Happy Feta Fridee!

BuonAppetitoSlices2

Any time I go a bit out of the area, I’m going to seek out a pizzeria.  No matter how fancy or simple it might be, it’s good to leave home (that’s a relative term) and get to trying new pizzas and having new experiences somewhere else, even if it’s only an hour or so away.

So last Sunday I had the opportunity to be in Chantilly, VA.  I’ve mentioned before that I have ties to the area, so any opportunity to be in or around the vicinity makes me happy and feels like home (see) and feels so real to me.

Chantilly like most of Fairfax County, like most of Northern Virginia, and like many flourishing suburbs in the Mid-Atlantic, and then around the country, is loaded with neighborhoods with fancy houses, pricey houses, lots of trees, a good mixture of people, and lots of peace.  Well hopefully lots of peace.

With that also comes lots of chain restaurants, stores you see everywhere else, and entities that might be deemed too safe the the rest of the world.  Sometimes that’s just what people want, and I don’t see a right or wrong to that.

As I leave one of the these gorgeous neighborhoods, I do a quick search for pizza in the area.  There’s always pizza nearby, you have to believe and trust the universe on this one.

BuonAppetito

And thankfully Buon Appetito’s was minutes up the road waiting for me, and waiting for my patronage.  Well I’d like to believe that.

There’s a lot of offices nearby so I had an idea of how the whole vicinity would look, and it was what I was expected.  And that’s not the most complimentary of well, compliments.

The shopping complex I entered is as bland and generic as it gets.  It’s loaded with stores I’d never want to set foot in, unless I’d really have to, and even that is a stretch.  I as hoping the pizzeria would be an oasis of hope within all the box stores that bookend (and elsewhere) dominate the place.

Fortunately, that would be a yes.

The owner is originally from Naples, so that lends to credibility and authenticity that you’re not going to get everywhere.

The inside is massive, it’s spacious, yet it’s so welcoming.

And I had this idea in my head that I was going to discover a different kind of slice.  I asked politely, and I received.

BuonAppetitoCheese

The cheese slice was reasonably good, but nowhere near the best I’ve ever had.  It’s a solid slice with good cheese and the sauce is what didn’t wow me as I’ve grown accustomed to.  The thin crust was fantastic.  If it’s a simple cheese pizza you’re seeking this will do the job and then some.   Many will love it, and do.

BuonAppetitoFeta

But here comes the slice that’ll keep me coming back.  The white pizza with spinach, and feta cheese cubes planted on top, is what pizza is all about.  Lately I’ve had some white slices that have disappointed.  As simple as it is to make it can also be botched and lose the taste, or either become too cheesy and too oily, or both.  This succeeds on all levels, the cheese, the crust, the spinach, and that feta oh my goodness. I write this in the morning and I’m craving one right now.  It’s absolutely off the charts stunning.

BuonAppetitoSlices

The bonus is that both slices came to under $5.  Yes you read that right.   For that and the feta, and likely so much other goodness, I highly recommend a visit to one of their two locations (Chantilly and Dulles), and I believe you’ll be dazzled as well.

For those who are local, you can order online.  For Chantilly click here, and for Dulles, here you go pal.

BuonAppetitoMenu

Here’s their menu and catering info, and their awesome story.

If I’m back (and I will be), I’d like to to this again.   This was fun.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

Still Plenty of Good

BronxSlices2

For those friends and other peoples that have lived or spent time in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, right outside of Washington, DC, you’ve seen change right before your very eyes.

Whether those changes are for the better is probably not even up for debate.  That may sound defeatist and helpless but in the past 10+ years this neighborhood is hardly recognizable compared to how it used to be.  This is an overly sentimental person viewpoint which is what I’ve always tended to have.   I’m not sure what the rush was but it’s happening all over and the best we can do is either embrace it; seek out the local, the character, and the older style businesses, or move somewhere else.

Well I never lived here, but I did hang out here quite a bit.  I never fully felt like I belonged here but I appreciated (and still do) my friends who live in and around the area.  And can still appreciate the gems that still exist, when I visit.  And there are gems. As I write this there’s more than I realize within in all the chains, the sameness of the bars and restaurants, and the box stores.

There’s still plenty of good in a place where the good seems to be vanishing.

BronxFront

This brings me to Bronx Pizza & Subs that’s smacked right in the heart of everything, where heart might not always be in the right place.  With plenty of restaurants (many new, many have been entrenched before massive changes) in the vicinity, maybe you just want a slice, something quick to eat, and something you don’t have to think about.

Bronx Pizza would be your place.  I was in the area right after most people had lunch, so the wait time was even shorter and there was plenty of room to sit.  But I just wanted a couple of slices to go as I had some exploring and adventures to partake in throughout the day.  But this isn’t about me, it’s about the pizza. Well it’s about me too haha.

BronxMenus

I ordered a cheese (Bronx Pizza) and a chicken carbonara, which they call the Tremont Avenue Chicken Carbonara. Both slices and a soda came out to about $7.  For the location you can’t complain about that.

BronxCheese

But I was a bit surprised as the size of my slices.  I saw others on the counter for both pies that looked larger. Maybe that’s the luck of the draw and those are the breaks. However, quality is what’s paramount and I think something was off.

The cheese just tasted like a cheese pizza.  There was a spark, some inspiration, and a taste that was lacking,   I just didn’t feel anything from the cheese, the sauce, and the crust.  It was good enough to finish.  Actually no, I think I saved it for later and I don’t know what happened.

BronxChicken

Same goes for the chicken carbonara.  I just didn’t feel that wow I want to feel from a slice, or anything that I eat.  Maybe I was expecting too much.

There’s a couple things I find surprising to me.  I didn’t realize they’ve been open for almost a decade.  Have I been here before and not realized?   They’re open late night, which for the location is a pure money maker.  When the bars pour out I’m assuming many folks walk in for the their late night cravings.

BronxSlices

What this also says is I don’t hang out enough here, and I’m not sure what I’m missing if anything.   It also tells me that if I were to have their pizza again, I would once again want it to be during the day.  I’ve rarely written about late night eats because unless a pizzeria is known exclusively for their after hours slices, I don’t think that’s the correct judge of a places’ character.

Even though these slices were not my favorite, I would give it another go, because I’m all about supporting local business, and local is the way to go.

BronxBanner

For those in the area or are going to be, here is Bronx Pizza’s Menu, their story, and their contact information and hours.

Unless things change I think this adventure will continue footsteps away at another Arlington/Clarendon pizzeria.

Thanks so much and Happy 4th.

Ideen

Lovely Lena

LenasPizza3

Any chance I get back to Alexandria, VA, I’m all about it.   I live closer to Baltimore now.  And even though Alexandria is 90 minutes away it still feels like a road trip or vacation.

I was born here.  It’s not something I always bring up to the world or make it a focal point of conversation.   None of us have any control over where we’re born.  It’s just one of those things that happens, literally.   But even though I didn’t grow up here, it’s something I’m happy here and believe there’s a reason it happened.

LenasSign

More of those reasons will be presented to me over time and when the time is right.   One was made available to me earlier this week with a visit to Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza & Tap.

Now this isn’t in Old Town like my one previous pizza dining experience around Christmas (link can be found here), but the location, on the outskirts of Old Town, near had a charm and aura all its own.

Braddock Road may not sound glamorous but the area where this new pizza restaurant sits still feels has the older feeling of Northern Virginia houses built decades ago, and while more development is coming, the neighborhoods nearby look like they won’t be going anywhere for a while.

LenasPatio

Why do I mention this? Because on first glimpse the newness of the building that houses Lena’s may look like the sign of the times.   More things starting to look the same and a lessening of the character of what made these small towns so charming in the first place.  Lena’s is part of a bigger restaurant group called Alexandria Restaurant Partners that extends outside the state.

LenasFront

Now just because a restaurant is a part of a growing chain or restaurant conglomerate doesn’t mean I will alter my opinion.  My goal is always to support local business and give all the love to mom and pops, independents, and stand alone pizzerias, restaurants, and similar establishments.    With that being said, how was the pizza?

LenasPizza

Well there was more than pizza.  I want to first give a huge thanks to my server, Francesca, who was absolutely first class in every sense of the word.   She was helpful with all aspects of my meal.    I almost ordered a glass of wine or a similar libation, but this was not the day for that.

 

LenasCider2

I usually just have water with my meal.  But what a pleasant surprise to hear that they had fresh and hot apple cider on tap.  I mean, how often is this available in a restaurant?  And it’s Spring.  Is this the season for it?  I said the heck with it.  I want some hot apple cider.  It was presented to me with a cinnamon stick and all around good vibes.  It was delicious.  I already liked where this was going.

LenasCider

Now Francesca had to steer me right when it comes to a pie.  I was presented the option of getting a half and half as long as the sauces were the same.

LenasMenu

LenasPizza2

She recommended the Diavola and the Meatball.  The latter is made in-house and thinly sliced to look appropriate on the pizza.  The former is somewhat of an anomaly for me.  First of all, I love kale and it’s one of those en vogue vegetables that we’re going to hear about till the end times.   I’ve had it on pizza before and it just didn’t work for me.  This time it did.  But first…

The meatball was just kind of standard.  It was just kind of there.  It wasn’t that it was bad.  It was just a lot less than what I was expecting.    The ricotta cheese was fine but I really didn’t get a lot of flavor from this pizza at all.   But with the both, the pizza crust was cooked perfectly.   I like a good wood-fired dough.

LenasSlice2

The Diavola was tremendous.   Like last week, honey on a pizza is a tricky thing.  But when it works it really works.  And that salami was absolutely terrific.  I had to sneak a couple of pieces of it on its lonesome just to see how good it truly tasted.  And it was wonderful.   Yet with all that goodness, the kale really was the stand-out.  And they really piled it on to perfection.

I’m a big fan of kale and now an even bigger fan of kale on pizza.  Delicious.

And just when I thought it was over, I was convinced to order their house made donuts to go. By the way, this pizza lasted me 2 1/2 meals.  It was an individual pizza but quite filling.

LenasDonuts

I was told the donuts would be good for a day or two, so I savored them.  I did sneak in a couple of bites before and they tasted like the holidays.  Just like that cider.  This entire meal was all over the place.  Kind of like this experience.   I’m getting a kick out of this by the way.

I’ll be back.  I just don’t know when.  This was an even more endearing experience than I remember.  And to be all nostalgic just a few days post-meal is the point of all this.  It’s corny, overly sentimental, and happy-go-lucky but that’s the point of all this.

LenasBar

For more about Lena’s, read this.  This is interesting.   And here is their contact information.

LenasToGo

I love Alexandria and I really enjoyed this visit.  This makes it two for two.

This is what I hope most of my visits during this Spring and beyond will be like.  I like the unpredictability of the locations, pizzas, other foods, drinks, service, and all the other details. They’re all significant.

I can’t wait to see where I end up next.

 

Ideen

 

& A Lot More

pizza2

I had been greatly anticipating the opportunity to write about &pizza, but only if the circumstance and proper location presented itself.   I know not every week can nor should be an existential piece on why we love pizza, and why it brings such joy to our lives.  But it certainly makes for a fun discussion, and more importantly, what’s the point if there can’t be enjoyment.

pizzasign

That’s why I find great satisfaction in finally finding the proper instance to talk about my experience with this charming and fascinating pizza paradise.

This is not my first rodeo with &pizza.  But previous visits didn’t feel right to elaborate on. I’m hoping that makes sense.  There should be a little story behind the neighborhood, the time of day it was, the mood,  the ambiance, and all those other quirks that can make the pizza experience all the more memorable, or in some instances forgettable but fun to make fun of.

pizzafront

My visit to the historic Barracks Row location, checks off many of those boxes and brought a little something more to the table than I expected.  How I ended up here is just one of those meant to be scenarios.  But in my traditional curious sense, I needed to see what was nearby, in terms of shopping, food, and of course the za.

It’s funny because I used to spend a lot more time here in what feels like a lifetime ago, but I didn’t recognize it at first.  Some of the bars and restaurants look the same but other than that, like most major cities, more stuff and more stuff is has come and is coming. That means a few more chains but hopefully more local business as well.

&pizza is a local chain that is only going to continue to grow.  With stores in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, and soon to be in New York, you know it’s only going to get bigger.

But it originated in DC first (here is my history of DC area pizza), so that’s where I’m going to begin.

What I loved instantly about this location is the warm welcome from the two team members working the counter.  It was a little bit after lunch hours so maybe the chaos of people had subsided, and they could be a bit more personable, but this was from the heart. And I sensed these folks would be like this no matter how many customers were waiting and how high the stress level may be.

That kind of kindness is usually going to make your food taste better.  I truly believe that. There was a personable aura that is always appreciated.  And this is in Washington, DC, which isn’t the most welcoming and people tend to be in a rush around-the-clock.

pizzamenu

I wanted it simple, so I went with the Gnarlic.  Yes that’s exactly how it’s spelled.  I wanted a white pizza with some veggies and on whole grain bread.  Yes you have your choice of white or ancient grains.  I wanted to pretend I was eating healthier.  Maybe I was.

pizzagnarlic

This is over-the-counter style, so everything is made and heated in front of you, and ready to serve in five minutes.  Because I was one of the few people at the time, that wait time felt even shorter.  Maybe time just stood still.

pizzadrinks

While I was waiting, I noticed the craft soda machine.  I guess I never noticed that before.  I usually never order a beverage in a quick place like this.  It’s usually water.  But for the sake of the experience and trying something new I went with the Pear + Fig Elixir.  This was something special.  I highly recommend this.  What’s funny is while I thought it tasted amazing, I had forgotten that it was pear and fig that it was tasting.  It was a fruit punch that was a punch to the heart and soul, but in a good way.

pizzadrink3

So my pizza came out and boy does that look beautiful right?

pizza1

This was a thankfully light and crisp pizza.  Like I stated I’d been here before but never found it memorable, until now.   The garlic and onions were the stand outs.   It was just like eating a simple flat bread or pita bread like I’ve done many times before.  I wasn’t in the mood for thick and doughy crust this time.  And since the weather was nicer this encouraged a lighter fare.   What did surprise me is I didn’t taste much of the pesto that was drizzled on beautifully.   Maybe it was meant to taste light?  But that part wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.

pizza3

The cheese also tasted lighter, which I definitely welcomed.  I just adored the shape of this pizza pie.  I adored so much of it.  And the charm and the ambiance of the place certainly helped.  As did seemingly having the whole place to myself for a bit.

The sun was shining, house music was playing inside, and I had a beautiful view of DC and a mix of locals and tourists strolling along enjoying the view.  Is this DC or another dimension?  How about a little bit of both.  And &pizza is a big a part of that.  There’s a feel good vibe that should be the norm but still might be the exception.

pizzabox

This is only the beginning of my recaps of their pizzas.  They have a bunch of locations and a bunch of pizzas to try.  When I go them again will be up to the universe and some complete random series of events.  Or I just walk into a location, haha.  I feel like this set the bar very high and will be hard to match.  I welcome the challenge.

Their website is easy to navigate, for all your informational needs.   More scrolling and less clicking is m.o. here.

Stay gnarlic, oops I mean gnarley, or something.

 

Ideen

 

Word To The Wiseguy

wiseguychickenranch1

I had never heard of Wiseguy NY Pizza until just a few weeks ago.

My first experience at the Arlington location was magical and I didn’t know until after I left.  I’ll save that for the end.  I had all the intention of getting around to recapping this experience by the end of November, but as all things nothing goes as planned nor should it. Especially when blogging and having fun.   A chance visit to the Washington, DC location within the past few days brought about a second helping of some dynamite slices. And the experience was something else.  It was something different. It’s DC. I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Speaking of which,  I’ll start backwards like they do in some cinemas.

wiseguydc

It was lunchtime and the line was 20 people deep.  It moved fast and fortunately I wasn’t in any rush, nor should I truly ever be.  But I’ve been the guy who’s paced back and forth and obsessively stared at their phone, hoping I still had time to get my food and rush back to work, without management being upset.  That’s the sense I got from most of the folks around me.  It wasn’t laid back but would you expect anything less?   The guy behind me especially seemed very programmed that if I hadn’t ordered my slices right away, he may have interjected and started that sighing and whining you see in the cinemas.   See I knew I mentioned cinemas earlier for a reason.

wiseguyslices2

That’s the end of the negative.  I ordered the Backyard Veggie and a Chicken Ranch.

wiseguybackyardpizza2

I said that was the end of the negative but I’ll quickly state the veggie was the one slice I had a hard time eating.  Of course I did but it was a bit too spicy for me.  Ingredients for all slices are shown above. The chili peppers were incredibly aggressive.  And I’m not one to complain about spices. In general I’d like it hot.But it didn’t work here.  And I feel the tomato sauce does not complement any of these vegetables.  It felt like too much and everything got lost.  The olives were good though.  I picked those off.  This is also where the crust seemed not to matter.  And the NY Style thin crust was wonderful on the next three (wait, hold that thought) slices across the board.

wiseguychickenranch1

The Chicken Ranch Melt was divine.  It more than made up for the previous slice. The crispy chicken slices and that house made ranch sauce were perfect to eat enough by their lonesome but wait, there’s more.  Throw that on top of a white pizza, and we have a winner.  But the true standout is the parsley. It added something that is too good for words.  If you love parsley you know what I’m talking about. But seriously, this made the slice when it was already made.

wiseguyslices3

I wish I could end the post here and split this into two parts.

Actually that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Arlington, next week.  Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.

Here is more about this less-than-five year old pizzeria, their menu, and online ordering for those local.

wiseguydcdisplay

More next week,

Ideen

 

Hailing From New Haven

petesnewhaven

I’ve decided to go in a different direction this week.  Well not entirely.  I was all set to do another one from Philly.  That will happen at a later date.  I don’t have the entire word at my disposal yet.  But I do have significant parts of the northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

petesstorefront

This weeks brings be back to our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.  And just when I had a place in DC lined up.  I changed my mind this week after an unplanned visit to Pete’s New Haven Style APizza.   And I was pleasantly surprised about so much.

The Village of Friendship Heights neighborhood where this Pete’s is located is right on the DC, Maryland line.  And this is one of the the more cozy parts of the city.  I like it.  In a town of transplants and what-do-you-do’s, this is one of the more folksy and approachable versions of DC you’re going to find.  Is this even real?  Maybe I’m being delusional but it’s fun to just believe.  Even if it’s a fallacy.  Well onto the pizza.

What is New Haven Style exactly?  Well I’m glad you asked.  I just put added the link two sentences ago, and right here for your edification.

If you had asked me two years ago what I  thought about this style, I would say no thanks. I would say it’s not real pizza, it’s a cheap imitation of the real thing.  How ignorant was I?

petespies

I had all the expectations of ordering a pie but when I walked in I was pleased to see a display of slices at the counter, and at affordable prices.  This is DC we’re talking about where things can be exorbitant.  I believe both slices totaled only $6.  Fantastic.

petesmenu

For the sake of my first visit here it was only right to go with the New Haven and the plain cheese, which didn’t have an alluring name.   Here’s the menu with all the captivating titles.

petesboth

The New Haven is something that will need time to grow on me.  I love white pizza but clams is an acquired taste.  I love seafood and I love it on my pie.  And even though I’m a still a newbie to these kinds of pies, it was still a surprise when I got a double shot of crunch with from the thin crust and the clams themselves.  Again, to folks who are used to this kind of pie, this is the norm.  For folks used to traditional thicker crusts or New York Style this is an atypical apizza.  Ha I can be funny.    I was so deep into the clams that I hardly noticed the garlic, olive oil, or anything else.

Speaking of that crust, that has grown on me.  I like all kinds and for the many who want less carbs and less bloat, these slices will benefit a lot of us.

petesplain

With that being said the tomato sauce on the plain is still something I can’t completely get into.  I know folks that love it and many of my friends from the metro area love this place. I see why.  There is an appeal.  It’s non traditional for what many of us are used to.  I am being careful as you can see, how I approach what might be traditional may be out of the norm for others.

The positive energy I got from the shoppe make so much sense.  Their community based efforts can be found here.  And here’s a little more.

Locations and contact info can be found here.

petestogo

Speaking of locations, whether I’m back at Friendship Heights or another one will likely be at random.  There’s so many more slices and pies to try that this must be revisited.  I know I’ve said that before about other pizzerias.  I hope I can get back to this one at a reasonable time frame.

I had a good feeling before I even walked in and an even a better one after writing about it.

More to come,

Ideen