Goody’s Is Exactly That

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

Paradise By The…

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A lot of good pizza was had in 2016.  It seems to me that the focus has been on only finding the better slices, the better pies, and the better experiences.  If something is really horrific and worth talking about it will be talked about here.  But the emphasis will always be talking about quality za and giving you a valid reason for you to visit.  If not then this defeats the whole purpose.

Of course I’m just one person with an opinion.  Not everything I like will be agreed with and vice-versa.  And the pizzas I’m a little critical of might be one of your favorites.

For me it’s traditionally based on what I’m feeling at the time, not necessarily what I’m thinking.  It could be an idea about a place, or yes, a preconceived notion that may skew an opinion a little more towards one way or another than it otherwise wouldn’t.  This is why today’s pizza I discuss is so fascinating.

Before this past day after Christmas, my one and only ever visit to Pizzeria Paradiso was back in 2000.  Yes 16 years ago.  And this was at the Georgetown location.  Needless to say, being much younger the pizza was fine but I didn’t see what the big deal was.  I can get pizza anywhere I said.  Now whether this was my actual reaction is merely a reflection of my past self.  I can only speculate but it’s something similar to what I would have said.

It was a lifetime ago so I don’t know exactly what I ordered, but I remember the company I was with.  That’s one I’ll leave for myself.  But it wasn’t the best experience.  I remember paying a lot more for pizza than I may have ever had before.   Because of that I wonder if that’s the main reason of why I never went back.

Many times and many years over I’ve found myself walking past the Georgetown and Dupont Circle locations and not thinking much of it.  And that’s neither a good or bad statement.  There’s so many options to eat, let alone ones specific to pizza.

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But something about the Old Town Alexandria location seemed so much more welcoming and approachable.  There is a heavy bias here. I was born in this beautiful town, just minutes away from Old Town.  So I have loads of attachment and love for this place.

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Even still things would come up for the universe had other plans for me when I visited Alexandria.  I’ve been to many restaurants and many places along King Street and the surrounding areas, but never here.

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Well the wait and fate finally crossed paths.  All it took was a little Christmas Cheer and a peaceful drive to one of the great towns of America.

So how was the pizza this time?

It was busy.  Christmas was observed on a Monday this year and the town was buzzing. People had off and made the most of their post Christmas time.  Well that sounded like safe yet dramatic thing to say.  The restaurant was packed and the staff was busy. Did that affect the pizza in any way?  That I don’t know.

Even in a frenetic setting my pie turned out really good.  I ordered the Genovese which consisted of parmesan, pesto, and potato.  How about that combination?

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Now I wasn’t sure how this was going to look but I loved it.  These were real slices of potato.  If you’re thinking that I ordered this in light of a Christmas hangover and hoping for mashed potatoes, you might be right.

And that pesto tasted fresh, authentic, and from somewhere magnificent.  Where that is I don’t know.  But I like to think there was a lot of care and soul put into creating that pesto.

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That wood fired crust was tremendous as well.  I’ve heard friends say it’s the best pizza they’ve had in all of DC.  That’s a tough one to decide on.  It’s all relative.  I will say the crust was fantastic and I’m craving it now as I right about it.  It just had the perfect burnt and charred taste to it.  And that thin crust was shaped perfectly.  And a thinner crust was needed on this day.

The overall experience, ambiance, and service definitely made it even better.

For how busy the restaurant was, I was still able to get diner style seating and enjoy my meal in solitude.  I got to sample a couple of red wines before deciding on a favorite.  I was pleased with my decision.

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I was pleased with the pie.  I was only able to have half, which was fine by me.  I got to enjoy the rest later.  For a personal pizza this was a hearty sized meal.  You could easily get two meals out of this without question.  Or maybe my stomach has been feeling the effects of all the holiday eating that it was a reminder to slow down and take it easy.   And to enjoy the peace and spirit of the holidays.  They’re not technically over yet.

So I enjoyed my time in Old Town like I always do.  I took some pictures of the nearby historic streets and even one by Pizzeria Paradiso.  I hope you enjoy just like I enjoyed my pizza.

They’re one of the major players in the Washington, DC area when it comes to pizza.  And I’m glad to have ended the year with one of the more soothing and peaceful dining experiences I’ve had in a while.

I promise it won’t be another 16 years till the next visit.  How about I revisit this again in 2017.  That’s a promise.

Here is their story, their beer menu and online ordering info for those nearby.

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I look forward to what 2017 brings.  That feels weird just typing that.

Happy What’s Left of the Holidays,

Ideen

 

 

That’s The Jingle Bell Bar

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That everything happens for a reason cliche is a legitimate thing.   I was all set to do a review of an experience at Red Red Wine Bar back in the spring.   As luck would have it, my phone died as I was getting pictures of our pizzas and vino, while enjoying a casual outdoor setting in Downtown Annapolis.  I took it as a couple things, 1) this is not the way this wine bar was meant to be portrayed, and 2) the universe had grander plans for me.  And is that an understatement if there ever was one.

No matter what goes on in life, one thing I know for sure, the holidays bring out the best in us.  We go through a million emotions all year, and all of a sudden it’s Thanksgiving, and then it’s December.  What the heck happened here?   That time to reflect, to appreciate, and spread love magically appears this time of year.   Wouldn’t be great it you felt that all of the time?

Downtown Annapolis always feels like Christmas to me.  It has the old world, small town, welcoming feel that radiates an aura of holiday spirit 365 days a year.  That might be an exaggeration, but it’s the feeling I get.  And that’s no accident.  Different neighborhoods bring different feelings.  It’s up to us to choose to embrace it or move along.    Well I’m embracing and moving forward.

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So we move along nearly eight months later, and this was meant to be.  However, this time, it wasn’t the Red Red Wine Bar.  They transformed themselves into a winter wonderland and holiday spectacle, happily titled, the Jingle Bell Bar.

This bar is something else.  The set-up with all the lavish decorations screams holiday cheer.  If this didn’t get you in the spirit than I’m not sure what else might.

Actually, it was my dear friend’s event that brought us here tonight.   The Anne Arundel County, Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, for short, has done so much good for the community of Annapolis and nearby.  I’m proud to have volunteered and been associated with some wonderful and unique parties and events.  I’m grateful for that.  And I was grateful for this one.

They had a guest bartender on hand, and part of everyone’s check and tips went to CASA. It’s a win win for everyone.

I  could just sense going in that this was going to be an awesome time.  Sometimes you just know.  When you’re connected with a good community, it’s only going to bring about more of that community.  The folks in attendance were there for the same reason, to celebrate this fantastic organization and the holidays.   I felt so at home.  I think everyone else did too.

After all that, how was the pizza?  To make up for last time, I went with two pies, and was happy to share them with friends, old and new.

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I went with the two that I feel most represented this season, with their flavors, ingredients, and overall presentation.

First up, was the White Chicken on Roasted Garlic Flat Bread.   The look of this was fantastic.   For the simple fact that one of the toppings was garlic puree  is why I went with the garlic flat bread.  It did make me wonder how it would taste with the wheat.  That chicken tasted fresh and organic.   I love brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, and butternut squash.  Tell me another trio that spells out the holidays more than that?  This was a really good pie, but I almost felt like I didn’t get a taste of the squash or onions in every bite.  That could be me trying too hard to find them or some flavors overpowering the other.  Hence why I wonder how the wheat flat bread would turn out.  Nevertheless, my new friends and I finished this wonderful arrangement in mere minutes.  And I would definitely order this pizza again.

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But the quintessential pie of the holiday season might just be the Pear Prosciutto.  You’ve got to be kidding me.   I confirmed with one of the manager’s, Bethany (who was world class by the way), on which pizza to go with.  I’m glad we were on the same page.

Oh my and Christmas was this one of the best things I’ve eaten in sometime.  This is a must with wheat bread.   This is a throwback to my childhood.  And isn’t what Christmas and the holidays does to us sometimes?  The combination of honey, feta, and wheat on a piece of warm and toasty pita bread (usually wheat) alone is something I share with my family, especially my dad, and continue to this way.  So I felt warm inside before even noshing.  And when I finally noshed, everything was confirmed. This is one I’ll be thinking about for a long time.  The pears, prosciutto, and arugula are what you see immediately.  But to me, the heart is the honey, feta, olive oil, and minced garlic.  Again, that’s a family thing.   I’m getting emotional as I expound on this.  I’m getting goose bumps.  I’m not kidding you.

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And combining these pizzas with good people, good wine (click here to read more about the wines), a festive vibe, and a great cause, this is a win-win and then some.

I love this place.  Let me reiterate.  I LOVE this place.  Nestled in the heart of Downtown Annapolis automatically makes a place welcoming.  But there was something special about this night.

Once again, a huge thank you to Bethany for helping me with everything when it came to pizza and wine suggestions.

I’m ecstatic to have been a part of something so special.  I look forward to my next visit to Red Red Wine Bar.   And if you’re in the area I strongly recommend you do the same.

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Here is their story and their contact info.

For my Annapolis Pizza History, click here.

For more on Anne Arundel County CASA and all the good that they do, click here.

And for the last inspiring CASA experience, click here.

This was a holiday party for the books.  I’m so thankful and appreciative to have been a part of this.  All many of us want for the holidays, and out of life, is to feel good.  This event and this bar checks of all the boxes.

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To a safe and happy holiday season,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping It Simple

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For years I’ve driven by Mamma Lucia Italian Eatery in Waverly and though to myself, this place looks intriguing.  There’s a charm about it and I really can’t put my finger on it. There’s an old school, old feel, and old soul aura about it.  It’s also old Baltimore to me. But old doesn’t mean bad.  It usually means quite the opposite.  It shows character, experience, and a distinguishable look that stands out from many of the cookie-cutter pizzerias and restaurants popping up everywhere.

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Sitting right in the heart of 33rd and Greenmount (3240 Greenmount Avenue), this establishment has been serving its clientele for years.  And that clientele can only be described by me as real Baltimore.  It took this blog for me to finally walk in.  So why the hesitation?   I can only justify it as saying its out of my comfort zone.  Johns Hopkins University is literally footsteps away. But the pizzeria is away enough that it looks like a completely different universe.  And that may be an understatement.

I had meant to write about them over a year ago but maybe I couldn’t come up with the right words to say.  I was over-thinking things.  What I did notice in past photos that I only found myself ordering the same three slices, over several visits.  Yes there were a few trips to this staple of Historic Waverly.  And I feel fortunate to write about them now.

The easy part is their cheese, buffalo chicken, and white veggie are all so similar even if they’re full of different flavors.

This is not the best pizza you’ll ever eat.  It doesn’t come close.  But it’s solid. The one thing I’ve noticed across the board is the crust was legitimately crunch.  It was New York Style taken to new heights.  I don’t know if it was by accident or what, but the crust was incredible.  And the irony is, a year ago in the same place, I would be complaining about how this isn’t pizza.  And that this crunch was born out of laziness and an accident from the oven.  Maybe that’s why I chose not to write about it before.  I felt I needed to expand my horizons and pizza dining experience across-the-board.

But I will say the flavors of the pizza aren’t anything that will win any awards.  But once again, they’re decent and will satisfy their customers.  And two slices and a soda for $7 doesn’t hurt either.

And I’ll tell you something about their customers.  It’s full of some of the most authentic people in Baltimore I’ve ever seen.  I’ve sat inside multiple times and have overheard conversations I wouldn’t hear in a more supposedly posh.  That sounds like I may be demeaning the locals who frequent Mamma Lucia, but the opposite rings true.  This is a breath of fresh air.  I’ve even had a impromptu discussion or two with some of the regulars and it’s been refreshing.   It has only enhanced my awareness and gives me more of an appreciation for one of the originators of Baltimore.

This city has grown so much but it’s always important to support local.  With the holidays here that message is even more vital.

This may not have been the most glamorous pizza place to write about but this is one that has sentimentality to me.  The decor is simple and as long as there’s pizza to be had, friendly folks behind the counter, and a sense of relaxation.  That’s all I can ask for.

For my friends in Baltimore, if you happen to drive by, maybe pop in one day.  It’s not the most alluring but its perfect to me.

Happy Holidays,

Ideen

 

Sentimental in Swedesboro

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It’s my intent to keep all these posts as simple as possible.  Sometimes things happen and there’s a boatload of photos and the verbiage has gone off the rails.  For this one I truly intend to keep in concise and to the point if at all possible.  I mean it’s just pizza right?  Ah well everything has significance.  And the location has just as much importance as the subject at hand.

But when it comes to pizza I just can’t talk about the pizza.  A drive through one of the most charming towns I’ve ever seen, Swedesboro, New Jersey (previous Jersey posts can be found here and over yonder), means the pizza and everything else I’ll experience while here is going be larger than life.  At this point I don’t care how good or bad the pizza is.  Actually yes I do, it better be good enough to come up with another in my long tradition of melodramatic openings.

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Mama Francesca Pizzeria doesn’t have a website,  I can barely find a menu, but more importantly what it does have is soul.  It has character, it was charm, and it has a welcoming aura that can’t be measured my clicks, searches, or any other technical term that wasn’t even on our radars in what feels like as short lifetime ago.

What if I never walked in and only imagined the pizza as the greatest thing ever.  It would be more romantic to have just driven by and thought what could have been.   But this isn’t how things work or how you eat pizza.  You actually have to eat the pizza.

The exterior took me back to places I went with my family when I was a kid.  And I remember all the pizza being the best, no matter how good or bad it may actually have been.   I loved my cheese, I loved my bread, I loved my sauce.   But then I also loved everything else that went with the package, company, location, and that moment in time.

The inside had small counter with a few places to sit facing the window.  The main seating area was led by a set of stairs and that’s the part that truly to me back to my childhood.  I remember seeing places like that but can’t recall exactly where. And that might be the best form of Deja Vu imaginable.

I’m not a kid anymore.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t get that same vibe of feeling happy, harmonious, and just grateful to grab a couple of slices and enjoy myself.

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I came at an odd time so the only slices available were cheese and a white vegetable. That made my decision easier.

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This is nowhere near the best pizza I’ve ever had.  But I didn’t expect it.  What I did get was slices that reminded me of my childhood.  That cheese was your standard cheese with a thick and crooked looking crust, looking like it’s been through a war.  But I didn’t care.  It was perfect for this moment.    I’m cherishing it even more now as I write it versus when I was actually here back in August.

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And just to clarify, the white chicken veggie is not something I frequently had as a kid. I can’t say any stood out. If it did I would actually think something was seriously wrong.  I guess I was mostly a cheese and pepperoni kind of guy.  This slice was stacked with vegetables, and it was exactly what it was supposed to be, and nothing more.  It was a slice good enough to eat and enjoy but it’s not going win and awards.  And it doesn’t matter.

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I loved this town.  I would write about other experiences I’ve had here but that means I would have to create other blogs. It would water down some of my own memories .  Some are best kept internal, for you, for me, and for the universe.

If I could write about small towns every week I could.  I don’t seek them out.  I let them find me.  It’s fun to dream and envision living in a place like this but with the understanding that maybe I’m heaping praise on somewhere I’ve never been with no expectations, no hang ups, or any other biases.  And maybe the second and subsequent visits would lose its luster.

As we approach the holidays I hope to discover more places that feel like just that, the holidays.   It’s important to see the good in everything and it’s easy said and done.  But that just sounds like kids stuff.

Exactly!

Ideen