…Your Favorite Pizza Shop

LittleItalyPizzas

How many different ways can you articulate your fondness and affinity for a town, for it’s spectacular views, small town vibe, and yes the inspirational pizza?

Annapolis has my heart.  Whether I have theirs is a topic for another lifetime, but even the missteps tend to be charming.  And the charm tends to be all that more charming. Yes I’m romantic.   I just love this place so much.  And part of this reason is I have no reason. It doesn’t necessarily get me and I don’t necessarily get it.  Everything about it just feels right.  I feel one with so much when I’m here.  It’s those proverbial goosebumps.

We’ve arrived at Memorial Day Weekend.  How’d that happen?

As I did two years ago, this kind of a homage and congratulations to the Naval Academy and all the commencement activities that will be taking place this weekend.

Here is my pizza history with my favorite state capital.

LittleItalyAnnapolis

A little bit away from the commotion and situations in downtown is a little hole in the wall, Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

If I hadn’t done a little research after the fact I would think this place would have been here for decades and honoring the authenticity of Italian Style, New York Style, and any other old world style pizza and restaurant for that matter.

I was asking around to friend who do live, have lived or spent frequent time in the area to see if anyone has eaten there.  I either got no response or pals saying they’d never heard of it.

Then I find out this place has been open less than a year.   I was all set to get excited and talk about how this is a diamond or a gem within many others.  My preconceived notions and presumptions are not going to sway me towards the negative.  Not yet at least.

If the pizza’s good then we’re onto something.

It was once a Peruvian Chicken restaurant that converted into this current restaurant. Maybe it’s new owners and maybe it’s some of the same folks that felt like a rebranding was necessary.  And there’s nothing right or wrong about that.  Local business is what I root for, is what many of us are rooting for to succeed because they’re still the heart and soul of so many things.    And there can never be soul.

With that said, the pizza was not exactly what I expected.  Maybe I was going to strike gold and find something not many others have.   Not quite.  It was good but it wasn’t life changing.  But the pleasant surprise was they had slices.  I was going in assuming I would get a small pie to go, but they have their pizza trays with a few choices and that made me happy.

LittleItalyPizzas4

I got three and because we feasted heavily on meat last week I figure I would dial it back and go with the cheese, the white, and the veggie.  And did they put on a lot of veggies.

LittleItalyPizzas3

Again, nothing wrong with them.  I just wanted more.  And I’m one of those people that doesn’t ask for a whole lot except in this instance I want my pizza to taste good.

LittleItalyVeggie

The crust was fine on all of them.  Since I don’t have much to say about the cheese or the sauce, I will say the vegetable slice with all of its overloaded vegetables was slightly charming and entertaining in a way.  Maybe I was just (and am) entertaining myself, but it was my favorite of the three.

I do wish I took a picture of the interior.  They had those red and white vinyl tablecloths you might have seen at a restaurant when you were a kid and might still see today.

That’s what made me think this place has been around for a while. I love the attention to detail.  It may not mean to much but I found it endearing in a way.  For that reason a lot it will make me come back.

The pizza may not have been great this time around but I’m all for giving it another chance.  I think this place has some great food to offer including their pizzas.

LittleItalyaPizzas5

Their menu, location, contact information, and story is all available on the main page.

If this works out I will be doing another Annapolis location next week or soon.  And one that’s close to Little Italy Famous Pizza & Pasta.

No this wasn’t my favorite pizza place as the title says but I got a kick of the to-go box. And I thought I saw them all…

LittleItalyPizzaBox

Have a blessed and safe holiday weekend,

Ideen

 

Severna Park Style

carminesslices2

At times I’ve been told I’ve been guilty of being too idealistic.  I’m romanticize potential situations in my life and you know what, sometimes it goes exactly as predicted.  You have a visualization but don’t get overly attached to it, and voila, just as advertised in my mind.

Things don’t always work out that way. But we should aim for the best scenarios, best people, the best (fill-in-the-black), and when it comes to this, the best pizza.  Where on earth am I going with this?   Some of us just want a piece of pizza and be done with it.

carminesstorefront

Some kind folks had mentioned Little Carmine’s of Severna Park to me.  They said I gotta try it.   They said I’m going to love it.  Some even said it’s the closest to New York Style they’ve had.  And these are coming from folks from the center of the universe, you know the city that doesn’t sleep and all that charming stuff.

When I hear that I start to get visions and inspirations.  But truth be told, I was the one asking.   I had small town sentiments before I even showed up.  I assumed the pizzeria would be folksy, welcoming, and full of charming neighbors from up the street.

How much of that was true?  Well that’s all up to the person.  For me, I had hoped to be blown away by this place.  I wanted at least part of everything I hoped for to be made reality.  Why am I being so dramatic?  Because despite my overly positive, yet sometimes cynical ways, I still intend to see the good in everything, even before it’s presented to me. And if not, I may express disappointment that wasn’t warranted.

I was not disappointed by the pizza nor was it the best pizza I’ve ever had.  Like the guys from New York, best is a subjective and loaded term.  What’s the best for you and what’s best for me are usually separate universes.  And why would we want in any other way?

I built this place up to be something spectacular.  And you know, I’ll keep doing it.  The aura around this part of town is very neighborly.  There’s a few housing developments within walking distance and the storefront has a truly authentic pizzeria vibe.  Things were looking up.

There’s the standard New York images and photos on the wall (which I sensed and heard from those aforementioned folks) in the restaurant.  And the music was all Frank Sinatra, all the time. I find it predictable, yet charming.  I’ve been to so many different restaurants (not just pizza) that will only play Frank Sinatra.   It’s relatable, safe, and endearing to many.   It’s added to some experiences and at other times it’s made no sense that I had to chuckle.  I envision many people have been in that spot too.

carminesmenu

Finally, let me talk about the pizza.  This is a review of two different visits.  It’s a total of five slices, and some I did save for later.   Is there such a thing as too much pizza? Never!

By the way, the restaurant was much smaller than a how it looks on the outside.  It seems that more than half the space was for the kitchen.  That’s not a complaint, just an observation.

carminespizzadisplay

The smaller space means a smaller display.  That means an easier decision to make.  Let’s go to round 1…

carminestrio

My first visit was for carry-out.  I went with cheese, white, and buffalo chicken.  I won’t review every slice, one-by-one but instead will talk about what stood out.

carminesbuffalochicken

The buffalo chicken was the true stand-out.  The chicken was fresh, the celery tasted like real celery, and that one-two punch of buffalo sauce and blue cheese was absolutely brilliant.  And it was heated to perfection.  That can be said for all the slices.

The white and the cheese were good but not amazing.  And they call can’t be amazing.   Again, it’s all perception.  The basil was great on the white but neither slice is resonating with me, even as I write this.

carminesslices

Day 2 was an order-in.  There was more Sinatra. There were more friendly faces like the first visit.   I went with the mushroom, and then the meat lovers.   I’ve had a bias towards mushroom so my expectations were higher.  This was only ok.   Once again, the dough was great but not much else stood out.  With the meat lovers, it’s just not my thing.  This is more of a reflection on me than on the pizza itself.  The ground beef was great but it’s a bit too much for me.

There was a major highlight though.  Overheard on the loudspeakers was this Sinatra gem. How fitting with the events that would follow that evening.   Yes this visit was the same day this happened.   Maybe someone was a clairvoyant.  Maybe it was a sign.  Maybe it was a special moment I hadn’t planned for. That’s the point to all this.  Something as enjoyable as the pizza experience should happen organically and not always with plans or expectations.

But this is only the beginning.  My hunch tells me that their pizza in full pie form may be the iconic za I’m expecting and I’ve been told they’re capable of. This is a place where I’d want to be surrounded with good company and enjoy life.   I’ve exhausted the going at it alone part with this place.  Yes the staff was all friendly and hanging out.  But this needs another go with a friend or two.

This is a place for friends.  I’ve seen many of the staff enjoy themselves in the back (assuming they’re on break) acting like regular fellow in a New York Style restaurant.

carminesmural

There’s a lot of good going on here.

More good to come.

Ideen

Little Lackluster

I had intended to do a Fells Point related pizza post in conjunction with and leading up to the Fells Point Fun Festival.  That was supposed to take place last weekend.   The universe had other plans and we’ll see you in two weeks.  But the neighborhood posts will keep on coming leading up to the event.

My post from last week was meant to be the revealed on the weekend of the event, but I have adjusted accordingly. I am prepared for the challenge of finding spots that are hopefully informative and do the area justice.

LittleItalyFront

This week brings me to Little Italy Pizzeria, which is right off the heart of Fells Point.  That picture I took makes the place seem very authentic right?

Well that’s where it ends.  This pizza parlor suffers from the same issues, in my opinion, as Brick Oven Pizza which I wrote about two weeks ago.   Up until five years ago I would’ve said this pizza tasted great during the day, at night, by the slice, or a grabbing a whole pie to go.  It wasn’t fine craftsmanship but it was guaranteed to be a good pie that would do its job.  And sometimes that’s all you’re looking for.

Now the last few times I’ve ordered from them the crust, dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings all seem so lifeless.  There’s no feeling behind it.  But it serves its purpose.   I used to always order a za from here day or night and feel like I’ve enjoyed something tasty. And my interest has waned to the point where this might be the last time I go for a while unless I’m desperate.

I will recap the two slices I got, on my most recent a little over a month ago.  I’ll try to find the positives.

You know how when you see pictures of pizza you get hungry and get excited?  Even bad pizza will do that to you.   However, when looking at these photos I am turned off by them.

LittleItalyCheese

There’s barely any cheese or sauce and that’s what I remember tasting. The crust tasted undercooked and a bit soft. Sometimes that’ll work but not here.   I do realize I was eating around 8 or 9 pm so the quality may not be as high.  But I’ve had the same slice during the afternoon and it was just as mediocre.

LittleItalyBacon

The bacon, chicken, and ranch didn’t taste fresh.  The toppings seemed boring and just thrown on there.   Even bad pizza could be good pizza but this doesn’t apply here.  Even bacon which is hard to screw up, either tasted like it was past its sell by date or it wasn’t real bacon.  I’d rate both of these below average.

LittleItalyDuo

My hunch is that the business is just going through the motions.  It can try to please everyone and change the quality of their pies at various times of the day, or just wing it throughout.  I suspect they’re doing the latter.  I can only assume why the caliber of their pizzas has dwindled.

I remember barely eating half of either and feeling bad I had to throw them in the trash.

The interior is narrow.  There’s only a few sets of tables and chairs which is what I do like about it.  It’s a grab-and-go kind of place.  I’d just use caution on the pizza.  Lowered expectations would work here.

More to come.

Best,

Ideen