…Are The Best People

Piazza27Slices

I’m not sure what to make of this.   I took the title off of the window display of this weeks recap, Piazza 27.  Until three days ago I hadn’t heard a thing about it.  But you know how thing are, you hear about an entity once, you constantly hear about it as it gains momentum in your head, in your life, and within the universe and atmosphere around you.

Piazza27Side

But the things I’ve been hearing about Piazza 27 are on the level of life changing, astounding, and out of body, even more so out of this world.

Locals in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore (this is still one of my favorites) have been clamoring for a pizza place with simple New York Style slices to either eat in or carry out.  It’s one of those things that I’m proclaiming based on observation and based on the word-of-mouth momentum I alluded to in the previous paragraph.   I understand that.

Mt. Vernon is a neighborhood full of character, amazing architecture, great shops, bars, and restaurants of all nationalities and styles, but sometimes you just a simple slice of pizza with little wait time.   And this is what Piazza 27 is providing to locals, and students from nearby universities and institutions.

For that and among many other reasons is why I think people love this place so much.  It’s a hidden them that’s going to explode, whether it’s because of this blog or not, is another thing.  But I’m going to show my support because local business with a good energy, a good aura, and friendly people behind the counter (and they were friendly for sure) is always worthy of attention and admiration.  We don’t give enough of it.  We can never give enough.  It’s just the way it is.

But with that being said, how was the pizza?

I honestly felt influenced by the incredible reviews of this place on their Facebook page and other sites (they don’t have a website yet, which I actually find awesome) that is may have been hard to be practical in my own critiques.

I’ve been guilty in the past of buying into the dogma of a place, and going against my own genuine opinion, because so many other people have lauded the place to the point of annoyance.  And the counter to that would be I would find a place less than stellar in comparison to the reviews, because it was either out of spite or because I was sick of hearing about it.

The fact that I’ve already said all this would lend you to believe that my opinion might still not be own but headed towards a confirmation bias one way or another.

Well I’m going to do my best to say how I truly feel, but with the suggestion that you should try this place yourself if you live in and around Baltimore, Mt. Vernon, or plan on visiting.

Piazza27Slices2

I purchased 4 slices with the total being only about $13.   If you do the math, this is a deal, a bargain, and this will get you two lunches worth at least.  Yes I made this into multiple meals.  I can’t eat this all at once, that would be crazy,  or would it?  Hmmm…

The friendly face behind the counter was just that.  She could not have been more kind in explaining every slice to me.   That’s the stuff that’ll make people keep coming back, and they’ve been coming back alright, or so I heard.

For this final pizza post of 2017, the four slices I purchased were cheese, white with veggie, chicken bacon ranch, and chicken bacon pesto.  That last one, I know I know.. It’s different alright.

Piazza27Cheese

I want to be honest here.  All the slices were really good to great.  I completely understand why people are raving about this.  The crust, the dough, the sauce, and the way it was heated were great on some slices, and better on the others.

Piazza27WhiteVeggie

But I also want to understand where folks are coming from.  I think if the pizza quality was a tad lower, I sense a lot of people would still be thinking highly of this place. It’s just a thought.  There was a lack and this place filled it, but it filled it and then some.  The pizza is terrific.

Piazza27ChickenBaconRanch

Yet some are calling it the best pizza in Baltimore, the best New York pizza they’ve ever had outside of New York, and some have said it’s the best pizza every.   This isn’t hyperbole, reviews are here & here saying similar things.  There’s local community sites sharing that same sentiment.

Piazza27ChickenPesto

I can’t say it’s the best pizza,  but that’s not a fair thing to say anyways.  It’s great pizza.  The cheese and chicken bacon pesto were the two favorites of mine.  And you know you can tell what’s a good pizza place if their cheese slice is good, then it’s going to be the gateway to other tremendous pizzas.

I’ve always loved pesto but this is up there with the best of the best pesto.  And how it doesn’t clash with the the bacon is a pleasant surprise.

Piazza27Slices4

That’s not to say that the other two slices weren’t great.  They were delicious.  The white is one of the better whites I’ve had, and the veggies didn’t get in the way like some places might.  It complemented the white slice so well you could easily taste the ricotta, garlic, and olive oil.

I got a kick out of walking out of the place with this big to-go box in my hand.  Based on how I was feeling and the location, it only seemed fitting.

These slices also tasted like brand new a day later.  And that’s the best judge of a place.  I think these could last a few days and still taste great. Easy to say about any decent leftover pizza, but there is an aura about this place and these slices.

I’d say definitely go here.  There’s something going on alright.  Best pizza ever?  Not to me, but I’m just one opinion.  It’s great pizza at a great price, at what seems to be the ideal location.  A few businesses have been unsuccessful since I’ve been in the area, but I think that’s over now.  I know that’s over now.   We have liftoff.

We have a winner here in Piazza 27, and once they gain even more momentum, all bets are off.

Piazza27Menu

They’ve only been open a month (menu can be found here) but the cat’s been long out of the bag.

Piazza27Front

I’m going to have to come back here and do a sequel.  Something magical is going on here, and I’m even getting a better energy and feeling as I write about it.

Happy New Year, Peace Be With You, and I’ve got to come back here.  And soon.

Ideen

 

 

 

Plenty of Christmas Spirit…

PizzaBlitzSlices

Nine years ago I discovered this magical place called Quarry Lake, and what looked to be in its infant stages.  Nestled in the affluent Pikesville suburb of Baltimore, this neighborhood always seems safe, approachable, and inviting enough that while it’s not going to be groundbreaking in any way, yet it’s a place of a peace and harmony.

QuarryLake

I think those many years ago I looked at things with wider eyes, a little more idealism, and the happiness in discovering something new, which always brings about rejuvenation, a rebirth, and an all around feeling good.

This was also right around the holidays, so I recall that day with such detail that I’m getting a bit emotional thinking about it.  And I have no particular reason to feel emotional.  Well maybe I do.  I did some impromptu shopping that day, and discovered some new stores that I otherwise wouldn’t have known, at least not for a while.  It may or may not have been my first visit to that great grocery store, Fresh Market, which I wrote about some time ago, that post can be found here.

FreshMarket

Where is this post going?  Aside from more over sentimentality about the holidays, and everything else feeling larger than life?

PizzaBlitz

This brings us to Pizza Blitz, which is across the way in this ever-growing strip of stores, office building, and houses galore.

Now I’ve been here too many times to count, so I obviously think the pizza is good enough to eat and keep coming back too.  Or maybe it’s something else?  Nah it’s not really much of anything other than convenient, and I just find myself at peace for some reason when I’m here.  I have no explanation why.

Sometimes things don’t need an explanation.

PizzaBlitzSlices2

But about the pizza, it’s quite affordable.  Most slices are $3 or less, and you can’t complain about that.  It’s bring your own beer and wine, which is another major plus.

Yet I don’t find anything spectacular about the pizza.  But this is how it goes sometimes.  I’ve always found the appearance of all those slices on those pizza trays so charming.  It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog.   There’s always places with plenty of food on display ready to be ordered and heated and then served, but something about all those pizza slices on display warms my heart.

PizzaBlitzSlices3

And something about Pizza Blitz’ display is especially welcoming.  Maybe it’s the energy of the place, maybe it’s the friendly staff, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s a local business, and local makes me feel good.  It’s all of the above, and then it all depends on the mood and place I’m in, any customer is in, and all those other details that once again, can’t be explained.

I love making pizza or anything into an existential and metaphysical conversation.  It doesn’t have to be like that, and not every visit I make gives me that feeling.

Something about this place gives me that feeling.

And I don’t need to go into detail about the five slices you see in this post.  The pizza is good but I’ve had a lot of great pizza this year that I wouldn’t know where to even put this.  It wouldn’t be high on my list, and that’s just fine.  Not every pizza is going to be the best pizza I or you have ever had.

In reading reviews, many folks seems to think highly of this place, and I love that.   When it comes to the pizza, I will temper my reactions to a couple notches below great.  The crust is safe and easy to eat, and while this is their version of New York Style, I’ve had much better.

PizzaBlitzSlices5

The white slices in particular weren’t my favorite, but the plain cheese and buffalo chicken are solid.   And for many people that’s all they need.

There’s a strong local presence among the clientele, and I’ve seen it with every visit.  You have your families, your students, and business people.  People from all walks of life just looking to grab a slice, enjoy some food, and enjoy present company embodies Pizza Blitz, and I imagine many of the businesses nearby have similar scenarios and sentiments.

Or I could just be overreaching and this could all just be me a bit emotional during the holidays.  I’m fine with that.

And I’m fine with Pizza Blitz.  Again, this pizza isn’t anything great to me, but it’s great to so many others, and that’s what matters.  I’m one person with an opinion and it’s easy to find the positives here.  All in all, this place is loaded with Christmas Spirit.

For more on Pizza Blitz, here is their menu, their story, and contact info.

I likely have only one more post for the year, and I have no idea where it’ll be from.  I just hope to end the year on a high note.

I wish you and yours a happy holiday, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

Sense of Community

MichaelsSlices


That’s what I got from visiting Michael’s in Monkton, MD about a month ago.

For the whole time I’ve been doing this I would periodically get the suggestion to write about Michael’s when I got the chance.   The advice came from folks who have ties to Northern Baltimore County and the Hereford Zone, and they’ve been going for years that the swear by it.

MichaelsPizza

When I hear that I immediately assume that it’s not just about the pizza but the history of going to that place.  It’s been around for 23 years so maybe parents have brought their kids here and grown up with the place.  Maybe it’s a place friends went to after high school or any school, and became a staple of their life.   Maybe it evokes memories of something bigger than I can even imagine.

I can’t pretend I have any attachment to this place.  Well obviously I’ve made it clear I’ve never been here before.   But what I can do it get a feel for what brings folks here.  I’m going to presume that it’s more than about the food.  In many circumstances it usually is.

The area is charming, it’s quiet, it’s small town, and it’s folksy.  Well the last two might not be mutually exclusive but you get the gist of what I’m saying.   A random drive through the area right before Thanksgiving inspired me to locate the exact location of Michael’s and thankfully it was minutes from where I was.

I wasn’t sure when I was going to get to writing about Michael’s but the longer I waited the less of a chance it was going to happen.  And what a waste of a visit that would be.

The space is tiny.  For all the stories I heard it made it sound like there was room for some indoor dining if possible.  It was tinier than I imagined, not like that matters.  I got my slices to go and didn’t hesitate to think otherwise.

Now these were in those tinier display racks you might see at some other places.  Similar to where you might order a soft pretzel.  That sounds like a knock but it really isn’t.  It also made my decisions easier, as I went with a cheese, pepperoni, and sausage slice separately.   And with two slices and a soda for $6, you really can’t complain about what you’re getting.

Well you can complain, it just depends on who might be listening.  Remember, at the end of the day it’s only food.  Now some places may claim to be bigger than they are, larger-than-life, and influence you into having an out-of-body experience. Now free will is free will, and no one else should mess with that.  Sometimes you just want your pizza and not worry about any of the logistics, how artisanal (I’m over that word by the way) it is, where the ovens were imported from, and any of that other sometimes unapproachable nonsense.

MichaelsPlain

This was good greasy pizza. The pictures can tell you that without having me to say anything.  This is a fun time that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is.  If I want avante garde I’ll know where to go.  During this time of year, you might just want food that’ll give you comfort with no thrills and no questions asked.

MichaelsPepperoni

I don’t need to review every slice or give a breakdown of what I liked or didn’t like.  I will say that if there was no sausage and pepperoni I wouldn’t be missing it.  Not that they were bad, it’s just that the plain cheese on its own was good enough that it didn’t need any toppings, for me at least.   Can you see that grease?  Maybe the cheese is all you need.

MichaelsSausage

The crust was a simple crispy and sometimes soft and comforting dough.  Sounds good to me.  Oh wait…

I was there on a weekday so whatever energy I was supposed to feel or create myself, based on what others have told me, wasn’t there.  Maybe another time.  But I did feel some solid pizza run owned and operated locally.  And as long as there’s local business it’s something always worth supporting.

If you haven’t been to Michael’s, and are near the area, I would absolutely recommend giving it a go. Perhaps you’ll have a different or unique experience compared.  Sometimes that’ all that matters.  Sometimes you just want a slice without having to think too much about it.

This is as simple as it gets.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

That’s The Jingle Bell Part II

JingleBellGus1

Although it’s been said many times, many ways, I adore Annapolis. 

How many times can you or I praise something before it loses it’s shine, and it starts to feel transparent?  Well when you give authentic love and energy to anything, I don’t think there can ever be enough praise.

JingleBellFront

One year ago I was invited to the most charming of holiday parties, at the Red Red Wine Bar, which in time for the holidays transformed themselves as the Jingle Bell Bar.  I know, how awesome right?  Last year’s story can be found here.

The amazing decorations, displays, lights, tinsel, trees, and so much that I don’t remember it all was back.   The great customer service was back.  And most of all the event was helped to support the amazing organization, Anne Arundel County CASA.

I’ve mentioned CASA several times in the past in this blog, and it’s wonderful organization with wonder people behind this operation.  I know feel like I’m part of the family and consider several people involved dear friends, as well as family.  It’s a blessing to be a part of something so genuine and so loving.

And being a part of these most wonderful, organic, and fun loving events makes it all the more merrier.  And it’s magnified during the month of December.

Let’s face it, our schedules are loaded and bloated with events that we either feel obligated to, torn about or may look forward too.  Some might me too big for their own good, or might be thrown for the sake of it with no soul.

This event was loaded with soul.  It was a great time with great people, and while the bar was busy, you never had to fight to get a drink or have yourself heard.  CASA also had a guest bartender for a couple of hours that added another level of charm to the event.  And yes this was an event on the calendar I was looking forward too.

And yes, being in Annapolis (here’s my Annapolis history that keeps on growing) just wraps it up in a pretty bow and screams Merry Christmas.   It almost seems too good to be true, but it isn’t.  Sometimes towns are that picturesque that it deserves as much as love from its locals and from visitors like myself.

JingleBellPizzas

Now onto the pizza.  Last year, I did two pies and I had to go back and make sure I would’t accidentally make a repeat.  So here goes.

JingleBellEasternShore2

First was the Eastern Shore.  This is barbecue chicken, with red onions, mozzarella, and marinara sauce.  I’ve had bbq chicken on pies that have been absolute disasters.  It’s real easy to screw up if you’re not careful.  That’s why when a place does it right, it deserves a lot of credit.  And this was really good.  I don’t know if this was my favorite bbq chicken but there’s a lot going for it.

A lot can go wrong when barbecue sauce, cheese, and the pizza sauce clash.  And all of these principles can taste fine but may not mesh well when molded together.  This was a great effort.  But what really stands out is the crust and those onions.   I could eat these red onions for days.  And the way this pizza was heated was done perfectly.  The pictures tell more than I can.

JingleBellGus2

But the Gus is the pizza you want to get.  Oh my goodness this was something.  This may have been cooked better than the Eastern Shore.  This was per our bartenders’, Bethany (whom we met last year at the same event), recommendation, and it never had a chance.

I mean it really never had a chance.  I was lucky to have a slice.  This is the one everyone was drawn to.   The cheese and sauce complemented the trios of ham, sausage, and pepperoni to perfection.  This was exquisite.  I’m craving one right now.   That only means…

I will be back.  I promised that if I were afforded the opportunity and pleasure to come back to this same party one year later, that I would revisit some of their pizzas, and maybe their wine.    To read more about the wine, click here.

A huge thanks to Bethany and Abby for helping with the pizza and wine suggestions.

This was great, this was a wonderful occasion with equally wonderful people, that represent a great organization that is Anne Arundel County CASA.  And to partner up with the friendly folks at Red Red Wine Bar is a winning Christmas combination.

For more on Red Red Wine Bar, here is their menu, their hours and location, and their backstory.

aacasa

And for more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is more about them, and how to get involved.

Annapolis has my heart, and so did everything about this event.

I will be back. Actually, I have been back a couple of times over the year in between events, but not to write about.  I waited for this.

If there’s to be a trilogy, I will patiently wait one more year.   But honestly, where did one year go?  I felt like I was admiring this holiday decor just the other day.

JingleBellElf

And we’ll admire it again.

Happy Holidays and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Door Opens

EatalianTrios

Eatalian Bistro of Towson sits in a location that’s all too familiar to the locals and folks who like to spend a day or afternoon or shopping nearby at one of the two local malls.

Sometime back I wrote about what was once there, and it reminds me of the many occasions I ate there, during and way after college.  I went to the University nearby. Here is my growing and storied history of pizzas I’ve had in the area.

What was once there was a solid, sometimes fantastic restaurant with great pizza, overall good food, and reasonable prices.  What it also had going for them was 25 years of history and goodwill within the neighborhood.   But times have changed.

This is not the Towson I remember from 10, even 5 years ago.  Towns and cities change, adapt, and grow, and sometimes the small businesses feel the brunt of it, and either close up, or move away.    But this is happening everywhere, not just close to home.  Well it may be happening close to your home…

EatalianFront

Life goes on, and this brings us to Eatalian Bistro, which doesn’t have a website, but info can be found here, along with their menu right here.

EatalianMenu

So this is a review of two visits as we lead into Towson’s Christmas tree lighting which will take place today, as in the day this article is posted (12/1/17) literally footsteps away.

EatalianSpecials

When a pizzeria promotes three slices for $6.00, you have to do a double take.  But that’s exactly what Eatalian Bistro is promoting.  It’s unheard of. This constitutes stealing, this constitutes too good to be true, but most importantly this constitutes expressing gratitude and thanks.  I just don’t see a deal lasting like this forever.  If it does, you’ll at least have a regular customer out of me.

And with that, a total of six slices will be reviewed, but in really simple fashion.

EatalianFirstThree

The first visit led me to order a cheese, meat lovers, and a bit of a unique slice, chicken and mushroom.  What I love about going to places with slices is you never know what you’re going to get.  Not every slice will be available every day.  And the unpredictability factor leads to making different orders at time, and keeps it from being all too familiar.

EatalianCheese

These are good slices.  They aren’t going to change your life, or make you think this is the best pizza ever.  I didn’t see it like that.  But if you’re going to judge a place on the cheese, then this place will do just fine.

The meat lovers was a bit heavy for me, but that’s also a personal thing along with a reflection on the pizza or the pizza makers themselves.  The chicken and mushroom was good, but I think it’s capable of being a great a second time.  Too bad I didn’t get that chance because on my…

EatalianTrios2

Second visit threw some changes.  Where there were no white pizzas during round one, this appearance brought about a white broccoli and white spinach, so I had to get both.  And to spice things up, I went with the Sicilian.   No chicken and mushroom on display this time.  Like I said, different and unpredictable is good.

The white slices were pleasant and I thought better than anything I had the first time, except for maybe the plain.  These are well done, if not safe in how they were prepared.  I’ll say the crust tasted better this go around.  You can see the pictures and understand why.  You see a little more golden brown that you don’t see in the previous slices.

EatalianSicilian

The Sicilian was my least favorite.  Depending on where you go, these things can be incredible or an absolute disaster.  I’ll put this in the middle.  The cheese and tomato sauce didn’t work for me, but it could easily work for you.

The colors look like Christmas.  I didn’t plan for this, so I like how this came together naturally without me thinking about it or forcing it.  That does make me happy.

However, the staff each time has been friendly, approachable, and happy to help.  This restaurant is only a few months old and deserves every opportunity to succeed if they’re putting themselves out there to provide the best food and serve it can.

In the spirit of the holidays, and all year round, I’m wishing the best for Eatalian Bistro, and hope that it becomes a staple of the neighborhood like many businesses have been able to do so.

And with those holiday spirits and wishes, the events going on in Towson are on this flyer below.

EatalianChristmas

It’s December and there’s plenty of days and weekends starting with this one to get all your Christmas in.  I plan on doing my best to get involved in as much Christmas spirit as I can.

Have a blessed one, and happy holidays!

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

So Much To Love…

MolinaSlices2

You know, the first time I set food into R. House in the up-and-coming (eek!) Remington neighborhood in Baltimore, I thought was wonderful.  On the outside looking it, I could see why people could sense stuffy, hipster, unapproachable, and uninviting.  Now everyone has an opinion, and I wouldn’t question why folks would think that way.  I imagine that I might have thought that way too, initially.

But no, I’ve had fantastic culinary experiences, with friends or on my own, at stall that myself and many others would never had a chance to feast on.   I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Day, so I’m feeling a little more thankful than usual.   R. House is a place to be thankful for…

Rhouse1

However, for months, people were asking where is the pizza?

You have food from all over the globe, yet no pizza.  I was asking too.  I wanted something a little different to write about.   I had a feeling something special was coming…

…And I was right…

MolinaStall

Molina Pizze & Polpette,which has been barely open a month, is the perfect complement to everything else in the R. House family, or space if you will.  It feels like a family of establishments that all work together to serve us some awesome eats and something out of the ordinary.

I’ll save the other places I’ve dined at for another time, or maybe never haha..  But I will review all five of the pizzas they’re serving as of this write up.

Molina is New Haven style, (which I wrote about once before, you can find that post here) which is one of those acquired tastes if you believe in acquired tastes.  I do to an extent.

This was done over two visits, and the results were different, but not in the way you would think.   I’ll just say a few of the pizzas stood out above the others, but everything was good to great.  I may lump a few of these slices together, but here goes.

MolinaSlices

Visit #1 :

MolinaRaz

First, and of course, is the Raz.  This is their cheese, and for this and the next slice is the crunchier style I would have expected.    The cheese pizza itself was fantastic.   The basil, for its appearance and its flavor, put this one over significantly. Great pizza.

MolinaTerra

The Terra is their vegan pie.   I forgot that the pesto was lemon basil.  Basil is great isn’t it? I could have had this pesto on a piece of bread all by its lonesome and would have been happy.  Sounds like a great idea.  The veggies all tasted so fresh and blended with this pie so well.  And I love when places throw on that arugula that you can’t see anything else.  The cashew ricotta is as incredible as it sounds.  Oh my goodness right?  The texture, the look, and everything.  This is not a pie for everyone, but it’s a pie for everyone.

MolinaSlices2

The most recent visit made had the exactly comforting crust, that you may find traditionally at other pizzerias.  But why complain? It’s ‘officially’ the holidays and we’re going to be eating this kind of bread, dough, and crust frequently if you’re headed to a party (or ten+) near you.

MolinaCollabria

The Calabria is a slight deviation from the Raz, but with protein, and mmm Chili Oil?  Is that was that distinct taste was?

MolinaParma

The prosciutto on the Parma made this one fun too.  If it wasn’t for that the arugula would take over everything.  Did I mention how much I love that?  And I love how they’re using lemon as a topping.  Here they use lemon juice.

MolinaHenrietta

My favorite (which could change instantaneously) is the Henrietta.  It contains some of my most valued vegetables.  I adore spinach, mushrooms and that gorgonzola is a trifecta of tremendous proportions.    And having shallots on a pizza can be a challenge.  It can backfire, but not here.   Again, I’ve had balsamic glaze on a pie which lead to overkill and be too runny or unnatural.   This was natural.

Have I touted this place enough?

MolinaMenu

Even if you’re not into pizza, they have other things on their menu, which I would love to try sometime.  The prices may put off some, but I think they’re justified.

MolinaPrices

I like what Molina is all about.  Actually I love what they’re all about.

Their story and team information can be found on the main page, and it’s a charmer.

And here is their contact information.

RHouseDoors

Finally, for more on R. House, click here.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving with dear family and friends, that you hold closest to you.   I feel like Molina is a place I’ll hold close to me now.

Have a good one and peace be with you.

Ideen

Every Peace Is Important

DonatosHotChicken4

You know after last week, I thought my time in Vienna, Virginia was going to be short lived and an eventual return to Baltimore was inevitable.  The universe had other plans for me.  And that can only mean more pizza from out of the way.  And I’m so grateful for another place to discuss, which I otherwise wouldn’t have.

DonatosFront

Until last week, I had never heard of Donatos. I wasn’t aware of this growing pizzeria chain, and why it sometimes takes so long to find something so beautiful, or for it to find you, is just one of those things.  I wasn’t meant to discover this until now.   Who knows what else is out there, but what I do know is this a magical discovery that is another great reminder of how life, and as we approach the holidays, can be so awesome if you let nature and a belief that good things till come, take its course.

Of course I’m talking about pizza, but you can apply this to everything.

What I first loved when first walking in was the decor and the colors of the interior.  It had a soothing feeling that can only be described as pizza.  I know, this is the expert analysis you come to look for in this blog.  Thank you so much and have a blessed day.

All kidding aside, I just had a good feeling about this place before I even walked in.   I love the fact that they use provolone cheese as their base.   I mean, who doesn’t love mozzarela, it’s the perfect pizza for cheese.  It was the cheese that was meant to be married to pizza dough and sauce.  But provolone has a distinct taste all its own.  And it showed on my two pizza choices.

DonatosBoard

First, I went with the pepperoni.  Maybe it was the sign that enticed me?  Wouldn’t it do the same to you? No? Well ok, it did to me… But if I’m going to get cheese, I might as well get a simple topping so I can get several tastes in one.  That’s what makes pizza and blends of foods so fun.  You never now what you might discover.

DonatosPepperoni

But as the sign said, they throw a multitude of pepperoni that you won’t know what to do with yourself.  Well you can eat it for one.  Not sure what else you can do, except have a little fun with this.

DonatosPepperoni2

This was a fun pizza.  I got this and the second pizza to come, in personal size (at only $6) to sample and to save for later.  I like the basic crust and the charming pieces it was cut in.  I like their style a lot.  It’s a style all their own.

DonatosHotChicken

Speaking of all their own,  the Hot Chicken was a first for me.  This showed ambition and while it was aggressive, it succeeded.  I didn’t even realize they threw pepper jack cheese on it.  I figured it was more of the provolone.  But little did I know.  The hot chicken pieces were the highlight.  And as I’ve been stating since the beginning of this journey, I always have fun picking off the toppings and eating them by its lonesome. The same goes for the aforementioned pepperoni.  It would be a crime not to do this.

DonatosHotChicken2

The jalapeno peppers and pickles that complement the pie, may be a challenge to eat for some (it was a little for me), it’s a different take on pizza.  Essentially a chicken sandwich was put on top of a pie.  Some ranch drizzle thrown on top and you think you’re somewhere else.

DonatosHotChicken3

I’ve grown to like pickles again, or otherwise this might have been more of a chore than a feast.  But with all that being said, this was a fun adventure, and I love when pizzerias get creative with how they present their takes on favorites, and then throw in their own select pies to stand out.  This one stands out alright.   And if their menu tells us anything, they have quite a few stand out pizzas that I would love to try sometime.

But what’s most important is when we approach this time of year, you’ll start seeing more requests for donations to causes near and dear to each and every organization and establishment we come across.  I like the gesture.  It makes me feel warm. It makes me want to do more.  And while I think I can only do so much.  A little donation here, a helping hand there is what life is all about.

DonatosDonate

It wasn’t a forced request.  It’s there waiting for your support, and it’s up to us to decide if it’s a cause we believe in, or not.  And even if isn’t, it’s always the symbolic gesture that always means the most.

I like that the word Donatos sounds so similar to donate.   I don’t think I’m reading too much into that.  And I don’t think it’s by accident.

For more on Donatos, here is their menu, their locations, and more about their company.

DonatosBox

I found my brief visit quite peaceful yet so substantial and spiritually healing.   I’m grateful to have been granted the opportunity to discuss and share with you.

We’re less than a week away from Thanksgiving and I could feel the peace and spirit of the holidays at Donatos.  I can’t wait to see where I head to next.   But for now…

…Peace be with you.

Ideen

Local, Simple, Superb…

ArostoBrisket

There’s that old cliche that if you stop looking for things, they come to you.  I’m not articulating it as properly as I could, but I think you know what I’m saying.  Watching too many cheesy (ha) Christmas movies a little earlier than maybe one should will get one overly sentimental.  Oh my…

Well where am I going with all this?

I’m so blessed to live in an area that is close enough to many busy cities and towns (Baltimore, Annapolis, DC, Philadelphia, and many places in, between, and around the area) that I get more of a pick of pizzas places and for that matter, places to go in general then if I were living in somewhere more remote.  I should not take that for granted.  It’s significant now and it’s going to mean something that much bigger later.  Oh here I go being sentimental and dopey again…

Where did I end up earlier this week, that has gotten feeling so emotional?   I mean it’s only pizza right?  But how can become so invested in something if I don’t have passion for it?

This week my travels brought me to Vienna, Virginia, which is right outside Washington, DC.

First of all, I technically have not written about a pizzeria in Vienna, so any new location is easily going to get me excited.  Second, while there’s still historic, more authentic, and older parts of Vienna that are easily accessible, it’s becoming like many other towns, and many other cities across the country, lots of chains, lots of town centers that portray themselves as something they’re not, and lots of transient people.

So when I find a local place, that’s where I’m going first.  And remember, I wasn’t looking…

ArostoSign

This brings me to Arosto Pizza in Dunn Loring.  Which is now more than a metro station, it’s a conglomerate of things that I may or may not have ever been to.  There’s chains, a grocery store, and a bunch of things that all look the same, but within all that Arosto brings a much needed local face that we can never have enough of.

ArostoOven

The stone hearth pizza oven which heats up these gems is just that, a gem.  Some people may frown upon this kind of rapid fire pizza making, and I might have been one of those people, but I got over it.  The crusts on both of my orders tasted differently in a good way.  My taste buds got a doughy, buttery, and most importantly comforting feeling at times.  And as we approach the holidays, this is the kind of pizza and food you want.

Man this was fantastic.

I’m singing the praises before I even tell you what I ordered.  Yeah it was that fun.

I was going to go with the cheese, but since I’m only here every once in a while, I went with two distinctively different pies, the District White and, the Smoked Beef Brisket.  The latter seems to be appropriate for the time of year.

ArostoBrisket3

The Brisket looks like art.  The presentation is immaculate.  Upon first reading, I thought the slaw would be infused into the pie, which would be quite ambitious.  And when re-reading the menu, it would be easy to make that determination.  But they pile it on high on top of this already gorgeous array of brisket, cheddar cheese, onions, and scallions.  If I had one gripe is maybe a little more brisket would have been preferred.  There was just enough (which means not too much for me) barbecue sauce that everything is easily accessible, easy to be tasted, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

ArostoBrisketSlice

And like I said, that crust is tremendous.  I like saying that word a lot, ‘tremendous’.  It’s tremendous, stellar, awesome, and anything else awesome you want to add. Ha…

But even with that being said, the simplicity of the District White was my favorite of the two.

ArostoDistrictWhite

The combination of spinach ricotta sauce (I know right, yum!), mozzarella, romano, and fontina cheeses is already a winner.  And I’ve frowned upon some of the whites I’ve had in the past for being overdone, but this was creative, yet simple, and that’s all anyone can ask for.  It’s done just right without doing too much.  I think there’s an analogy in there somewhere.

ArostoDistrictWhiteSlice

I would be happy with that, but they drizzled on some fresh basil that puts this pie over the top after it was already over.  And believe me it’s all over after this.  The pizza never had a chance.  And the visual of the spinach ricotta by itself is visually mesmerizing.

I’m craving some right now.   Thankfully I have leftovers.

The prices are listed with the menu, and while there isn’t a lot of places to compare it too, I find them reasonable for their medium vs. large pies.  But again, no need to compare it to anyone or anything.   These are charming pies that avoid all the pretentiousness that you find in the DC and Northern Virginia areas.

They heat everything in front of you.  I was in and out in 10 minutes.  But there was no rush.  I relaxed a little bit in the small park right outside of one of my new favorite pizza places.

And maybe it’ll be one of yours.

ArostoMenu

Here’s their menu, their gallery, and contact/location info.

ArostoBox

I’m so grateful I made this discovery.  I hope to be back again.

Thanks so much, happy holidays, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Paradise By The…

paradisopie2

A lot of good pizza was had in 2016.  It seems to me that the focus has been on only finding the better slices, the better pies, and the better experiences.  If something is really horrific and worth talking about it will be talked about here.  But the emphasis will always be talking about quality za and giving you a valid reason for you to visit.  If not then this defeats the whole purpose.

Of course I’m just one person with an opinion.  Not everything I like will be agreed with and vice-versa.  And the pizzas I’m a little critical of might be one of your favorites.

For me it’s traditionally based on what I’m feeling at the time, not necessarily what I’m thinking.  It could be an idea about a place, or yes, a preconceived notion that may skew an opinion a little more towards one way or another than it otherwise wouldn’t.  This is why today’s pizza I discuss is so fascinating.

Before this past day after Christmas, my one and only ever visit to Pizzeria Paradiso was back in 2000.  Yes 16 years ago.  And this was at the Georgetown location.  Needless to say, being much younger the pizza was fine but I didn’t see what the big deal was.  I can get pizza anywhere I said.  Now whether this was my actual reaction is merely a reflection of my past self.  I can only speculate but it’s something similar to what I would have said.

It was a lifetime ago so I don’t know exactly what I ordered, but I remember the company I was with.  That’s one I’ll leave for myself.  But it wasn’t the best experience.  I remember paying a lot more for pizza than I may have ever had before.   Because of that I wonder if that’s the main reason of why I never went back.

Many times and many years over I’ve found myself walking past the Georgetown and Dupont Circle locations and not thinking much of it.  And that’s neither a good or bad statement.  There’s so many options to eat, let alone ones specific to pizza.

paradisosign

But something about the Old Town Alexandria location seemed so much more welcoming and approachable.  There is a heavy bias here. I was born in this beautiful town, just minutes away from Old Town.  So I have loads of attachment and love for this place.

paradisocorner

Even still things would come up for the universe had other plans for me when I visited Alexandria.  I’ve been to many restaurants and many places along King Street and the surrounding areas, but never here.

paradisoboard

Well the wait and fate finally crossed paths.  All it took was a little Christmas Cheer and a peaceful drive to one of the great towns of America.

So how was the pizza this time?

It was busy.  Christmas was observed on a Monday this year and the town was buzzing. People had off and made the most of their post Christmas time.  Well that sounded like safe yet dramatic thing to say.  The restaurant was packed and the staff was busy. Did that affect the pizza in any way?  That I don’t know.

Even in a frenetic setting my pie turned out really good.  I ordered the Genovese which consisted of parmesan, pesto, and potato.  How about that combination?

paradisopie4

Now I wasn’t sure how this was going to look but I loved it.  These were real slices of potato.  If you’re thinking that I ordered this in light of a Christmas hangover and hoping for mashed potatoes, you might be right.

And that pesto tasted fresh, authentic, and from somewhere magnificent.  Where that is I don’t know.  But I like to think there was a lot of care and soul put into creating that pesto.

paradisopie5

That wood fired crust was tremendous as well.  I’ve heard friends say it’s the best pizza they’ve had in all of DC.  That’s a tough one to decide on.  It’s all relative.  I will say the crust was fantastic and I’m craving it now as I right about it.  It just had the perfect burnt and charred taste to it.  And that thin crust was shaped perfectly.  And a thinner crust was needed on this day.

The overall experience, ambiance, and service definitely made it even better.

For how busy the restaurant was, I was still able to get diner style seating and enjoy my meal in solitude.  I got to sample a couple of red wines before deciding on a favorite.  I was pleased with my decision.

paradisowithwine

I was pleased with the pie.  I was only able to have half, which was fine by me.  I got to enjoy the rest later.  For a personal pizza this was a hearty sized meal.  You could easily get two meals out of this without question.  Or maybe my stomach has been feeling the effects of all the holiday eating that it was a reminder to slow down and take it easy.   And to enjoy the peace and spirit of the holidays.  They’re not technically over yet.

So I enjoyed my time in Old Town like I always do.  I took some pictures of the nearby historic streets and even one by Pizzeria Paradiso.  I hope you enjoy just like I enjoyed my pizza.

They’re one of the major players in the Washington, DC area when it comes to pizza.  And I’m glad to have ended the year with one of the more soothing and peaceful dining experiences I’ve had in a while.

I promise it won’t be another 16 years till the next visit.  How about I revisit this again in 2017.  That’s a promise.

Here is their story, their beer menu and online ordering info for those nearby.

oldtownroad

I look forward to what 2017 brings.  That feels weird just typing that.

Happy What’s Left of the Holidays,

Ideen

 

 

In The Spirit Of The Season

squisitoslices

Actually that title might be misleading, but I just felt like writing another holiday themed title for this blog.  We’re kind of in the home stretch here so I want to enjoy all the moments I can.  I want to look back on posts like this, knowing that I did my part to spread Christmas, or in this instance pizza, Cheer.

I’ve gone on in the past about how much Annapolis feels like Christmas.  And the downtown area always looks and feels magical.  Well this weeks pizza takes us back to Annapolis, but not in the downtown area.  And the pizza I’m about to review from Squisito, wasn’t from a recent visit.  So I may have this during a holiday, but not those ‘happy holiday’, we love to say in limitless doses.  I think this goes back to September, but I did take notes (actually no not really) and am happy to recap this experience to you.

squisitofront

Now this wasn’t like the other Squisito’s I’ve visited before.  The front signage was fancier than others.   This is a local chain but this one, aside from the logo, had a different look and vibe about it.  Again it’s maybe the Annapolis thing. There’s a bit of favoritism I show towards our state capital.

I’ve been eating slices, among other standard lunch and Italian fare  here for a couple of years, and have always considered it to be good to great food and service on every occasion.

And when it came to pizza slices, I always got the standard cheese, veggie, and various mat and veggie combinations.   But on this day I felt inspired.  I wanted something different.  It also seemed the Annapolis location had more slices to choose from than I’ve seen at their other stores.  Here I go again with the favoritism.

I went with the Philly Cheesesteak and the White Pizza with grilled chicken, tomatoes, and arugula.

Can you guess which one I preferred over the other

squisitosteak

The cheesesteak was ambitious.  Now I’m not judging it versus how a cheesesteak from Philadelphia should taste. But it should still have that amazing melding of steak, cheese, peppers, on top of this crust.  So how did  this Philly Style cheeseteak taste on top of the New York Style crust?  I see an oxymoron here.   The pizza was wine but it seemed like it had been out for a while and may have been slightly compromised over time.  I envision this pizza would be so much better if fresher and right out of the oven.

It’s easy and hard to make a good cheeseteak regardless of the city.   And as a personal side, it may have just been a bit too heavy for me.  That’s a personal preference for me tat has nothing to do with the quality itself.

squisitochicken

The chicken slice was the show stealer. Those are real, fresh, and genuine looking piece of chicken   I think I just used the same synonym or superlative three times over.  But this was a fantastic slice.  I love how basically the toppings were put on cold.  Literally they were cold.  The  chicken was heated somewhat but didn’t need to be.  The dichotomy of the heated slice with the chilled toppings was creative, unique, and endearing.  There I go with the three word narrative again.

Squisito is a model of consistency. They have great pizza and great service, that is approachable and welcoming.  And what’s the moral to this story?   Keeping it simple always works but going outside the norm of what goes on a pizza can be exciting and something I look forward to when seeing unique slices at the counter.

squisitoslices2

I look forward to being back again and enjoying another genuine and sincere experience. That’s what we should all strive for during the holidays and the rest of the calendar year as well.

Here’s their menu, growing list of locations, and contact information.

My Annapolis History Lesson can be found here. There’s lots of great places!

We’re this close to Christmas.  And I want to wish you a happy and festive celebration with the ones you love, and maybe have some great pizza along the way.  Squisito would certainly quality as that.

Happy Holidays,

Ideen