Something on the Somewhere

TavernChickenPizza2

When I first started writing this blog, my primary focus was in and around the Baltimore area.  It was suggested to me that I expand where I could.   Even if it’s just a suburb, a different town will add a different element to my posts.   Since then, I’ve expanded to other parts of the northeast and sometimes elsewhere.  I don’t know where this is going, but global domination would be nice.  Or at least an expansion.    But this week I take it back to the city  I first wrote about.

Don’t you just love how I post a photo and then not get around to discussing it, until the second paragraph?   When you think of good pizza in Charm City I doubt Tavern on the Square makes many peoples’ top 10 or even 20 lists.   Should I even go higher?  This is not an indictment of them.   I actually found some of their pizza enjoyable, if not just flat-out scrumptious.  But there’s more to this place.  It’s become a frequent happy hour spot for dear friends of mine.  I’ve been grateful to be a part of many of these convocations.

TavernFront

But if you know the location, you know this bar has seen many transformations.  It’s been at least four different establishments since I’ve been frequenting this area.  Did I mention that this is nestled in the sometimes chaotic Canton Square?  However, this is one of the more subdued and refreshing locations, depending on what time of day you’re there.  And even at night it’s a little more reserved than some of the other more fraternized locales. Pun not intended.

For many, it’s like any other bar.  For me, I wonder what the identity is.  I over-analyze and ask sometimes reaching questions.  Maybe the fact that it has no niche is just what their niche is .  There I go being deep again.

Like I always ask, how was the za?

This is going to be a recap of several pies over multiple visits and in sequential order.  And in general, the pals I mentioned earlier were around for all of them.  I’ll try to simplify this so as to not overlap.

It wasn’t until I saw a good friend eating a gargantuan meatball pizza, that I even knew it was on the menu.  The meatball on this day was heated to perfection.  Look at that immaculately heated crust.  And the burnt cheese on the side is always a nice touch.  You can tell the flatbread crust was heated with soul and the chef was enjoying himself.  The meatball tasted great as well.  I’m thankful my friend gave me a couple of slices to try.

The blackened chicken was at the top of the standings.  This was over a second visit a couple of months later.  The chicken just had a taste to it that worked.  And the accompanying vegetables complemented the protein.  Once again, that crust was heated in stellar fashion.  As you can see, this pie got decimated quickly.  I was happy to share with my friends as that’s what life is all about.

For the next visit, we all ordered a bunch of pies.  This is also where things fell apart.

I ordered the buffalo chicken.  This was the dichotomy of the first two pizzas. It wasn’t heated well.  And you can tell by the pictures.  The golden brown was missing.   The buffalo sauce was too spicy and the blue cheese tasted goofy. Yes I said goofy.  I don’t know what went wrong.  It was good enough to meat but their was nothing behind this.  It didn’t feel like the happy pie I’ve grown accustomed too. And that made me sad.

Some friends ordered the margherita. It just tasted like it was there.  The presentation was so-so, and this tasted like there was nothing behind it.  This looked and tasted undercooked.

TavernMeatballSliceDay2

Finally, a friend ordered the meatball and I just had to try again.  It was nowhere near the level of what I enthusiastically described earlier.  The meatball itself didn’t seem cooked and again the crust seemed boring.   Again, enough to eat, but nothing more.

So what happened?   I have my educated guesses and information. maybe it was an off night.  I was happy to share and swap slices with friend for the third visit.  I just wish the enjoyment level was on par with the first meatball and blackened chicken pizzas.

With that being said, that’s how I’ll remember the visits and the eats.  That blackened chicken was tremendous.  I would strongly recommend if you get the chance.  I look forward to getting another visit in and hoping for a repeat.

Nevertheless,  the positive experiences with good friends is most paramount.  And I’m thankful to have had many here, as either a happy hour, starting point, or ending point. And with that, to Tavern, one final thing needs to be said. Thank you.

All the best,

Ideen

Bartenders Please

BartendersFrontBartendersSide2

I have wanted to write about Bartenders, since I began this blog.   This, among a select few other spots, were the inspiration for me to write about pizza.  And there’s so much fun that goes with pizza, besides eating some amazing pies.  It’s the joy of each others company, the drinks you have with your meal, and the memories that come with it.   If that’s a little too cheesy and overly sentimental for you, then good.

I first ate here nearly four years ago, through recommendations of regulars and good friends that have said their pies are the best in town.   And the atmosphere is one that is still incomparable.  Their are local bars and then there’s local bars.   I have found myself very comfortable eating and drinking a glass of wine their solo, on many an occasion.  The head bartenders (who are also the owners) are very personable and people I’m glad to call my friends.

Now I’ve dragged this as far as I can.   I love their pies.   I always have and always will.  The first time I ate there, I was taken for a ride on culinary excellence.  I don’t know where the dough, the cheese, the topping, and most of all the soul came from, but this is one of the best pizzas I’ve had period. And I would go here maybe once or twice a week from 2012-2013, and gained quite a bit of weight in the process.  I didn’t care.  I loved every second of it.

But if there is a down side, it’s that you get so spoiled from eating amazing creations like theirs, that other pizzas start not to taste as good.  I’ve learned to be educated about that and realize that not all pies are created equal.  And I should only judge based on taste and the energy behind it.

Here is where it gets funny.  I knew full well I was going to write about this spot, lauding and touting it to kingdom come.   But the last few times I’ve been the pizza hasn’t been up to the level I’m used to. It’s been good but the excitement and thrill I would get wasn’t there.   At first, I thought it might have been me.  But it was on three separate occasions.  It was still really good but not on the inspirational level I’ve become accustomed too.

But luckily a dear friend had been cooking the za’s there, but we rarely crossed paths at said establishment itself.  So I mentioned to her that I don’t think they’ve been as good as I remember.  She suggested I come in during one of her final shifts, and she’d make it for me personally.

And I’m glad I did. She made a masterpiece.   I’ve had The Spence before, but not like this.  Our friends who have been here repeatedly know the pie and know the man behind it.

BartendersSpence

This is a work of art.  I think it’s worthy of multiple photos. So here’s another.

BartendersSpence2

The combination of the homemade sauce, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and andouille sausage alone is enough to make this grown man act like a little kid at his first pizza parlor!  Oh my goodness this was made to perfection.  I’ve had it before but not like this.   The red peppers, onions, and fresh basil complete and complement this pie perfectly.  This is up there with some of the best ever.

Now I’ve had their cheese, white, and garden (vegetarian) as well, and loved those too. But this blows them all away. The crust, the way it was cooked, and the way everything melted and blended together is genius. And I mean this with all sincerity, this was one for the ages.  It was the perfect send off for her and the perfect early birthday present to myself.  I don’t think it could have been done any better.  And I’m glad I waited this long to write about this.  Faith has been rewarded.

I love that they give you paper plates with your meal. It’s a little detail that I don’t want to go unnoticed.  I prefer it versus a regular dish.

BartendersSpenceWithWine

But maybe my last few purchases of various pies such as the Barbecue Chicken, Peyton, and Tarlek just didn’t move me like the others.  It’s meant as a compliment.  The expectations of this place are extremely high and they will continue to be.

If you’re curious as to their menu and the selections I mentioned above, click here.

As my friend moves on to bigger and better, I will always remember Bartenders for their amazing pizza and good atmosphere.  I have many great memories but this might have been one of the best.  I look forward to more momentous occasions and many more delicious pies in the near future.

BartendersSide

Rock and Roll.

Best,

Ideen

In Plain Sight

pasticcio

There’s a lot of places we go to, because we like it, love it, out of necessity, or out of habit.  And then there’s you don’t even know exist or unintentionally take for granted.   Many of us drive by such locales to and from work everyday.

Pasticcio, in the Can Company part of Canton, might be one of those places.    Until a few years ago, I didn’t know it existed either.    But they have some mighty good slices.   They also have a full menu and a stocked bar, which is set up nicely to the side.

In the half dozen or so times I’ve been in, I’ve always felt a good energy and a good welcoming aura walking in.   The staff has always been friendly, and that’s an understatement.

One of the charms of this place, unintentional or not, by the pizza trays, is there his no signage describing which each pizza is.  So I always find myself asking one of the team members each time what certain pies area.     Always fun.  In turn, their online menu seems limited but in person it’s anything but.   They change their specials daily, and even the big ing.board with their specials list doesn’t feel intimidating.

All I’ve had their are slices, but next time, I would love to get something else.  It all looks so beautiful.

I usually do types of pies, but I was in a great mood, so let’s do another!

elookatthat

The pictures above don’t do this justice.

As I mentioned, the descriptions were not available, so I am going to describe each one, based on what this amazing person told me.

Going clockwise, we have Grandma’s Slice, which is squared shape and with a thicker crust.   And I could taste something  different about it, I just can’t put my finger on what it is.  Maybe it’s left to be mysterious and under the radar.  Seems to be a common theme throughout.  The yummy pesto and marinara are layered over the cheese and that’s it. Simple. Awesome. Delicious.

Next down the line is, the Deluxe, with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.   And I don’t usually eat pepperoni slices, not out of spite, just because it’s not one of my preferred toppings.  But this was wonderful as well.   Everything was baked into the cheese perfectly.  And the thin crust is just as great as the aforementioned Grandma’s slice.

The white pizza, with ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms was next.  This was good, but my least favorite of the three.  I feel maybe since I tried the other two first, that my palate may have been thrown off a bit.   And I’ve also had some amazing whites.   You don’t often see mushrooms added to a white pie, so I loved that very much.

All in all, this was a rousing success, and I like the fact that this is readily available to us, in a wonderful part of town.   This is not something to be taken for granted.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen