Cauliflower Alley

GustoObeyTheClaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gusto

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

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

GustoObeyTheClaw2

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

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

GustoObeyTheClawClose

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

GustoWildShroom

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

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

GustoMenu

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

GustoPizzaToGo

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

Beautiful.

Peace Be With You

Ideen

Magic Rat

WharfCheesy

The Fells Point Fun Festival was supposed to take place this weekend.   The universe has decided to make other plans. Weather has become a factor.  In lieu of this, the event will likely be taking place the weekend of October 23rd-25th.   I said I would continue to write about Fells Point establishments and their pizza up until the festival.  I will continue to do just that.

My recap of The Wharf Rat was meant to be posted on the opening day of the event.  I feel this bar, more than most, symbolizes what a great neighborhood bar is all about.  After thinking about it, and with all their fun pizza still fresh in my mind, I thought what the heck.   I shouldn’t let weather dampen my spirits or schedule.  Pun not intended.

I’ve been hanging out here for many years and it’s always had a welcoming atmosphere.   I’ve been to many events and fundraisers that benefited the community, local charities, and the city of Baltimore.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even knew they had pizza.  I think I’d just be here for a drink or two and some standard pub eats.   What have I been missing?

Now many folks have pointed out that it’s great drunk pizza.  Well you could say that about most pizza couldn’t you?  I’ve had it a couple of times after a few libations myself.  I’m here to say that it’s good pizza period.

There isn’t anything overly spectacular or glamorous about their pies.  It’s just damn good pizza.  And I think that’s what they intend.   I will say that it’s much better than quite a few of these artisanal joints that charge an arm and leg just to grab a table.  I’ll take this over those an time.

This is a pictures show over several visits.

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I love that the bartender is also the cook.  It even says it on the menu!  How awesome is that!  So you get to see everything. They prepare the dough, put on the sauce, the cheese, and heat it in the oven.  I love how the kitchen is right there too. This is the pub experience my friends.

And the staff over time has always been so approachable.  I’ve never had an issue over anything, except other than myself being a tad under the influence.

WharfSpecials

I was there on a recent Wednesday and didn’t even realize that personal pies are half off with the purchase of a cold on.   I felt like it was my lucky day. The air seemed fresher, people seemed nicer, and I felt like I could change the world.  Well maybe not that last part just yet.   But their cheese is just a fun pizza. No thrills, no gimmicks, no shenanigans.

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One of the major stand-outs of their pizza is how crunch their crust it.  It’s part of the reason I go and will keep coming back. I don’t know if it’s the magic from the dough, the way it’s rolled, or their oven, but I so look forward to that crispness.  It feels so good with each bite.  I take my time with it.

WharfPepperoni

I joined a group late to share a half-pepperoni and half mushroom pie with pals.   The photos will show a bit more of an impromptu experience.  The toppings are always fresh too.  And the mushroom bits were very tasty. That’s one of my favorite items on a pie and this pub only further enhances that.

WharfCrabPie

I was going to leave it at that but very recently I grabbed one of their signature pieces.   Here is their Lump Crab and Artichoke pie!  I got it to go but this was too good to not write about. You’ll notice it’s thinner than the other pizzas.  It was prepared differently.

The crab meat is the sauce and it was delicious.    The slices were thin and for this instance it worked perfectly.  It was like eating a crab dip pizza on a very thin crust.   Even though the crunchy dough experience was not as prevalent, I found it just as pleasurable to eat.

WharfCrabSlice

One thing I feel good about is I like this bar even more now.   Just me writing about this experience has made me appreciate it that much more.   There’s been times I drive by the Ann Street spot and take it for granted.  For many folks driving into the neighborhood it’s the first bar they see.   I’ll make more of an effort to walk in more and not just park myself in the art of all the action.  The fact that it’s just off the beaten path adds to their charm.  I’ll see ya there!

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More Fells Fun is coming.

Best,

Ideen

New Sensation

Italian Sensation

Happy Opening Day in Baltimore.  For many this feels like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other festive days, all rolled into one. Life is good.  Everyone is happy and feeling like a million bucks.  As we should.   Now in keeping with the tradition of today, I did go local on today’s review.

My pizza journey this week led me to Italian Sensation in Fallston.   I go through a running list of places I want to check out and listen to suggestions from my fellow pals.  But, the funny thing here is I had no idea they had a local creation, until perusing their menu.  You could call it coincidence, happenstance, or fate.    The inspiration and stories find us.  I was to go about this pizzeria like any other.  And of course with different analysis.  But serendipity finds me again.  Of all days to write about their spot, of course it had to be today.  And I’m glad.

Have I stretched this out long enough?

Baltimore

The Baltimore, pictured above, looks so beautiful doesn’t it?  With sauteed shrimp and crab meat, it’s a locals dream.   The olive oil, garlic, and mozzarella are a good complement to this pizza pie.  Now I say good.  In my opinion, it’s not amazing.  I didn’t have any expectations going on, and I wasn’t disappointed nor was I blown away.  The shrimp is incredible.   I could pick those off and eat those myself.  Actually, a few times I did.   Something about the crab meat didn’t entirely work for me. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it on my slice?  If this were just loaded with shrimp, I would be heaping for praise.   The pizza otherwise tastes pretty good.  If you take off all the toppings, it’s essentially a white pizza, without the ricotta. And it tastes alright.   The crust is magnificent though.  It’s just a little crunchy, but mainly soft and chewy that it ranks up their with the best of them.  And I love when the cheese crunches up near the end of the crust, and becomes one with the pie.  Lovely. I’d say it’s a good pizza, but not a great one overall.  It’s maybe a case of the whole not equaling the sum of it’s parts.

TheCheeseStandsAlone

I also ordered a cheese, as a nice dichotomy to the Baltimore.  And in the back of my mind, I thought it might play second fiddle.  How wrong I was.  This was stupendous.  It’s just as scrumptious and savory as it looks.  I don’t know if the cheese swirled while I was bringing it home, or it was made that way.  But this is almost too beautiful to eat!  But it was enjoyed and appreciated.   And again, the dough is a stand out here.  Magnificent.

Togetherness

Paired together, they look good.  For more of the wine that’s hiding back there, click here.

I haven’t been to Italian Sensation often, but I’ve usually been happy.  I’ve had several of their slices, and always enjoyed them.

locations!woo!

The staff was also very friendly and welcoming.  The Fallston location has a nice aura about it.  The outside looks so charming.  I’ve also been to the Bel Air spot and got the same vibe.  A review of that place is forthcoming. And a drive up to Perry Hall is going to happen as well.

But for now, enjoy opening day, enjoy one another, and enjoy yourselves.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen