Burnin’ In My Soul

FiresidePizzaWine3

I like to write about things.  Last year I wrote about a mobile pizza food truck at a wine festival.  Now I like wine too, but if I feel compelled to write about the tastings and various festivities at well, this festival, then I will get around to it.   If you sense my enthusiasm is lacking then you’re spot on.

FiresideTruck

But every cloud has a silver lining or something.  And this one goes by the name of Fireside Pizza of Hagerstown, MD.   This years’ pizza truck kept it simple but then it didn’t.

FiresideMenu

You could purchase two slices of cheese or pepperoni for $5.00 total.  Noticed I said cheese or pepperoni.  Their explanation was that they were cooking the pies separately and couldn’t give you one slice of each.  I understand the rationale.  Whether that’s the explanation given to everyone is not something to question.  Wait I think I just questioned.

But based on the grande scale of the event and the clientele being a bit demanding when it came to wine samples, food samples, and who knows what else, food trucks, food stands, stations of all kinds have to protect themselves.

I respect the $10 credit card minimum for that reason among others.

A whole cheese with one topping was $20.00.  I didn’t have enough people in my party of a big enough appetite to justify that a the time.  And the specialty pies at $22.00 may be a stretch for many people.

FiresideSlices

I sound like I’m being hard but I’m really not.  I didn’t see a lot of people ordering full pies, but this was earlier on the day.  As more people have had their samples, their sips, and then their bottles, they will get hungry.  And they’ll be willing to spend a little more to eat, and eat right away.

FiresidePizzaWine

Myself, I was one of the folks who ordered two slice of pepperoni but made one of them a cheese.  Simple I know.

FiresideCheese

This was good pizza.  And when I mean good, I mean good.  I bet at a more controlled and less raucous event the pizza would taste that much better and made under more ideal conditions.  I hope I’m making sense.

These were solid thin slices, that even though were on the small side had a great charred taste to them.  And the cheese and pepperoni did their job and did it well.  I think I enjoyed my pepperoni and my faux cheese slice equally.

If I was in a more laid back atmosphere I think the pizza would taste that much better.

Local business is one of the most beautiful things out there, so I hope they succeed, wish them all the best, and hope to catch them at another event down the line.  And maybe try one of their specialty pies.  I’m curious now.

FiresidePizzaWine3

For more on Fireside, here is their website and their other page with more information.

Summer means more outdoor events, more parties, and hopefully more chances to write about brick oven and wood fired pizza served outside, served with some soul, and served with the best of intentions.

I look forward to it.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

…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

 

My Favorite Mexican Restaurant

LaToltecaPizza2

That might be a bold statement but La Tolteca has always been so good to me, and to my friends who live(d) in the Bel Air, MD; Harford County; and now Baltimore County and City.

Warning – their website has music, so turn it down if you’re at the workplace or a library. The music is fun though.

LaToltecaFront

But my first was the Bel Air location and it will always be my favorite.  I’ve been to others but this has the look of what an original and authentic Mexican restaurant.  I sound like I’ve been to a bunch of restaurants or Mexico itself, but it’s just a feeling.  Bel Air will always be my favorite and home base restaurant.

LaToltecaPizza1

That’s why I chose home to finally write about their Mexican Pizza.  I meant to do this two years ago for Cinco de Mayo and then again last week but well, things happen, life happens, and the timing wasn’t right.

I figure a week a later isn’t going to hurt anything.

What you might find humorous is their Mexican Pizza is on their Children’s Menu.  So kids and kids of all ages are invited to try this.  I say this because at first I was afraid there was some protocol about a grown up ordering from the kids’ menu but no questions were asked.  I did feel a bit awkward for a second when ordering.  No I didn’t, because…

LaToltecaPizzaDisplay

It’s also on the grown up lunch.  In hindsight I wish I got both to do a comparison but as someone once said, six in one, half dozen of something.  Right.

Let me first say I love their food.  I’ve never been disappointed.   I’ve ordered burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, salads, soups, and everything else under the sun.  I want to focus on the pizza but I also want to focus on the soup.

LaToltecaPizzaEaten

First, the pizza.  I honestly can say I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t good or bad.  It was good enough to eat but nothing I would go out of my way to order again.  I didn’t have grandiose expectations of eating something amazing or life changing.  Not at all.  But I was hoping for something with a bit more pizzazz.  Yes I know what I just typed and it was no accident.

The crispy tortilla which acted as the dough seemed a bit too crunchy for me.  And I know other people will love it.  It just work out for me.  The beef tasted life beef, the cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños (which had a kick to it), and onions all completed the pizza. It was fine but nothing memorable.

LaToltecaPizzaDisplay2

Honestly, that’s as class to a negative thing I’ve ever said about La Tolteca.  Now I want to shift to something magnificent.

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That Mexican Chicken Soup is worth going in for alone.  I don’t know all that is in it. Actually maybe I do but my mind is wandering and my mouth is watering at the thought of having this soup.  As I type this the restaurant is closed or I’d be having some right now to draw a little more inspiration as I write.

LaToltecaSoup

My love comes from the combination of the shredded chicken, random vegetables, and the tomatoes becoming a part of the soup.  Oh my goodness this soup is ecstasy.  I know this is a pizza blog but I had to make mention of this.

LaToltecaDisplay

And if you’ve been here before, you know habit forming the free tortilla chips, salsa, and that white sauce is.  Yeah that white sauce will get you.

I’m glad I waited a week (and two years) to get around to this.   But if you’ve never eaten here don’t wait any longer.   Don’t wait a year, two years, or another minute.  This place is fantastic.  If you live anywhere near a La Tolteca I highly recommend it.

Their website is as inviting and accessible as it gets, so you should have no problem finding a location near you and something inspiring of their inspirational menu.  Yes loads of inspiration.

And as inviting as their site is, you will see how more inviting the staff is when you walk in. I’ve usually ordered food to go.  But when I’ve sat down with friends we’ve always been treated like family.

I started writing this as a way to end up suggesting trying a Mexican Pizza at your local restaurant or making it at home but this went in a different direction entirely.

And I’m not only suggesting, but also encouraging going to La Tolteca if you’re in Maryland.

And I wish you all a Belated Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

I Was Scared At First

ScreaminHeated

Over the past few days I was thinking a little too hard about how to follow up last weeks’ incredible feast and experience.

I shouldn’t take this to or much of what I do too seriously.  It’s pizza.  It’s always going to be fun even when it isn’t.  As someone once said, even bad pizza is good.  No that’s not entirely true.

Perhaps because it’s a murky and rainy morning in May as I write this that my mood is thrown off kilter.   But every dark cloud has many cheesy linings.  And if you’re talking cheesy, I couldn’t think of a better pizza to talk about than the Screamin’ Sicilian.

ScreaminPackage

Here is the link to find their pizzas.  Alright until next week.  Ha…

I realize that today is a day of celebration and I may have missed a golden opportunity to talk about something unique.  I may get to that next week.

It’s pouring out there.  A frozen pizza is perfect comfort food in a time when comfort is not only necessary, but well, comforting.

ScreaminFrozen

Frozen pizzas always had always been a staple of my life when I was a kid.  I can safely assume that goes for many of us.  It’s an easy alternative to cooking and cheaper alternative to pizza delivery, dining out, or maybe even cooking general.  Many pies will go under $5.  The Screamin’ Sicilian went for $7-8 and is worth every cent and then some.

ScreaminNotes

Over the past few months I would their artwork on their boxes and I would immediately be scared, and somewhat put off.  I see an open mouth with frozen pieces of pepperoni and cheese, and I immediately walked (don’t run) to the nearest exit, or nearby aisle for a safe haven to hide and maybe just leave.

All jokes aside, one day I examined a little bit closer and saw the label was much more humorous than I expected.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Maybe I should lighten up on that.  But fake moustaches on anyone make me scared.  It’s not my business.

But the point of all this is to try different things, even if it’s just frozen pizza.  Trying new anything adds to our memories and adds to things to talk about either with friends, or with ourselves.  And I don’t mean in a schizophrenic sense either.

Going through their pizza menu, I wanted to find one that gave me enough comfort but not to the point where I can’t leave the house.  Actually on days like this, staying in is perfect.  I went with the Mambo Italiano.  This pizza was perfect.

The description mentions something about taking this pizza to the mattress and some cliche terms that start with the letter ‘b’, but I’ll let that slide haha.

Upon opening the package I could just sense that something special was about to happen. This is why you never judge a book by its cover.  And by the way, because they got me thinking so much about their artwork, I bought a pie anyways.  So it worked on me.

20 minutes later after heating I was dazzled.  The cheese and sauce is great.  The pepperoni is good.  The crust was heated and toasted (thanks oven) perfectly. But it’s the meatballs.  I could smell them first and did they smell something awesome.  I picked off a few pieces for me and it was beautiful.

ScreaminHeated2

Some of the meatballs became baked into the golden brown crust that felt like it rose to the heavens.  This is more art.   And the generous amount of toppings shows the kind of soul and character behind this operation.

ScreaminSlice

I’ve only had a fifth of the pie.  It doesn’t take much to give me comfort.  And it also means I have meals covered for the next day or so.  Ah the little things.

I’m a fan and I think I would like to do this again.  I may or may not do another post about it.  But I’m thrilled to be a part of something so fun.

Here is their contact info, once again the store finder, and all their infos.  Yes they actually call it all their infos.  I’m loving this company more and more.  Their sense of humor if infectious.

I feel comforted.

Ideen

 

A Lovely Cheese Pizza Just For…

HarrisTeeterCheesePizza

…for anyone!   Harris Teeter is one of those friends you shouldn’t take for granted.  By me saying that I almost sound derogatory or patronizing.  Well I do like patronizing their stores.  I think you know what I mean.  Well I hope so.

HarrisTeeterStore

I only realized a few minutes ago that the first time I visited one of their stores was in North Carolina, which is where they’re originally based out of.   Now they’re everywhere. And if you live in a city or a suburb chances are there’s more than one store right up the street and walking distance from you.

This isn’t going to be a history lesson or discussion of their groceries and free samples. Even though the latter is readily available and always appreciated.   I knew in time I was going to be discussing their pizza.

I’ve saved a few pictures of slices over the past few months knowing I would be sharing my thoughts with the world.

The results were a mix bag.  The prices are fantastic and they always have some exciting specials going on.  Sometimes on a monthly basis.

I’m judging these pizzas on the premise that this a grocery store, and not a pizzeria.  This is not meant as a slight or insult to their store.  It’s more along the lines of how I rate pizza. I don’t ask for much. I just want it to taste good, be reasonable priced, and makes feel happy when its over.

HarrisTeeterPrices

Over 4 different stores (at least) I tried 4 different slices, and maybe a little more. Perhaps the title gave it away.  I’ll get to the slices first.

HarrisTeeterChickenPesto

First, the chicken pesto.  This is one I thought I would be in love with.  It was fine but within the context of good pizza and pesto this was only ok.  The crust was fine but noting special.  Fortunately with this slice, the crust didn’t dominate as you may see in another pizza shortly.   I didn’t taste much chicken, onion, or pesto.  I didn’t taste much of anything.  The toppings all seem to get lost in the shuffle.  And that’s never what you want.

Next, is two I’ll blend together.  The Steak and Cheese, and then the Deluxe actually both tasted the same to me.  And you can see with these two, the crust sort of envelops the actual pizza itself.   I know the sign says the pizza is made fresh every two hours but these slices felt like they were out longer than that.  And that’s fine.  If they’re reheated they should taste adequate enough.  Again, these were ok but I would’t go out of my way to try them over others.   And speaking of which…

HarrisTeeterGreek

The Greek was a pleasant surprise.   I love feta cheese, olives, onions, and tomatoes.  And they do it all here perfectly.    It looks like a lot and it is.  But that’s the fun of this.  The toppings seem to a bit more over-the-top than the previous three slices I mentioned.  You can tell such a difference in this slice versus the others.  And the visual is so different.  They throw on a lot and it pays dividends.  I absolutely adore this slice.  And the crust was fantastic as well.  This is a great slice.

HarrisTeeterCheesePizza2

But finally, the reason for this post, is the April Four Cheese pie special, at only $8.   You can always tell how good a place really is based on the cheese.  And the cheese was fabulous. This is along the lines of the Greek with loads of toppings but instead loads of cheese. And I mean loads of cheese.  You can see how high they stack this thing.

HarrisTeeterCheesePizza5

To be fair, this was fresh out of the oven, placed in a charming to go box, and it felt so good on my hands.   The difference in having it right out of the oven, after 15 minutes, going against slices being heated up is significant, but I didn’t know it would be this significant.

HarrisTeeterCheeseSlices

This is cheese that makes you feel like a kid.  It reminds me of a cheese pie I shared with my family many times over, when I was a kid.  The pizza sauce is tangy, yet it works perfectly with this pie.  And the golden brown and slightly burnt ends of the crust makes this pizza worth going out of your way for.  Actually wait.  You don’t have to go out of your way for it.   Wow I’m cheesy.  Oops!

HarrisTeeterSpecials

And at only $7.99 for the rest of the month of April, it’s a bargain.  This is usually $12.   I got four meals out of this.  And it just kept tasting as awesome, if not better, every time. I’m craving some now as I write about this for you guys.

HarrisTeeterPizzaBox

This pizza isn’t going to win any awards and I don’t think Harris Teeter is looking for any. But they do cheese pizza right.   I will be back again.  Maybe I’ll review some more slices or another to-go special.   Any way you slice it, I look forward to sampling (not those free samples, but I love those too) more of their creative slices and pies in the near future.

To find the nearest Harris Teeter near you, click here.

There’s still a lot of April left so I highly recommend getting this pizza, at this price, while you can.

Thanks so much,

Ideen

After All, It’s Just Pizza

JustPizzaPie5

I mean it really is.  You, me, or anybody else can rant and rave about a place, rip it to shreds, and/or seek all the good and bad in the details of any pizzeria or restaurant.  It’s the experience, the ambiance, the hopefully good company you were with, and those hidden gems of information that only you might notice, and either keep to yourself or want to share with the world.  Which I like to do sometimes.

But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just pizza.

JustPizzaFront

After not doing a single post from the beaches last year, I’m already getting it in going in March, with the appropriately titled, Just Pizza, of Bethany Beach, DE.

If you’ve been to Bethany Beach you know how quite and cozy this town is.   It’s the antithesis of the chaotic nature of the nearby beaches in Maryland and Delaware.

Bethany is sentimental to me.  Many beaches might mean something to you too.  I have fond memories of a kid taking family trips here.  It was a superb getaway for our family go to away, if even just for a few days, from the familiarity of home.  I mean that’s why we take vacations right?  But I don’t remember a pizzeria being so close by.

Where my family usually stayed was right across the street in one of the condominiums or hotels.  But I remember the charming and approachable shopping center where Just Pizza currently stands.  In a town like this, the more things change, nothing changes.  And in a way I love that so much.

So this pizza is not amazing.   I wouldn’t even call it great.  But they’re not a place that claims to be world class and a five star restaurant.  If they did, I would judge them differently.

Literally, it’s a carry-out place that’s one of the more smaller spaces you’re going to come across.  With just a few chairs in the waiting area, it resembles an doctor’s office more than a place to grab some eats, if you will.

JustPizzaPie2

In the honor of how simplistic this place is, I went simple  I got half cheese and half pepperoni for the road.  I was the only one waiting and I felt my pie took quite a while.  It felt about 20-25 minutes when I was promised 15.  It’s a minor detail but it’s worth noting. Perhaps it adds to the easy-going nature of the town, or maybe it really took that long.

JustPizzaPie3

I’m not going to say it was worth the wait. The pizza was ok but like I said, it’s not going to win any awards.  But I will say, it did remind me of the beach.  That might not make sense initially, but something about it just tasted like it’s from the beach.   I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s a thing where my mind is telling me what to sense and what to taste, and predictably (or not) it’s evoking feelings of the beach and sand, and who knows what else I remember from growing up, and maybe now.

JustPizzaPie4

The crust is a bit rougher than usual but it had a buttery taste to it that I liked.   The cheese and pepperoni were just what I thought it would be, good and greasy.  But it may be too greasy for some.

Nevertheless, I’ve talked to a couple of friends that know what they’re getting when they order and it gets the job done.  And for most of us, when it comes to pizza, that’s all we need.  All the other details don’t always matter.

Folks for are at the beach looking for a quick (well I hope so, order ahead of time of course) pie or other standard fare to go, this is going to make most people happy.  If and when I’m staying or visiting here again, I will likely eat here again if it was an option presented to myself or from a friend, or family member.

Speaking of which, it’s so funny that I used to not appreciate the peace and quiet of this town like I do now.   It’s the top reason where I feel partial to small towns and small businesses like this.  They’re depend on support from locals and tourists in season a like. And I’m always happy to support any local business, because they’re still the soul and conscience of small towns likes this and even bigger cities.

JustPizzaMenu

Next time I’m back  I will absolutely give them another try.   For my friends who want somewhere quiet and would like to avoid the commotion of the bookending resort towns of Ocean City and Dewey Beach then this is perfection. They don’t have a website but more information can be found here and here.  At the time I was there, it was perfection.   But as the weather gets nicer this is a place that’s a safe house and an ally when one isn’t always around.

JustPizzaPie1

I’m not sure if this mean the beach posts will resume.  I did many back in the Summer of 2015 (those posts can be found here), and that feels so long ago.  We shall see.

But for now I will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and wish you a happy and safe one as well.

Ideen

 

Fame and Fortunatos

FortunatoSlices

I know right.  That’s the title I came up with and I’m sticking to it.  Actually I could change it at any time but I don’t see that happening.

For as long as this blog has been going, and we’re past two years now, I always knew I would get to writing about Fortunato Brothers of Towson.

FortunatoFront

Dating back to 2000, I’ve been a semi-regular visitor of this pizzeria.  And it’s a pizzeria alright.  There’s nothing cute about the inside.  There’s pies on display for slice ordering, a standard soda machine, and a few tables for indoor dining.   First and foremost, it’s all about getting food to go.

I’ve seen it cramped at times with patrons waiting for their orders.  I haven’t seen it quite to the point of being uncomfortable, but it’s been close.

But to tell you the truth their pizza has never done it for me.  It’s not like it’s bad.  Most pizza isn’t truly bad, it’s just that for an establishment that has been around over 40 years I would hope their pizza would be on par with some of the best, if not the good ones, in the area.

I don’t think it’s ever come close.   It’s good enough that I come to get a quick slice from time-to-time, but I’ve always felt it to be averages.  It’s a decent slice and a solid price. And usually two slice with a soda will cost around $7.  No complaints with that.

The main issue to me is the quality.

FortunatoSlices2

This go around I went with a chicken parmesan and a white spinach slice.

FortunatoChickenParm

First, the chicken parmesan was adequate but something was missing.  The pieces of chicken were missing that taste and texture that would complement a pizza.  It doesn’t have to be award winning but I’d like a little more flavor.  Something just felt off. The cheese and sauce were fine.  It made for a decent slice but nothing more.  I will say that the crust was fantastic.  It’s enough to eat if you’re in a pinch for a slice but nothing out-of-this-world.

FortunatoSpinach

Next up is the white spinach.  Again, the crust was good but not quite on par with the chicken parm.   I don’t know what happened but the spinach and tomatoes didn’t work here.  They didn’t taste fresh.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the cheese either.  This one surprised me even more.

It almost seemed that the veggies have gone through multiple heating and then re-freezing.  That means the pizza itself has been heated and then cooled again overnight.  I have no evidence of that other than a feeling and based on past experience of similar issues with similar pizza pies.   That doesn’t explain why the crust was still good, or maybe the crust being just a tad below the first slice might explain enough.

I’m not against saving food but for the sake of making money and reusing slices that seemed have sat out too long, that’s disappointing.

You know me.  I look for the positives in all instances of pizza.  But the negatives outweigh anything else.  And this how it’s been for me for quite some time.

I know people who love their pizza and sing the praises of how this is the original Fortunato’s and it’s the best.  I don’t see if that way. Yes this is an interesting local chain. It’s branched off with other locations but they’re not all connected, if any of them are to begin with.  This version has always been just there to me  It’ll be a place I’ll get something to eat in a rush and that’s about it.    The staff over time has always seem to be laid back.  Maybe they’re too laid back?

This is the beginning of something.  Or maybe not.  I don’t make posts with the intent of not following up or referring to later.  There is significance with all of this.   I will be exploring the  various Fortunato locations in the area to see if there is a connection even when there isn’t.    This could make for some interesting discoveries.  I still don’t know all the details so that’s where the discovering will come in.

Here is their menu and online ordering info for our friends in the Towson area, or the county/city line.

My hunch tells me I got something good for next week.

Ideen