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.

MarcosWhiteCheezy2

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

 

Circle of Trust

CulinaryCircleGarlicChickenAlfredoHeated

This one is by request…

A random person had asked me to do a little digging, a little research, and to go on an adventure to write about a couple of pizzas from Culinary Circle.

Whether this person ever reads this post, or that it finds them well will be left to the universe.  I’ve always wanted to say that.  Nevertheless, I hope this finds all of you well…

Before I continue, here is more about them, their list of products, and where you can find Culinary Circle’s foods near you.

How do I analyze frozen pizzas?  I really don’t.  I just tell stories. This tends to go across the board with a lot of what I write and talk about.  Of course there’s opinions, critiques at times, and overall quality.  But I don’t always find fun in that.  I find fun in all the elements of the universe that brought this whole thing together.

There’s a reason I was directed by a force to find this.  I still don’t exactly know why.  Maybe it was for the fact that the crusts are thinner, and in hotter temperatures this would be ideal.  Maybe someone is telling me that lighter might be better, for right now at least.

Maybe someone is telling me to take it easy…

I would say it’s all above, and so much more that I don’t even know about.  I don’t need to just yet, it’ll be shown to me.

Am I even talking about the pizza anymore.  Ha.

The Garlic Chicken Alfredo and then the Margherita tells a tale of two different pies, yet crafted with lots of love, soul, spirit, and all the other good things.

We’ve all enjoyed so many pizzas at home, at restaurants, at pizzerias, and everywhere in the middle.  These culinary gems are just another in a long line of good food made by good hands.   It makes me feel good to eat good and then to feel good again.

A thin crust certainly helps.  Pictured above is how they look frozen.

CulinaryCircleGarlicChickenAlfredoHeated2

The former has so much flavor and rich that you could make a few meals of this, and of course share with friends.  Sharing is the best.

CulinaryCircleMargheritaHeated

And the latter, while so simple, brings the taste you’ve known to grow and love with a margherita pizza.  No it’s not the best I’ve ever had but that doesn’t matter.

Both are enjoyable and perfect for summer gatherings, lunch, dinner, heck even breakfast.  It doesn’t matter.  If you feel good, it’ll make you feel good, and that’s what’s most important.

Until yesterday I had never seen nor heard about Culinary Circle.

I’m glad it was then. I’m glad it was now.  First time for everything.   And I look forward to many more first, second, and many times.  This was fun.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Back Where I Come From

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza

I grew up around the Rockville, MD area, and each time I come home, I get these feelings of uneasiness.  It still feels like the place I remember when I was a kid, but all that is waning.

Here are my past posts from this historic town.

My peers and I are older now.  Many of the places we used to frequent are no more.  I supposed many people say that, because things end.  Nothing lasts forever.  But that doesn’t mean that when something ends, that something worse takes it place.  That does happen, but with a congested suburb of the Washington, DC area, I still attempt to see the glass half full.

There’s restaurants, stores, hidden gems, and just those things you can’t put into words that are no more.   I still keep in touch with family and friends, because that’s important to me, and they’re also the constant.  As we grow up the reasons we became close still exist and sometimes new ones formed.

And sometimes you discover a place that is one of the new gems, the new parts of a town that easily could fit in with the past.

CSNY

CSNY Pizza (an offshoot of Pizza CS, which I will get to in time) resides in a location on Rockville Pike that has seen many tenants, and many local businesses come and go.   This understated pizza place is not going anywhere.

When I saw the signs last year for this soon to be opened spot, I was excited, and then as time went by I forgot.  And not for any malicious reasons.  I don’t live here.  I haven’t lived in here in some time, and I don’t ever see myself coming back.   Never say never, but that’s not in the cards.

This was home.  It’s still has parts of my heart, but so much has changed.  And in the past year ever more has changed.   Some things are gone and are never going to come back.  I have to make peace with that.  As I’m writing this out, I’m still trying to make that peace.

I’m grateful family and friends are still around.  Like I said, that’s still the constant.

But onto the pizza…

The spot is simple and so is the menu.  Just how I like it.

I ordered three standard slices (cheese, sausage, and mushroom) which were all great.  But the Sicilian Pepperoni was even that much greater.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizzaSlice

If this is their version of New York Style, I want more.  I’m craving more right now.

I don’t often talk the sauce being the stand out on a pizza, but this is what happened here.  It has a a familiar taste that brings me back to my childhood.  There’s just something so divine about it.  I can’t place my finger on it and now is the not the time to. The sauce is an absolute masterpiece.

The cheese, the toppings, and that crust all complement each other so well.  So simple, so understated, yet so amazing.  This is CSNY Pizza and it’s incredible.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza2

Yet that Sicilian Crust is that much more memorable.  The pepperonis are some of the best I’ve tasted, and even though I saved a lot of that crust for later, I enjoyed my few bites.  And that’s all that matters.

CSNYPizzaSlicesAll

I ordered four slices because it felt like the right thing to do, and I will get a few meals out of this, and who knows when I’ll be back.

Oh I’ll be back.

This was once home.  Somewhere in all this madness is still home.  I’m grateful the simple, yet oh so memorable, still exists.

This was world class.  This was beautiful.   This was….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Support Local

PomodoroPizzaSlices

Which is what I always like to do.  And it’s safe to say that many of you feel the same.

We continue to see strip malls add more chains (or lose them), and along with local businesses fledgling, struggling, or choosing to close up.  We’re also seeing more national companies downsizing or closing their doors to the shock and sadness of some.  It’s an evolution and a changing of not just the guard, but of a lot of things.

This is no longer your mom and pops, mom and pop shoppe era.  Yes they do exist but you know what I mean.

However, people still need to eat and will always need to unless someone decides to change that.  I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  So people just don’t want to eat from the same places, the same chains, the same fast food chains, and sometimes we just don’t want to follow the herd.

I don’t like following the herd.

When I was in Northern Virginia last December, doing some adventurous holiday shopping, I ended up in one of these typical looking shopping centers.  Too much looked to familiar and lacked any authenticity or welcoming vibe.

PomodoroPizzeria

But in a sea of the sameness, was a magical place off in the distance.  Pomodoro Pizza of Sterling, VA.

It just stood out in a way that says everything is ok.  Places like this still do and will always exist.  Just the exterior of the place told me I was going to walk into something special.

PomodoroRestaurant

The interior had all he beautiful designs of what an Italian restaurant looks like.   And the energy in the place only felt good.  I felt like I was on vacation, even though I was a little over an hour from home.

When I venture out of the familiar confines at home, and discover a pizza place that I ordinarily wouldn’t visit, or even know existed.  But everything happens for a reason.

And then everything happens for a reason.   That was me repeating from dramatic build up, but that’s honestly where it stops.  The reason might be shown to me later, but the pizza itself was no quite as great as I hoped.

PomodoroPizzaSlices2

I ordered a cheese slice and a meat lovers, mainly because at the time most of their other slices were long gone, or there was a wait for new pizzas to come out.  Maybe I should have waited.  But I once again look at certain situations presented to me, and it felt like these were the slices I was meant to get.  Again, I honestly don’t know why, but that’s where I was.

PomodoroCheeseSlice

It’s not that the slices were bad.  It’s just that it lacked anything to be called amazing.  I can safely say the pizzas were average.  And my high expectations may have set myself up for disappointment.    I just know this place is capable of more.

PomodorMeatLovers

I don’t need to review either slice separately because they’re similar in quality.   The crust was fine, as was the cheese.   I’ve said before that I don’t love pepperoni or various red meats on my pizza, but that’s now how I judge pizzas with those toppings.  If it tastes good then everything else will fall into place.  That didn’t happen here.   And I know this place is capable of so much more.   I know I’m repeating myself, but I can feel it.  I can sense it.

PomodoroRolls

There was something funny about this day.  I ordered a couple of rolls, and I ended up with the family size.  Maybe I misspoke but I found this humorous.  There’s no way I had these all on my own.  They were distributed.  I promise you.   The rolls were solid, but again…

PomodorPizzaSlicesRolls

However, the staff was friendly and just being away gave me a feeling of rejuvenation.

I would love to get back here and get the real deal.  They have better pizza then what was presented to me that day.

PomodoroMenu

For more on Pomodoro, here is their story, their menu,  more about their pizza, and contact information.

Have a great weekend and support local!

Ideen

Time Splitters

TimesSquareKitchenPizzaSlices

This is another one of those by special request.  And I mean by request over the past couple of years.

When I get to or end up in Owings Mills, I’m not always thinking about pizza.  Then again, I’m not really thinking about anything.  I’m here, I drive, I do things, and then I keep going about my business.

It’s an area I would be sentimental to, as you see, it was where I had my first grown up job, out of college.  It lasted for a time, I left on good terms, and all the while I could see the writing on the wall.  The area was growing, new buildings were well, being built; and more land was turning into corporate and professional entities.  This is not a ran about progress or whatever you want to call it.  It’s just an observation.

TimesSquareKitchenFront

Many years later, here we are.  More is coming.  And that more of the past is Times Square Kitchen, in an area of Owings Mills where I don’t even recall what was there before, which makes believe there was lots of green, and lots of land to do what people choose to do with it.  It’s there.  I remember seeing it on the highway which feels like a different lifetime ago.

Nevertheless, there’s restaurants, a library, a branch of college, and a residential development up the street.  I’m sure I’m missing a few things.

Before I lose track, the question always is, how was the pizza?

I found it missing something.  Maybe it was the mood I was in, but it just didn’t wow me.  And I gave everything a chance.   I ordered a cheese, a white vegetable, and a buffalo chicken slice.  So I tried to cover all bases.

Here is their menu.

TimesSquareKitchenCheesePizzaSlice

The crust on all of these was again, fine.  It just tasted like decent pizza.  If you’re to rate a pizzeria by its cheese then it continues to the theme of an alright pie.  The cheese is again, decent.  It’s not that the cheese and sauce was bad (they make everything in house), it just lacked spark.  I wanted to like this.  I actually want to love everything I eat. If not, what’s the point of all this?

TimesSquareKitchenWhitePizzaSlice

The white veggie was a bit overloaded.  The crust wasn’t big enough to handle all this.  And it’s a sizeable crust, but the whole didn’t equal the sum of those things.   I’ve said it before, I think white is one of the more challenging slices to make.  I think you can rate a place based on their blanca, as much as their plain cheese.

TimesSquareKitchenBuffaloChickenPizzaSlice

The buffalo chicken was a bit of a saving grace.  I liked the shredded piece of chicken on top.  The buffalo sauce was good, and this was a slightly better piece of pizza then its predecessors, but again the feel good story wasn’t there.

TimesSquareKitchenPizzaSlices2

I haven’t been to New York in some time.  But I’ve had great slices there.  I’ve had great New York Style slices in various places, including Maryland.   This doesn’t quite reach that.

Even though I didn’t love it this time, you may think otherwise.  I’ve been told by several people that this is one of their favorites in the Baltimore area.   It’s important to agree to disagree.  We all shouldn’t like the same things.  We all shouldn’t love the same things.  That wouldn’t be fun.

TimesSquareKitchenILovePizza

There’s fun in respectfully disagreeing.  There’s fun in sharing the love of pizza (among so many other things) with the people you love as well.   It’s disappointing this one didn’t work out, but I’ll gladly give it another shot again down the line.

Many a time I’ve gone back a second or third time to many types of a restaurants (not just pizza) and was happier.   One iffy visit isn’t going to stop me from coming back, just like one amazing visit somewhere else should sometimes be met with caution, depending on the place or scenario.

That’s what makes this all so fun.    I shall revisit Times Square Kitchen down the line.  Local business will always have my heart.   I’m all about an encore.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

A Flair For The Gold

FranksTrios

I’m writing this as I watch the unofficial first day of coverage of the Winter Olympics, so please bare with me, I’m a bit excited.

I wanted on the eve (or day of depending on where you are and when you read this) of National Pizza Day, for this story to be inspiring, remarkable, heartwarming, and all those other superlatives and blessings.

FranksPizza

When talking about Frank’s Pizza & Pasta in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton, or is it Overlea?  Well it’s Baltimore and it’s an institution that’s been around for over 30 years.   That to me is worthy of a medal itself.

I had actually intended on doing a story nearly two years ago but something told me the timing wasn’t right.  If I’m recalling correctly, my pictures looked underwhelming, or maybe some universal force told me it wasn’t time.   Some things can’t be explained nor need an explanation.

All roads brought me here this week.   Actually that’s exactly what happened.  Yesterday I drove passed Frank’s later in the evening, with the thinking that I need to get back here.  And while I was on my way home, if the situation presented itself, I know I’d be back again soon.  Literally, less than 24 hours later… And the rest is well…

My expectations had been raised after hearing about their pizza, from a couple peoples’ opinions that I respect immensely.  And it’s all about your own opinion, your own beliefs, experience, and all that good stuff.  But I can’t help but admit that I had high hopes.

If we’re using Olympic terms, the technical scores may be a bit low, or the qualification times may be enough to make the next round but I don’t know.  There are some deductions and maybe some penalties.   There may need to be a redo.

What does this all mean?  I’ll get to the point.  I wanted to love it but I can’t say that.  I want to love every pizza and every experience, but it’s not always going be that way.  While it’s easy to find positives (and there are), the faults do stand out.

I got three slices, and how perfect was this selection.  I might have stopped by right after the lunch rush since a lot of slices were bunched together, and the pickings were minimal. No problem at all, I still got a cheese slice, a meat lover’s, and the Mediterranean, which looked like it just came out of the oven.

FranksMeatLovers

I’ll get my critiques out of the way first.  The cheese, and meat lover’s looked much better displayed on trays beforehand than how they looked after they were heated.  Maybe my eyes were deceiving me but the plain cheese looked like it shrank.

FranksCheese

You can also see that they reheated these slices a little too long.  You can see the burnt parts, especially in the meat lover’s, that the crust actually fell apart where it was charred.  Now there’s good charring and then there’s this.   It wouldn’t have mattered though, as neither slice did much for me.  The cheese felt flat and something just didn’t taste right.  Maybe there wasn’t enough?  Maybe it was out there too long.  I don’t know.

FranksMeatLovers2

The meat lover’s is not one I would ordinary try anyways, but I figured why not.  This one I could only take one or two bites of before I had enough.  It was burnt and it was a little too hearty for me, but that’s more of a personal opinion as well.   I like more of a….

FranksMediterranean2

And this brings me to the Mediterranean.  This was the gem, or the crown jewel if you will, of the slices.  Maybe the fact that it just came out hot and fresh had a lot to do with it.  The toppings were exquisite and the pesto was tremendous.  I think I got some magnificent olive oil too.  All the toppings complemented each other perfectly.  It’ll make me want come back.    All this on top of a white pizza, is masterful.

And I will.  I think this place is capable of so much.  It wouldn’t be around so long if it hadn’t, even with changing times and tastes.

FranksMediterranean

That’s the most in depth I’ve been about pizza in some time.  I usually look for all the positives and situations related to everything outside of the food itself, as well.   And I still did here.  The staff is great, it’s very old school and very authentic in terms of service and appealing to a loyal clientele that serves a part of Baltimore you don’t always hear about, or think to go to.

All I know is that it won’t be another few years until I’m back.  If time allows, we shall do this again soon.  I know I say that a lot, but we shall do this again soon.

For more on Frank’s, here is their menu, and their storied history.

Enjoy the Olympics, the opening ceremonies, and all the good that comes from that.  I know I will.

And Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Everything Is Energy

PieInTheSkyPizza

This one of those stories that reminds us why this life is an amazing ride.  It’s a roller coaster alright. There’s lots of twists, turns, and all those other events that remind me us that everything is right with the world, and it can a magical place, if you let it.  If you let yourself go and let things come to you. you will attract certain people, events, and situations in your life, and it will become second nature.

I want to believe this is what happened here.

After what seemed like any other day of hanging out in the Fells Point neighborhood (my Fells Point pizza history can be found here) of Baltimore, a dear friend noticed new signage, for a new business that literally opened up a few days ago.   If I hadn’t seen this, I would have walked by and not thought anything of it. Not yet at least.  In time I would have gotten to Pie in the Sky, but timing is everything.

PieInTheSkyFront

The time is now.  The moment is now.  These windows of opportunity come and go, without us even realizing it most of the time.  But when you see it, it’s time to seize it.

I promise I will get to the actual pizza itself shortly.

From the outside looking in, the business itself didn’t actually look open.  I saw a gentleman on his laptop and another person hanging around the kitchen it seemed.  Now you see soft openings, friends and family openings, and in other instances you just see people preparing and setting up for when a place actually is ready to open to the public, for everyone’s enjoyment.

So yes, I almost didn’t walk in.  I’ve made so many hesitations in my life, so many times where I could have done this or that; the could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve scenarios that go on in a person’s life.  And there’s been so many instances where I didn’t walk in somewhere or take a chance because a place, or door, or opportunity seemed closed.  It’s all perception and it’s all what’s going on in my head, not with the outside world.  The outside world exists yes, but it’s not my world or your world.

See what I’m saying?  We can carve our own realities and imprints in this lifetime.  We can create memories, situations, and alter the course of our lives, with just a few simple decisions, changes, and maybe branching out of our comfort zones.

While it might just be a pizzeria or restaurant, to me this was something bigger than me, bigger than ourselves, and bigger than anything I can quantify.

So I walked in…

Something hit me, I felt compelled to explain what it is that I do.  So yes, the place was open, and all those unwarranted fears subsided.

I met Murat, the owner and he could have not been more gracious and helpful in coming up with what to write about for this blog.    It was so gratifying.

He let me take a tour of the kitchen and the ovens, where he simply explained that he makes all the sauces and pizza dough himself.  The olive oil is genuine, the toppings are the real deal, and so is the entire energy of this place.

I was flattered that Murat would give me the opportunity to explore this beauty of a restaurant and give me some insight into what he wants to do, plans to do, and where he’s been in the past.

This is where things get crazy, but in a good way.

He told me that he also runs a pizza place further up in Northern Baltimore, and while this is going on, I’m starting to sense where this is going.  That weird feeling of anticipation about what he’s about to say.  And when he mentioned Toss, I just had this freaking out moment (once again in the best way possible), because I’ve told people that Toss (review is here, and man where did three years go, and my writing style has evolved…) is one of the best pizza places in Baltimore, and one of the best pizza places in Baltimore that many don’t even know about.

It’s one of those things where Toss is a secret to many, but a secret that’s meant to be shared and shared with the universe.

And now it’s time to share how amazing Pie in the Sky truly is.

PieInTheSkyPizza2

Based on our conversation, and what I ate at Toss (the pies are similar and that’s an absolutely beautiful thing), Murat made me a half chicken pesto and half portabella mushroom pie, that is one for the ages and one for the books, or those top lists people like to make sometimes, haha.

When the vibe is going well, the pizza (or anything) is going to taste, feel, and hit you that much better.  This is what happened here.

PieInTheSkyPizza3

And I’m honored and grateful that Murat would make a half-and-half for me of this magnitude and with this precision, love, and care.   It makes me feel good writing about this and sharing this with you.

This pizza is incredible.

But it’s not just because of the organic ingredients, the dough, the crust, the sauce, the toppings, (gluten free and vegan options are also available), and everything other little detail.  It became from a place of soul, of kindness, and of heart.  And that’s just as, if not more important to the actual food or substance itself.  There’s a different kind of character, soul, and substance that can’t be measured nor should it be.

This was an experience I’ll remember forever, and one that almost didn’t happen.  Thinking about that gives me chills, goose bumps, and a feeling of relief.  I’m so happy and grateful this happened.

If you’re in the Fells Point area, I strongly recommend a visit to Pie in The Sky.  If it’s great this early, I can only imagine the incredible heights this place is headed to.

I’m grateful to Murat for his hospitality, grateful to the universe, and grateful to my dear friend for suggesting I write about it, and take the plunge.

Pie in the Sky is going to be massive.  It’s a secret and gem, that I’m honored to share with you.  And I’m honored to say, there at the beginning…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen