symbols of what makes Maryland great also display proudly.

BrassMonkeySide

What’s not to like?

I recall my excitement as my friend and I were deciding on what to eat for lunch and said she had a place in mind.  In hindsight I should’ve put everything together.  But what would be the fun in that?

As we drove down towards beautiful St. Pete Beach my excitement levels were reaching heights I haven’t felt in a while.  I’m on vacation, to an extent we’re on vacation, and just being in a new place, with beautiful weather, and friendly people is going to amp up the enthusiasm.

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I realized as we got closer down the beach where we were headed.   I’m grateful for the ride, this experience, and we have yet to sit down.

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Since it was lunchtime, it was the perfect time to grab a seat anywhere (we chose the bar) and to appreciate our surroundings.  And each other of course.  We were in great moods and felt like we ran the place.  Of course we didn’t but we got a kick out of entertaining ourselves each other.  That’s as important as the wining (or in this insance, boozing) and dining.

BrassMonkeyPizzaMenu

Now I’ll cut to the chase.  I did order a pizza, we also ordered wings & fries, and then Fancy Fries which are friend green beans.  It’s bar food with a little twist.  The fried green beans were the true highlight of this meal.

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I didn’t get a pizza expecting it to be world class or this earth shattering experience.  I got a vegetable pie just hoping it would be something to enjoy in the space and time that we were in.

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While it was loaded with more mozzarella cheese than some may prefer.  I didn’t mind. I’d say the more, the merrier, which can also mean even more leftovers.  The cheese, veggies, and crust are simple for a bar, and good enough.   And maybe the quality could have been up there a little more, it’s more than worthwhile to share with friends or to heat up and serve for the next few days after.  Which is exactly what happened.

 

The wings and fries were decent, but I’m telling you these fancy fries are what did it for me.  When I look back in pictures I honestly forgot that’s what we had.  We had a lot of appetizers before the main event.   And the main event might just be any meal you have on vacation.

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If you’re expecting healthy eats with diet friendly portions, this won’t work in your favor. But hearty portions is right in lines with what you’ll get.

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Our frozen drinks were stellar too.  The menu is above, I’ll let you figure out what is what, with the beverages listed below.

 

But the true draw of this place is location, atmosphere, and the local flavor for those of us in Maryland.  It’s the quintessential home away from home.

 

While it was great to be away, it was a charming reminder of where I come from and what I’ll be going back to.

 

And I will be coming back to Brass Monkey (to order something different, maybe those crab cakes!) upon my return to beautiful St. Pete and beautiful St. Pete Beach, and that Pass-a-Grille, which I can never get enough of saying.

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For more on the Brass Monkey, here is their story, their menu,  football info,  beach apparel for sale, and contact info.

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Here’s the now growing list of Florida pizza spots I’ve visited.

Thanks so much and I hope you’re summer has been beautiful.

Ideen

 

…Your Favorite Pizza Shop

LittleItalyPizzas

How many different ways can you articulate your fondness and affinity for a town, for it’s spectacular views, small town vibe, and yes the inspirational pizza?

Annapolis has my heart.  Whether I have theirs is a topic for another lifetime, but even the missteps tend to be charming.  And the charm tends to be all that more charming. Yes I’m romantic.   I just love this place so much.  And part of this reason is I have no reason. It doesn’t necessarily get me and I don’t necessarily get it.  Everything about it just feels right.  I feel one with so much when I’m here.  It’s those proverbial goosebumps.

We’ve arrived at Memorial Day Weekend.  How’d that happen?

As I did two years ago, this kind of a homage and congratulations to the Naval Academy and all the commencement activities that will be taking place this weekend.

Here is my pizza history with my favorite state capital.

LittleItalyAnnapolis

A little bit away from the commotion and situations in downtown is a little hole in the wall, Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

If I hadn’t done a little research after the fact I would think this place would have been here for decades and honoring the authenticity of Italian Style, New York Style, and any other old world style pizza and restaurant for that matter.

I was asking around to friend who do live, have lived or spent frequent time in the area to see if anyone has eaten there.  I either got no response or pals saying they’d never heard of it.

Then I find out this place has been open less than a year.   I was all set to get excited and talk about how this is a diamond or a gem within many others.  My preconceived notions and presumptions are not going to sway me towards the negative.  Not yet at least.

If the pizza’s good then we’re onto something.

It was once a Peruvian Chicken restaurant that converted into this current restaurant. Maybe it’s new owners and maybe it’s some of the same folks that felt like a rebranding was necessary.  And there’s nothing right or wrong about that.  Local business is what I root for, is what many of us are rooting for to succeed because they’re still the heart and soul of so many things.    And there can never be soul.

With that said, the pizza was not exactly what I expected.  Maybe I was going to strike gold and find something not many others have.   Not quite.  It was good but it wasn’t life changing.  But the pleasant surprise was they had slices.  I was going in assuming I would get a small pie to go, but they have their pizza trays with a few choices and that made me happy.

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I got three and because we feasted heavily on meat last week I figure I would dial it back and go with the cheese, the white, and the veggie.  And did they put on a lot of veggies.

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Again, nothing wrong with them.  I just wanted more.  And I’m one of those people that doesn’t ask for a whole lot except in this instance I want my pizza to taste good.

LittleItalyVeggie

The crust was fine on all of them.  Since I don’t have much to say about the cheese or the sauce, I will say the vegetable slice with all of its overloaded vegetables was slightly charming and entertaining in a way.  Maybe I was just (and am) entertaining myself, but it was my favorite of the three.

I do wish I took a picture of the interior.  They had those red and white vinyl tablecloths you might have seen at a restaurant when you were a kid and might still see today.

That’s what made me think this place has been around for a while. I love the attention to detail.  It may not mean to much but I found it endearing in a way.  For that reason a lot it will make me come back.

The pizza may not have been great this time around but I’m all for giving it another chance.  I think this place has some great food to offer including their pizzas.

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Their menu, location, contact information, and story is all available on the main page.

If this works out I will be doing another Annapolis location next week or soon.  And one that’s close to Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

No this wasn’t my favorite pizza place as the title says but I got a kick of the to-go box. And I thought I saw them all…

LittleItalyPizzaBox

Have a blessed and safe holiday weekend,

Ideen

 

After All, It’s Just Pizza

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I mean it really is.  You, me, or anybody else can rant and rave about a place, rip it to shreds, and/or seek all the good and bad in the details of any pizzeria or restaurant.  It’s the experience, the ambiance, the hopefully good company you were with, and those hidden gems of information that only you might notice, and either keep to yourself or want to share with the world.  Which I like to do sometimes.

But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just pizza.

JustPizzaFront

After not doing a single post from the beaches last year, I’m already getting it in going in March, with the appropriately titled, Just Pizza, of Bethany Beach, DE.

If you’ve been to Bethany Beach you know how quite and cozy this town is.   It’s the antithesis of the chaotic nature of the nearby beaches in Maryland and Delaware.

Bethany is sentimental to me.  Many beaches might mean something to you too.  I have fond memories of a kid taking family trips here.  It was a superb getaway for our family go to away, if even just for a few days, from the familiarity of home.  I mean that’s why we take vacations right?  But I don’t remember a pizzeria being so close by.

Where my family usually stayed was right across the street in one of the condominiums or hotels.  But I remember the charming and approachable shopping center where Just Pizza currently stands.  In a town like this, the more things change, nothing changes.  And in a way I love that so much.

So this pizza is not amazing.   I wouldn’t even call it great.  But they’re not a place that claims to be world class and a five star restaurant.  If they did, I would judge them differently.

Literally, it’s a carry-out place that’s one of the more smaller spaces you’re going to come across.  With just a few chairs in the waiting area, it resembles an doctor’s office more than a place to grab some eats, if you will.

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In the honor of how simplistic this place is, I went simple  I got half cheese and half pepperoni for the road.  I was the only one waiting and I felt my pie took quite a while.  It felt about 20-25 minutes when I was promised 15.  It’s a minor detail but it’s worth noting. Perhaps it adds to the easy-going nature of the town, or maybe it really took that long.

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I’m not going to say it was worth the wait. The pizza was ok but like I said, it’s not going to win any awards.  But I will say, it did remind me of the beach.  That might not make sense initially, but something about it just tasted like it’s from the beach.   I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s a thing where my mind is telling me what to sense and what to taste, and predictably (or not) it’s evoking feelings of the beach and sand, and who knows what else I remember from growing up, and maybe now.

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The crust is a bit rougher than usual but it had a buttery taste to it that I liked.   The cheese and pepperoni were just what I thought it would be, good and greasy.  But it may be too greasy for some.

Nevertheless, I’ve talked to a couple of friends that know what they’re getting when they order and it gets the job done.  And for most of us, when it comes to pizza, that’s all we need.  All the other details don’t always matter.

Folks for are at the beach looking for a quick (well I hope so, order ahead of time of course) pie or other standard fare to go, this is going to make most people happy.  If and when I’m staying or visiting here again, I will likely eat here again if it was an option presented to myself or from a friend, or family member.

Speaking of which, it’s so funny that I used to not appreciate the peace and quiet of this town like I do now.   It’s the top reason where I feel partial to small towns and small businesses like this.  They’re depend on support from locals and tourists in season a like. And I’m always happy to support any local business, because they’re still the soul and conscience of small towns likes this and even bigger cities.

JustPizzaMenu

Next time I’m back  I will absolutely give them another try.   For my friends who want somewhere quiet and would like to avoid the commotion of the bookending resort towns of Ocean City and Dewey Beach then this is perfection. They don’t have a website but more information can be found here and here.  At the time I was there, it was perfection.   But as the weather gets nicer this is a place that’s a safe house and an ally when one isn’t always around.

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I’m not sure if this mean the beach posts will resume.  I did many back in the Summer of 2015 (those posts can be found here), and that feels so long ago.  We shall see.

But for now I will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and wish you a happy and safe one as well.

Ideen

 

Johnny’s On The Spot

After last week I may just do beach related pizza posts into September.  I shall see where the wind takes me.

Johnny's

Johnny’s is a pizzeria that is one of the newer pizza parlors to surface. When one pizza place opened up, it seems so many followed.  If it wasn’t for the to go box pictured below, I wouldn’t have known they set up shop in 2010.  But 5-10 years would have been my hypothesis.  Now I’m willing to bet the amount of places in OC to get a slice or a pie are in at least in the 100+ range.

Like many of these other comfort food locations, they’re open into the wee hours of the morning.  So if a quick slice or two to go is what you’re looking for, they will oblige and with pleasure.

I’ve had slices from here in the past and did not care for them.   They were adequate.  For after a night of going out they were purposeful but I didn’t like the feeling in the morning.  I guess that’s the point.

They have quite the expansive menu and many specialty pies to choose from.  For purposes of this visit, I ordered a pie for friends and I to try.   I got really adventurous here.

Johnny'sThaiChicken

The Thai Chicken Pizza was something else.  I had no expectations.  It turned out better than I thought.   If it seems like it’s just a bunch of items thrown together, then you would be correct.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be good.  The peanut and ginger sauce was a bit aggressive that it was a bit hard to eat in spots.  It was spread randomly all over.

Aside from that I was pleasantly surprised.  The mix of mozzarella and cheddar really came together well. And I love onions.  They threw a lot of whole pieces on there as you can see.    But not only white onions (which are not listed as part of the pie but were included anyways) but the green ones as well.  Which are always great.  If there were carrots I barely noticed them.  Maybe the white onions were the substitute. The peanuts were a nice touch too.  It really tasted like a Thai dish or salad.

Johnny'sThaiChicken2

What really makes this pie however, is the chicken. It tasted a lot fresher than I thought it would.   Kudos to that.  The crust was a nice mix of crispy and soft that it didn’t detract in any way from the pie.

So in hindsight this was a better pie than I realized. It wasn’t the greatest.  But this was a solid indluging that will make me want to come back and try something else.

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The bar and restaurant, along with the carry out area, is usually always packed in the peak months.  This means getting there at the right time can be a challenge.

Till the next visit to the beach.

Best,

Ideen

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.

Lombardi'sSummer

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!

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

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen