Another Door Opens

EatalianTrios

Eatalian Bistro of Towson sits in a location that’s all too familiar to the locals and folks who like to spend a day or afternoon or shopping nearby at one of the two local malls.

Sometime back I wrote about what was once there, and it reminds me of the many occasions I ate there, during and way after college.  I went to the University nearby. Here is my growing and storied history of pizzas I’ve had in the area.

What was once there was a solid, sometimes fantastic restaurant with great pizza, overall good food, and reasonable prices.  What it also had going for them was 25 years of history and goodwill within the neighborhood.   But times have changed.

This is not the Towson I remember from 10, even 5 years ago.  Towns and cities change, adapt, and grow, and sometimes the small businesses feel the brunt of it, and either close up, or move away.    But this is happening everywhere, not just close to home.  Well it may be happening close to your home…

EatalianFront

Life goes on, and this brings us to Eatalian Bistro, which doesn’t have a website, but info can be found here, along with their menu right here.

EatalianMenu

So this is a review of two visits as we lead into Towson’s Christmas tree lighting which will take place today, as in the day this article is posted (12/1/17) literally footsteps away.

EatalianSpecials

When a pizzeria promotes three slices for $6.00, you have to do a double take.  But that’s exactly what Eatalian Bistro is promoting.  It’s unheard of. This constitutes stealing, this constitutes too good to be true, but most importantly this constitutes expressing gratitude and thanks.  I just don’t see a deal lasting like this forever.  If it does, you’ll at least have a regular customer out of me.

And with that, a total of six slices will be reviewed, but in really simple fashion.

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The first visit led me to order a cheese, meat lovers, and a bit of a unique slice, chicken and mushroom.  What I love about going to places with slices is you never know what you’re going to get.  Not every slice will be available every day.  And the unpredictability factor leads to making different orders at time, and keeps it from being all too familiar.

EatalianCheese

These are good slices.  They aren’t going to change your life, or make you think this is the best pizza ever.  I didn’t see it like that.  But if you’re going to judge a place on the cheese, then this place will do just fine.

The meat lovers was a bit heavy for me, but that’s also a personal thing along with a reflection on the pizza or the pizza makers themselves.  The chicken and mushroom was good, but I think it’s capable of being a great a second time.  Too bad I didn’t get that chance because on my…

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Second visit threw some changes.  Where there were no white pizzas during round one, this appearance brought about a white broccoli and white spinach, so I had to get both.  And to spice things up, I went with the Sicilian.   No chicken and mushroom on display this time.  Like I said, different and unpredictable is good.

The white slices were pleasant and I thought better than anything I had the first time, except for maybe the plain.  These are well done, if not safe in how they were prepared.  I’ll say the crust tasted better this go around.  You can see the pictures and understand why.  You see a little more golden brown that you don’t see in the previous slices.

EatalianSicilian

The Sicilian was my least favorite.  Depending on where you go, these things can be incredible or an absolute disaster.  I’ll put this in the middle.  The cheese and tomato sauce didn’t work for me, but it could easily work for you.

The colors look like Christmas.  I didn’t plan for this, so I like how this came together naturally without me thinking about it or forcing it.  That does make me happy.

However, the staff each time has been friendly, approachable, and happy to help.  This restaurant is only a few months old and deserves every opportunity to succeed if they’re putting themselves out there to provide the best food and serve it can.

In the spirit of the holidays, and all year round, I’m wishing the best for Eatalian Bistro, and hope that it becomes a staple of the neighborhood like many businesses have been able to do so.

And with those holiday spirits and wishes, the events going on in Towson are on this flyer below.

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It’s December and there’s plenty of days and weekends starting with this one to get all your Christmas in.  I plan on doing my best to get involved in as much Christmas spirit as I can.

Have a blessed one, and happy holidays!

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

I Love This Weekend

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Sometimes life works out, the planets and stars align, and the universe does look out for you.  It looks out for us in more ways than we realize.  We might not always see it.  I know I don’t always see it.   And even with all the good that is about to transpire this weekend,  I may not fully grasp how beautiful the next few days are going to be, until way after its over.  I know I’ll love it while it’s happening, but I’ll look back fondly on it even more as time goes by.  This is more than nostalgia or reminiscing.  Some thing just hit you.  You wish time would stand still, you could do this all day, you could do this forever, and you could be around these people forever.

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What I’m referring to is the annual CASAblanca Gala presented by Anne Arundel County CASA, this Saturday, November 4th.

I mentioned Anne Arundel County, which is synonymous with Annapolis.  I’ve said plenty of good about our state capitol in the past, yet I can never say enough.

My dear friend Rebecca is the Executive Director of Anne Arundel County CASA, and it’s an amazing time to share with friends and to support a wonderful cause.  This their 20th year holding the event, which takes place at the beautiful Westin Hotel in Annapolis.   It’s my third year attending, and the third time is a charm to finally write about…

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Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen is literally footsteps from the Westin, and has been as convenient and a go-to for me as any.  Well why do I say convenient and go to?  Isn’t this a sit-down restaurant with fine dining, a place to relax, and appreciate the food and surroundings?  Well yes, but I’ve actually never eaten here.   What I’m actually referring to is Carpaccio 2go which is adjacent to the restaurant, and I mean this with all sincerity, looks like something I’ve never seen.   I almost feel like it’s too good to be true in a way.  I don’t know how to explain it but the location is perfect, and I can’t exactly put my finger on why.

Maybe because many pizza places with slices to go don’t look as beautiful as this.  But if you look around the vicinity, the tiny of white colors of the building, the hotel, and the residential units across the way, all match.  While the area looks pricey, and of course it is, it almost feels supernatural in a way.  Again, it’s all open to your interpretation, but there’s an architectural and metaphysical force that worked in concert with each other to create all this.  In some ways, it”s almost too beautiful.  But I should appreciate all the beauty for what it is.

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I’ve been to the carry out side many times and because of the location and the aura I was feeling, I had immensely high expectations.  Now, not every time is going to be mentioned or will every slice be featured.  I will reserve it to two visits for now, which means a total of four slices.

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The first visit I will discuss was back in late Summer.  Now it’s hot and pizza is hot, so what am I trying to say?  I really don’t know haha, but my slices on this day were the Sausage and Peppers, and then Chicken Pollo. Now I know what I was trying to say.  I think some slices work better in different climates, similar to how we drink wine, and how we eat other foods during certain times and certain seasons.

CarpaccioSausagePepperOnion

While I’ve had mainly good experiences here, I know the best was still to come.  The sausage and peppers with onions was really good, and went great with your standard mozzarella cheese slice.  I will say without sounding like a broken record, the crusts on all these slices were heated tremendously.  You can see the colors across the board.  There was a lot of time and care put into the making of the dough and the heating.  You don’t need to be an expert.   You can just tell those things.

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Now I had high aspirations for the pesto.  I’ve ranted and raved about my love for pesto throughout my journey, and I wanted to love this one so much.  It was good but I know the best was still to come.  The pesto aioli was fantastic.  Maybe for me the white pizza with chicken, tomatoes, and those yummy mushrooms (more on the mushrooms shortly), caused a little bit of the flavors to be lost.   But still a good slice I would definitely have again.

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Now moving on to earlier this week, this is where expectations were matched and succeeded.

It almost seemed like the pizzas on display looked shinier and brighter, and I could do no wrong no matter what I ordered.  I was spot on and then some.

CarpaccioMargherita

The Margherita looks like art and tastes like art.  The marinara sauce is heavenly.  The photo doesn’t say it all but it says a lot.  Oh my goodness.  This is up there with one of the better slices I’ve had. The basil, garlic, mozzarella, and olive oil just makes this simple pizza one of the best I’ve had not just here but anywhere.  And the crust was even better today.

CarpaccioWildMushroom

Not to be outdone is the Wild Mushroom.  I love mushrooms and can have them with just about anything.  But when you throw gorgonzola, you’ve got to be kidding me, this is a gem.  Cremini and portobello mushrooms really make this pie but the combination of two contrasting cheese in mozzarella and gorgonzola also make this an absolute masterpiece.

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Recall how I said you look back on things with even more love and romanticism as time goes by?  This is how I felt about this visit.  I’ve been here many times and something about this one was just a cut above the rest.  I sensed it and maybe the universe did too.  This won’t be the last time I  talk about them.  The next time will be from the actual restaurant itself, which is gorgeous inside and in the patio area as well.  If you’ve visited then you know I’m talking about.   Yes I’ve never eaten there but was in awe of what I saw.

For more on Carpaccio, here is their menu (which serves many of the same pizzas as Carpaccio 2go, click here to make a reservation, their story, and contact information.

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend in the Annapolis area.  Not only is the CASAblanca Gala going to be amazing, but I’ll also be at the First Sunday Arts Festival footsteps away on West Street the following day.  It will be their holiday edition, yes it’s that time of year already. In addition is the Bay Bridge 10k this Sunday, the Eastport vs. Annapolis Tug Of War on Saturday, and the City of Annapolis General Elections are this Tuesday.  

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What an exciting time to be in the area.  If Annapolis wasn’t great enough, all these events just make this place all the more magical.

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It all begins with CASAblanca and I so greatly look forward to it.

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For more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is more about them, volunteer, and donation information.

Thanks so much and I look forward to an incredible weekend!

Peace be with you and happy beginning to the holiday season…

Ideen

 

 

The Best Stories Come From…

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I often equate a pizza or pizzeria as something bigger than just that.  If there’s a personal attachment or immediately nostalgia, the posts will be easier to right.  Otherwise, it’s an even more intent of focus on the actual pizza itself, and nothing else.  It makes the story all to simplistic and lacking much character.   I do my best not to do that but some experiences can’t be helped.  Not everything is going to be a winner.  And even if the pie is good, that might be all a place or myself had to offer.

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I’m grateful to say that my experience at Bella Italia of Arnold, MD was one I’ll remember, for the simplest of things.

I was the only one in there.

Well that’s the short story.  After I get to the slices I’ll resume why this truly stands out.

And it’s not like the slices don’t stand out.  In fact they do, and it’s because of the mood and the place I was in.

Summer is winding down and I always have mixed feelings about it.  The weather is still stellar but there’s days where the warmth is not as profound.  And we notice the the shortening the days with the sun setting a minute earlier (give or take) each day.  The hints of fall tend to make me embrace the more folksy and community places.   In actuality, I want local all the time, and during any season. I can’t articulate why.  It’s what I’m drawn to.  Local is my heart, and I would safely assume many would feel the same.

Over the past several days I found myself in the Annapolis area, which includes Edgewater, Pasadena, and Arnold, among many other charming towns.   And while I had a list of pizzas and places I could talk about, nothing felt right for this week.  The universe was giving me another sign.  And like a magnet I was drawn to Bella.

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Nestled and snuggled in a the cozy Arnold Station Shopping Center, that has a more authentic and old time feeling area than the newness of a lot of these strip malls, Bella Italia sits in the corner, unassuming, approachable, and inviting.

Ok so about these slices.

I got the cheese, white with spinach and mushroom, and the Mariposa which is a white pizza with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and the freshest of mozzarella.  And it tasted fresh alright.

BellaItaliaCheese

There’s a lot of good to focus on.  The cheese was fantastic.  I often think how we can compare the plain slice, or any slice for that matter, against all the pizza joints in the world.  You can’t.  Our tastes are unique, and all over the place.   Some people may not care for this cheese.  But this had a distinct taste that I can’t put my finger on.  And for now, I don’t want to know.  This is great but not the best slice I’ve ever had.  And again, it’s all subjective.  It was wonderful and in the upper crust (hehe) of the great plain slices I’ve enjoyed.  The crust on all three of these was consistently awesome.

BellaItaliaWhite

The white with spinach and mushroom is a step above the white slices I’ve had recently. It’s been a struggle to find a great one lately, and this is closer to what I prefer.  It wasn’t as oily, greasy, or overly cheesy was other whites I’ve been down about.  I’d put it in the decent category.  It’s a little more than just there.

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Which leads me to the Mariposo.  This was a slice.  Now I’ve had eggplants on pizza before and it’s been a disaster.  This was great.   I definitely enjoyed my veggies individually as I plucked away, and noticed so much layered below.  The greens, the tomatoes, and the eggplants tasted just as fresh against other pizzerias that I’ve had something similar.   And after a while, I forgot it was just a white at its base.

But the difference was the greens and olive oil flavor really merged to make this white pizza that much better.  The lighter yet salad like taste made this a winner.  This place is a winner.

And the people behind it are what make it a winner.

When I got there the entire staff was relaxing against the wall like they didn’t have a care in the world.  It was after lunch and before dinner, so I felt like I was the only person on Earth (not true in the slightest but its fun to embellish) and the crew had some down time.  And after I got my slices, they went back to their place of peace.  The gentleman who served up my slices could not have been nicer.

I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble by giving that visual.

It’s this little detail that’s a big one.  It’ll make me want to come back, and not only say thank you.  But to try some other stand out pies.   I’m not sure when that’ll be but the universe will give me another sign.

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These are the places that make this blog worth doing.   I’ll get to more of the Baltimore, DC, and major city stuff.  But this felt a little more real and a little more necessary.

I look forward to more authentic, organic, and beautiful experiences such as this one.

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Oh and did you notice that some of the toppings from the Mariposo spilled onto the other two?  Just a cool little detail, that’s not so little.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

Slice 2.0

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Not quite two years ago I did a write-up about Slice Pizza in in Nottingham, MD.  I was critical and constructive in my thoughts.  That review can be found here.

I thought the pizza wasn’t up to par with what they were charging, and the creative slices.

One look at their full menu will tell you all you need to know about how dynamic and daring some of their signature pies are.  But daring doesn’t always translate to good. Some of us want our simple cheese slices that are affordable, ready to go, and harmless

There’s the flip side.  Do you want it too much on the unique and chaotic side, or will a simple plain do?

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Well why am I rambling on about a place I already wrote about?  Well I have a reason.  And along with that, they’ve since opened a second location not far away in downtown Towson, MD.  They don’t have a website but hopefully this will help.

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I found myself at their new locaotion, like I always do when it comes to where  I choose to eat, rather serendipitously (no such thing as coincidence) and just in time for lunch.

They had an even wider array of slices that I wouldn’t think to make.  However, this some of these slices bordered on chaotic.  And chaos, no matter how organized and clean, may intimidate some.  Not me.  I say bring on the mayhem.

And I was hoping for a major upgrade from my original visit.  Now onto the pies…

I don’t know what it is, but I just tend  to be in the mood for mushrooms from time to time.  So with further adieu how did my slices turn out?

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First up was the the Chicken Marsala.  I’ll tell you what, the pieces of chicken on top of this slice were fantastic.  I couldn’t tell if they were marinated or chicken cutlets.  But either way it was a good start.   This is more about the pie than the makers themselves.  This was a little too rich for me on the inside. I’m assuming they used marsala wine to add to the sauce.  And it just didn’t work for me.  The crust was heated maybe just a little too golden brown and burnt on some ends that it did lose some of its flavor on top of the pie Not the best slice I’ve ever had nor the worst.

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Now we go to the Tomato Mushroom Pestocado.  Now if I said anything wrong about the title of this slice, please correct me.  This was good.  The fresh uncooked tomatoes on top added so much to this pizza.  The lukewarm mushrooms added a little something else.  Whether it was meant to be cooked more doesn’t matter.  I dug it.  And I’m assuming this was an avacado based pesto as part of the well, base of the pie.  I may be wrong on that too but the main thing I felt took away from this was there was too much ricotta cheese and it wasn’t very good.  That’s when I realized this was a white pizza with all kinds good goodness piled on top.   Take out the ricotta, this is a really good slice.  The crust was heated better on this one too.

The two staff members working the counter could not have been nicer.  They made the experience so much better.

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What I did find troubling is the $10 total I paid for both of my slices.  I know these are on the gourmet end but $10 did feel a tad steep.  Luckily the do have lunch specials where two cheese slices and one drink do only cost $6 and change.  We’re only talking a few dollars here but I’m looking at this from all areas.

Since there’s so many unique slices to choose from, this is only the beginning.  I almost feel I could run a supplementary blog for all their outside the box slices.  I love that and I love when folks break tradition and go their own way.

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Another visit is in order and soon.

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Here’s my ever growing history of the pizza of Towson.

Happy New Year,

Ideen

 

 

Word To The Wiseguy Version 2.0

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This is one of those once-in-a-while posts where the pizza experience was so fascinating, that it had to be sliced into two parts. No puns whatsoever. Last week’s posr can be found here.

I’ll cut (oops) right to the chase.  Wiseguy NY Pizza has some of the best slices I’ve had some time.  I know we tend to heap praise and glamorize while in the moment, and after the dust settles and we’ve had a few minutes to process, we come back down to reality. It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m still thinking about these slices.

While last week at the DC location had one incredible slice, the visit to the Arlington had a one-two punch that is up there with the best of them.

We’ve all had those meals and those experiences that resonate with us.  We do tend to romanticize those events from the past as being much better than they were.  But then there’s those times you knew something was special and that over time, it was going to feel just as awesome (if not more) now than it did then.  Ah who am I kidding, it’s just pizza, or is it something more?

After that build-up this better be good right?

A drive through Arlington isn’t anything visually inspiring, unless you like big buildings, corporate entities, and people moving fast trying to look important.  But nestled in the heart of all this commotion, was my inaugural trip to Wiseguy.

I never have presumptions when it comes to food.  Several factors such as, price, location, atmosphere, my mood, and the universe dictate my feeling of the pizzeria and the pizza itself.  I don’t ask for much.

But to say certain biases don’t shine through when I’m near our nation’s capital would be a lie.  However, when you find a parking spot right in front of the place, you know it’s going to be a good day.

When I waked in I had no idea what I was going to get.  And fortunately I was in a short line (unlike visit two)  at lunch hour, so everything was available.

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And the first thing I saw was those squared shaped, Sicilian Style, cheese falling from the sides and some of it fried from the way it was heated in the oven.  I knew this was going to be remarkable.

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I didn’t even know there was Feta immersed in this gem until I perused the menu again. Feta on a white pizza, feta when done right is perfection.  It’s one of those cheeses I’ve appreciated since I was a kid, thanks in part to my parents and my background.  I don’t have it enough or maybe I have it just enough to appreciate it and look forward to it more.   And of course you have your appropriate cheeses, fresh motz and mozzarella, and fontinella, to make one of the best slices I’ve had in a long while.  This is bordering on five stars.  The roasted garlic makes it five stars. Garlic and feta on a white pizza, who knew? Yum!  And even for a thicker style dough, I loved every minute of this.  I’m crazing a slie now.  Just as I’m craving…

…When I thought it couldn’t any better, I up and get the Mushroom Truffle.  You would think that eating two slices like this in concert with each other, that the flavors would overpower from one pizza to the other.  I took my time, I ate them separately, and I savored every bite I could.  The mushrooms tasted fresh out of the garden, and the inclusion of truffle, goat cheese, and basil makes this pure insanity.  How is this slice even possible?

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the crust.  This was one of the best thin slices I’ve had in a while.  Something about the soul and character behind this slice is second-to-none.  That and I love mushroom.

For my pals in the area, you can also order online.  And for pals in Arlington there’s the Door Dash option.

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I think I painted the right picture of my two experiences at Wiseguy.  If not, I think the paintings, I mean pictured above tell the story.  This is a nice segue into November. What that means I don’t know but I’m looking forward to continuing this ride.

Stay warm,

Ideen

 

Word To The Wiseguy

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I had never heard of Wiseguy NY Pizza until just a few weeks ago.

My first experience at the Arlington location was magical and I didn’t know until after I left.  I’ll save that for the end.  I had all the intention of getting around to recapping this experience by the end of November, but as all things nothing goes as planned nor should it. Especially when blogging and having fun.   A chance visit to the Washington, DC location within the past few days brought about a second helping of some dynamite slices. And the experience was something else.  It was something different. It’s DC. I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Speaking of which,  I’ll start backwards like they do in some cinemas.

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It was lunchtime and the line was 20 people deep.  It moved fast and fortunately I wasn’t in any rush, nor should I truly ever be.  But I’ve been the guy who’s paced back and forth and obsessively stared at their phone, hoping I still had time to get my food and rush back to work, without management being upset.  That’s the sense I got from most of the folks around me.  It wasn’t laid back but would you expect anything less?   The guy behind me especially seemed very programmed that if I hadn’t ordered my slices right away, he may have interjected and started that sighing and whining you see in the cinemas.   See I knew I mentioned cinemas earlier for a reason.

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That’s the end of the negative.  I ordered the Backyard Veggie and a Chicken Ranch.

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I said that was the end of the negative but I’ll quickly state the veggie was the one slice I had a hard time eating.  Of course I did but it was a bit too spicy for me.  Ingredients for all slices are shown above. The chili peppers were incredibly aggressive.  And I’m not one to complain about spices. In general I’d like it hot.But it didn’t work here.  And I feel the tomato sauce does not complement any of these vegetables.  It felt like too much and everything got lost.  The olives were good though.  I picked those off.  This is also where the crust seemed not to matter.  And the NY Style thin crust was wonderful on the next three (wait, hold that thought) slices across the board.

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The Chicken Ranch Melt was divine.  It more than made up for the previous slice. The crispy chicken slices and that house made ranch sauce were perfect to eat enough by their lonesome but wait, there’s more.  Throw that on top of a white pizza, and we have a winner.  But the true standout is the parsley. It added something that is too good for words.  If you love parsley you know what I’m talking about. But seriously, this made the slice when it was already made.

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I wish I could end the post here and split this into two parts.

Actually that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Arlington, next week.  Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.

Here is more about this less-than-five year old pizzeria, their menu, and online ordering for those local.

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More next week,

Ideen

 

A Safe Bet

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After last weeks hard-to-top post, it was meant to be that I take it down a couple of notches and shake things up a bit.  I mean this with all sincerity, last week is something special.  Read it if you get the chance.

I was at a crossroads on what to write for this week.   Not every post is going to be or meant to be profound.  It’s pizza we’re talking about.  It’s supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and maybe inspirational. There I go again.

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And this is no way meant to denigrate my review of Safeway’s Signature Select Spinach & Mushroom Pizza. That was a mouthful.  Speaking of which…

…But first a little intro.

I was turned away at a few places where their respective kitchens were about to close and no more orders were going to be taken.  A couple of these are some of the heavier hitters in Baltimore.  Ah well, the tease continues.  I’ll get to those when it’s meant to be.

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But instead, good old reliable, 24 hour Safeway was footsteps away.   My fellow pizza pals have suggested I write about a frozen pizza here and there.   It’s good to change it up and either by hook or a last ditch effort, this is what we’re getting this week.

Let me be honest.  For $5 it’s hard to complain about anything, unless it’s an absolute disgrace.  This was nowhere near that.   The alfredo sauce really adds some zip to an otherwise standard pie.

And even though I’ve grown up from the little kid, who loved frozen pies when I was young, I secretly hoped the spinach and mushrooms would look like how they do on the front of the box.   Once again, not this time.  Maybe one time it’ll work out for me.  Insert sad face here.

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The dough rose nicely post heating.  And that golden brown tint along the crust is always a treat.  I can’t say this stacks up to certain pizzerias creations or other frozen pies, since there’s nothing for me to compare it too.  Not yet at least.   But the dough and crust was a mix of soft and crunchy in parts.  That could be the way the oven heated it, the way the dough was made/frozen, or universal elements that are inexplicable.  I dug it though.

For a night out after the bars or on a random day where the pickings are slim, this pizza does the job.  Scratch that, this pizza works whenever you want it.

I was full after just a couple of slices, so this can last you a few meals if dining alone, or it’s perfect to share among 2-3 people.  And for only $5, you’re almost making money on this pizza!  And money is cool.

I’ve been a fan of Safeway’s Signature items, and the za only continues to reinforce my belief.

Supermarkets across the globe have frozen pizzas from all over the place.  So this may just be the beginning.  I may have opened up pandora’s pizza box, or this may not be revisited again for months.  Time will tell.

To locate the nearest Safeway by you, click here.

Back to our regularly scheduled pizzeria journey next week.

Best,

Ideen