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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

South River Situations

BellaSeraSlices

A dear friend, who has helped me with this blog over the past couple of years, always suggests to change up the city or town of pizzerias and pizza parlors, whenever I can.  If I end up in a place I’ve never written about, you know for sure I’ll be looking and hoping I discover something of a gem.

BellaSeraFront

Bella Sera of Edgewater, MD is a not-so-hidden gem in a strip mall loaded with chain restaurants and box stores that so many towns are loaded with, and make an otherwise charming town look well, just like every other.

So you could look at it and say, thankfully there is a local pizzeria, restaurant, in a sea of chains, and think to yourself, that it’s good that local business is still there and still thriving.  The other school of thought is well, you have a local operation that’s there and allowed to exist, in spite of everything around it.  I hope that makes sense.  And I’m not talking about this restaurant in particular.  It’s more of how I’m observing things.

Last year I had passed through Edgewater several times and literally just kept on going.  I didn’t stop and appreciate what was around me.  These things and moments are important to me.  It’s not a big thing, but the little things lead to big things.  And they’re all significant.   I had seen Bella Sera in pizzeria searches and then driving through, but I kept moving along.  I can tell myself that it wasn’t meant to be.  But at the time, it wasn’t…

Now it’s over a year later, and I’m back again under the most unusual, yet entertaining of circumstances.  That’s more of inside joke to me, but that’s how the universe works.  The currents and the energies led me here and I finally need to make the most of it.

Snuggled (or nestled) in one of the more approachable looking shopping centers, this pizzeria looks like a castle from the outside.   I had high hopes and sometimes those hopes based on nothing but how the exterior looks can lead to unrealistic expectations.

It was right before dinner time, so it was just starting to get busy, but thankfully they still had a lavish display of pizza slices on the counter.  I’m grateful for this because many establishments will nix slices in favor of whole pies for dinner time.  It’s a concept I completely understand, yet I find it refreshing when slices are available open to close. It’s so beautiful.

The exchange when I ordered was awkward to say the least.  And I’ll put most of this on me.   For inspired reasons, I went from wanting to order two slices to four.   Realizing that I would actually be saving money if I ordered a whole pie, I still went with the slices. I didn’t get the sense that mentioning my blog would be rejected, but nor was I feeling like explaining myself.  I stand by that decision.

And now I figured out why I might have been better off ordering a pie… I’ll get to that in a few moments.

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I ordered (here is the menu) the cheese, buffalo chicken, the spring white, and the inspired call was the spaghetti slice.   I’ve reviewed a similar slice here, to great results.

First off, I did not eat all of this right away,  I saved a lot for later.  Eating too much of this would be crazy.  I got three meals out of this, and that’s me trying to make myself feel better about this.

BellaSeraCheese2

The cheese was the best.  It’s simple.  The thin crust was great, and the cheese and sauce are exactly what you would want from a plain slice.  How does it stack up again others I’ve had?  I can’t say.  They’re all similar yet unique in their own essence.  I know there’s a real soul and a real emotion behind the making of these particular slices, and that counts for a lot.

BellaSeraBuffaloChicken

The buffalo chicken, again had a great crust.  The crusts on all of these stood out in a good way.  I see that the buffalo chicken is homemade.  That’s always a plus.  This wasn’t my favorite.  Something about the blue cheese, and maybe the mozzarella cheese didn’t work this time. It was a style clash that may work more times than not. But this didn’t click for me.

BellaSeraChicken

The spring white looked gorgeous.  The grilled chicken strips were so great. I could’ve had a plate or bowl of those on their own.  So in my traditional fashion I had a few on their own.   Maybe my tastes for white pizzas have changed or I’m having higher expectations because this didn’t gel like I hoped either.  The tomatoes tasted fresh, as did the boat loads of spinach (which I appreciate), but the actual white pizza by itself felt like it was lacking something.  It didn’t wow me.  I really wanted it too.

The spaghetti slice was $7.  That’s why I was told an actual pie of anything else would be better.  This was not worth $7.  This will fill you up.  And while it was good, the reminder of what I paid for did bring this down some.   This is something you could get multiple meals out of if you wanted.   But I wasn’t loving it.

If you look at their menu, their prices are on the higher end of what you may see elsewhere.  But that comes with a local business, and being in proximity (20-30 minutes Southwest) the state capitol of Annapolis will do that.

With that understanding I can understand the prices.  The other slices were $3-$4 which is reasonable and justifiable.

I will absolutely come back.   I’ll put a lot of this on me.  Maybe I forced this experience and it didn’t feel as organic as I hoped.  That’s going to make any food taste a bit differently.   Our minds are funny like that.

But I’m all for local and always want these businesses to succeed.  So if I’m in the area (which happens more times than I realize), I will absolutely get some more pizza, and maybe try some of their other entrees once again.

BellaSeraDoor

Here is more of their story, their menu, their contact info and location, and online ordering for our pals that are local.

Thanks so much and have a blessed weekend.

Ideen

A Slice Special

SonsSlices

We took this show on the road all the way up to quaint and charming Shrewsbury, PA.

I don’t imagine many people reading this would consider this town the mecca of action, move making, let alone pizza.   This is now why my friend and I drove through necessarily.  It’s good to go on adventure, go with the flow, and discover places, gems, and inspiration on the way.

And that’s exactly what happened.

SonsFront

My buddy and I did some advanced research on pizza places in the vicinity and Sons of Sicily was on the list, and one that got a decent amount of praise.

With that the strip mall itself looked like something out of the past, which is always refreshing and welcome.

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The interior was also simple, no thrills, and may feel uneventful and lacking enthusiasm to some, but I found it once again, refreshing.

When slices are not in display there may be the moment of concern that wait times to get a personal, medium, or larger sized pie may be longer, and then you’re stuck with all this pizza that you may or may not want later.  But who are we kidding, there’s always time for more pizza.  Seconds and thirds have never been an issue to me and I can’t imagine and issue to many.

But a legitimate concern I’ve had is when a place doesn’t have slices on pizza trays, but will make slices and add any toppings you like.  That takes the fun out of it for me.  If I want a cheese and a cheese with a topping of two I’m either better off getting two cheese slice or two slices of something else and pull the toppings off to pretend that I got a cheese instead.  I’m going a bit off course but I’ve always felt asking to add toppings, while giving us a sense of control, also takes the fun out of it.

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Luckily, the special for today and this week was a Barbecue Chicken.   My friend and I got one cheese, one bbq chicken, and a fountain drink.  For the two slices and a soda the total came out to under $6.  Yes $6 for a lot.

And by a lot I mean these slices are no joke.  As you see in these pictures they got some size to them.  The argument can be made that this is the legitimate equivalent of having 2.5 to 3 slices.

SonsCheese

The cheese was fine but nothing to write home amount.  I honestly thought it could have been heated just a little longer.  I’m not sure how much of a difference that would make as the cheese wasn’t anything memorable and the sauce was sweeter than what I’m used to.  Sometimes sweeter pizza sauce will enhance a pizza.  That didn’t work here.  If anything it took something away from it.

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However, the barbecue chicken had a little more soul and effort put behind it.   The cheese looked and felt more inspired.  The shredded pieces of chicken with the barbecue sauce glaze looks as good as it tastes.  I adore how they put on the drizzle.

SonsBBQ2

You can also see the difference in how long this pizza was in the oven.  This dough was cooked to near perfection.  This is a great slice and I’m so grateful this was the special today, or else I would have never gotten a chance to write about it.  I mean it because…

I don’t know the next time we’ll be back in the area.  Summer and life is for adventures, so the change in towns, locations, pizzerias, and fun things in general will hopefully be the norm and not the exception, not only this summer but throughout the year and throughout life.

So it’s possible a return will come sooner rather than later.   And I look to find some more hidden and not so hidden gems along the way.  Speaking of which the staff was extremely friendly and asked us how we felt about our choices.  One was particularly adamant about her love for the barbecue chicken.   We concur.  I concur.

SonsMenu

If you’re ever in the area and want to try a local, welcoming, and affordable pizzeria then Sons of Sicily may be just what you’re looking for.  Here is their menu and their contact information.

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Here’s to a Summer of great adventures and hopefully equally great pizza.

Feeling great,

Ideen

 

Detroit Medleys

8BallMotorCity

A chance meeting with a friend I haven’t seen in decades (yes I said decades), and one pizza place we were going to that was closed on a Monday, led us to our destiny.

