A dear friend of mine had asked me I had written about Grotto Pizza, and specifically about the Columbia, MD location. I never asked him why that one specifically? I could envision him saying, ‘well why not?’ That’s exactly right. And this is in celebration of National Pizza Month.
I never explained to my pal that back in May of 2015, I was pretty harsh on the place. But this was the Dewey Beach location. We’re talking Memorial Day Weekend, loads of people, lines for food and drinks everywhere, and a likely rush for the way anything is prepared. I don’t often read my old posts but I can imagine I said something similar but still being really hard on their pizza.
I’m not usually one to be critical. I discuss a place on how it presents or how I feel it tries to present itself. It’s all in the intention. If a place carries some weight and gives off the aura and energy that their pizza, their ambiance, their energy, and their everything is larger than life, then I’ll look at them in a different light than a more casual pizza place. And if it thinks it’s a little too cool for school or a bit ostentatious, then I will factor that in.
Fortunately, Grotto carries itself in a quite laid back fashion. Even as this chain grows into a full service bar and restaurant, with locations growing from the Maryland and Delaware beaches slowly into the DC area, it still maintains a welcoming and folksy vibe that I believe they’ve been presenting for the 57 years it’s been open. Yes since 1960! Math is fun!
While I don’t do many repeats, I feel this was necessary. And I love thoughtful requests and I love a good redux.
I will say that the Columbia location is among the many spots where there is new development, a new era in living (which is happening in many places), and a revival of sorts. Whether that’s good or bad is all relative and all on how you think communities should look.
But in the end it’s still always about the pizza, and then some of those other details.
I came at a quieter time, before the lunch rush. So I had the full and undivided of the kind folks behind the counter. Yes they were so kind.
You have an easy to use to-go board for ordering, if you don’t feel like sitting at a bar or table. Before I departed the tables were starting to fill, but I digress.
As an homage to my first recap, everything was to go, and of course I ordered a cheese and then a pepperoni slice. As a bonus, and just to see how another pie tastes, I went with the Buffalo Chicken.
The cheese and pepperoni were much better this time. I love that the pepperoni is buried under the cheese. And the way the cheese is layered on top, in a charming and well thought out pattern is always a joy to see.
No, these are not to be the best pizzas of all time. They’re fun. The crust is a standard thin crust. These are good slices for on the go and they do the job. At around $6-$7 for two slices and a soda, that’s a solid deal.
I can’t quite say the same about the Buffalo Chicken. My main issue is the price. At $18 for a medium, which presents itself more like a small, it’s a little pricier than I feel it should.
The sauce, chicken, cheese, and crust were fine but nothing special. It’s a solid pizza, but not at the price.
You can see by the menu, that they have a plethora of pies, that you see in many pizzerias, with a few of their own creative takes thrown in…
…this is why I think another visit before the year is over is necessary. So I’m thinking by the holidays, and I have a specific location in mind.
If you’re a fan of Grotto, my opinion is not going to sway you one way or another. People love the tradition and history behind the place. I love tradition. I love sentimentality. It’s a place many of our parents and grandparents took us during Summer outings to the beach. And now that it’s in a neighborhood or town near you, new traditions, homages, and memories can be made.
I look forward to creating another memory later this year.
For more on Grotto, here is their menu, locations, contact info, and their history.
Thank you so much. Happy National Pizza Month. And peace be with you…