Goody’s Is Exactly That

GoodysSlices

I promised after last week, that I would venture across the street.  And I did just that.

GoodysFront

Goody’s Pizza in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington has a strange, eerie, and yet familiar feeling about it.  And when I say eerie, I only mean it in a good way.  There’s just something going on here that reminds me of another place, another time, and maybe a past life.

This past life could be in this life, but it feels so homey, so approachable, and so inviting that it reminds me of places I used to go to in my childhood and I swear something beyond my existence on this planet.  I may be going on a limb but it felt like another dimension.

And once again, I say this all with love and the most sincerest of feelings.

And for all the times I’ve hung out in the neighborhood,  I never ate here. I’ve walked by how many number of times after a night or day out, and never set walked in.  Why?  I don’t know.  A place that looks so cozy from the outside is exactly what I want in my life.  I want more establishments, not just pizzerias, this genuine in my life.  They still exist.

I’m glad in this instance I didn’t have to look so hard.   Like I’ve said before, my first time was meant to be this time.   If not just for this blog, but for something I want to explain, but I can’t.  Maybe it will make sense later.

What does make sense is how tremendous these slices are.  I’m serious.  I’ve had New York Style in that said city, and even though we’re in Virginia, this is close to that.   I almost think they used the water from New York to make these pies.  It’s that great.  No these are not the best slices I’ve ever had nor did I expect them to be.   But just something hit me in a special place.

GoodysTable2

The interior is so quaint  that I just wanted to sit there and appreciate the moment.  I did for a little bit.  And I did the same outside.

GoodysPie

My decision on what to order was made simple.  The slices on display were cheese and pepperoni.   I got one of each and was more than excited to try them.

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The amount of cheese on each may look like a lot to some, but it was just perfect. It was chewy, gooey, and everything else that makes a cheese slice magnificent and breathtaking.  Yes I said breathtaking.   The pepperoni’s made me feel like a kid again. Whether they were the freshest or most hearty pepperoni’s I don’t care.  Both slices made me so happy.

GoodysCheese

But what made these pizzas so endearing was the dough.  It’s the epitome of comfort food.  And I got comfortable, full, and full of happiness.   That word artisanal gets thrown around too much to where it means nothing.  This to me is what you would call that overblown word I said two sentences ago.  If you had to call it something then you could also call it awesome.  The dough was soft in spots, crunch in others, and it made me so happy.

GoodysPepperoni2

This is my kind of style of pizza.  And sometimes it doesn’t need a city or a label to describe that style.  It’s just marvelous eating day or night.

I say day or night because they’re open for the late night crowd on the weekends as well. But I would put this pizza up against any of the greats in the area for a great daytime slice or pie.  I mean that.

It was so affordable too.   And for this area, affordable is always welcome.  I think I barely spent $6 on both.

Most important of all, the owners behind the counter could not have been nicer.  It wasn’t just what they said but it was how they carried themselves and how they said things.  They just seemed so sincere, so genuine, and so happy to be running a great business that looks like is doing well and is a bright spot in a sea of chain restaurants and bars that all start to look the same after a while.

Local business is what it’s always about and I’m honored to have supported this one.

GoodysTable

If you’re in the area I cannot talk about how great this place is.  Here is their menu,  here is more on the pizzeria itself, and contact information.

GoodysUSA

Everything about this was beautiful.  I can’t wait to see where the pizza journey takes me next.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

Detroit Medleys

8BallMotorCity

A chance meeting with a friend I haven’t seen in decades (yes I said decades), and one pizza place we were going to that was closed on a Monday, led us to our destiny.

8Ball

8 Ball Meatball in the historic Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore, is worth going out of you’re way for. Well if you live in Fells Point or a neighboring neighborhood (ha) you don’t have to venture too far.  But honestly at times it felt like I was in another universe. And based on this experience, this alternate universe is one I welcome on at least a semi-regular basis.

But first here is more about them, their menu, and contact info, and my previous pizzeria reviews of historic Fells Point.

My friend and I cut right to the case and saw two pies we wanted to order, based on the name alone.

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We ordered the Motor City and the 8Ball aka Meatball.  Our server was in agreement.

Before I continue I honestly heard (honestly I’ve never heard) of Detroit-style Pizza in passing.   But I didn’t know it was a a thing. And I didn’t know if would be something I would be a part of, and what a beautiful experience and first impression it would be.

The 8×10 square shaped pies are perfect for sharing.  It looks deceptive that one might be enough for one.  But with it’s thicker, yet not too heavy of a crust, similar to Chicago-style pizza, a couple of those slices might be enough.

Oh it was enough. But how beautiful these three pies were.  Did I say three? We only ordered two.  More on that in a bit…

8BallMotorCity2

8BallMotorCitySlice

The Motor City was my favorite.  Maybe because it was the first pie I tasted.  It just had everything perfect going for it.   The simple combination of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and pepperoni was perfection.  That pepperoni is something I’m still fully appreciating a few days after the fact.  The crust, the perfectly burnt and oily side of the crust is the reason why I write about this, and sometimes so specifically.  This was the pie.   And it’s one of my favorite pies ever.  Can someone send me some now? So good.

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8BallMeatballSlice

The 8 Ball Meatball was good but in honestly pales in comparison to the Motor City. Maybe we were expecting bigger pieces of meatball, but that’s a fault of expectations. The tiny meatballs were charming but maybe I didn’t get to taste enough?  The chives and parmesan were a nice touch yet this doesn’t compete with the Motor City.  That Motor City I tell you.

This is the part where the manager figured out I was a blogger and I had my friend who was a photographer.  The conversation got really good and really quickly.  This part easily couldn’t have happened but our stay became much more about the education, the experience, and all the nuances of this restaurant and the history of how they started serving Detroit-style Pizza.  Which has only been a few months by the way.

And I did mention a third pie right?

8BallBuffaloChicken

Brian, the manager, has proclaimed that he will put their Buffalo Chicken Pizza up against any in the city.  This is one he gave to us on the house. Talk about world class service. We didn’t expect it, didn’t ask for it, but everything was aligning properly.  We were supposed to be here on this night and no other (at least for now) and free is always more fun.

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The melange of Buffalo sauce, cheddar and mozzarella (which is always a beautiful cheese combination), red onion, blue cheese drizzle, and those tiny piece of buffalo chicken meatballs made for a real treat.   Those chicken meatballs really did it for me. This is a masterpiece and I’m not just saying this because Brian said so.  It’s really that awesome.

8BallBuffaloChickenSlice

And it was never messy.  It was all organized.  As my friend stated, all the pies were served clean and the pieces broke apart with no effort whatsoever.  It’s those little details that mean so much.

And I must say, as much as the Buffalo Chicken is fantastic, and it really truly is, it still is a slight notch below the Motor City to me.  I really think it might be the simplicity of the Motor City.

8BallMotorCitySlice2

After all this we also got to meet Paul, the head chef.  And even though it may have been a quieter evening he still took the time to talk about his history in the restaurant business throughout many cities he’s cooked.

He mentioned his training in learning how to cook Detroit-style at Buddy’s Pizza from the man himself.  How cool is that?  We would have never heard any of this if we didn’t come in.  I’m being a bit nostalgic over something a few days ago but encounters like this don’t happen enough, so I want to show my enthusiasm any way I can.

8BallTin

We also learned about the pizza being cooked in the blue steel pan.  Nothing glamorous. It’s just a simple steel pan.  I think some of the best work is done when using the most simple of contraptions but there’s a genuine soul and feeling behind the operation.  This is what we felt here.

Paul said that he uses garlic confit oil in the pan to cook his masterpieces.

What a masterpiece this pizza and this experience was.

As we kept talking a few other pies that were on the menu were shown to us and our mouths just kept watering.

At the moment I knew I had to come back.  I wanted to maybe try every pie and save this for one blog post.  But no,  this deserves another commentary.   How this will match or top this experience I don’t know.  That’s not what I should be striving for.  I should be striving for all the great pizza experiences possible.  And I will.  And I will.

This is one of those experiences that came together as organically as possible.  What we thought would be at the most 30-45 minutes turned into an upwards of a two hour experience.

I can only hope for not the same exact experience but everything coming together masterfully and harmoniously.

But for now, get to 8 Ball Meatball.  This pizza is incredible and off the charts.

Ideen

 

Do Go Back To Rockville

ModernPizza

Rockville, MD, like most of Montgomery County, and like most of the Washington, DC area (I could go further) has expanded to the point where congestion and overcrowded is just a a part of the norm.

I have plenty of family in the area, so I will always have a reason to go back.  And I’m so grateful for that.    There’s other places I like to eat and like to visit.  And once in a while I get nostalgic, but it’s not really like that anymore.

However, along with all my amazing family, and the few friends that are still in town or nearby, I now have another reason to come back and visit.

ModernSign

I had most likely never heard of Modern Market until yesterday.  I say most likely because maybe I’ve passed by the one in D.C. or Bethesda and didn’t even realize it.

With 29 locations, and growing, this will be one of the larger franchises I’ve ever reviewed since the inception of this blog.

Yesterday I was on Rockville Pike with what seemed like the rest of the world, and just wanted to find something new to eat.  It didn’t necessarily have to be pizza.  But at the Congressional Plaza shopping center, so much has evolved and new businesses have opened up.

ModernSeats

This is nowhere close to the landscape that I recall as a kid.  I’m not saying that’s good or bad.  It’s really just evolution and the world we live in now.  It’s more of a business and more higher end stores than ever before.  It caters to the clientele and the people that live and work in the area.

So what used to house something else (which I honestly don’t remember) is now the space for Modern Market.  And I’m happy to say I’m a fan and will be happy to go back.  That’s it everybody thank you.   Haha no…

When I first walked in I felt a stuffy vibe. I can’t lie about that.  Rockville and the surrounding area takes pride in this and many feel it’s a term of endearment, or just a part of how it’s supposed to be.  That’s not something I identify with and never will.   It’s a huge reason why I don’t come back here as much as I probably should.  But I digress…

Those feelings alleviated quickly because they’re just feelings.  They’re temporary.  And I can live in my own universe at any time, and all the time, and not worry about anyone else. But I’ll still have to pay DC area prices and that’s a whole different conversation.

Spring is here and the intent is always to eat healthier.  Actually that’s always the intent.

ModernMenu

As a first timer, I wanted a half and half type of meal, which would include pizza.  Here is their menu, which is not as intimidating as I originally thought.

ModernPizzas

ModernPizza

Whenever there is a chance to get a seasonal or limited time pizza, I’m all about it.   The seasonal pizza is the Hot Honey and it’s fabulous.    Served on stone-ground wheat flour bread it has ingredients I don’t pretend to all know but there’s no pretending on the taste. It’s fantastic and kind to your belly, especially if you get the half.  The ingredients include creminelli salami piccante, goat cheese, arugula, organic red sauce, and Mike’s hot honey.

ModernSlice

I don’t know Mike personally but the honey really hit the spot.  And the little drips of honey on the plate made for a great presentation.  But everything shone through.  And I can never get enough goat cheese and arugula.

ModernSalads

 

ModernSalad

I got a half of that and a half (which looked more like a full, no complaints here) Farmer Salad.   Another winner. It was easy to eat and I may have liked it more than the pie.  Anything with almonds is almost certainly going to be awesome.  And yes.

ModernKombucha

The real treat was the Cherry Blossom Kombucha they had on tap.  Yes they have kombucha on tap!  I may get this is another universe and at another time.  But that alone, even if its seasonal, is worth the visit.  And how beautiful does that look?

ModernCalorie

What’s a real hoot is that they give you all the nutritional info on your receipt.  It’s a little thing that’s a big thing.  And it makes them stand out from the crowd just a little more than other places.  It’s not so easy to do but then it’s even easier than we even realize.

ModernCater

The counter service is exactly what I needed on this day.  After just a few minutes my  food was ready.  And it was busy for lunch so the rapid-fire place my food was made may concern some, but it all came out splendidly.

And as for all the rest of the world. I wasn’t worried about them.  I sat in my own corner and in my own bubble, and felt content and felt happy.  I literally was in my own universe of peace and of harmony.

After taking a few photos, I enjoyed my meal for a good 20-30 minutes.  I lost track of time because for reasons that need no explanation I felt at peace.  No need for nostalgia or going down memory lane.  Because it’s the present tense and we’re in more a modern way of life.  Well it’s always been modern at whatever tine it is.  But it’s expansion of horizons, ideas, food, life, and everything in between and on the peripheral.

I wanted to save my favorite part about Modern for the end.  Their story says it all.

ModernFront

Anyone who takes a chance, quits their jobs, and decides to follow a passion should always be lauded and celebrated, especially if they succeed.  This place has succeeded.  And the goal to use natural ingredients and appeal to everyone’s fancy and dietary restrictions, is a wonderful thing and a perpetual goal that is always going to be there.

Now I realize why they’re changing their menus every season.  It’s for us, but as just as much for them.  So it’s for everybody.

This is a place for everybody.  And I can’t wait to come back to Rockville or maybe another location.

I hope every Spring outing can turn out like this.  It easily can.

Ideen

 

After All, It’s Just Pizza

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I mean it really is.  You, me, or anybody else can rant and rave about a place, rip it to shreds, and/or seek all the good and bad in the details of any pizzeria or restaurant.  It’s the experience, the ambiance, the hopefully good company you were with, and those hidden gems of information that only you might notice, and either keep to yourself or want to share with the world.  Which I like to do sometimes.

But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just pizza.

JustPizzaFront

After not doing a single post from the beaches last year, I’m already getting it in going in March, with the appropriately titled, Just Pizza, of Bethany Beach, DE.

If you’ve been to Bethany Beach you know how quite and cozy this town is.   It’s the antithesis of the chaotic nature of the nearby beaches in Maryland and Delaware.

Bethany is sentimental to me.  Many beaches might mean something to you too.  I have fond memories of a kid taking family trips here.  It was a superb getaway for our family go to away, if even just for a few days, from the familiarity of home.  I mean that’s why we take vacations right?  But I don’t remember a pizzeria being so close by.

Where my family usually stayed was right across the street in one of the condominiums or hotels.  But I remember the charming and approachable shopping center where Just Pizza currently stands.  In a town like this, the more things change, nothing changes.  And in a way I love that so much.

So this pizza is not amazing.   I wouldn’t even call it great.  But they’re not a place that claims to be world class and a five star restaurant.  If they did, I would judge them differently.

Literally, it’s a carry-out place that’s one of the more smaller spaces you’re going to come across.  With just a few chairs in the waiting area, it resembles an doctor’s office more than a place to grab some eats, if you will.

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In the honor of how simplistic this place is, I went simple  I got half cheese and half pepperoni for the road.  I was the only one waiting and I felt my pie took quite a while.  It felt about 20-25 minutes when I was promised 15.  It’s a minor detail but it’s worth noting. Perhaps it adds to the easy-going nature of the town, or maybe it really took that long.

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I’m not going to say it was worth the wait. The pizza was ok but like I said, it’s not going to win any awards.  But I will say, it did remind me of the beach.  That might not make sense initially, but something about it just tasted like it’s from the beach.   I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s a thing where my mind is telling me what to sense and what to taste, and predictably (or not) it’s evoking feelings of the beach and sand, and who knows what else I remember from growing up, and maybe now.

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The crust is a bit rougher than usual but it had a buttery taste to it that I liked.   The cheese and pepperoni were just what I thought it would be, good and greasy.  But it may be too greasy for some.

Nevertheless, I’ve talked to a couple of friends that know what they’re getting when they order and it gets the job done.  And for most of us, when it comes to pizza, that’s all we need.  All the other details don’t always matter.

Folks for are at the beach looking for a quick (well I hope so, order ahead of time of course) pie or other standard fare to go, this is going to make most people happy.  If and when I’m staying or visiting here again, I will likely eat here again if it was an option presented to myself or from a friend, or family member.

Speaking of which, it’s so funny that I used to not appreciate the peace and quiet of this town like I do now.   It’s the top reason where I feel partial to small towns and small businesses like this.  They’re depend on support from locals and tourists in season a like. And I’m always happy to support any local business, because they’re still the soul and conscience of small towns likes this and even bigger cities.

JustPizzaMenu

Next time I’m back  I will absolutely give them another try.   For my friends who want somewhere quiet and would like to avoid the commotion of the bookending resort towns of Ocean City and Dewey Beach then this is perfection. They don’t have a website but more information can be found here and here.  At the time I was there, it was perfection.   But as the weather gets nicer this is a place that’s a safe house and an ally when one isn’t always around.

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I’m not sure if this mean the beach posts will resume.  I did many back in the Summer of 2015 (those posts can be found here), and that feels so long ago.  We shall see.

But for now I will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and wish you a happy and safe one as well.

Ideen

 

Fresh Market Pizza Party

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And that party was for one, me.  As in most of my posts, my dining experience has mostly been done in solitude.  If there were group outings or with a friend or two, then I most likely made it clear that I had some good company.  And how that might change dynamic of the experience and pizza itself.

This is a different kind of experience than what I’ve usually written about.   When making a frozen pizza in the comfort of your own home, it takes on a whole new life.  Even though we most likely didn’t make the pizza ourselves from scratch, there is something personal about heating it in the oven and enjoying a pie by yourself or with close family and friends.

It’s the whole ritual of looking for a pizza, seeing which toppings would make you and your serving company happy to eat without anyone feeling left out.  But when it’s just you, like it was in that case, the options become unlimited and no need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings except maybe your own.

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Per a recommendation from a close friend, I was told to visit The Fresh Market to grab one of their personal frozen selections and give it a shot.

But first I’ll give you my own personal experience of this grocery shoppe.

A little over eight years ago I was on a drive just like any others and stumbled across a new shopping district a little bit of a ways from the Baltimore area.   When I see a new arrary of stores and places to explore I’m naturally curious and love to discover something fun.   What I was grateful to notice was my first visions of this Fresh Market.

You know anything from the first time you walk in is going to feel wholesome, genuine, and simpatico.   Well not necessarily always but I would like that to be the case more times often than not.  But this is what I felt here.

It felt like a market.  You had your standard grocery aisles and in the middle you had fresh made sandwiches to order (and pre-made to go), your fresh meats, prepared foods, baked goods, and so many other fun things.

But aside from that nut you have a great selection of natural foods (nuts, raisins, dried fruits, sweet treats etc.), coffee, tea, and so many other amazing things.

Now what I just listed reads like any old grocery store, and that might be true, but something about the aura and energy in here just feels right. Maybe it’s the dimmed lights.  Maybe I’m just seeing things.  But something just feels awe inspiring in here at times.

But I had yet to ever try their pizza.  If I did, I forgot.  And that’s on me.

freshmarketthepizzas

So after a little poking around earlier this week, in the freezer section and refrigerated aisle, I went with the Margherita.  I wanted to keep it light, simple, and a little more down-to-earth, so this felt correct in theory.

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I’m immediately charmed by the packing.  It just looks so cool.  That’s a technical term by the way.  Any personal touch, even in the most simplest form, leaves a lasting impression and goes a long way.

