Golden Star

MarcosWhiteCheezy

When I was a kid, and even still as an adult at times, when I saw a new place or an unfamiliar place, I might be hesitant to try it out.   And there’s no basis for any of this.  Maybe sometime in my childhood the unfamiliar just didn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.  But when you’re a kid, the new is what’s exciting.  Same goes for now.  Because everything that we know, like, find comfort in, and enjoy now was once well, strange and unfamiliar.

That comfort level may be too far for some as we settle in our routines, and may choose the path of least resistance.  Again that path of least resistance was once… Yep…

I love food and many of us do.  It’s a simple pleasure.  It bring us joy, brings us together, and brings us satisfaction.   Pizza in this case can never be strange.  I’m all for trying new foods, new pizzas, and new anything.  If there is some reservations in life, those should dissipate.  It’s too short, even though it feels long at times.  And for all the pizzerias in the world, there’s room for another, and there’s room for everybody.

What am I saying here?  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I should relax and take it easy with the questions.  Sometimes I should just relax and hang out. Ha.

MarcosPizza

A while back driving through Essex, MD (right outside Baltimore) I saw a sign for Marco’s Pizza (more about their story, their menu, and locations) and like with most discoveries pizza I welcome a new place, and can add it to the ongoing story that will hopefully go on forever…

I saw from the outside looking in their logo and the shopping center it was located in just a buzz and aura about it.  Sometimes it’s the energy we create and sometimes there’s just something there that feels right and tells you when you should come in, and when you should wait.  Both have that same feeling.

So after a few weeks of writing about and trying other foods, the time was right.  A new place to write about, in a town or city I’ve technically haven’t written about, is always refreshing.

I must have been in the mood for tomatoes because the new menu items that stood out to me were the White Cheezy and the Chicken Florentine.  And in this instance I didn’t even look at the ingredients or toppings.  I felt for some reason I didn’t need to.  It’s similar for when going to the movies, I don’t always read up on the plot.  It’s more exciting that way to me.

How funny is it that these two pizzas are so similar, yet just different enough. It’s all relative.

What else is relative is how great they are.  Look at that golden crust?  There’s an art to this.  And a certain amount of minutes, timing, and done with the right energy and spirit is going to make an entree that much better.  You could be in a bad mood and make the pizza the same exact way, and it won’t turn out like this.  This was magical.

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I love how they pile on the cheese with this.  It’s cheese on top of cheese, and with that crust, I nearly took the toppings for granted.

The White Cheezy with the three cheese blend, feta cheese, and garlic parmesan sauce can compete with all the great pizzas.  And as a stand alone pie needs no toppings.  But to throw in bacon, onions, and the perfectly cooked tomatoes is a winner.  The irony is the bacon is what stood out the least to me.

MarcosChickenFlorentine

With the Grilled Chicken Florentine (which may be an exclusive to their Essex location) you’re essentially substituting the bacon for grilled chicken and spinach.  And those piece of chicken taste fresh, taste real, and just taste good.  Another recurring theme is that garlic parmesan sauce.  Maybe I was in the mood for the tomatoes without the sauce.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It was all great.

The folks behind the counter were busy but never looked panicked.  They were friendly and that is symbolic of how the pies turned out.  These pizzas are on the higher end of what you might pay.  My two small pizzas came out to just under $30.  But to pay a little extra for quality never hurt anyone.  And it’s a few extra dollars well spent.

I like this place a lot and I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.  Based out of Toledo, OH, they’re expanding all over the nation.  For our pals in Baltimore, there’s locations in Essex and Pasadena, and a few in Northern Virginia.  So while it may be a little bit of a drive, it’s worth your time and a great change of pace.

This was wonderful, and I can’t wait to try their pizzas again.  Something unfamiliar is now a friend, and I’m grateful Marco’s Pizza is now a part of my pizza experience.  I found them, but in many ways it found me.

MarcosPizzaBox

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

See The Innovation…

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices2

Well it’s innovative to me.  The Italian Market of Annapolis is one of those venues that’s going to need a few visits to fully appreciate and grasp everything that’s going on.

ItalianMarketStorefront

Because it feels like a stadium or an arena from the outside.  And I almost felt intimated walking in.  But I made myself feel intimidated.  No one else made feel that way or can make me feel that way.

If I told you I drove by numerous times and wanted to go in, that would be a mix of an understatements and also exaggerations.   Sometimes you just don’t notice what’s hiding in plain sight.  For many things it’ll always be that way.  But with the Italian Market (here’s their menu, their contact info, upcoming wine tastings, and their extensive selection of cheese and pastas) that’s over and done with.  I’m a fan and it’s going to make multiple visits to fully appreciate what’s going on.

ItalianMarketMenu

I came specifically for the pizza this time, not realizing that this coliseum like vibration was inside.  There’s a waterfall in the middle of this place.  I would have presented a picture but there were so many people around that it wasn’t possible.  I had no preconceived notions about this place.  I liked the idea of going in with no idea what’s going on, the crowd, the busy times, or what’s on the inside.

Don’t judge a book by its cover or anything else.  Not yet at least.

I’m glad I got there when I did.  It was almost the nick of time as the line was growing by the doorway, and there were barely any seats in the house.  People were (hopefully patiently) waiting for their food taking upwards of 20-30 minutes.  That’s what I overheard at least.  I’m going to safely assume it was worth the wait.

The pizza was getting decimated and serendipitously I was able to grab a cheese, pepperoni, white vegetable, and meat lovers to go.  I got 2-3 meals out of this, so I took time to savor, reheat when needed, and appreciate my food on a much more patient and deeper level.

ItalianMarketWines2

And on that note, while I waited, I was in awe of their wine selection, along with their cheese, pastas, and various other grocery items.  There were parts of the store I likely never got to explore and one short visit is not going to be enough.  This is going to be an experiment in something amazing.

Apparently I’m the last person to find out about this place, as it seemed all of Annapolis (pizza history lesson here) was there (well it was lunch time), but this was a madhouse and chaos in the most beautiful of fashions.   Maybe it’s my perception but people seemed pretty excited and elated to be there.  I know I was.  I hope recurring visits would bring about that kid in a candy store feeling. I’m leaning towards yes.

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices

The pizza is good to great.  Again, for how crazy it was tasty, crisp and didn’t feel like it was rushed or reheated poorly.   Surprisingly, the meat lovers was my favorite of the four.  I could say I was in a good or something just felt right about it.   By default, the cheese is also solid. It’s a good balance of everything.   And the white vegetable was also a winner.

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Again like last week, not life changing or knock your socks off, but just really good pizza.  I imagine whole pies would even taste that much better.   I believe my four slices were only $12 and change, which seems like a bargain to me.   I know a whole pie may have run me the same, but that’s for next time.  There will be plenty of next times.

ItalianMarketWines

If you haven’d had the opportunity, I highly recommend a visit, even if just to get a bottle of wine to go.  It’s all so beautiful.

ItalianMarketWines3

The interior is immaculate and has a charm all its own.  I look forward to many visits down the line.

Thanks so much.  Have a great weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

Annapolis’ Best Kept Secret?

GiolittisSpecialPizzaPie2

It just might be, because when I mention Giolitti Fine Italian Market & Delicatessen (here is their lunch menu, their dinner menu, more about them, and contact information)  to friends who live, work, or spend time in the area, either they haven’t heard of it, or didn’t realize they make pizza.  I was one of them.

I found this place by accident.  But I don’t believe in accidents, or any of that.  No such thing.

The charm of most Italian markets is at least from my experience, they were built way before what we have today.  They were both chains, box stores, and all these corporate entities we see today.

For over 25 years Giolitti’s has been serving the Annapolis community, and has sustained a loyal following (for those who know about it, and plenty do for the others that don’t…), that these chains would envy.

I discovered this place actually heading to one of these more well known stores, but knowing how important it is to support local, and at worst window shop and browse, I wanted to see this for myself.  And how beautiful it is…

Along with a plethora of great wines for purchase, a charming ambiance, friendly staff, and an overall good energy, is just some of the many reasons why this place is thriving, and boy it is it thriving.   On this particular day, the place was packed.

On a recent search for pizza in the area, I was getting the sense that I was running out of new options (My love for Annapolis all around can be found here.) but the universe and a little  searching has its benefits.  The truth is, I will never run out of places to talk about.  And in the chance that I do, I can always revisit, as more than enough time has passed on some of my favorite pizzerias and places in general.  I will revisit several in time, but first things first.

How about the pies?

I’ll admit that I’ve been spoiled by Italian delis and markets food and pizza in general. My standards and bar has been raised.  I have expectations now.  I want the best.  But good and great is well, sometimes good and great enough.

I adore Neopolitan style pizza, and I’ve had it probably more times than I realized.  One of many things not to take for granted.

GiolittisPizzaPie

I went with their simple cheese and made it half pepperoni, and then the Giolitti’s Special which is Prosciutto, Arugula, and Gorgonzola.  On the latter the substituted spinach since they were out of arugula, and I’ll have more to say on that in mere moments.

GiolittisPizzaSlice

The cheese and pepperoni is just good pizza.  No, it’s not the best I’ve ever had, but that crust, that dough, the way it was heated brought me such joy and comfort.  Joy and comfort is good.  The greasy style of cheese and pepperoni has that feeling of many pizzas shared with family when I was kid, in present times, and hopefully in the future.  This is a great slice and great pie, the more I think about it.

GiolittisSpecialPizzaPie1

The Giolitti’s Special is something I must have again.  I think the arugula would have made this so much better.  I have to be honest here.  I like spinach and it doesn’t take away from the pie, but I don’t know if it adds anything.  I actually found the pie with just the prosciutto and Gorgonzola to be just fine.  But it’s one of those, I can’t wait to try this again at full strength kind of things.

GiolittisSpecialPizzaSlice

But there’s no need to quibble and no need to complain.  This is a great place, was a great experience, and the pizza is definitely worth it.  And quite affordable too.

Local business always has a special place in my heart, and so does Annapolis.  That combination is why I will be back time and time again, to try many of their other foods, grab bottle of vino, and maybe have a pie or two again to share with friends.

This is a place to share with friends, family, and anyone that brings you joy.  This place brings me joy, Annapolis brings me joy, and I love this market and our state capital so much.

More next week? Hmmm..

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

I Love This Store

ItalianStoreSide

Last month I was passing through Arlington, VA and had stumbled upon the ever-so-charming Westover neighborhood.   I had no idea The Italian Store was here.  A couple of folks had mentioned how great their pizza was and that I should write about it when I got the chance.  Well fate, destiny, and all that other inspirational stuff has reared its beautiful head again.

While doing some research I realized that this was their second and just recently opened location.  And by recent I mean within the past five months.   If I didn’t inquire I would have never known.  The surrounding shops and streets look so authentic and historic that the store fits in perfectly.

As soon I walked in I knew I was visiting something special and that to fully appreciate it, I would need a lot of time.  And I will need to visit their original location.

Before I looked up information about these folks, I could tell that they were rich in history and had a very strong following.

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ItalianStoreDeli

The energy inside was booming and permeating.  I had a great feeling walking around and checking out their wine selection, groceries, breads, pastries, delicatessen, and a whole slew of other provisions.   Most important of all, the staff seemed friendly and caring about what was going on.

I hadn’t even ordered my pizza slices and I realized I was in here for a good 30 minutes appreciating how massive this spot was.

I ordered three slices and I could have ordered more.   There were so many to choose from and a few out-of-the-ordinary. That only means I’ll be back and I was already coming back anyways.   Their personalized napkin holders sold me before anything else!

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I know I was very generous in the praise of the shoppe (and it’s justified) and all the good vibes that came from it, but this did not entirely translate into the pizza.

ItalianStoreSlices

I ordered a cheese, pepperoni, and a vegetable.   I wanted to keep it simple today.

I’ll go in the order that I just listed above.

ItalianStoreCheese

The cheese was my least favorite.  It was good but it was missing some pop.  I can’t explain it but maybe I was expecting more from such an establishment.   The crust was good and it was easy to eat.   But it just didn’t wow me.  I don’t know if it had been sitting out too long and might have been reheated one too many times.  That was my first reaction when eating it.

ItalianStorePepp

The pepperoni was a little better and seemed to have more cheese than the aforementioned slice above.  This seemed thicker and the pepperoni itself tasted authentic.  I’ve stated before that I’m not a huge fan of red meat on my pie but this was pretty good.  But again, it wasn’t incredible.  Did I set my expectations too high?  Did I allow the heavy praise from a few of my pals lead to a bit of a letdown?  It’s possible.

ItalianStoreVeggie

The vegetable slice was the big winner.  It was loaded and loaded with all kinds of fresh toppings.  I think the picture speaks for itself.  I’m salivating at the thought of it as I write another one.  The cheese, crust, and vegetables really comes together on this one.  This was a great slice and tells me that they’re capable of so much more than the previous two.

The outdoor dining area was very cozy and peaceful.  I enjoyed myself.

I deliberately wrote about the veggie last to end this on a high note.  The Italian Store has such a liveliness that I know translated into wonderful eats.  The next time I will write about them will be from their original location.  And I can’t wait.

ItalianStoreFrontItalianStoreSignage

ItalianStoreFloor

These photos have only begun to scratch the surface.

Best,

Ideen