My Favorite Kind of Pizzeria…

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…is the one that doesn’t need to be any more than what it knows it is.  It shouldn’t try too hard to be something it’s not. That applies to many facets of life as well.

We don’t all want the same kind of pizza.  We all don’t want the same kind of service, don’t all need to sit somewhere fancy, and we sometimes just want to get our food and go back home.   I like that last one a lot lately.

Well I wasn’t in my home, but I was welcomed into a home of friends I haven’t seen in some time, and they had prepared me for a stellar experience at Capri Pizza (here’s their menu and contact information) in Glen Burnie, MD.

This is the place for locals and local business to get pizza. Every town and every city has at least one.   And at least one is going to be good, if not great.  Maybe that sounds too idealistic, but that’s from seeing it first hand.

My friends built this up pretty significantly.  They get food from here on semi regular basis, so I trust their opinion.  I respect and trust any friend’s opinion even if it may not match mine later.  Our tastes are all unique while sometimes all the same at once.

That’s it for the cautious language because both pizzas were tremendous.  And for simplicity sake, we got a cheese and a white cheese.  The choices on this could not have been better, dare I say remarkable.

I’m not saying toppings would have made the pies any better or worse.  But to keep it simple, genuine, and down to earth in a lot of ways, this was perfection.  I haven’t written in bit, and a reset was needed.  So to have the two most straightforward, yet amazing pizzas after a break was serendipitous.

CapriCheese

So many things stand out, especially the crust.  The thin Neopolitan on both, especially the white could not have been heated any better.  The char and toast on these is immaculate.  There was something about the thin crust that stood out in contrast to so many I’ve had.   I can’t quite put my finger on it, nor do I need to just yet.

We got the right amount of cheese and sauce on these pies that everything complements the other.  I have everything good to say about these pizzas and some more…

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I don’t know if it was the olive oil or the butter, or something from beyond because this white pizza is one of the best I’ve ever had.  It was toasted just that much better than the cheese, if that’s even possible.  If this is how they do pizza, I’m coming back on a regular basis.

And I love the simplicity of their shoppe.  We have a few tables, a small space, and a family run business with everyone involved.  Everything about this place makes me happy.

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And the happiness continued by sharing the pizza with friends in a house I was invited and welcomed to with open arms.   It’s this kind of good energy that flows from one place to the next.  I’m grateful for what I knew what would be an enjoyable day.  You can’t ask for more than good times, good friends, and of course good pizza.   When you combine all those elements it’s an energy field of happiness.

I look forward to more experiences like this, but for now this is definitely one for the books, and one to savor…

Peace be with you.

Ideen

Love & Pizza

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I just had to get back to one of of my favorite Washington, DC area pizza places, We The Pizza.  The charm, the energy, the charisma, the positive energy, and most of all, the pizza has stuck with me since my inaugural visit to their Crystal City location back in November of 2015.  You can read about that surreal experience here.

I had said I would be back here sooner rather than later.  How does nearly 14 month sound? And how surreal again is it, one the eve of one of the biggest events in the area, and in our nation in a long time.   Life is funny that way.  It presents us scenarios.  It naturally plants us in situations where we either take it or throw it back to the universe for reorganizing.

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For many, a situation might be too much too handle and we withdrawal, we have reservations, and we overthink.  Heck what am I talking about?  I was footsteps away from where there was so much commotion, and the DC version of We The Pizza was in my sights.  Maybe that’s all there is too it.   Maybe.  I didn’t have any reservations.  Speaking of which, this is what they call, casual digs, no need to call ahead and reserve a table. I I suspect some of the folks in line might be paying a hefty tab for a dinner later on this weekend if you catch what I’m saying.

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The strip of bars, shoppes, and restaurants around Capitol Hill does have some charm to it. As much as DC has become so homogenized with bloated new apartment and condo units, it still has loads of charm.  You don’t have too look too hard to find it.  I forgot one of my new favorite pizzerias was nestled right in the heart of it.  It’s been here for  over six years. I don’t think I’ve been away that long.

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The vibe was much different than it’s Virginia Counterpart.  Yes there were plenty of “What Do You Do?” types mulling about.  But there seemed to be an overall intensity of joy all around.  The sun was out and you could almost get away without wearing a jacket.  It was that nice out.  That always helps.   On first glimpse, I didn’t sense as much as dining space as in Crystal City, but then I walked around and realized wow.  There’s outdoor seating, front seating, side seating, and more upstairs.  This is the combination of cozy and widespread.   I think this has always been the norm (if plausible) in restaurants within rowhomes, but I still like to point it out

To say there was a sense of community around is a statement.  Maybe you thought I would say understatement but now.  But not an overstatement either.  People seemed happy.  I saw people saying hi to one another.  There’s good everywhere and we don’t have to look hard to find it.  I bet sharing pizza has a lot do with that.  More on that shortly.  But speaking of which…

I wanted to keep it simple this time around.  But when you see their whole assortment of pies, it’s hard to just stick with cheese and pepperoni.   I’ll get to the meats in good time. But I did go with three slices, one was one of the magnificently crafted slices I’ve had.  You may see it hiding behind the other two, in the picture on the right above.  That overused artisanal word can be applied to that one.  The unveiling is coming.  I’ll get to that in pizza three.

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I went with with the White Pizza first.   I’m going with this one initially because this shocked me how disappointing this was.  White is usually hard to make poorly but something went awry here.  All the standards are there, but was it the fontina that gave this a strange taste?  Was is the ricotta?  How about the white sauce?  Maybe the whole not equalling the sum?  Maybe it was an off day. I’m really confused.  But look how beautiful this is?  Yet, I couldn’t finish it.

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I will say the crust on all the pies is tremendous, cooked to perfection, and with the perfect charring all over the place.

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Now we move on to simple cheese.  This was fantastic.  And the cheese is just like someone’s mom used to make, and hopefully still does.   It reminds me of pizza I had when I was a kid and still luckily find periodically.  I know in the past I’ve used that similarity before, but it applies here as well.  This was so damn good.  But the fresh oregano is the key ingredient that makes this magical.

That would have been enough to make it a 2 for 2 in visits.  But this just needed a little something else didn’t it?

I’m big on dramatics, even when it comes to something simple as pizza, but I noticed one pie on the counter that didn’t have an identifier.  I asked one of the pizza makers what this was and he asked me to look at the sign up ahead.  I keep making it so hard on myself. But it also makes it exciting no?  Well someone out there will agree with me.

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Anyways, what I thought looked like a dessert pie on first glimpse was actually the Roasted Butternut Squash.  I jumped like a little kid and said “me me, I want one!”   No that didn’t actually happen but my enthusiasm level went to a brand new level.  I’m building this thing up in anticipation of eating.  I deliberately saved this one for last and to call this a masterpiece would not be enough.   I just wish I noticed this sooner.  The squash by itself tasted fresh out of the garden. And as individual pieces they were perfect.  I pulled a few off for safe eating.

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Everything that was incorporated brought all the other flavors and textures to life.  From the goat cheese, to the caramelized onions, the thyme, the balsamic glaze, and the bechamel?

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I would be lying if I just threw bechamel acting like I use that word regularly.  But after reading about it, I see that it has just as much importance to this pie as everything else.  And I will now be on the lookout for other meals and foods that use bechamel.  But I really know what it is, I swear!  How many times can I say that without looking like a complete goof. Bechamel bechamel bechamel! Yum!

I need more of that squash pie.   I should have just ordered one to go and did what I could to preserve it to enjoy over the next few days.  That just means I’ll need to come back.  And it won’t be another year plus for the next recap.  This place is too good not to be applauded for all their fantastic za.

All three slices came out to $12 and change.  For the location, that’s more than reasonable.   Cheese is $3 and most other slices are $4.

And for all the good they do too.  Here are some links on that, being in the community and helping the environment.

If you’ve never been or are traveling to the area this weekend or anytime, here is their contact information, locations, and news feed.

This is what I alluded to earlier.  Pizza, almost 100% of the time, makes people feel good, it brings people together.  At that moment you’re enjoying a marvelous pizza pie, with good friends, good family, or whatever awesome company you may have, and just loving life. This is the whole point of  why I write about pizza and why We The Pizza does what they do.

The “We” and the “Us” is paramount here.

The charming pictures on their restroom wall help too!

Like I said earlier, they have too many slices not do be revisited again.  So I hope WE do.

WE’ll do it again soon!

Ideen

 

 

 

Viva La Rosa

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven through the streets of Philadelphia, and found myself on the gritty and more genuine feeling of Broad Street.

For the past 8 years I’ve been going to many a show, concert, and sporting event at the nearby South Philadelphia Sports Complex.   I know, what an imposing, yet inspirational name for it.  Well, maybe not inspirational, maybe just there.

My point is, I love Philadelphia, and I’m happy to now be embracing the pies that encompass this beautiful city.

Once again, I don’t know how many times I’ve gone past certain locales and thought nothing of them.  And now, over a year into this blog I actively look for pizzerias of all shapes and sizes.  One of those places is…

…a few blocks up the street from this sports and entertainment venue is La Rosa.

LaRosaFront

I wish I had come here sooner.  This is at about as palpable and authentic as it gets.

I had no idea what to expect when I walked in.  The outside may look imposing.  But here, as in life, never judge a book (or a pizzeria) by its cover.

I’m grateful that I did.  The lady behind the counter was randomly bringing slices out of the oven and placing them on trays.  It felt like cafeteria style.  And that could imply grade-school but I’m not making fun.  I found it refreshing.  There were no seats and the hallways were as narrow as a studio apartment or efficiency.  Oh I love Philadelphia.

The lady working could not have been nicer.   She was quick to explain what slices were which.  Did I mention that these were square-shaped?  I love ’em this way and it’s a pleasant deviation from the norm.

The slices looked buttery, thick, but not intimidating.  This isn’t a deep-dish or gargantuan concoction. This is a happy-medium that I think everyone, whether you’re a local or an outsider, is going to be appreciate.

There is a one source of frustration I will get to, after I go over the three slices I purchased.

I got the mushroom, the sausage, and the white spinach.  Can you guess the winner?

LaRosaMushroom

The mushroom was nothing spectacular.  I think they came from a can, which is alright.  But it didn’t really work here.  We know how bona fide mushrooms taste, and this wasn’t it.

The sausage was eons better than the former.  I was told that it actually comes from the city itself. I’m all for local and it shows.  It added a strong dimension to the slice.  It had the perfect blend of cheese, sauce, and the beef.

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But the prize is the white spinach.   I could eat a hundred of these. Actually that’s a lot. How about just one for now?  This tasted like real spinach and the white cheese is on par with any of the best blanca slices I’ve had in some time.  May I have another?

The slight charring, mixed with the buttery and slightly crisp crust really won me over.

And the three slices didn’t even total $10.  That sounds like another win.

So why am I frustrated?   Before a planned visit to a place, I’ll do a little research. Sometimes I go in blind.  I prefer the latter but I wish this time I did a little preparation.

I found out later that their potato pie is their centerpiece and their big draw.  I wish I knew that ahead of time.   I don’t like to do repeat places too often but in this case I may make an exception.  I heard the sausage and potato pairing is what to go for.   Ah this is eating at me.  Oh wait…

I’ll have to come back.  Any excuse to return to Philadelphia is alright with me.

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For my previous Philadelphia posts (alliteration is my addiction) you have your choice of here, there, and this one.  And here’s another.

Take care,

Ideen

 

On The Avenue

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Since being around the Baltimore area for the past 15 years, I’ve always been sentimental to White Marsh. So it’s about time I review a pizza place nearby. And this brings us to Slice Pizzeria on The Avenue.

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What stood out right away was how tiny the inside was.  It only seats a few people indoors and there are tabletops outside for dining when the weather is nice. They also have a side entrance where you can order from the outside (as seen pictured above), which gives it a local shoppe feel.  I find that awesome.  In the nearly two years they’ve been open, they have developed quite the following.  And being next to the movie theater is a plus.

Unfortunately, I feel their pizza has become movie theater quality.  When I was originally going their slices were quite tasty. They lived up to their New York Style thin crust reputation.  In my past few visits, I have noticed a decrease in goodness. The slices I will review were based on my most recent stop.

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First up was The White Pizza.  I just didn’t get much from it.  It was ok.  The crust was fine.  The cheese just seemed lacking.  It didn’t have the usual flavor I have come to expect.  It tasted more like cheese on toast.

Next in line, we had The Shore Pie Pizza.  And boy did this look promising.   The ingredients are grilled chicken, butter, Old Bay, mozzarella, and blue cheese. Now you would think this would be a recipe for success.  I really wanted it to be.  But again, it just didn’t come together.   I really like the idea of butter as an ingredient.  But I never felt like I tasted it. In addition, the Old Bay and blue cheese didn’t seem to click.  I can imagine for many, this is a match made in pizza heaven.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  And the chicken was ok.  I’ve had better pieces of chicken on a pie. Again, this was an ok slice.  But I can’t say I’d try it again. bacon

And lastly, we have the Rancher Pizza.  We got bacon on this one, so it’s gotta be great right?  There’s grilled chicken again, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, and the aforementioned bacon.  This just didn’t work. I had a hard time eating this one.   I didn’t love the bbq sauce.  It was too sweet for me, but that is what wasblisted.  I found this one the most disappointing. Since they have one of the most creative and inventive menus I’ve seen, I will give it another go.  I just recall their pizza tasting a whole lot better. Some of their slices are over $5, which is a bit steep for me.

There’s a lot of positives though.  The staff is always friendly and happy to assist with questions about the unique entrees. Every time I’ve gone in, they’ve been smiling.   In addition, their slices are of generous proportions, which could justify the price somewhat. Just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean you won’t.

And judging by reviewers, a lot of people are fans. I do wish Slice all the success and look forward to trying another concoction again. Thanks so much. Best, Ideen