Grotto Pizza – The Revival

GrottoSlices

A dear friend of mine had asked me I had written about Grotto Pizza, and specifically about the Columbia, MD location.  I never asked him why that one specifically?  I could envision him saying, ‘well why not?’  That’s exactly right.  And this is in celebration of National Pizza Month.

GrottoFront

I never explained to my pal that back in May of 2015, I was pretty harsh on the place.  But this was the Dewey Beach location. We’re talking Memorial Day Weekend, loads of people, lines for food and drinks everywhere, and a likely rush for the way anything is prepared.   I don’t often read my old posts but I can imagine I said something similar but still being really hard on their pizza.

I’m not usually one to be critical.  I discuss a place on how it presents or how I feel it tries to present itself.  It’s all in the intention.  If a place carries some weight and gives off the aura and energy that their pizza, their ambiance, their energy, and their everything is larger than life, then I’ll look at them in a different light than a more casual pizza place.  And if it thinks it’s a little too cool for school or a bit ostentatious, then I will factor that in.

Fortunately, Grotto carries itself in a quite laid back fashion.  Even as this chain grows into a full service bar and restaurant, with locations growing from the Maryland and Delaware beaches slowly into the DC area, it still maintains a welcoming and folksy vibe that I believe they’ve been presenting for the 57 years it’s been open. Yes since 1960!  Math is fun!

While I don’t do many repeats, I feel this was necessary.  And I love thoughtful requests and I love a good redux.

I will say that the Columbia location is among the many spots where there is new development, a new era in living (which is happening in many places), and a revival of sorts.  Whether that’s good or bad is all relative and all on how you think communities should look.

But in the end it’s still always about the pizza, and then some of those other details.

I came at a quieter time, before the lunch rush.  So I had the full and undivided of the kind folks behind the counter.  Yes they were so kind.

You have an easy to use to-go board for ordering, if you don’t feel like sitting at a bar or table.  Before I departed the tables were starting to fill, but I digress.

As an homage to my first recap, everything was to go, and of course I ordered a cheese and then a pepperoni slice.  As a bonus, and just to see how another pie tastes, I went with the Buffalo Chicken.

GrottoCheese

The cheese and pepperoni were much better this time.  I love that the pepperoni is buried under the cheese. And the way the cheese is layered on top, in a charming and well thought out pattern is always a joy to see.

GrottoPepperoni

No, these are not to be the best pizzas of all time.   They’re fun.  The crust is a standard thin crust.  These are good slices for on the go and they do the job.  At around $6-$7 for two slices and a soda, that’s a solid deal.

GrottoBuffaloChicken

I can’t quite say the same about the Buffalo Chicken.  My main issue is the price.  At $18 for a medium, which presents itself more like a small, it’s a little pricier than I feel it should.

The sauce, chicken, cheese, and crust were fine but nothing special.  It’s a solid pizza, but not at the price.

You can see by the menu, that they have a plethora of pies, that you see in many pizzerias, with a few of their own creative takes thrown in…

…this is why I think another visit before the year is over is necessary.  So I’m thinking by the holidays, and I have a specific location in mind.

GrottoSlicesMenu

If you’re a fan of Grotto, my opinion is not going to sway you one way or another. People love the tradition and history behind the place.  I love tradition.  I love sentimentality.  It’s a place many of our parents and grandparents took us during Summer outings to the beach.  And now that it’s in a neighborhood or town near you, new traditions, homages, and memories can be made.

I look forward to creating another memory later this year.

For more on Grotto, here is their menu, locationscontact info, and their history.

Thank you so much.  Happy National Pizza Month.  And peace be with you…

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made By Hand (And With Love)

AmysPizzaPies

When I told a dear friend yesterday that I would be writing about Amy’s Kitchen Pizza this week, she was so excited and so happy.  She sounded happy for me too.  It’s because her and her husband were the ones who introduced me to their pizzas a few years ago.

I must thank them so much.  Even though Amy’s is now all over the place, and gluten and vegan pizza and food alternatives are all over the place.  They still get credit for opening my eyes and expanding my food horizons.

Personally for me, I can’t keep eating all this pizza at this rate.  I can’t speak for anyone else.   My stomach has gotten some ill affects over the past couple of years with all this exposure to cheese, bread, and sauce.   I’d say the first two have really done a number on me.   Thankfully, I have pizza to share with friends, share with family, give it to those in need, or save it for later.   Sometimes I feel I have no choice but to let it go to waste.  But I try to limit that if at all possible.

I had every intent of doing a couple of frozen pies this week.  The weather has been gloomy, rainy, and starting to feel more like fall, here in Maryland.  This leads to days where you don’t want to cook, don’t want to leave the house, and don’t want to do anything.

Instead of grabbing some standard pies (here is my frozen za history), I felt inspired to go the gluten free route.  Simple eating doesn’t have to be unhealthy, yet can still be timely.

So when I went my local supermarket yesterday, I perused the gluten free pizza aisle and was reminded of Amy’s.  I’ve had other brands thanks to my friends, but Amy’s was the first.  And you’ve got to give love to what got you here and what resonates the most.

I deliberately went with rice crust based pies for both.  I love the way it tastes and just wanted a reminder of how it compares to your standard wheat crusts.  It’s a more than viable alternative to those with gluten allergies.

First up is the Cheese.  It’s exactly what you want from a cheese pizza, with the different crust.   I was in a good mood throughout the pizza prepping process (I know, so challenging, heat and serve haha), so I just had this feeling these pies would turn out great.

AmysCheesePizza

The way the cheese melted into the crust was gorgeous.  I don’t know if pictures will do this thing justice.   I cut them up into slices, and while I enjoyed this, I will definitely be saving some for seconds.  That rice crust is fantastic.  I want more of this in my life. And that house-made tomato sauce, tastes just like home.

AmysCheesePizza2

Speaking of wanting more,  I had to do two of these.

The Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pesto warmed my heart.  The way this thing melted from pre heat to afterwards was such a joy.   I almost forgot this was dairy free.  As much as I loved the cheese, this was one was just that masterful.    I would be lying if I didn’t say it was the house-made pesto (my love for pesto can be found here) that did it.  It’s tremendous, but so are these tomatoes.  I love the broccoli too, but those tomatoes sealed the deal for me.   I’m a bigger fan than ever.

AmysPestoPizza

And yes I felt much better after having these pies than anything I’ve had recently.

AmysPestoPizza2

And at $8-10, you’re getting a deal for these pizzas.

Since they have so many pizza pies to try, I hope to do this again.   As the weather gets colder, there may be more opportunities to try some for frozen pizzas, which should not be discounted.  I’ve had pizzas from the frozen aisle that match or surpassed many pizzas I’ve had at pizzerias.

More importantly, I like what Amy’s is about.  Family owned, independent, community based, and autonomous are the best kinds of stories.

I don’t need to explain it, here is more on their food philosophy, their community efforts, their story, and course all their foods, and where to find all of their products near YOU.

You don’t have to find be gluten or dairy free to enjoy what Amy’s has to offer.  I’m all for trying different foods, with different ingredients and especially wholesome ones made from love.  There’s a soul behind this and if you’ve had any of their foods or pizzas, then you know what I’m talking about.

AmysPizzaSlices

Sometimes you just know when something comes from a place that’s bigger than us.

I look forward to the next opportunity to try something about from Amy’s, and maybe share it with you here.

In the meantime, stay healthy and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

You Say Tomatoes

HotTomtoesSlices

Two years ago, when leading up to The Fell’s Point Fun Festival, I did a series of posts featuring pizza from restaurants, pizzerias, and the like from the neighborhood.   I didn’t do them all, I didn’t avoid any on purpose, but I wanted to discuss some that may be off the radar or not within anyone’s crosshairs on a regular basis.

HotTomatoes

Then there’s Hot Tomatoes.  It’s one of those things where if you live or hang out in the area, you know what you’re getting.  I was thinking myself that it was too obvious and almost unnecessary to write about this establishment.  This is not a knock on them or their food.   It’s just that it’s always been there and it’s not going anywhere.  And imagine any late night, especially on the weekends, where slices are coming and going at a rapid-fire place.  The place isn’t going anywhere as long as people had a good night (or even a bad night) out and need something to finish the night off and feed their bellies.

But with the Festival starting this weekend, I felt like if I’m not going to write about Hot Tomatoes now, I may never.

For me, I don’t know if I have any sentimental attachment to Hot Tomatoes.   I’ve been and many of us have been too many times to count.  But after a while we look for other sources for greasy food to keep us satisfied.   And while a couple of places have closed nearby (Little Italy Pizzeria and Italian Graffiti come to mind), this neighborhood staple has stood the test of time.  Having a prominent location on Broadway helps.   Location….

HotTomatoesCheese

So how’s the pizza?  Its’s pizza.  It’s food.  There’s some folks prepping the pies, putting sauce, putting cheese, toppings, and throwing it in the oven.  Then when it’s ready they’ll slice it up and put it in a box or you to go.  See where I’m going with this?  It’s pizza that looks rough, is not going to win any world title belts, but it serves its purpose.  And that’s just the way they want it.  And it’s just pizza.  Many of us at later hours don’t care about artisanal quality and world renowned craftsmanship.

HotTomatoesGreek2

But something happened recently.  They’ve changed their slices up quite a bit.  I had a Greek slice with olives, onions, feta, and a whole slew of awesomeness.  It was a white based and it was surprisingly good.  I mean that with all sincerity.  Because of Hot Tomatoes presents itself, you expect what you expect.  But when they throw a good slice that is, your taste buds are feeling good and it’s a welcome change from the standard cheese and pepperoni.   If this slice is on display this weekend I’ll gladly get another.

 

Their slices are in the $4-$5 range but their big, and prices at the late night hour are really not what folks are worrying about.

What is their true stand out if their deep fried cheese steak.  They don’t always make it, but when it’s there, jump on it.  It’s the most unhealthy and glorious of all guilty pleasures.  I’ve always had to split mine with a pal.  It’s incredibly bad for you, yet incredibly delish all at once.

And now their other venture, at the same location, Diablo Doughnuts is really wowing people. I had my first opportunity to try their sweet treats and a wedding last weekend.  I believe I had one with fruity pebbles.  So good.

UPDATE :

This has been updated with my actual first purchase of donuts from said Diablo, during the festival, which was rather mellow on Sunday.

I grabbed an iced coffee, along with a Samoa (yes the Girl Scout kind), and a Blackberry Lime.  I thought they were both fine, but in what ways do I compare this to other doughnuts?  I like the creativity of flavors, but not sure if this is anything amazing in my eyes.  They were tasty though.  That’ all that matters.

I’m assuming they will still have a stand outside of their shoppe.  Per neighborhood and logistical changes the festival will be condensed this year, to try to make it even a heavier focus on local business and give it a more cozy and welcoming feel.  I’ve always felt was it inviting and approachable to people from all walks of life.  I’m hoping this change is a good one.  We shall see.

BroadwaySquare

Broadway Square, with the exception of the pretzel dog and lemonade stand, has opened back up in time for this weekend.  All signs pointing to a positive experience and a great time.

FellsPointFestival

I’ve been attending this festival every year, except for 2003, since 2000.  It’s become a part of me, a part of many of us, and it’s that first weekend in October that many of us look forward too.  For me, it hasn’t always been the most amazing of times, mainly because I think the festival got carried away with trying to be too big and getting carried away with outside food, drink, and traveling carnival like vendors.

But the last few years have been fantastic, with being able to drink on the streets, and keep it more local, has been a welcome addition.  And an addition by subtraction.

FellsPointFestivalSchedule

For those attending this weekend, here is the link to the maps and parking at the festival, the band list, purchasing drink packages (it’s $20 for 3 drinks versus $5 for just the cup in previous years), and contact information.

With so many many changes going on in the city and one of the great neighborhoods in the country, I’m hoping the integrity and heart will always be there.

We’ll be seeing ya this weekend.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

Sentimental Sicilian Style

JoeBennysAngryGinger3

For months I’ve wanted to go to Joe Benny’s. 

JoeBennysFront

Circumstances have presented themselves that it wasn’t supposed to happen just yet. Either because I came after hours (I find their schedule endearing and down-to-earth), or on days they weren’t open (they’re closed Mondays).

JoeBennysBoard

It just wasn’t meant to be, for that time.  I have so badly wanted to try their foccacia pies.. And in the few years they’ve been open, I’ve heard almost nothing but glowing reviews, and how inviting and approachable their establishment is.

I concur.

A dear friend of mine had asked me where I wanted to go to dinner this past Saturday.  It was a welcome invitation that mirrors the theme of this post and experience thus far. And bear in mind, I had some idea of where I wanted to go.  I had a few days to think about it.   As the day approached and my friend reminded me of that fact, I came up with a few suggestions.  But Joe Benny’s was at the forefront of my mind.   It only made sense.

My original post about Little Italy can be found here.

We love Little Italy, we love Italian food, my friend is Italian, and it’s a place that had forever alluded me.

Funny that my friend had never heard of it.

What makes this even more charming is the place is self seating, a narrow space, with a few seats at the bar, and a sizable yet ample (cozy) amount of seats.   My friend got there before be and (at the time) grabbed the last one.   I love the restaurants of Little Italy because it’s in a universe all its own in Baltimore.  Many have great food, great wine lists, and many suggest reservations.

What makes Joe Benny’s stand out is their menu.  While many restaurants in Little Italy serve similar entrees, Joe Benny’s is not only the only Foccaceria in Little Italy, but it’s the first and only in all of Baltimore.  That right there is going to attract patrons of little Italy, old and new.

And it’s going to attract me back many times over.

This was perfection.

JoeBennysMeatballs&Sangria

We started with their seasonal sangria, that had a fall like taste to it.  I swear I tasted some cinnamon sticks, but I could be wrong.  It was enjoyable, and complemented our heavy meal that was yet to come.

 

The irony is that the heaviest part of the meal might have been the Mimma’s Meatballs. The baked beef and pork mix was delightful enough but it was that tomato sauce that screams habit forming.  And the bread that came with it nearly made us full before we even got to our pies.   I can’t stress enough how amazing this sauce was.  Of course we dipped parts of pizzas into the sauce…

…And speaking of which…

JoeBennysThePizzaPies

My friend went with the Angry Ginger.  I went with the Kimtucky.

JoeBennysAngryGinger2

How perfect that this past Wednesday (9/20) was National Pepperoni Pizza Day.  And that we have a pie to discuss on this most important of all holidays.  Did you happen to take off work that day?  Ha.  Well you might think pizzas of this magnitude would do just that.

JoeBennysAngryGinger3

But the bread was not as filling as you might think.  There was a refreshing amount of air and a light heartedness to the pizza that doesn’t bloat you or make you full to the point of being down for the count.  It was quite the opposite.

JoeBennysAngryGinger

The all around red components of this pie made this not only beautiful to eat, but beautiful to look at.    The melange of pepperoni, roasted red pepper, spicy red pepper (yes both), tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella made this approachable looking pizza an absolute gem.   It was almost too pretty to eat, but well nah, enjoy.  It was tremendous.

JoeBennysKimtucky5

The Kimtucky continues my tradition of loving pesto.  I’ve emphasized this point many times and I’ll never get sick of it.   And the asiago cheese, roasted red peppers, along with that homemade pesto and fennel sausage made this another masterpiece.  Fennel is something I’m really enjoying on pizzas.

JoeBennysKimtucky7

And I’m glad we went with two contrasting pizzas to see how two different sauces, meats, cheeses, and veggies work on the focaccia.

I think they’re going to be alright.  This is one of the better experiences you’re going to have, not just with pizza, but dining in Baltimore.   The great company helps, the great atmosphere helps, but that food and drink made this all wrapped up in those pretty little bows we might make jokes about.  But this is no joke.  This was worthy of all the superlatives you want to throw at it.

We didn’t have room for dessert, we didn’t have room for much more.  We each took a little more than half our pies home.  Because while it wasn’t that filling, there’s always room for seconds.  And my kimtucky tasted just as amazing the next day, or maybe it was later that night.  Oops!  Yes, it was so good.

And we learned from our server, that the staff have their pies on the menu as well, sometimes as specials and sometimes as mainstays.  Judging from the looks of it, we will be back and will be back soon.

JoeBennysMenu2

You see the prices.  $15, give or take for these pies is well worth it.

I’m hooked, I’m a fan, and I always was before I even ever walked in the door. I can only hope the next time is coming soon.

Even their website is down-to-earth.

For more on Joe Benny’s, here is their menu, contact info, and their mission, which truly matches what we experienced.

 

Yes, their mission states it might take a few minutes longer than normal for the food.  But it’s so worth being patient.  Good things come to those…

I envision the same will happen for you.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

True Tampa Style

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaSlices3

I owe all this one to a dear friend who I visited this past June in St. Petersburg, FL.  I visited many friends, many amazing places, and experienced many awesome things.  For that I’m grateful to everyone who welcomed me and made me feel like home.  And it certainly did.

This vacation was somewhat bookended my some sight seeing in Tampa.  While it’s always fun playing tourist, it’s always a pleasure when a friend looks up pizzerias in the vicinity, to try, and for the sake of this blog.  If it wasn’t for my friend’s insistence this post would never see the light of day.

Thank goodness for good friends.  And thank goodness for great ‘za.

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaFront

After a few circles and strolls around Downtown Tampa, we marked our territory in what I now realize is the highly sought after and touted, Eddie & Sam’s N.Y. Pizza.

Eddie&SamsSide

As many of us do on a trip, we over indulge, we like the finer things in life, and we should always strive for those finer things.   With that said, I had five massive slices.

I mean who knows when I’ll be back here? I have every intention of doing so, but still, you never know.  And before you ask, no I did not eat everything.  I essentially ate a little bit of each, and then some more, and then some more.  And hopefully the significant amount that was saved was left for the person it was intended for.  I ask and I still don’t think I remember how that turned out.  Alright enough of that.

How I review is this going to be instinctive yet going with the flow as I write this.  That might mean the same thing, I’m not quite sure right now.

First, let me say that the dough on these pies is tremendous.  For some it stood out with much more passion than others.

Eddie & Sam’s imports water from New York to make this as authentic as it possibly can. I understand that the elements of time, space, and travel may not make this exactly New York Style.  And being in another state may pay a part in that.  But to be honest, I haven’t been to New York in quite some time.  I forgot how their pizza tasted.  I just remember some places being great, some being drab, and some everywhere in between.

We’ve all been to places that claim NY Style, only to be disappointed or accept the fact that it’s just pizza, sometimes good, but nothing memorable.

It’s been three months and I still think about these slices.  A lot has to do with being a new city, an unfamiliar city, an unpredictability of where this day was going, and being around great company.

Here are the five I ordered:  1) Cheese, 2) Blanca aka White, 3) Buffalo Chicken, 4) Chicken Bacon Ranch, and 5) Lasagna.   I realize now that vegetables are missing in this discussion.  I must have been in the mood for some protein.  This also leaves the door wide open for another visit and post sometime.

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaCheeseSlice

The cheese and buffalo chicken were the two main stand outs for me.   And if you judge a place by its cheese, this place is doing things perfectly.

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaBuffaloChickenSlice

But it was the dough on the buffalo chicken that stood apart from all the other slices. And yes while they overloaded all these stunning pieces of chicken on this pie, the softness of the dough mixed in with periodic crispy bites made this comfort food to perfection.

These were my two favorite slices by far.

Eddie&Sams LasagnaSlice

The lasagna was loaded with flavors but maybe I was expecting something more.  While still really good, I wanted a little more wow.

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaWhiteSlice2

The Blanca, while good, still is not what I had come to expect from a white slice.  I’ve mentioned this numerous times before, and maybe I need to lower expectations.  Maybe my tastes keep evolving but I don’t remember the last time a white pizza blew me away or was at least great.  This came close but not quite what I was looking for.

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaChickenBaconRanchSlice

The Chicken Bacon ranch was my least favorite of the bunch.  But it does get credit for having real pieces of breaded chicken and genuine pieces of bacon.   In many instances the slices served by many pizzerias will only include diced pieces of chicken and bacon bits.  That’s defeatist and in a way misleading to a pizza patron.  For presentation, Eddie & Sam’s get a lot of credit.

Overall, this was a wonderful, memorable, and joyous experience.   Another thing, these pizza slices vary in price.  I think for my five I spent around $25.  It sounds pricey but an experience like this was invaluable and worth its weight in pizza, and in everything else.

And while the exterior feels welcoming yet intimidating all at once (depending on your point of view), there’s room for everyone and the staff was working hard and were extremely friendly.  I sense many of the folks took pride in the pizzas they were creating, and aimed to make them the best they could possibly be.

That’s all you can ask for.

Eddie&SamsMeatLovers

Well my friend did order this work of art.  What else needs to be said?

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaMenu

Here is Eddie & Sam’s Menu and their contact information.

They make over 20 slices a day, so I want to say we’re just getting started.

We’re just getting started.   It’s New York Style yes, but I’d like to call this Tampa Style. Tampa now has my heart, but maybe it always did.

Let’s do this again sometime.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

 

More Pizza With My Poppa

GiuseppisSlices2

After last week, I’m feeling even more compelled to get nostalgic about pizza memories and the town of Rockville, MD, where my dad has built a great reputation for himself as a small business owner, and has cultivated and nourished relationships for over 35 years

Time flies…

As time goes on, towns change and they tend to start looking like every other.  That can be good but in many instances sentimental folks such as myself miss how towns looked 20+ years ago, and in some instances still look like today, but are on the verge of changing.  With that situation I almost feel that the historic parts of a town, or the signs on the road are there in spite of, or in spite of everything else around it.   See what I’m saying?

The more things change, some things to remain the same.  My dad’s business has changed locations ever so slightly.  Literally from one suite many years ago to its current location.  But the heart and soul has remained the same throughout its entirety.

GiuseppisFront

I want to believe the same goes for Giuseppe’s Pizza Plus. Here is their menu.

Many years ago it was located in an old looking and aging strip mall (many years ago you would’t call it that), but it was home to many visits by me and my friends after high school or after classes at the local community college.  And sometimes I would grab a slice or pie with my dad.   It was walking distance, so it was convenient, but in a way we took it for granted, because it was so close.

We didn’t eat here enough but when we did we acknowledged that it’s good pizza that fills you up, makes you feel good, and made life easy when cooking or sitting at a restaurant isn’t an option.   And the affordability was a plus too.

GiuseppisSign

The tremendous deal I remember still exists.  Even with inflation, two slices and a soda is only $5.50.  Beautiful.

And now it sits in its current home next to a movie theater.   You can call it movie theater pizza, you can all it anything you want.  But it’s pizza that you can appreciate for what it is.  It’s the history I have with the place that brings me back.  No it’s not the best pizza you or I will ever have.  But does it really matter in this or most circumstances?  Five dollars and change is the best.

GiuseppisSlices1

For my father I got a cheese and random toppings on the other.  He just likes pizza with toppings on them, that don’t always make sense.  But for me I find that endearing.  And I got a somewhat supreme slice with just the pepperoni, onions, and peppers.

Everything was fresh and everything was fine.  It’s going be to be fine…

Thinking back to how the interior and exterior used to be versus now, it’s a tremendous upgrade.  The same goes for its other location in Gaithersburg.  And here is more about this great family business.

I was thinking about this earlier today before writing.  My dad once lived within walking distance of the Gaithersburg location and didn’t go often.  Again, maybe because it’s always gong to be there.

I say lets not take things for granted.  There will always be reasons to go or not go somewhere, to try or avoid something new, and throw all the excuses or ignoring signs to do this or that.  But it’s important to appreciate what’s around you along with going outside of where you reside or work.   But it’s also important to appreciate what’s right in front of you.  This isn’t just abut a restaurant, store, or entity near you.  It’s about everything.  It’s ok to walk past something to revisit it later.  But if something is there, waiting to be embraced, then that’s exactly what you and I should do.

I write this projecting a lot, because life is about seizing the moment and grabbing things while you still can, and while you’re still here on this Earth.

This is only a pizza blog, but it’s the spiritual aspects that I wanted to hone in on.  And I don’t just mean this week, but preceding posts and for the duration.  I will as much as I can.

But for now, I’m sending good vibrations to you, my father, my family, my friends, and the rest of the universe.

There may be one more post down the line incorporating pizza, my dad, and my family. And after that, I hope the next time will be a meal which actually involves my loving family sitting together, and embracing all the love we have or one another.

I look forward to this happening soon.

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

The Best Stories Come From…

BellaItalia1

I often equate a pizza or pizzeria as something bigger than just that.  If there’s a personal attachment or immediately nostalgia, the posts will be easier to right.  Otherwise, it’s an even more intent of focus on the actual pizza itself, and nothing else.  It makes the story all to simplistic and lacking much character.   I do my best not to do that but some experiences can’t be helped.  Not everything is going to be a winner.  And even if the pie is good, that might be all a place or myself had to offer.

BellaItaliaDoor

I’m grateful to say that my experience at Bella Italia of Arnold, MD was one I’ll remember, for the simplest of things.

I was the only one in there.

Well that’s the short story.  After I get to the slices I’ll resume why this truly stands out.

And it’s not like the slices don’t stand out.  In fact they do, and it’s because of the mood and the place I was in.

Summer is winding down and I always have mixed feelings about it.  The weather is still stellar but there’s days where the warmth is not as profound.  And we notice the the shortening the days with the sun setting a minute earlier (give or take) each day.  The hints of fall tend to make me embrace the more folksy and community places.   In actuality, I want local all the time, and during any season. I can’t articulate why.  It’s what I’m drawn to.  Local is my heart, and I would safely assume many would feel the same.

Over the past several days I found myself in the Annapolis area, which includes Edgewater, Pasadena, and Arnold, among many other charming towns.   And while I had a list of pizzas and places I could talk about, nothing felt right for this week.  The universe was giving me another sign.  And like a magnet I was drawn to Bella.

BellaItaliaFront

Nestled and snuggled in a the cozy Arnold Station Shopping Center, that has a more authentic and old time feeling area than the newness of a lot of these strip malls, Bella Italia sits in the corner, unassuming, approachable, and inviting.

Ok so about these slices.

I got the cheese, white with spinach and mushroom, and the Mariposa which is a white pizza with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and the freshest of mozzarella.  And it tasted fresh alright.

BellaItaliaCheese

There’s a lot of good to focus on.  The cheese was fantastic.  I often think how we can compare the plain slice, or any slice for that matter, against all the pizza joints in the world.  You can’t.  Our tastes are unique, and all over the place.   Some people may not care for this cheese.  But this had a distinct taste that I can’t put my finger on.  And for now, I don’t want to know.  This is great but not the best slice I’ve ever had.  And again, it’s all subjective.  It was wonderful and in the upper crust (hehe) of the great plain slices I’ve enjoyed.  The crust on all three of these was consistently awesome.

BellaItaliaWhite

The white with spinach and mushroom is a step above the white slices I’ve had recently. It’s been a struggle to find a great one lately, and this is closer to what I prefer.  It wasn’t as oily, greasy, or overly cheesy was other whites I’ve been down about.  I’d put it in the decent category.  It’s a little more than just there.

BellaItaliaMariposo

Which leads me to the Mariposo.  This was a slice.  Now I’ve had eggplants on pizza before and it’s been a disaster.  This was great.   I definitely enjoyed my veggies individually as I plucked away, and noticed so much layered below.  The greens, the tomatoes, and the eggplants tasted just as fresh against other pizzerias that I’ve had something similar.   And after a while, I forgot it was just a white at its base.

But the difference was the greens and olive oil flavor really merged to make this white pizza that much better.  The lighter yet salad like taste made this a winner.  This place is a winner.

And the people behind it are what make it a winner.

When I got there the entire staff was relaxing against the wall like they didn’t have a care in the world.  It was after lunch and before dinner, so I felt like I was the only person on Earth (not true in the slightest but its fun to embellish) and the crew had some down time.  And after I got my slices, they went back to their place of peace.  The gentleman who served up my slices could not have been nicer.

I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble by giving that visual.

It’s this little detail that’s a big one.  It’ll make me want to come back, and not only say thank you.  But to try some other stand out pies.   I’m not sure when that’ll be but the universe will give me another sign.

BellaItalia5

These are the places that make this blog worth doing.   I’ll get to more of the Baltimore, DC, and major city stuff.  But this felt a little more real and a little more necessary.

I look forward to more authentic, organic, and beautiful experiences such as this one.

BellaItaliaTrios

Oh and did you notice that some of the toppings from the Mariposo spilled onto the other two?  Just a cool little detail, that’s not so little.

Thanks so much.

Ideen