Back To Studio…

PizzaStudioTruffledMushroom

Some time ago, a few people asked me my thoughts on the Pizza Studio (here is their menu, locationscontact info, and their story), and I wasn’t sure what to say.   I was grateful friends already assumed I had tried them out, and that my list of places to review are abundant.  They’re correct on both counts.

While I had not been so quick to embrace the over-the-counter and rapid fire pizza making type places, they all have their well, place.

In visits to stores like this one, I’ve touched on that fact, but at some point, which is now, it doesn’t matter what I or truly anyone thinks about how food preparation and presentation has evolved, or otherwise if you feel that way.  If people enjoy it, and appreciate it for what it is, then I see nothing wrong with it.  Only right.

I hadn’t been to their Charles Village location (right in the heart of Johns Hopkins University country) in a while.  It could have been months, or maybe a couple of years, and while time is flying, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get a pie from here.

Life just keeps going faster, whether we choose to acknowledge it or otherwise.  While it’s always been constant, we just keep going and keep trying to keep up.  When it comes to food, in many other parts of the world, there is a time to rest, a time to embrace what’s in front of us, and a time to say hello and appreciate one another’s company, at least for a reasonable amount of time.

With what we do here, there’s such a rush.  I know I always feel like I’m in a rush, and I see it constantly in the eyes and feet of so many people around me.

This may sound like a dig at food places (or many other entities) like this, that are assembly line style, and yet you may just feel like a number or a statistic, or you may not feel anything.   And neither may not be mutually exclusive of the other.

But I still can find a way to appreciate the work put into adding the toppings and heating the crust, even if it was only two to five minutes in its entirety.   They promote hot and fresh in two minutes.  To a pizza purist that may feel like blasphemy.  I’ve had friends tell me this isn’t pizza and it’s a slap in the face to restaurants and pizzerias all over the world.  I understand that.  But these places are here and they’re not going anywhere.

I ordered the Truffled Mushroom on rosemary herb crub, and for a second pie, the Buffalo Chicken on traditional crust. I chose to refrain from creating my own selections this time, as I wanted to present to you their signature pies for more of a unbiased opinion if you will.  I’ve created my own before, and to my own success or detriment, the results have been mixed.

PizzaStudioTruffledMushroomSlice

I won’t go into detail of every topping, but I do like the extra thin crust on both of these bad boys.  It’s been hot and the lighter, the more necessary.   The respective crusts complement both pies solidly, especially the mushroom.  Now you can also get a whole grain & flax seed, firecracker crust with jalapenos, or a gluten free crust at additional cost.  Maybe next time.

Both are fun and both are no thrills, harmless, and enjoyable pizzas.  They aren’t going to change your life, and you won’t necessarily remember this a year from now, let alone a few days.  Yet, it must mean something to be a day later after my visit, as I write about it.

PizzaStudioBuffaloChicken3

The side blue cheese dressing for the latter pie is a charming touch.

At $8.50 a piece, it’s adequately priced, and you can get a few meals out of this.  Luckily, I was able to share this with pals, and still save some for seconds.   So in a way, there’s still time to embrace company, friends, and the simplistic nature of a pizza like this.

PizzaStudioBox

There could be another visit down the line, but for now, I’ll hold off on saying, back to studio…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Three Is A Magic Number

ThreeBrothersMeatballParmesanPizza

I ate a Three Brothers restaurant many years ago, not appreciating the significance of family, or a family operation.

When I was younger, I appreciated local business, but maybe not in the same way I do now.  I’m always sentimental to stories about family, and how one business grows into many.  Bigger than that, when kids and grandkids become regular guests of the same restaurant that their parents visit, and still do, that warms my heart.  How can it not?

I take all factors into consideration when visiting a pizzeria, and trying a slice or a pie. It’s not always as serious as I’m making it out to be.  Local business, or any business, takes a lot of work.  That’s why I always look for the good and see the positives in any situation, in particular when it comes to a local establishment.

This is a review of two pizzas, over two different locations, and over two different time frames.

ThreeBrothersCheesePizza

First, the simple cheese pie out of Bowie, and it’s a winner.   Me and a dear friend got this pizza per my pals’ suggestion.

ThreeBrothersCheese

I’ve had so many pizzas recently that at times some may start tasting the same or don’t stand out.   This one does and I honestly can’t put my finger on why.  Well if you read what I said earlier, that might be why.  But I really enjoyed this crust.  It’s a little thicker, has a different kind of crunch, and complements the cheese and sauce well.  It tasted even better reheated.  You can see the difference in the pictures.   This is a really good cheese pizza.

ThreeBrothersMeatParmesanPizza

Recently, out of the Odenton location, I ordered the meatball parmesan pizza.

ThreeBrothersMeatballParmesan

Maybe I had hoped for a little more pop, and a little more wow.  This is still a good pizza, but I just felt something was missing.  But I’m going to project a little bit…

If this was a few minutes earlier, or I was in a different place in time, who knows how I would have felt about this pizza, or how the pie would have turned out.   This was lunch time, and I imagine there was a rush of orders, and not every pie is going to be made exactly the same.   I could also tell you that the mood I’m in can always make something that much better or otherwise.

While it wasn’t amazing when first eating it, it tasted great after reheating it a day later.  And I knew exactly that would happen.  The slightly crunchiness of the meatballs, the parmesan, and crust a day later tastes like home, it tastes so simple, and it tastes like a family gathering.   Man… I’m getting sentimental.

There’s so many pizzas and menu items to choose from, that there’s something there for everyone.  Along with having so many locations near Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, that it’s not only family friendly, but accessible, and welcoming.   I’m all for all of those.

I’m intrigued by stopping by their original and most popular location, in Greenbelt, to what I feel will even have more of that family vibe.  Because I’m visualizing it, I sense that exactly that will be the case.  I hope to do so within the next couple of months, and see for myself.

ThreeBrothersPizzaBox

I look forward to it…

Peace be with you..

Ideen

Cauliflower Alley

GustoObeyTheClaw

For years, and even decades (oh boy…) I have spent time at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD, that it will always be a part of my childhood, a part of my youth, and a part of something that I don’t always think about when I’m in the vicinity.

However, earlier this week I was back again and the reasons don’t matter.  I was just there.  No, not that bad kind of there where you just exist and you’re mediocre, or average.  I’m talking about a place in time where everything felt ok.  I was one with the universe and the universe was on with me.  It’s one with you too.

Many shopping centers, malls, strip malls, and the like have gone through necessary renovations to keep up with the times and evolution.  It’s that progress and that sometimes gives the illusion of well, progress.  It’s that more things change, the more they stay constant and maybe even, just there.

Something told me to go to this place where I spent many times ‘hanging out’ (aka sitting around doing nothing) and being a kid.  I still feel like a kid at times.  And being a kid means…

That food court has evolved while everything else around it looked the same.  In a way, I like that.  It’s the old sentimental in me.  I’m good with change (sometimes, that’s my own issues at play) but I find such endearing charm in things looking like they will always be the same.  This is a mall I’m talking about mind you, yes I could be referring to anything, maybe I am.

I liked what the food court has become.  You have your staples, you have your local food operations, and you have some places I had never heard of.

Gusto

That brings us to Gusto (here are their locations, their story, and of course the food), which makes all their food with love, and the farm fresh ingredients that we’ve grown accustomed or at least are becoming more aware of.

Because of the location, fast is the name of the game, and I went with two pies and got  creative with the differences.

GustoObeyTheClaw2

First is their current season item, the Obey The Claw.

I’m not going to explain how I thought about everything on this pie, that would be too much.  There’s so much going on here, and I would be lying if I told you I could taste everything.  Yet, nothing is too in your face or crammed down your throat.

GustoObeyTheClawClose

The crab meat itself is tasty, and the various vegetables all look so beautiful, yet everything feels like they complement the other. It’s understated in a way that I didn’t expect.  Maybe that’s the point.  The thin whole grain crust is a a nice touch.  I really enjoyed this thing and took my time, never felt full, and felt good.

GustoWildShroom

You may have heard about cauliflower based pizza crusts becoming more predominant, as we continue to look for ways to eat right and more health conscious.   For the Wild Shroom pizza I went said crust and it was different, it was distinct, and at the same time it felt satisfying.

There’s an art to heating a crust, and there’s an art to a lot of things.  I’ve had cauliflower crusts before but in such small doses, that I can’t compare one to the other.  All I can say here is that it worked with the mushrooms, arugula, and goat cheese.  I don’t know if the crust could have been heated differently or this is how it was supposed to be.  But no need to quibble, I had fun.   For a couple extra dollars, this was a fun experience.

GustoMenu

At $9 a pie ($2 extra for cauliflower and gluten free) it may feel pricey, but I understand with the location and what we’re supporting.  I’m all for supporting it and I highly recommend a trip to Gusto if there’s one near you.

GustoPizzaToGo

You can just sense that more stores are coming and we’re going to be hearing and seeing a lot more from them.

Beautiful.

Peace Be With You

Ideen

Try the Caprese

MargheritasSlices2

Three years and change ago, I wrote about Margherita’s, and their Kingsville, MD location, knowing that more would be coming.  Another location would coming.

When I saw the signage and construction begin for their newest digs in Bel Air (menu can be found here) like a goofy kid, I was excited.  But in similar ways, I got distracted, and I got busy.  And I kept saying I would get around to it.  I would be in the vicinity and just not be in the mood for pizza (sacrilege I know) and keep saying there will be a next time.  There’s always next time

Enough rambling, how was the pizza this time?

MargheritasCaprese

Try the caprese, is all I can say.  This is phenomenal.  Even if the heavier Siclian Style is not your slice of pizza, I would say go for it, or just pick the toppings off and enjoy.  There’s a captain obvious in there somewhere, but yeah no…

What we have here is the freshest of ingredients, cheese, and the finest soul and spirit behind this slice.  You know when you walk into a place, and you know the pizza (or any food or anything is going to be good?  That’s what I sensed and have been sensing.

I’ll be honest, I go to Margherita’s a little more than I’ve let on, but never felt the story was there, or was inspired to do as such.  Maybe this is the first time I noticed the Caprese.  That’s inspiration enough.  In many ways, it’s a great choice for the summer and warmer temperatures.

MargheritasBuffaloChicken

The buffalo chicken and white veggie slices are just as delicious.  The thin crust on these are heated to perfection.  I would say I got there at the perfect time, as many of the pies had just come out of the oven and looked as fresh as a daisy, or a pizza.

MargheritasWhiteVegetable

Seriously, the crust was a New York Style and comforting bread you don’t get too often, from anywhere.

I adore the presentation of the buffalo chicken, as you can tell there’s thought and feeling behind it.   And the white veggies, well, the toppings are prolific but they won’t take away from the pie whatsoever.  This is well done.  These three slices were under $10, yes another reason to be grateful.

I feel like I’m writing this in a way like I did three years ago.

What else is there to say?  This was great, and the Bel Air location feels welcoming and feels quite neighborhood life.  Their Kingsville pizzeria has a small town feel with just a couple of tables, that it’s made for carry-out.  But that’s what makes both places distinct, approachable, and wonderful.

Just about every neighborhood in every town has their pizzeria, their grocery store, bank, bar, restaurant, and those other gems that make a town so charming and has that home like feel.  And the staff was friendly and personable, like any neighborhood spot would traditionally be.

MargheritasSlices1

Margherita’s fits right in like it’s been there forever.  And in many ways it has…

And by all means, try the Caprese.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Around the Globe, Around The Corner…

TraderJoesSpinachRicottaPizzaReady2

Across different universes (here and here), and this one, I’ve sung the praises of Trader Joe’s and for good reason.

I don’t recall many places that have resonated with me for so many reasons over these many years, but they have. and maybe you have a place or two that has given you those feelings, those butterflies, and everything else with the warm and fuzzies.

In the grand scheme of things, it still is just a store (to find a store near you go here), but it’s always had a a good energy.   Sometime it’s had the energy.  I can’t tell you how many locations I’ve been to, but with maybe one or two rare exceptions, I’ve always felt at peace, spiritually whole, and sometimes rejuvenated after a visit.

There’s no need to belabor this point.  Maybe I’m always in that place of abundance right before I walk in, and it manifests itself in ways that words won’t or can’t do justice.

After all this time, how I never got around to writing about their pizzas is one of those universal things.  Micro vs. macro, or what have you. It’s not that serious, let’s get to the pies.

For the summer, I hopefully found two of the better pizzas to discuss, and I’m proud to say that the Spinach Ricotta, and the Sicilian Style Red Pepper. Provolone, & Pearl Mozzarella were absolute works of art.

Maybe it was a moment of inspiration, but of all the pizzas (and they got too many, that another post is meant to happen, and soon), I grabbed these two, and they turned out perfectly.

The suggested heating time and temperature is shown to you, but I altered it a bit and placed both in the oven simultaneously.   That hasn’t always worked, but this go around just felt right.  I just knew it was going to be special before I even walked in the door, and then before I walked in the door.

Thin crust is ideal for warm weather, it’s ideal for any time, yet in July, in the heart of Summer, it’s ideal for right now.  Perfection.  And this crust, my goodness, everything about this is right.  It’s not quite comfort food, which can wait. This is a pizza to enjoy alone, or share with friends, and to appreciate with every bite.

Honestly, I did have one I liked a little more, but that’s besides the point.  They’re both tremendous.  The spinach and ricotta on top of a regular pie base had a charm and appeal that I didn’t realize until after it came out of the even.

The Sicilian Style would be fine with our without the peppers, but I wanted a cheese pizza, with just a little more.  The provolone and mozzarella definitely has a distinct taste.  Yet, within all this splendor, there was a packet of olive oil to drizzle on top.  I was only going to put on a little, but I went crazy. Looks good doesn’t it?  It’s the little things, but going crazy over olive oil is what makes me happy right now.  This pizza made me happy.

No I don’t have a favorite after all, it’s a two way tie and both are outstanding.  Did I already say that? Well let me reiterate, Trader Joe’s knows how to do pizza.  It’s more than just frozen food, it’s an experience.

And I’m grateful to have had this experience, and to share it with you.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

See The Innovation…

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices2

Well it’s innovative to me.  The Italian Market of Annapolis is one of those venues that’s going to need a few visits to fully appreciate and grasp everything that’s going on.

ItalianMarketStorefront

Because it feels like a stadium or an arena from the outside.  And I almost felt intimated walking in.  But I made myself feel intimidated.  No one else made feel that way or can make me feel that way.

If I told you I drove by numerous times and wanted to go in, that would be a mix of an understatements and also exaggerations.   Sometimes you just don’t notice what’s hiding in plain sight.  For many things it’ll always be that way.  But with the Italian Market (here’s their menu, their contact info, upcoming wine tastings, and their extensive selection of cheese and pastas) that’s over and done with.  I’m a fan and it’s going to make multiple visits to fully appreciate what’s going on.

ItalianMarketMenu

I came specifically for the pizza this time, not realizing that this coliseum like vibration was inside.  There’s a waterfall in the middle of this place.  I would have presented a picture but there were so many people around that it wasn’t possible.  I had no preconceived notions about this place.  I liked the idea of going in with no idea what’s going on, the crowd, the busy times, or what’s on the inside.

Don’t judge a book by its cover or anything else.  Not yet at least.

I’m glad I got there when I did.  It was almost the nick of time as the line was growing by the doorway, and there were barely any seats in the house.  People were (hopefully patiently) waiting for their food taking upwards of 20-30 minutes.  That’s what I overheard at least.  I’m going to safely assume it was worth the wait.

The pizza was getting decimated and serendipitously I was able to grab a cheese, pepperoni, white vegetable, and meat lovers to go.  I got 2-3 meals out of this, so I took time to savor, reheat when needed, and appreciate my food on a much more patient and deeper level.

ItalianMarketWines2

And on that note, while I waited, I was in awe of their wine selection, along with their cheese, pastas, and various other grocery items.  There were parts of the store I likely never got to explore and one short visit is not going to be enough.  This is going to be an experiment in something amazing.

Apparently I’m the last person to find out about this place, as it seemed all of Annapolis (pizza history lesson here) was there (well it was lunch time), but this was a madhouse and chaos in the most beautiful of fashions.   Maybe it’s my perception but people seemed pretty excited and elated to be there.  I know I was.  I hope recurring visits would bring about that kid in a candy store feeling. I’m leaning towards yes.

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices

The pizza is good to great.  Again, for how crazy it was tasty, crisp and didn’t feel like it was rushed or reheated poorly.   Surprisingly, the meat lovers was my favorite of the four.  I could say I was in a good or something just felt right about it.   By default, the cheese is also solid. It’s a good balance of everything.   And the white vegetable was also a winner.

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices3

Again like last week, not life changing or knock your socks off, but just really good pizza.  I imagine whole pies would even taste that much better.   I believe my four slices were only $12 and change, which seems like a bargain to me.   I know a whole pie may have run me the same, but that’s for next time.  There will be plenty of next times.

ItalianMarketWines

If you haven’d had the opportunity, I highly recommend a visit, even if just to get a bottle of wine to go.  It’s all so beautiful.

ItalianMarketWines3

The interior is immaculate and has a charm all its own.  I look forward to many visits down the line.

Thanks so much.  Have a great weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

A Truly Amazing Club…

CheddarBurgerDeepDishPizza2

A group of kind souls got together and signed me up for a Pizza of the Month Club.

For more on this and other Amazing Clubs, click here.

It was unexpected, an incredible gesture, and something I will always remember.  It’s something that makes me warm inside, and makes me feel so much gratitude.  It’s a validation that not only what I do means something to someone.  But I also have people that care for me in general.

It’s a hard thing to grasp.  I’m not good with compliments, I’m not good with people doing kind things for me, or to me.  I’m not good with anyone doing anything for me with no expectations in return.   I don’t want anything in return either.  Well maybe kindness, because I don’t think that’s asking too much.  So maybe in a way, how I’ve been to people has been reciprocated.

And a lot of the best parts of our life are based on reciprocity, doing good things for one another, with nothing expected in return.  Anything that’s attracted to us is a bonus, but it’s to be cherished, embraced, and loved.

That’s that attitude of gratitude you might have head about.

So when this package arrived at my doorstep I was blown away.  I mean I was literally blown away.  This was beautiful.

This is so beautiful.

I opened up the package to see not one, but THREE Chicago-style pizzas in the most charming and welcoming of sizes.

I wish I had people to share this with, but maybe for this installment, I was meant to share these over time, and alone.

The three for this month are the Artichoke & Plum Tomato, the Cheddarburger, and the BBQ Chicken!  The themes may have to do with the season, the summer, and the upcoming holiday.  Whatever the reason I’m just so thankful for this, and it’s a change of pace for this blog as well.

As a friend who spearheaded said that they hope this inspires a few blog posts.  Well you know at least two more are coming.  But first things first…

I loved each pie so much, and for various reasons.

ArtichokeTomato

The Artichoke & Plum Tomato might have been my favorite.  Maybe because it’s the most season and light to me.   I’ve also grown to prefer vegetables and different types of veggies over your standard toppings.   That’s what makes pizza so great.  You can add just about anything to it, within reason, and even for no reason, and it could turn out to be YOUR masterpiece.

Tomato&ArtichokeDeepDishPizza

I love the quality of the ingredients, and the golden brown crust just works fabulously here.  This is a unique taste on a white pizza, is one way to look at it.  Yet I can also just say it’s awesome.  Awesome!

Just so you know, the cheese complements the pizzas on all of these in first-class fashion.  I don’t need to go over every ingredient, there prominently displayed in the one picture earlier on in this story.

Now the Cheddarburger would go great for the nearing holiday, or whenever you want.  This is simple yet creative.  Ground beef and cheddar cheese in that deep-dish crust, well… you might know the rest.

BBQChicken

In the past I’ve said how I feel BBQ Chicken is one of the harder pizzas to master.  This was well done though.  And if you notice, I have goofed heating this one in the oven. There’s the burnt marks on the pie and on the crust, but it turns out it worked in my favor.  I heated these all just a few minutes under the suggested amount, and they all turned out differently, yet so well.  Lesson learned.

The quality of chicken and sauce on this is quite high end.  You just know.  And you just know there’s a soul and feeling behind this and the previously mentioned pies, that you’re a part of something special.

I’m grateful to be a part of something special. I’m grateful to my friends for being there in a rough patch of my life, maybe the roughest.  This means so much to me.  For future installments of this, I hope to share these pizzas with the folks directly involved in having them attracted into my life.

What an Amazing Club…

Peace Be With You…

Ideen