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When I got ready to prep this at home a feeling of excitement came over me.  I don’t use my oven enough to begin with, so this was going to be a real treat.

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Upon opening my pie looked ready to be heated and served to a party of one.  Hey, that’s me!

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Details of all this are not necessary.  I just wanted to convey my enthusiasm over something so simple and heating a frozen pizza.

What was even more inspiring were the aromas I was getting through the oven while my pie was cooking.  Those Italian spices were just permeating my kitchen. It w as only a 10-12 minute heating process, so I was patient but I was getting eager to eat.

It wasn’t at the point of staring at the timer, but I just felt like a kid waiting to eat my pizza and periodically checking the oven to see if it was ready.  I’m sure many have been in these shoes before; as a kid, as a parent, or both.

freshmarketpizzaheated

How gorgeous does this look?  Those sights and smells were giving me goose bumps.  And that golden brown crust makes it look almost too good to eat.  But forget that.

But to my mild disappointment, the spices, cheese, and tomatoes didn’t translate from in the oven to actual meal time.

It felt like whatever I was enjoying with my nose never clicked when actually eating a slice.

When talking about a frozen pizza, it’s a different criterion versus your local pizzeria.  I’m not looking for world class and pizza of the year caliber pie.  But I do want it to taste good.

The crust was flaky , crusty, and falling apart, just how I like my frozen gems.  But as a whole, the pizza just tasted average.  I wanted more flavor and I didn’t get it.  I’m surprised but not deterred.

And it’s not to say I didn’t finish.  I ate the whole thing, because even though it wasn’t anywhere close to what I expected, it was good enough to eat.

I did get two meals out of it.  The second meal was a late night snack.  I knew it was at home waiting for me, wrapped in foil.  That’s a good feeling knowing a pizza you heated is ready for a second around.

And yes, I was secretly hoping the seasonings and tomatoes would come alive on a second try.  It didn’t happen but doesn’t mean I won’t try another one of their pizzas.  They have a vast selection to choose from, and  I’m willing to bet will lead to better results.  And just because I wasn’t floored by it doesn’t mean you won’t.  Give it a try.  For $5.99, it’s a great investment into trying something new.

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I don’t talk about frozen pizza much, but I would like this to be a regular thing.  I’ve had some amazing ones in my lifetime, and hope to cross paths with some of them, and share them with you.   Whether I continue this next week remains to be seen.  Maybe.

freshmarketfridge

To find the nearest Fresh Market in your area, click here.

In regards to that picture at the beginning of this post, my animal friends wanted to share in my personal experience, but no I didn’t give them any.  You don’t see me eating any of their pizza.  Oh wait…

For my previous foray into frozen pizza click here.

We also made pizzas once, to read more about that click here!

We’ll see what next week brings us.

Ideen

 

Happy Birthday Too loulou!

toolouloupie4I could have just said Happy Anniversary Tooloulou, but then I wouldn’t have such a witty (or nerdy depending on your take) title.

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Yes, Tooloulou, one of the staples of the Belvedere Square Market, in North Baltimore, just had a major milestone last week.  They celebrated their 5th Anniversary!  Congratulations.

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And that’s it for me, thank you everybody!

No, not quite.   I would be lying if I said Tooloulou was in my regular rotation of pizza places.  I wish it was.   But for the duration the intent from me is there.  But what has been a more-than-regular thing is a visit to Belvedere Square.

It’s history is also something I can’t pretend to say I’ve been a part of.  However, I was just finishing college in 2003, when it re-opened, so I have some sentimentality to the newer version.

My love for markets goes back forever.  It’s the local feel, the sense of community, the local businesses, and all around good energy that draws so many people in.  It’s one of those ‘just like the good old days’ feelings that shouldn’t just feel like the old days, but right now.   But it’s good to be sentimental.  When it comes to supporting local, you can never have enough of that love for local and can you really be that overly sentimental.  In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding no.  Wait, resounding doesn’t sound so humble.  But I think you know what I’m trying to say.

Now back to Tooloulou.  They haven’t always been at the market.  A location change, brought this local creation to Belvedere Market.  And what a welcome and inspiring addition this has been.  Still in nearly three years market, why did my first visit only happen two weeks ago?   I have no explanation other than it hasn’t been meant to be until now.  Well I changed some history and went back for a second time.

So does that mean two pies?  You bet.  The first one was a dine-in experience and the second was carry-out.  Yes these are the riveting details I present to you.

Have I teased you enough?  I obviously love the pizza or I would be misleading you with the tidbits of it being a welcome addition, etc.   Ok onto the za!

toolouloupie

First up is the Tooloulou Pizza.  For my first ever visit, it only made sense to go with this one.  And this is where I sat down at their cozy booth and helped myself to this pizza pie.

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I loved it.  I was hesitant at first, since it seemed on the surface to be a bit too rich.  But all my man-made fears were alleviated after a few bites.  The combination of crab, Andouille sausage, and banana peppers is a trifecta of wonders.  Who came up with this?  It’s the perfect complement and complement to one another, and then the other.   The flavors came alive when I first thought something would get lost in the shuffle.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And they put a lot of  crab meat and sausage.  No skimming I promise you.

Add to the fact that the base is white sauce with mozzarella makes this all the more extraordinary.  I think a less inspired effort elsewhere would be a disappointment.  But this was tremendous.  And a little old bay was thrown in for good measure.  You have a winner.  And that crust was cooked to perfection.  I’m salivating as I write this.  It was filling though as I got seconds and thirds out of this.  A 12″ pie at $14.50, with what you’re getting it a deal at this price.

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Not to be outdone was the Shrimp Pesto.  I couldn’t do a celebratory post without doing a second pie.  If I hadn’t found myself back in the area, then this part would never have come to fruition.  So I’m excited.

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In the two plus years of doing this blog, whenever I found pesto as the base, or as an ingredient, I mention how much it’s one of my favorite things period.  Pesto is something of a work of art to me.  If I could do a Pesto Pals blog I would.  Hmm..  But when I saw this on the menu, I knew I had to try this one.  I was actually debating between this and another.  If you look at the menu order, I am following it sequentially.  Whether that mean there’s more to come is quite possible.    Let me get back to this pie before I go on a complete tangent.

I’m not sure which I loved more.  I loved this one for different reasons.  And then reasons that surprised me.  That pesto was authentic.  It tasted homemade or market made, ha!  And not out of a can.  And those pieces of shrimp were pure a joy.   I took a few off the pizza and had myself a good old time.  I re dipped some in the pesto sauce just for kicks.

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But knowing me I would think those were my favorite parts.  No, this pizza was so good that the actual highlights for me were the sundried tomatoes and the mozzarella.  When I found pieces of tomato and shrimp covered in that mozzarella, I appreciated every bite. The taste is just too good to describe.  And this is saying something because the pesto was that good.   What have I done to myself?  I’m craving this pie too.  This was the same price as the previous pizza, and worth every bit of it and more.

This crust may have even been charred better than the first.  How is that even possible?

The bonus was the staff both times were overwhelmingly friendly.   The Shrimp Pesto was a recommendation over another pie, which shall remain nameless and be reviewed at a later date.

For our friends in the area or might be travelling to the area, here’s their location and hours.

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I know Tooloulou is also widely known for their po’ boys.  And if I get a chance again, the next time I come back, I may incorporate one of these sandwiches with another predicted awesome pizza.

I look forward to it, but for now, I will appreciate these two fantastic pies.  And wish Tooloulou a Happy Fifth Anniversary!

And to many more!

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Fifty Shades of Great

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Actually it’s more than 50.  You can’t put a number on this but the Fifty Shades of Red from Vin 909 is a scrumptious and scintillating pie.   I could throw all the other superlatives that start with the letter ‘S’and any other letter, but this is one of those overall experiences that will resonate with me for a long time.

You know when you have those Grade A (not I won’t be using a bunch of happy words that start with ‘A’ unless it also happens organically) nights out with awesome food, drinks, company, conversation, and service that it tends to come up often in conversation?

Restaurants are more competitive than ever and many are attempting to stand out and differentiate themselves from the crowd.  Vin 909 has done it by the having a welcoming entrance, an approachable and folksy feeling front porch (which is used for outdoor dining when it’s a warmer climate), a cozy waiting area, and even more cozy bar and dining area on the inside.

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All this without any food being sampled.   One more thing, the many times I’ve driven by I’ve felt an energy emanating from the building and the surrounding area.  I equate the visual of the outside as somewhere we go could if we’re checking into Heaven.  There’s no religious connotation with what I just said.  It’s just meant an an expression, and as an experience.

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But I’ll tell you this Eastport Style Pizza was the equivalent of a religious or more I’d say a spiritual experience.

Now I don’t often seek out loads of meat on my pizza.  I like grilled chicken as my preferred protein and lots of vegetables.  Actually I really like to keep it simple.  I like cheese, I like white, I like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, mushroom, and of course pesto.

However, I wasn’t alone for this meal, so a mutually enjoyable pie was needed for this occasion.  And I’m all for expanding my horizons and getting out of the comfort zone.  But as you can see the pizza menu is loaded with all kinds of creativity and excitement.

I wish I could tell you the best part of this pizza.  I truly don’t know.  But that crust was jaw droppingly magnificent.  Maybe that was the best part.  But these toppings are all fresh. No matter how I phrase it words will not do it any justice.

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I adore how the cheese melted all over this pie.  It gives it a true authenticity that you don’t always see.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that other pizzas are any worse.  This was just the good stuff.

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Even the way the prosciutto, pepperoni, and sopressata is layered on top is art.  That’s a lot of red meat.  And it may not be for the faint of heart or more of the discriminatory taste, but this was a gem.   That basil and paprika is the perfect counter balance with all that heavy meat.   I’m glad I got to share this pizza for I only had a few slices.

Did you see those slices?  Some were in the standard form and others were more square shaped.  I love how that worked out.   The presentation right before on the pizza stand makes this all come full circle and completes this mastery of a pie.  It’s not just the food and drinks, it’s everything leading up to it.  The anticipation, the build, and the payoff are all part of this enjoyable process.  And when it’s actually enjoyable, which this was, we’re talking a world class meal of epic proportions.

The wine (more on the wine pictured here) made the pizza that much better and the pizza did the same for the vino.   The tea helped settle the stomach, and helped with that full feeling I had when departing.

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How else can I say how great this was?  I can’t say enough.  I’m so partial to Vin 909 and my romance with the restaurant predate me ever setting foot inside.  All that’s left is to keep the love affair going.

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That means a return engagement when the weather breaks.  Actually my intention is to make many visits.  And not all will be for the blog.  Some memories are meant to be kept internal and some should be shared.  But I think this is a place that I want to appreciate without the pressure of writing and taking pictures.  Same goes for many others but Vin 909 will always hold a special place in my heart.  Oh and being in Annapolis helps!

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It’s been a pleasure reminiscing about a meal in three installments (Here is Part 1 and Part 2), and about a place a I was reminiscing about before I even walked into Heavens Gates. Yes I did just say that again.

One thing I forgot to mention is they don’t take reservations.  Seating is first come, first serve.  Wait times can go past an hour.  And you know a place has got some cache if patrons are waiting that long.  Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

How do I follow-up next week?   Well I’ll do my best.  But for now this is one to savor.

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If you’re in the area or visiting I highly recommend Vin 909.   Here is more about them, their philosophycontact info, and most of all one of my best friends’ organizations which they support, Anne Arundel County CASA.

I never got the chance to meet Alex Manfredonia, who is the owner and general manager. But in case he does read this, I just wanted to say thank you.

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