8Ball

8 Ball Meatball in the historic Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore, is worth going out of you’re way for. Well if you live in Fells Point or a neighboring neighborhood (ha) you don’t have to venture too far.  But honestly at times it felt like I was in another universe. And based on this experience, this alternate universe is one I welcome on at least a semi-regular basis.

But first here is more about them, their menu, and contact info, and my previous pizzeria reviews of historic Fells Point.

My friend and I cut right to the case and saw two pies we wanted to order, based on the name alone.

8BallMedley4

We ordered the Motor City and the 8Ball aka Meatball.  Our server was in agreement.

Before I continue I honestly heard (honestly I’ve never heard) of Detroit-style Pizza in passing.   But I didn’t know it was a a thing. And I didn’t know if would be something I would be a part of, and what a beautiful experience and first impression it would be.

The 8×10 square shaped pies are perfect for sharing.  It looks deceptive that one might be enough for one.  But with it’s thicker, yet not too heavy of a crust, similar to Chicago-style pizza, a couple of those slices might be enough.

Oh it was enough. But how beautiful these three pies were.  Did I say three? We only ordered two.  More on that in a bit…

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8BallMotorCitySlice

The Motor City was my favorite.  Maybe because it was the first pie I tasted.  It just had everything perfect going for it.   The simple combination of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and pepperoni was perfection.  That pepperoni is something I’m still fully appreciating a few days after the fact.  The crust, the perfectly burnt and oily side of the crust is the reason why I write about this, and sometimes so specifically.  This was the pie.   And it’s one of my favorite pies ever.  Can someone send me some now? So good.

8BallMeatball3

8BallMeatballSlice

The 8 Ball Meatball was good but in honestly pales in comparison to the Motor City. Maybe we were expecting bigger pieces of meatball, but that’s a fault of expectations. The tiny meatballs were charming but maybe I didn’t get to taste enough?  The chives and parmesan were a nice touch yet this doesn’t compete with the Motor City.  That Motor City I tell you.

This is the part where the manager figured out I was a blogger and I had my friend who was a photographer.  The conversation got really good and really quickly.  This part easily couldn’t have happened but our stay became much more about the education, the experience, and all the nuances of this restaurant and the history of how they started serving Detroit-style Pizza.  Which has only been a few months by the way.

And I did mention a third pie right?

8BallBuffaloChicken

Brian, the manager, has proclaimed that he will put their Buffalo Chicken Pizza up against any in the city.  This is one he gave to us on the house. Talk about world class service. We didn’t expect it, didn’t ask for it, but everything was aligning properly.  We were supposed to be here on this night and no other (at least for now) and free is always more fun.

8BallBuffaloChicken2

The melange of Buffalo sauce, cheddar and mozzarella (which is always a beautiful cheese combination), red onion, blue cheese drizzle, and those tiny piece of buffalo chicken meatballs made for a real treat.   Those chicken meatballs really did it for me. This is a masterpiece and I’m not just saying this because Brian said so.  It’s really that awesome.

8BallBuffaloChickenSlice

And it was never messy.  It was all organized.  As my friend stated, all the pies were served clean and the pieces broke apart with no effort whatsoever.  It’s those little details that mean so much.

And I must say, as much as the Buffalo Chicken is fantastic, and it really truly is, it still is a slight notch below the Motor City to me.  I really think it might be the simplicity of the Motor City.

8BallMotorCitySlice2

After all this we also got to meet Paul, the head chef.  And even though it may have been a quieter evening he still took the time to talk about his history in the restaurant business throughout many cities he’s cooked.

He mentioned his training in learning how to cook Detroit-style at Buddy’s Pizza from the man himself.  How cool is that?  We would have never heard any of this if we didn’t come in.  I’m being a bit nostalgic over something a few days ago but encounters like this don’t happen enough, so I want to show my enthusiasm any way I can.

8BallTin

We also learned about the pizza being cooked in the blue steel pan.  Nothing glamorous. It’s just a simple steel pan.  I think some of the best work is done when using the most simple of contraptions but there’s a genuine soul and feeling behind the operation.  This is what we felt here.

Paul said that he uses garlic confit oil in the pan to cook his masterpieces.

What a masterpiece this pizza and this experience was.

As we kept talking a few other pies that were on the menu were shown to us and our mouths just kept watering.

At the moment I knew I had to come back.  I wanted to maybe try every pie and save this for one blog post.  But no,  this deserves another commentary.   How this will match or top this experience I don’t know.  That’s not what I should be striving for.  I should be striving for all the great pizza experiences possible.  And I will.  And I will.

This is one of those experiences that came together as organically as possible.  What we thought would be at the most 30-45 minutes turned into an upwards of a two hour experience.

I can only hope for not the same exact experience but everything coming together masterfully and harmoniously.

But for now, get to 8 Ball Meatball.  This pizza is incredible and off the charts.

Ideen

 

My Favorite Mexican Restaurant

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That might be a bold statement but La Tolteca has always been so good to me, and to my friends who live(d) in the Bel Air, MD; Harford County; and now Baltimore County and City.

Warning – their website has music, so turn it down if you’re at the workplace or a library. The music is fun though.

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But my first was the Bel Air location and it will always be my favorite.  I’ve been to others but this has the look of what an original and authentic Mexican restaurant.  I sound like I’ve been to a bunch of restaurants or Mexico itself, but it’s just a feeling.  Bel Air will always be my favorite and home base restaurant.

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That’s why I chose home to finally write about their Mexican Pizza.  I meant to do this two years ago for Cinco de Mayo and then again last week but well, things happen, life happens, and the timing wasn’t right.

I figure a week a later isn’t going to hurt anything.

What you might find humorous is their Mexican Pizza is on their Children’s Menu.  So kids and kids of all ages are invited to try this.  I say this because at first I was afraid there was some protocol about a grown up ordering from the kids’ menu but no questions were asked.  I did feel a bit awkward for a second when ordering.  No I didn’t, because…

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It’s also on the grown up lunch.  In hindsight I wish I got both to do a comparison but as someone once said, six in one, half dozen of something.  Right.

Let me first say I love their food.  I’ve never been disappointed.   I’ve ordered burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, salads, soups, and everything else under the sun.  I want to focus on the pizza but I also want to focus on the soup.

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First, the pizza.  I honestly can say I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t good or bad.  It was good enough to eat but nothing I would go out of my way to order again.  I didn’t have grandiose expectations of eating something amazing or life changing.  Not at all.  But I was hoping for something with a bit more pizzazz.  Yes I know what I just typed and it was no accident.

The crispy tortilla which acted as the dough seemed a bit too crunchy for me.  And I know other people will love it.  It just work out for me.  The beef tasted life beef, the cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños (which had a kick to it), and onions all completed the pizza. It was fine but nothing memorable.

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Honestly, that’s as class to a negative thing I’ve ever said about La Tolteca.  Now I want to shift to something magnificent.

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That Mexican Chicken Soup is worth going in for alone.  I don’t know all that is in it. Actually maybe I do but my mind is wandering and my mouth is watering at the thought of having this soup.  As I type this the restaurant is closed or I’d be having some right now to draw a little more inspiration as I write.

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My love comes from the combination of the shredded chicken, random vegetables, and the tomatoes becoming a part of the soup.  Oh my goodness this soup is ecstasy.  I know this is a pizza blog but I had to make mention of this.

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And if you’ve been here before, you know habit forming the free tortilla chips, salsa, and that white sauce is.  Yeah that white sauce will get you.

I’m glad I waited a week (and two years) to get around to this.   But if you’ve never eaten here don’t wait any longer.   Don’t wait a year, two years, or another minute.  This place is fantastic.  If you live anywhere near a La Tolteca I highly recommend it.

Their website is as inviting and accessible as it gets, so you should have no problem finding a location near you and something inspiring of their inspirational menu.  Yes loads of inspiration.

And as inviting as their site is, you will see how more inviting the staff is when you walk in. I’ve usually ordered food to go.  But when I’ve sat down with friends we’ve always been treated like family.

I started writing this as a way to end up suggesting trying a Mexican Pizza at your local restaurant or making it at home but this went in a different direction entirely.

And I’m not only suggesting, but also encouraging going to La Tolteca if you’re in Maryland.

And I wish you all a Belated Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Ideen