Family Time…

MammaLuciaSlices

The title might give it away?  Well, it’s about mamma, but it’s also about papa, family, and all the simple things in life you should appreciate as much as possible.   Don’t take the good stuff in life for granted.   Easy said, easy done,  but I know myself, and sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses, or the pizza.

Almost two years ago today, I wrote about Mamma Lucia, and their Rockville Pike location.

I want to get the pizza part out of the way first.

I’ll just say that the plain White Pizza from today was one of the best slice I’ve had in some time.    The rest were solid but nothing to write home about.  The cheese and the sauce on the meat lovers, and the one veggie itself were missing something.  But today it didn’t matter.   I just wanted to get a little pizza review in before I completely went off the rails here.  The New York Style crusts were all good to great on there.  But that White Pizza, oh my goodness.  Something was in the air today.

MammaLucia

Something today (as of this writing) has brought me back many times over this week and over the past several months, that I was due to stop into their Fallsgrove location.   But first, let me get all the particulars out of the way…. For more on Mamma Lucia, here is their menu, their list of locations, and contact information.

MammaLuciaMenu

Now that’s out of the way, I want to talk about sentimentality.   Family is everything.  That meaning your mom, dad, brother, sister, cousins, etc.. etc…  But family is also dear friends who started out as acquaintances but evolved into people you would do anything for, and they would do anything for you, without hesitation.  That’s a special bond,  that’s spiritual beings, kindred spirits, and anything else that seems fitting, which is also family.

MammaLuciaArt

Family can also be the places you go, whether it be a restaurant, a bar, a social club, or the comfort of your own home.  My cat is family, I’m lucky to have many good friends, and a few that I consider family.

Yet you’re also born into family.  That’s your blood, and that’s the family that’s your meant to have initially.  The universe presented that to you, for you, and with you.  Where I’m going with all this is, I recall fondly the many meals I’ve shared with family over the years, many being at this Mamma Lucia location. This goes back nearly 20 years.   I know, time flies.

I’m grateful to have grown up near where I did.  As much as it’s cold at times, congested, and much more populated then 30 years ago, I look forward to going home and seeing family.

It’s not always about the food, but the company.   And that company, is your friends, but growing up, it was always family too.

The pizza here just brings back instances of when I was younger.  It’s not one or two specific incidents or events, but an accumulation of so many things.   Why this place stands out, I can’t tell you.  But driving around the area today really hit a nerve with me.  I’m not as young as I once was.   That’s part of it.  But it’s one of those things, where the more things change, the more they will continue to change.  Some remains constant, but something has evolved, for better or worse.  As have I, as have all of us.  My family dynamic has changed.  And it will continue too, for all of us.

So when I walked in today to other some slices like I always did, I just had this moment of clarity.  Not so much a new lease on life, because that time is coming (if I’m not already going through it), but something else.  It’s something I can’t put into words just yet.

Today it’s not about the pizza. It’s about everything else.

Their might be a follow-up in some way, shape, or form.   This is one of those existential moments that will resolve itself, because that’s how the universe works, for all of us.  It’s looking out for us.   It’ll be ok.   I have to tell myself that.  But…

It’ll be ok.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Elevate Me To The Sky

UrbanPieTruffleAlfredoPizzaReady2

I’ll be the first to say it, but I’m really not.  I don’t care for winter.  I don’t get the excitement that others do, and I don’t think I ever will.   I respect everyone’s view and feeling about it, but it’s not for me.

Maybe it’s past memories, when I was a kid and maybe even more recent than that, of feeling trapped for upwards of a week, with little resources, no food, no one really around to hang out, and nothing but my thoughts.   And that can make someone stir crazy and a bit lonely.

So we had our first significant storm of the season recently, and those fears returned.  There’s trauma from the past rearing its ugly head, and those feelings of dread that might be warranted, might be justified, but are they really justified.   Sometimes you (I) just need to get out of your head and just appreciate things for what they are, what is, and what is being.  It’s all temporary anyways.

Just as this day (and it was only a day) of having nowhere to go, which in many ways can be a good thing.  I don’t need to worry about work, doing anything, and anything is the operative word.  I did absolutely nothing except relax, have a little food, enjoy some vino, and lay in my bed with my cat.   Saying it was needed is incorrect because ‘need’ implies lack.  So I’ll just say it was welcome, calming, and refreshing.

Where is all this going?  Well I did somewhat fall prey to the chaos of having to buy a few groceries in case the weather turned worse than expected (it didn’t come close), which lends itself to the perfect excuse to buy frozen pizza, which is something I would like to do more of for this blog.

So with that I present to you two from Urban Pie Pizza Co.

I had seen Urban Pie promoting and handing out free samples of their pies (sometimes whole pizzas) back in 2015 but it didn’t register and for whatever reason I didn’t let it resonate.  Well that would make sense right?

I love how their pizzas are inspired by various neighborhoods.  That’s different and that’s a draw alright.

Because of that this will have to be revisited again sooner than later, but for now the two that were available (bear in mind the pizza aisle was somewhat decimated to the pending weather situations) were the Truffle Alfredo with Shiitake and Crimini Mushrooms (North End neighborhood, don’t ask me where that is but I should know…) and the Pesto with Fresh Mozzarella out of Little Italy (yeah I know…)

Can you guess which one I liked and actually preferred much more?

I’ll go with the Truffle Alfredo first.  Actually I’ll explain that the crust on both is fantastic and was one of the true highlights of both pies.   However, something was missing with the Truffle Alfredo.

UrbanPieTruffleAlfredoPizza

I wanted more flavor and it just didn’t seem to come through.  And I wanted to make sure I heated this thing properly, and even if the timing wasn’t perfect (I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here but you’ll see the flip side on the next pie) I still expected some tremendous flavors, but it fell short.

In a way that might be good.  Truffle can be too rich for some.  I know it’s been too powerful for me to take on certain occasions, but I didn’t get much of anything.  And same goes for the cheeses, onions, and mushrooms.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

On the contrary, the Pesto Fresh Mozzarella is an absolute winner.

UrbanPiePestoMozzarellaPizza

And you see it may looked overcooked in some parts, and maybe the tomatoes looked under cooked, but it didn’t matter.  The pesto and mozzarella are gold and golden, like the crust.  Haha that was meant to be funny.   But regardless,  I got more enjoyment out of this slice than the previous pie of course.

UrbanPiePestoMozzarellaPizzaReady

The way the mozzarella goes from pre heated to becoming one with the pizza is a joy to see.   And I’m so glad the taste matches the visual.   Terrific stuff.  This is art.

And if it wasn’t for being ‘forced’ inside during a snowstorm, who knows when I would have gotten around to trying Urban Pie.  That sounds like a slight but believe me its not.  It was meant to happen this week.  And it will be meant to happen again soon.  When it’s supposed to.

To learn more about Urban Pie, here is their storycontact info, and the link to find their pizzas near you is at the upper right hand corner of their page.

This was rejuvenating and I look forward to Spring, and what pies cross my path and what finds me, or maybe I’ll find some myself.  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

 

 

 

 

…Your Favorite Pizza Shop

LittleItalyPizzas

How many different ways can you articulate your fondness and affinity for a town, for it’s spectacular views, small town vibe, and yes the inspirational pizza?

Annapolis has my heart.  Whether I have theirs is a topic for another lifetime, but even the missteps tend to be charming.  And the charm tends to be all that more charming. Yes I’m romantic.   I just love this place so much.  And part of this reason is I have no reason. It doesn’t necessarily get me and I don’t necessarily get it.  Everything about it just feels right.  I feel one with so much when I’m here.  It’s those proverbial goosebumps.

We’ve arrived at Memorial Day Weekend.  How’d that happen?

As I did two years ago, this kind of a homage and congratulations to the Naval Academy and all the commencement activities that will be taking place this weekend.

Here is my pizza history with my favorite state capital.

LittleItalyAnnapolis

A little bit away from the commotion and situations in downtown is a little hole in the wall, Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

If I hadn’t done a little research after the fact I would think this place would have been here for decades and honoring the authenticity of Italian Style, New York Style, and any other old world style pizza and restaurant for that matter.

I was asking around to friend who do live, have lived or spent frequent time in the area to see if anyone has eaten there.  I either got no response or pals saying they’d never heard of it.

Then I find out this place has been open less than a year.   I was all set to get excited and talk about how this is a diamond or a gem within many others.  My preconceived notions and presumptions are not going to sway me towards the negative.  Not yet at least.

If the pizza’s good then we’re onto something.

It was once a Peruvian Chicken restaurant that converted into this current restaurant. Maybe it’s new owners and maybe it’s some of the same folks that felt like a rebranding was necessary.  And there’s nothing right or wrong about that.  Local business is what I root for, is what many of us are rooting for to succeed because they’re still the heart and soul of so many things.    And there can never be soul.

With that said, the pizza was not exactly what I expected.  Maybe I was going to strike gold and find something not many others have.   Not quite.  It was good but it wasn’t life changing.  But the pleasant surprise was they had slices.  I was going in assuming I would get a small pie to go, but they have their pizza trays with a few choices and that made me happy.

LittleItalyPizzas4

I got three and because we feasted heavily on meat last week I figure I would dial it back and go with the cheese, the white, and the veggie.  And did they put on a lot of veggies.

LittleItalyPizzas3

Again, nothing wrong with them.  I just wanted more.  And I’m one of those people that doesn’t ask for a whole lot except in this instance I want my pizza to taste good.

LittleItalyVeggie

The crust was fine on all of them.  Since I don’t have much to say about the cheese or the sauce, I will say the vegetable slice with all of its overloaded vegetables was slightly charming and entertaining in a way.  Maybe I was just (and am) entertaining myself, but it was my favorite of the three.

I do wish I took a picture of the interior.  They had those red and white vinyl tablecloths you might have seen at a restaurant when you were a kid and might still see today.

That’s what made me think this place has been around for a while. I love the attention to detail.  It may not mean to much but I found it endearing in a way.  For that reason a lot it will make me come back.

The pizza may not have been great this time around but I’m all for giving it another chance.  I think this place has some great food to offer including their pizzas.

LittleItalyaPizzas5

Their menu, location, contact information, and story is all available on the main page.

If this works out I will be doing another Annapolis location next week or soon.  And one that’s close to Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

No this wasn’t my favorite pizza place as the title says but I got a kick of the to-go box. And I thought I saw them all…

LittleItalyPizzaBox

Have a blessed and safe holiday weekend,

Ideen

 

Highlandtown Strong

FilipposPie

This past Saturday, September 5th, 2005 was a day I made sure to mark down on my calendar.   I didn’t believe it ahead of time, but it was National Cheese Pizza Day.  Yes there is a day dedicated to one of the most enjoyable things to nosh on.

In honor of this historical fact I wanted to find a place that would be befitting of such a monumental day in history.  This also means there will be nothing artisanal, farm-to-table, or overly pretentious.

It’s about good old-fashioned cheese pizza that is no thrills but full of deliciousness!

Nearly a month prior I visited Filippo’s in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore.

If you had been going here before late last Summer, you saw the old Filippo’s.  It had a feeling of a very old and sketchy neighborhood bar and restaurant.  The times I had visited then felt so disorganized and disheveled that I actually found it refreshing to some of the more pretentious joints popping up all over the place.  Nevertheless, it still felt uneasy being in there that I never felt good about my purchases.  And they weren’t always up to par, food or drink.

Filippo'sStore

Transformation is a wonderful thing.  Nearly a year ago the restaurant and bar has been refurbished to the point of being unrecognizable.  And that’s meant as the highest compliment.   It’s a place locals and visitors from farther away can be proud to say they’ve frequented.

The pizza up until a year ago was mediocre-to-decent at best.  Again, what a little hard work, belief, and rejuvenation can do!

Of course a large cheese pizza was on the menu and that’s what was purchased.  I believe we got the 16″ for the price of $13.99, and it was well worth what the asking price was.

FilipposSlice

What a vision of beauty that is!  When I think of a very good pie that doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, this would be a strong example of that.

The crust was the right mix of crispy with just a little softness to make a perfect balance per slice.  The cheese tasted like a great mozzarella would.  And there’s always room to mention how awesome the cheese looks baked into the crust.  It’s done with precision. And the sauce was just right.  This makes this one of those quintessential pies that is worth seeking out for.

It’s not going to win any awards but maybe that isn’t their intent.  It’s just a delicious pie, in a thriving neighborhood, that deserves praise.

FilipposWithWine

I enjoyed my slice with a glass of wine and drizzled some parmesan cheese in for good measure.

For a pizza pie to commemorate on National Cheese Pizza Day, this is one I’m grateful to have tried.

I will add that the vibe and energy inside has increased ten-fold since they’ve redone the place. The bartenders have always been friendly and the outdoor seating has a cozy small-town feel going for it.

If there is a complaint, the pie took a while to come to us and it wasn’t too busy of a night.

They do have plenty of specials on drinks as well, more can be found here.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a review of a spot in Baltimore.  More is coming and some are going to be very familiar with the locals…

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen