These MODern Times

MOD.Pie3

I know that title is cheesy.  You don’t have to tell me.   And speaking of cheesy, that pie has pictured above has some pretty good looking mozzarella and asiago cheese on it.  I got the wittiness down to a science folks.

Looks can be deceiving.  This is a creation of our own doing from this weeks choice, MOD Pizza.   This is a chain that since it’s debut in 2008, has been rapidly growing and shows no signs of slowing down.

MOD.Front

In a way I’m happy my first discovery of this franchise was their Columbia, MD location, the mecca of chain restaurants and box stores.

I’ve always had a sentimental feeling towards Columbia, dating back to when I was a kid.  I was a stalwart (and in many ways I still am) of the mall located in the heart of town, which is there MOD is adjacent to in its newly created strategic location.

Maybe it was the safe feeling, the folksiness of the locals, or just a sense of peace and calm.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it but even to this day when I pass through I get the warm and fuzzies.

As I’ve gotten older, the pleasures change and many remain constant.  I like what it has to offer in terms of restaurants, shops, parks, and entertainment.  I just wish there were more independent and family owned businesses.  There’s a few, you might have to work to find those.

What does any of this have to do with pizza?   Well in a way, it’s a sign of the times.  We still want things safe but we’re also in a rush.  The fast-food and hyper drive way we want our meals, our stimulation, our instant gratification has exponentially grown.  We want quick results with as little work done as possible. Technology is a main reason these in-and-out pizza joints have become phenomenons within the past five years and change.

The menu has some funky names and I dig it.  I went with the Tristan, for the simple fact I saw pesto and a great complement of veggies to go with it.  For a twist, I requested grilled chicken to go with it.  But as you can see, they never piled that on top.

It was lunch hour and extremely busy.  I understand people make mistakes and forget.  I took this as a sign that this is how it was meant to be eaten.  The chicken wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

With that being said, the pie was ok.  It didn’t wow me in any fashion.  The dough was cooked fine and the mushrooms, peppers, and onions all tasted fresh. The pesto seemed like it was out of a can.  It just didn’t do anything inspiring. Nor did I expect it to.

I understand the type of place I’m at, so in a way I’m grading this on a curve.  It just tasted like a decent pie you could find anywhere.

Why did I not say anything about the missing topping on my pizza?  It may be passive-aggressive of me, but the staff was very friendly and overwhelmingly busy.  It just didn’t seem right.  They were working hard and the line was growing.  I had no problem waiting a few extra minutes for my pie.  In a way, I found that refreshing.

Refreshing because, pizza is meant to be heated at the right temperature.  A lot of time and care needs to be put into it.   I’m not sure how I feel about these blistering pace pizza joints.  But they’re here to stay.  And I frequent them from time-to-time, so I’m supporting the cause whether I care to admit it or not.

And one mediocre experience will not discourage me from coming back.   Because if I feel I’m in a rush too, I know I can get a pizza swiftly and at an accelerated pace.  But the rush I talk about is all my own doing.   It’s likely all our own doing.

For a similar experience I had, with uplifting results, click here.

To find a location near you, go here.

Taking a minute to breathe and relax is very necessary.  It will make everything better.  It will make the pizza better. And yes, pizza makes everything better.

Thank you kindly,

Ideen

 

Johnny’s On The Spot

After last week I may just do beach related pizza posts into September.  I shall see where the wind takes me.

Johnny's

Johnny’s is a pizzeria that is one of the newer pizza parlors to surface. When one pizza place opened up, it seems so many followed.  If it wasn’t for the to go box pictured below, I wouldn’t have known they set up shop in 2010.  But 5-10 years would have been my hypothesis.  Now I’m willing to bet the amount of places in OC to get a slice or a pie are in at least in the 100+ range.

Like many of these other comfort food locations, they’re open into the wee hours of the morning.  So if a quick slice or two to go is what you’re looking for, they will oblige and with pleasure.

I’ve had slices from here in the past and did not care for them.   They were adequate.  For after a night of going out they were purposeful but I didn’t like the feeling in the morning.  I guess that’s the point.

They have quite the expansive menu and many specialty pies to choose from.  For purposes of this visit, I ordered a pie for friends and I to try.   I got really adventurous here.

Johnny'sThaiChicken

The Thai Chicken Pizza was something else.  I had no expectations.  It turned out better than I thought.   If it seems like it’s just a bunch of items thrown together, then you would be correct.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be good.  The peanut and ginger sauce was a bit aggressive that it was a bit hard to eat in spots.  It was spread randomly all over.

Aside from that I was pleasantly surprised.  The mix of mozzarella and cheddar really came together well. And I love onions.  They threw a lot of whole pieces on there as you can see.    But not only white onions (which are not listed as part of the pie but were included anyways) but the green ones as well.  Which are always great.  If there were carrots I barely noticed them.  Maybe the white onions were the substitute. The peanuts were a nice touch too.  It really tasted like a Thai dish or salad.

Johnny'sThaiChicken2

What really makes this pie however, is the chicken. It tasted a lot fresher than I thought it would.   Kudos to that.  The crust was a nice mix of crispy and soft that it didn’t detract in any way from the pie.

So in hindsight this was a better pie than I realized. It wasn’t the greatest.  But this was a solid indluging that will make me want to come back and try something else.

Johnny'sToGoB

The bar and restaurant, along with the carry out area, is usually always packed in the peak months.  This means getting there at the right time can be a challenge.

Till the next visit to the beach.

Best,

Ideen

An Ocean City Favorite

Whether it’s the locals in town or folks on vacation, people have sung the praises of Trattoria Lombardi’s (or just Lombardi’s for short) in Ocean City, MD.

When I mentioned to my fellow pizza pals that I wanted to focus on pizzerias by the Maryland and Delaware Beaches, Lombardi’s was the top request and suggestion.

I am grateful to only live a couple of hours from the Eastern Shore.  And I am grateful to have made a visit to this famous restaurant during 4th of July weekend.

And the fact that it was during the holidays will be taken into consideration.

Lombardi'sEntrance

The interior is very authentic.  It’s an older restaurant and I like it that way.  There was really no chance to take photos inside, since it was such a sea of humanity. And what I would try to capture would be lost in the shuffle.  The place was packed and the lines to get a table or even to order food to go were growing by the minute.  There was such a frenzy and I wouldn’t expect anything less during such a hectic time of year.

I ordered three pies to go, for my friends and I to enjoy.

Lombardi'sMenu

While scanning the menu I was pleased to see a special Summer Pizza.  Of course I had to satisfy my curiosity.

Lombardi'sSummer

Unfortunately this was my least favorite.   The tomatoes and basil on the white pie really didn’t click for me.  It wasn’t bad.  It just didn’t come together how I had hoped.  The dough on all three were cooked very well.  It was the right about of crispness and softness at the same time.  The visuals are a delight.  I love how the  cheese looked so magnificent melted into the crust.    But for this one, maybe it was a rush job.  The tomatoes don’t need to be cooked all the way but it felt like they were thrown on at the last-minute.

Lombardi'sWhite

Next, we have the White Pizza.  I didn’t realize until I was eating it that it had onions.  I thought it was a mistake or a few onions had spilled over from another order by mistake.  It wasn’t until I looked at the menu that I saw this was their special version.  And I really liked this one.  I found this very tasty and love how the onion is a part of this pie.  If you look close you may be able to see them in this picture.  This was my favorite of the three.

Lombardi'sCheese

And finally, it’s the Cheese.   So many people have told me this is one of their favorite pizzas at the beach or anywhere in Maryland for that matter.  So I had high expectations.  They did not reach them.  I thought it was good but it didn’t turn out as great as I hoped.  I’m not sure what I was hoping for but this was a notch or two below that.

Nevertheless, my buds and I ate this pizza up over the next couple of days because it was very good.  And it tasted great reheated.  But I don’t think it’s quite the blow away pizza others have touted.

But as I previously stated, I understand this tasting fell on a holiday weekend, so I will definitely give it another go.  And I would eat here again anyways, either in-house or carry-out.  I found this to be a very good but not quite the amazing feast I felt would happen.

Lombardi'sSignage

In a way I blame myself for such high expectations.   But I can’t way to go back on another day and have those same expectations.  I believe the hype!

Lombardi'sToGo

If you’d like to read my previous resort themed pizza posts, click here and here.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Bartenders Please

BartendersFrontBartendersSide2

I have wanted to write about Bartenders, since I began this blog.   This, among a select few other spots, were the inspiration for me to write about pizza.  And there’s so much fun that goes with pizza, besides eating some amazing pies.  It’s the joy of each others company, the drinks you have with your meal, and the memories that come with it.   If that’s a little too cheesy and overly sentimental for you, then good.

I first ate here nearly four years ago, through recommendations of regulars and good friends that have said their pies are the best in town.   And the atmosphere is one that is still incomparable.  Their are local bars and then there’s local bars.   I have found myself very comfortable eating and drinking a glass of wine their solo, on many an occasion.  The head bartenders (who are also the owners) are very personable and people I’m glad to call my friends.

Now I’ve dragged this as far as I can.   I love their pies.   I always have and always will.  The first time I ate there, I was taken for a ride on culinary excellence.  I don’t know where the dough, the cheese, the topping, and most of all the soul came from, but this is one of the best pizzas I’ve had period. And I would go here maybe once or twice a week from 2012-2013, and gained quite a bit of weight in the process.  I didn’t care.  I loved every second of it.

But if there is a down side, it’s that you get so spoiled from eating amazing creations like theirs, that other pizzas start not to taste as good.  I’ve learned to be educated about that and realize that not all pies are created equal.  And I should only judge based on taste and the energy behind it.

Here is where it gets funny.  I knew full well I was going to write about this spot, lauding and touting it to kingdom come.   But the last few times I’ve been the pizza hasn’t been up to the level I’m used to. It’s been good but the excitement and thrill I would get wasn’t there.   At first, I thought it might have been me.  But it was on three separate occasions.  It was still really good but not on the inspirational level I’ve become accustomed too.

But luckily a dear friend had been cooking the za’s there, but we rarely crossed paths at said establishment itself.  So I mentioned to her that I don’t think they’ve been as good as I remember.  She suggested I come in during one of her final shifts, and she’d make it for me personally.

And I’m glad I did. She made a masterpiece.   I’ve had The Spence before, but not like this.  Our friends who have been here repeatedly know the pie and know the man behind it.

BartendersSpence

This is a work of art.  I think it’s worthy of multiple photos. So here’s another.

BartendersSpence2

The combination of the homemade sauce, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and andouille sausage alone is enough to make this grown man act like a little kid at his first pizza parlor!  Oh my goodness this was made to perfection.  I’ve had it before but not like this.   The red peppers, onions, and fresh basil complete and complement this pie perfectly.  This is up there with some of the best ever.

Now I’ve had their cheese, white, and garden (vegetarian) as well, and loved those too. But this blows them all away. The crust, the way it was cooked, and the way everything melted and blended together is genius. And I mean this with all sincerity, this was one for the ages.  It was the perfect send off for her and the perfect early birthday present to myself.  I don’t think it could have been done any better.  And I’m glad I waited this long to write about this.  Faith has been rewarded.

I love that they give you paper plates with your meal. It’s a little detail that I don’t want to go unnoticed.  I prefer it versus a regular dish.

BartendersSpenceWithWine

But maybe my last few purchases of various pies such as the Barbecue Chicken, Peyton, and Tarlek just didn’t move me like the others.  It’s meant as a compliment.  The expectations of this place are extremely high and they will continue to be.

If you’re curious as to their menu and the selections I mentioned above, click here.

As my friend moves on to bigger and better, I will always remember Bartenders for their amazing pizza and good atmosphere.  I have many great memories but this might have been one of the best.  I look forward to more momentous occasions and many more delicious pies in the near future.

BartendersSide

Rock and Roll.

Best,

Ideen

We Take Care Of Our Own

PizzaPartyFriendsFirst

For a while now, we knew we wanted to make our own homemade pizzas, and were just looking for the right occasion to do it. Along with celebrating my birthday, a friends raise and their job, and the Summer, it’s always fun to cook at home.  And it’s always more fun with friends.

We each picked out the proper ingredients like cheese, sauce, oils, and toppings.   It can get exciting but can also be pressure packed to make a good pie.

As I was reminded, it’s always better to keep it simple.   It’s also good to be creative.  Most importantly, it’s about having fun and learning from mistakes and experience along the way.  As I learned here, less is always more.

ArchivistWithGlasses

We each made two pies a piece.  And they were all from delicious whole wheat dough.   Thanks to Wegmans for the majority of our ingredients.  For more on the wine pictured above, click here.

Here are the results of round one :

PizzaPartyMyFirst

Mine was a pesto base with cheese, mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.   This was an adventure and maybe not the best one.   The ingredients were fine but the whole didn’t equal the sum of its parts.  The tomatoes didn’t need to be included and I picked those off the pie and ate them on their own.   I think a pesto base is great.  I adore pesto.  But just didn’t work here.  I was able to finish it, but it was a minor struggle.

My friends kept is simple for their first entries.

PizzaPartySimpleCheese

A basic cheese was made with pizza oil, and the results were better.  This was in the similar style to a white pizza.  You can see the cheese baked in the dough like a professional would make.   I got to try a piece and thought it was fantastic.

PizzaPartyAFriendsFirst

The final creation for the first go around was a tomato sauce base with cheese, peppers, onions, and chopped pepperoni. This turned out very well, as this was also kept simple.  The pepperoni pieces were a great add-on, as you’ll read about in our second set of masterpieces.

For round two, it was a combination of being creative and keeping it simple.   I chose the latter.

PizzaPartyMySecond

I learned quickly from my first undertaking to get back to basics.   This time I used tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and fresh basil for my pie.   The basil was growing by the kitchen window, and was found upon instinctively while we were making our meals.  I was happy with how mine was looking, but the basil really put it over the top.  After mine came out of the oven, I was pleased.   The shape of both of my personal pizzas weren’t the best, but that will be learned with experience, patience, and repetition.  But overall I was heartened with mine.

PizzaPartyFreshBasil

One of my pizza pals had a similar pie for theirs except no pepperoni. And he put the cheese on first, then the sauce (and a lot of it), and basil.   He was happy with that one.

PizzaPartyStromboli

And finally, my other fellow pizza pal turned hers into a calzone.  How cool is that?   This is a perfect case of knowing to be creative, but to also keep it simple and yummy.  She was pleased with hers as well.

We will be doing this again, either to celebrate, or for no reason at all.  It’s good to change it up a bit, and see if our meals can measure up to the outside pizzerias.  I was happy with this and can’t wait to do it again!

Keeping it simple, fundamental, and then taking the right chances is the way to go.

PizzaPartyAerialView

Have a great day!

Best,

Ideen

Toss

Toss

Further on up the road, just past the Baltimore City Line, we have Toss.

I learned about this pizzeria from friends who work or live nearby in Towson.  The majority have said it’s a solid to good place.  I checked it out last fall, and though the vibe, for me, wasn’t as positive as some said, I found my pie to be superb.   Something about the energy, is not as what I envisioned.  It’s hard to put my finger on it.

A few months back, I ordered the Portabella Mushroom.   My oh my what a choice.  The dough tasted so fresh, right out of the oven.  It was easy to eat.  I could have eaten the bread on it’s own and been happy.  It broke apart so easily, but in a good way.  So delectable.  The combination of mozzarella, mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, and feta  cheese rocked my world.   An inspiring creation.  The garlic herb sauce was the perfect complement to order.   I wish I had been doing this blog then, as I could write about that one for a while.

This week’s selection, as pictured at the top, is the Satchma’s Spicy Chicken.    I have repeatedly spoken of my love for tomatoes, so that’s some of the reasoning for the order.   In addition, I have been vocal about loving veggies on my pies, so this did not disappoint.  The red onions, mushrooms (which I love so much), the red pepper sauce, the aforementioned tomatoes, and of course, the mozzarella cheese, give this chicken pizza a great taste.   It was very good, but maybe I expected this to be along the line’s of the Portabella choice.

The location, which is easy to drive past, if you didn’t know where it already was, is one of the fun parts about it.   Settled right on York Rd. in Baltimore, makes it easy to go in and out, for carry out or dine in orders.   I do recommend trying it as I will again.   Perhaps I will get another choice heavy on the vegetables.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen