With Love,

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

You know so many folks throw out the word artisanal more than ever.  Well maybe it’s lost it’s cache if you will.  Me saying that is just one person’s opinion.  But that’s what I sadly sense.  If you throw out superlatives and overstate positives where they shouldn’t go, they tend to get lost in the shuffle.  And what’s actually great could sadly get lost in the shuffle or…

American Flatbread was speaking to me.  No, not literally, that would be goofy talk… But maybe it was.  I was searching my local supermarket’s frozen pizza aisle, and I was in the mood for anything but something that would be bloaty and stuffy.  The weather outside would deem suitable for comforts and getting full and happy, but that’s not what I’m usually looking for, now or ever.

I was reading the labels and their story, where it just kept striking a chord with me.  Maybe it’s the mood I was in, but the message of doing good, not just for others, but for ourselves brought a smile to my face.  The message of supporting charities, those in need, and still taking care of ourselves is important.  If we can’t help ourselves how can we be at our best at helping others.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the heart of the holiday season, these messages are going to be much more commonplace.  I do my best to support others throughout the year, while still trying to do right for me.

The importance of eating healthy, and by taking in the most natural ingredients has become indoctrinated in us more than ever.  It’s important, and we shouldn’t resist this.  I shouldn’t resist.  This to me is more artisanal than anyone claiming as much, with nothing to back it up.

They can back it up, and then some…

My two choices were the Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese, and the Ionian Awakening.

(Here is where to buy near you)

I will review them together and separately.  First, the crusts are 100% organically grown wheat, and I can feel it.  I can taste a difference.  You might trick yourself into thinking this, but it’s true.  There was something about this that didn’t upset my stomach or upset me in any way.  Ha that was funny.  But seriously, this flatter crust (well it is a flatbread) really made a difference, and made the cheese and sauce taste that much better.

This is an operation comprised of good people, good spirits, and good souls trying to make the best pizza they can.  This was incredible.  This is not your typical frozen pizza. There is a genuine feeling of good and health during and after eating.  The lower calorie content will tell you that as well.   And I can’t get forget those herbs.  You really get a good taste for them here.

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

I just like the name Ionian Awakening.  With a powerful name, you know it’s going to be good.  I never had a doubt. These are Mediterranean flavors at their best.  If you love feta cheese, red onions, and olives on your pizza (which I love off a pizza as well!), you’re going to adore this.  You’re going to savor every bite, and with the most brilliantly prepared crust to balance (not counterbalance, but balance) everything out, some may love this more than the traditional cheese.    I love them both, so I can’t really say what was better.  I can call it tie!

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaSlice

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness… This is pizza, this is true artisan style, and it deserved to be called that and so many other good things.   I also just love the good that American Flatbread represents.

I’m grateful I found this days before Thanksgiving.  I’m truly thankful and grateful that I was introduced to this pizza, and the timing couldn’t have been better.  There’s more pizzas to choose from, and I love what they represent.  So I hope to revisit this again and try to show them some of the love that they are projecting onto the world and the universe.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Ideen

I Love Wegmans.

WegmansSicilianBuffaloChicken2

It’s one of those magical paces on earth.  I seriously believe that to be true.

I think I got it right this time.  Some time back, I wrote about Wegmans (past stories can be found here) and the slices and story I wrote about was a bit goofy.  It just didn’t click like I hoped. Maybe I was trying too hard.  And the anomaly was that their pizza was not up to par.  That’s going to happen.  That’s also not going to make me stop going here….

As a matter of fact I go to a Wegmans at least 5 days a week.  At least is the operative word, because sometimes it feels like I go there more than once a day.   That does happen.

For the sake of life, and things in general, I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. It’s November.  We’re already so busy to begin with.  The holidays are fast approaching.  What a trite thing to say, but it’s true.  For all the commotion that comes our way, there’s plenty of room to keep things as even keel and as comfortable as possible.

Pizza is at the top of that list.

Wegmans (more about their amazing story here) knows good pizza.  A visit to multiple locations verifies that.  They’ve been consistently great to amazing.  Maybe an understatement.

I’ve shared pizza with good friends, with family, and myself.  Their a growing supermarket chain, but no matter how big they get, it keeps feeling like home.

Their pizza has a familiarity and a simplicity that feels familiar.  It takes me back to places, and then it only takes back to a recent place.  Yes, like the last time I visited. Not everything is that dramatic for me, I promise…

If you truly judge a place by their cheese alone, then Wegmans can do no wrong.  What a perfect recipe of the most simplest ingredients.  I think the most important ingredient however is soul, spirit, and enthusiasm.  Having a wonderful crust doesn’t hurt either.  A strong base and foundation culminate into an all around winner.

Their blanca is the same.  The seasonings, the olive oil, and the ricotta on such a perfectly heated crust is the stuff of beautiful.  I love white pizza and can sometimes be critical of how some places make it, but they nailed it.   My personal and humble opinion is that it’s the most difficult of pizzas to do right.   Yes they did.

What I love is that their Sicilian Style is self-serve. Try saying that a few times over.  And featured today was the Buffalo Chicken.  It may be heavy and thick for some, but that’s the beauty of choices.  I enjoyed it but know I could make at least two meals out of this.  You know the main ingredient in buffalo chicken, so I don’t need to repeat them.  I highly recommend.

I highly recommend Wegmans in general.  Pizza notwithstanding, they have a commitment to the best quality food and the best everything.   I’ve always had good experiences here from grocery shopping, their pharmacy, their cafe, the hot food bar, the sandwich shoppe, the cheese market, the deli, the seafood department, and everything in between.  Trust me, there’s a lot in between that it may take a bunch of visits, and then more to get it all in.

There’s no need to get it all in now.  The journey is the best part.  It’s one I intend to continue on and revisit many times over.

I love it and I’m willing to bet many of you who are fortunate to live by one or have visited, can say the same.

I love Wegmans and I’m so grateful for all the good it brings.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Something With The Zucchini

CuVinoWhiteSlices2

I had no idea that CuVino even existed.  And I’m slightly embarrassed by that.  I used to spend a lot of time in this vicinity (history lesson here), and can’t even recall what was in the space before.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.

CuVino

What’s important is this combination of restaurant/bar/wine shoppe and one of the more cozy and welcoming places you’ll find, is perfect for anyone of any demographic and any walk of life.  Wait, I just said that.

I’ve seen reviews of this place that were a bit pretentious and off putting after I visited, that would actually make want to come back more.   Everyone’s tastes are different, and everyone has a mood and feel of that place in time, that can alter so much.   That can be for the better, or otherwise.

How ironic and fitting that I made two different visits and was fortunate to have different slices available at both times.  Yet, I wanted to keep it simple and get back to basics, with maybe a little pizzazz (ha!) one of them.

CuVinoSlices

First, are the two most recognizable slices on this here planet earth, the cheese and pepperoni.    I wonder how these would taste served a whole pies in a restaurant versus getting them to go.  Yes they’re made exactly the same but my mind thinks differently.  If I’m prepared to sit down and share a meal with friends, the pizza will be savored and appreciated in a way that being of the mindset of grabbing and going may not provide.  With that being said this is great pizza that feels like it was heavily thought about, yet tastes so familiar.  It’s simple, palatable, and wonderful.

I mean this with the highest praise that this is also great greasy pizza with more cheese than I’ve found in other pizzas.  No complaints here.  And the size of those pepperoni slices are absolute gems.  You don’t see that everywhere.  This is one of the better slices of pepperoni you’re going to find.  Of course I took it off the pie and enjoyed part of it all by its lonesome.  Tremendous.

CuVinoWhiteSlices2

Even better, and how that was possible is a testament to this place, were the White Slices.   This is some of the best Bianco I can recall.  And if I am a snob when it comes to pies, it’s that I don’t always find many places offerings the best.  This is up there. The olive oil, garlic, and herbs really come together here.   And it’s that has that slightly greasy goodness that takes me back to my childhood.  Maybe this is why I love this so much.

But the zucchini is the winner here.  Yes the tomatoes and onions are fresh, but the zucchini does it for me.  I just want a plate of wherever they got this from for myself.  I’ll still take the pizza, but this is from somewhere much bigger than us!   Incredible!

Did I not say anything about the crust? Oops.  Well the picture tells that story.  There seemed to be a conscientious effort to heat all of these to perfection.  Either that or the universe is alignment with everything.  And everything seems right…

At $3, give or take, per slice, it’s a bargain when compared to lesser quality pizzerias charging upwards of $5+ for slices.  These slices are worth that much.

CuVino2

What took me so long to get here?   I wasn’t supposed to discover this place until now, but I think I want to save a bigger story for later.  There’s much to be told here.  I hope to get back here before the year is out.  But for now here is their menu,and their location/contact info.

We’re just getting started…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

Golden Star

MarcosWhiteCheezy

When I was a kid, and even still as an adult at times, when I saw a new place or an unfamiliar place, I might be hesitant to try it out.   And there’s no basis for any of this.  Maybe sometime in my childhood the unfamiliar just didn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.  But when you’re a kid, the new is what’s exciting.  Same goes for now.  Because everything that we know, like, find comfort in, and enjoy now was once well, strange and unfamiliar.

That comfort level may be too far for some as we settle in our routines, and may choose the path of least resistance.  Again that path of least resistance was once… Yep…

I love food and many of us do.  It’s a simple pleasure.  It bring us joy, brings us together, and brings us satisfaction.   Pizza in this case can never be strange.  I’m all for trying new foods, new pizzas, and new anything.  If there is some reservations in life, those should dissipate.  It’s too short, even though it feels long at times.  And for all the pizzerias in the world, there’s room for another, and there’s room for everybody.

What am I saying here?  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I should relax and take it easy with the questions.  Sometimes I should just relax and hang out. Ha.

MarcosPizza

A while back driving through Essex, MD (right outside Baltimore) I saw a sign for Marco’s Pizza (more about their story, their menu, and locations) and like with most discoveries pizza I welcome a new place, and can add it to the ongoing story that will hopefully go on forever…

I saw from the outside looking in their logo and the shopping center it was located in just a buzz and aura about it.  Sometimes it’s the energy we create and sometimes there’s just something there that feels right and tells you when you should come in, and when you should wait.  Both have that same feeling.

So after a few weeks of writing about and trying other foods, the time was right.  A new place to write about, in a town or city I’ve technically haven’t written about, is always refreshing.

I must have been in the mood for tomatoes because the new menu items that stood out to me were the White Cheezy and the Chicken Florentine.  And in this instance I didn’t even look at the ingredients or toppings.  I felt for some reason I didn’t need to.  It’s similar for when going to the movies, I don’t always read up on the plot.  It’s more exciting that way to me.

How funny is it that these two pizzas are so similar, yet just different enough. It’s all relative.

What else is relative is how great they are.  Look at that golden crust?  There’s an art to this.  And a certain amount of minutes, timing, and done with the right energy and spirit is going to make an entree that much better.  You could be in a bad mood and make the pizza the same exact way, and it won’t turn out like this.  This was magical.

MarcosWhiteCheezy2

I love how they pile on the cheese with this.  It’s cheese on top of cheese, and with that crust, I nearly took the toppings for granted.

The White Cheezy with the three cheese blend, feta cheese, and garlic parmesan sauce can compete with all the great pizzas.  And as a stand alone pie needs no toppings.  But to throw in bacon, onions, and the perfectly cooked tomatoes is a winner.  The irony is the bacon is what stood out the least to me.

MarcosChickenFlorentine

With the Grilled Chicken Florentine (which may be an exclusive to their Essex location) you’re essentially substituting the bacon for grilled chicken and spinach.  And those piece of chicken taste fresh, taste real, and just taste good.  Another recurring theme is that garlic parmesan sauce.  Maybe I was in the mood for the tomatoes without the sauce.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It was all great.

The folks behind the counter were busy but never looked panicked.  They were friendly and that is symbolic of how the pies turned out.  These pizzas are on the higher end of what you might pay.  My two small pizzas came out to just under $30.  But to pay a little extra for quality never hurt anyone.  And it’s a few extra dollars well spent.

I like this place a lot and I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.  Based out of Toledo, OH, they’re expanding all over the nation.  For our pals in Baltimore, there’s locations in Essex and Pasadena, and a few in Northern Virginia.  So while it may be a little bit of a drive, it’s worth your time and a great change of pace.

This was wonderful, and I can’t wait to try their pizzas again.  Something unfamiliar is now a friend, and I’m grateful Marco’s Pizza is now a part of my pizza experience.  I found them, but in many ways it found me.

MarcosPizzaBox

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

Annapolis’ Best Kept Secret?

GiolittisSpecialPizzaPie2

It just might be, because when I mention Giolitti Fine Italian Market & Delicatessen (here is their lunch menu, their dinner menu, more about them, and contact information)  to friends who live, work, or spend time in the area, either they haven’t heard of it, or didn’t realize they make pizza.  I was one of them.

I found this place by accident.  But I don’t believe in accidents, or any of that.  No such thing.

The charm of most Italian markets is at least from my experience, they were built way before what we have today.  They were both chains, box stores, and all these corporate entities we see today.

For over 25 years Giolitti’s has been serving the Annapolis community, and has sustained a loyal following (for those who know about it, and plenty do for the others that don’t…), that these chains would envy.

I discovered this place actually heading to one of these more well known stores, but knowing how important it is to support local, and at worst window shop and browse, I wanted to see this for myself.  And how beautiful it is…

Along with a plethora of great wines for purchase, a charming ambiance, friendly staff, and an overall good energy, is just some of the many reasons why this place is thriving, and boy it is it thriving.   On this particular day, the place was packed.

On a recent search for pizza in the area, I was getting the sense that I was running out of new options (My love for Annapolis all around can be found here.) but the universe and a little  searching has its benefits.  The truth is, I will never run out of places to talk about.  And in the chance that I do, I can always revisit, as more than enough time has passed on some of my favorite pizzerias and places in general.  I will revisit several in time, but first things first.

How about the pies?

I’ll admit that I’ve been spoiled by Italian delis and markets food and pizza in general. My standards and bar has been raised.  I have expectations now.  I want the best.  But good and great is well, sometimes good and great enough.

I adore Neopolitan style pizza, and I’ve had it probably more times than I realized.  One of many things not to take for granted.

GiolittisPizzaPie

I went with their simple cheese and made it half pepperoni, and then the Giolitti’s Special which is Prosciutto, Arugula, and Gorgonzola.  On the latter the substituted spinach since they were out of arugula, and I’ll have more to say on that in mere moments.

GiolittisPizzaSlice

The cheese and pepperoni is just good pizza.  No, it’s not the best I’ve ever had, but that crust, that dough, the way it was heated brought me such joy and comfort.  Joy and comfort is good.  The greasy style of cheese and pepperoni has that feeling of many pizzas shared with family when I was kid, in present times, and hopefully in the future.  This is a great slice and great pie, the more I think about it.

GiolittisSpecialPizzaPie1

The Giolitti’s Special is something I must have again.  I think the arugula would have made this so much better.  I have to be honest here.  I like spinach and it doesn’t take away from the pie, but I don’t know if it adds anything.  I actually found the pie with just the prosciutto and Gorgonzola to be just fine.  But it’s one of those, I can’t wait to try this again at full strength kind of things.

GiolittisSpecialPizzaSlice

But there’s no need to quibble and no need to complain.  This is a great place, was a great experience, and the pizza is definitely worth it.  And quite affordable too.

Local business always has a special place in my heart, and so does Annapolis.  That combination is why I will be back time and time again, to try many of their other foods, grab bottle of vino, and maybe have a pie or two again to share with friends.

This is a place to share with friends, family, and anyone that brings you joy.  This place brings me joy, Annapolis brings me joy, and I love this market and our state capital so much.

More next week? Hmmm..

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

Break The Contradictions

MaisysBuffaloChicken

Maisy’s is what Downtown Baltimore or what a downtown in general feels like.  I prefer the latter, because it reminds me of a part of any city, that truly feels like a city.  Baltimore has a lot of neighborhoods within it, yet it does have parts that seem like there’s lots of action.

This particular part of Charles Street, which bridges downtown to Mt. Vernon, is an area I used to frequent all the time.  While it gets busier things also seem to be a bit slower.  Time has stood still, and so does the traffic, so does everybody.

Maisys

Good friends of mine were regulars of Maisy’s when it first opened maybe 5-6 years ago, but for various reasons, life happens, and life goes on.  That didn’t mean to sound so dramatic.   But my friends did sell me on the place without having to sell it.  It’s a hidden gem, hiding in plain sight.  Near several other restaurants, bars, and other establishments it might be easy to overlook and take for granted.   I could see that.

MaisysBoard

The first time I ate here was literally five years ago.  And that might have been my only time.  This was before any blogs or pizza storytelling were on my radar.  Well it was slightly on my radar or we wouldn’t be here now.   I just recall the pizza being pleasantly awesome.

I had been tipped off (sounds so exciting) on the fact that their pizza is one of the more underrated in the city.  That’s a relative term.  What’s rated one way to you, is well, yeah..

Having no recollection of what exactly I had, I can say that the pizza and atmosphere was tremendous.  Maybe it’s having no expectations, going somewhere alone, and going somewhere for the first time.  I also recall that I was in between social engagements that day, so that time alone is always welcome.  Don’t take that for granted.  We all know how time alone is fewer and far between than it used to be.  If we let it.

That was a moment in time.  Nothing noteworthy, newsworthy, or life changing.  Sometimes those are the best.   The way the place was lit did leave a lasting impression, and there’s a quaintness, despite the large space, that is perfect for this or any neighborhood.  It works in a downtown setting.

Moving along a few years later, you can’t replicate the first time.  I was with a friend, and was craving pizza. Surprise surprise.  But this time something felt off.

By no means was I trying to relive something that doesn’t exist.  The restaurant looked exactly the same, which I like.  Well maybe it was different.   I don’t know.  It’s been a while.

MaisysMenu

We shared the Buffalo Chicken and The Mediterranean.

MaisysBuffaloChicken2

There isn’t much home to write about.  It was fine. It was food.  It was there.

MaisysMEDITERRANEAN

You’ll notice the charring on the crusts of both pies. They went a little overboard.  I love brick oven pizza.  I love any way a pizza is cooked, as long as the end result is that it tastes good.  Sometimes you want it greasy, crunch, and with little thoughts to the craftsmanship behind it.

There’s some effort put into these pizzas, but something was missing.  It just didn’t wow me.  The style in which it was cut is in line with what I remember, maybe.

The tastes on both were fine.  Once again, I don’t know what happened.  But it’s average pizza.  I wish I could say otherwise.   On the Mediterranean there’s too much going on, and many of the vegetables, feta cheese, and even the pesto got lost in the shuffle.  When the pesto doesn’t work, you know something is off.   The Buffalo Chicken looks amazing, and the pieces of chicken are great, but again something fell flat.  The sauce and cheese is fine but…

If we’re counting this exactly, we’re 1-1.   I supposed the third time is the time charm.  You’ll be the first to know when that is.

Thanks so much and peace be with you…

Ideen