Happy Birthday Too loulou!

toolouloupie4I could have just said Happy Anniversary Tooloulou, but then I wouldn’t have such a witty (or nerdy depending on your take) title.

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Yes, Tooloulou, one of the staples of the Belvedere Square Market, in North Baltimore, just had a major milestone last week.  They celebrated their 5th Anniversary!  Congratulations.

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And that’s it for me, thank you everybody!

No, not quite.   I would be lying if I said Tooloulou was in my regular rotation of pizza places.  I wish it was.   But for the duration the intent from me is there.  But what has been a more-than-regular thing is a visit to Belvedere Square.

It’s history is also something I can’t pretend to say I’ve been a part of.  However, I was just finishing college in 2003, when it re-opened, so I have some sentimentality to the newer version.

My love for markets goes back forever.  It’s the local feel, the sense of community, the local businesses, and all around good energy that draws so many people in.  It’s one of those ‘just like the good old days’ feelings that shouldn’t just feel like the old days, but right now.   But it’s good to be sentimental.  When it comes to supporting local, you can never have enough of that love for local and can you really be that overly sentimental.  In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding no.  Wait, resounding doesn’t sound so humble.  But I think you know what I’m trying to say.

Now back to Tooloulou.  They haven’t always been at the market.  A location change, brought this local creation to Belvedere Market.  And what a welcome and inspiring addition this has been.  Still in nearly three years market, why did my first visit only happen two weeks ago?   I have no explanation other than it hasn’t been meant to be until now.  Well I changed some history and went back for a second time.

So does that mean two pies?  You bet.  The first one was a dine-in experience and the second was carry-out.  Yes these are the riveting details I present to you.

Have I teased you enough?  I obviously love the pizza or I would be misleading you with the tidbits of it being a welcome addition, etc.   Ok onto the za!

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First up is the Tooloulou Pizza.  For my first ever visit, it only made sense to go with this one.  And this is where I sat down at their cozy booth and helped myself to this pizza pie.

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I loved it.  I was hesitant at first, since it seemed on the surface to be a bit too rich.  But all my man-made fears were alleviated after a few bites.  The combination of crab, Andouille sausage, and banana peppers is a trifecta of wonders.  Who came up with this?  It’s the perfect complement and complement to one another, and then the other.   The flavors came alive when I first thought something would get lost in the shuffle.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And they put a lot of  crab meat and sausage.  No skimming I promise you.

Add to the fact that the base is white sauce with mozzarella makes this all the more extraordinary.  I think a less inspired effort elsewhere would be a disappointment.  But this was tremendous.  And a little old bay was thrown in for good measure.  You have a winner.  And that crust was cooked to perfection.  I’m salivating as I write this.  It was filling though as I got seconds and thirds out of this.  A 12″ pie at $14.50, with what you’re getting it a deal at this price.

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Not to be outdone was the Shrimp Pesto.  I couldn’t do a celebratory post without doing a second pie.  If I hadn’t found myself back in the area, then this part would never have come to fruition.  So I’m excited.

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In the two plus years of doing this blog, whenever I found pesto as the base, or as an ingredient, I mention how much it’s one of my favorite things period.  Pesto is something of a work of art to me.  If I could do a Pesto Pals blog I would.  Hmm..  But when I saw this on the menu, I knew I had to try this one.  I was actually debating between this and another.  If you look at the menu order, I am following it sequentially.  Whether that mean there’s more to come is quite possible.    Let me get back to this pie before I go on a complete tangent.

I’m not sure which I loved more.  I loved this one for different reasons.  And then reasons that surprised me.  That pesto was authentic.  It tasted homemade or market made, ha!  And not out of a can.  And those pieces of shrimp were pure a joy.   I took a few off the pizza and had myself a good old time.  I re dipped some in the pesto sauce just for kicks.

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But knowing me I would think those were my favorite parts.  No, this pizza was so good that the actual highlights for me were the sundried tomatoes and the mozzarella.  When I found pieces of tomato and shrimp covered in that mozzarella, I appreciated every bite. The taste is just too good to describe.  And this is saying something because the pesto was that good.   What have I done to myself?  I’m craving this pie too.  This was the same price as the previous pizza, and worth every bit of it and more.

This crust may have even been charred better than the first.  How is that even possible?

The bonus was the staff both times were overwhelmingly friendly.   The Shrimp Pesto was a recommendation over another pie, which shall remain nameless and be reviewed at a later date.

For our friends in the area or might be travelling to the area, here’s their location and hours.

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I know Tooloulou is also widely known for their po’ boys.  And if I get a chance again, the next time I come back, I may incorporate one of these sandwiches with another predicted awesome pizza.

I look forward to it, but for now, I will appreciate these two fantastic pies.  And wish Tooloulou a Happy Fifth Anniversary!

And to many more!

Ideen

Paradise By The…

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A lot of good pizza was had in 2016.  It seems to me that the focus has been on only finding the better slices, the better pies, and the better experiences.  If something is really horrific and worth talking about it will be talked about here.  But the emphasis will always be talking about quality za and giving you a valid reason for you to visit.  If not then this defeats the whole purpose.

Of course I’m just one person with an opinion.  Not everything I like will be agreed with and vice-versa.  And the pizzas I’m a little critical of might be one of your favorites.

For me it’s traditionally based on what I’m feeling at the time, not necessarily what I’m thinking.  It could be an idea about a place, or yes, a preconceived notion that may skew an opinion a little more towards one way or another than it otherwise wouldn’t.  This is why today’s pizza I discuss is so fascinating.

Before this past day after Christmas, my one and only ever visit to Pizzeria Paradiso was back in 2000.  Yes 16 years ago.  And this was at the Georgetown location.  Needless to say, being much younger the pizza was fine but I didn’t see what the big deal was.  I can get pizza anywhere I said.  Now whether this was my actual reaction is merely a reflection of my past self.  I can only speculate but it’s something similar to what I would have said.

It was a lifetime ago so I don’t know exactly what I ordered, but I remember the company I was with.  That’s one I’ll leave for myself.  But it wasn’t the best experience.  I remember paying a lot more for pizza than I may have ever had before.   Because of that I wonder if that’s the main reason of why I never went back.

Many times and many years over I’ve found myself walking past the Georgetown and Dupont Circle locations and not thinking much of it.  And that’s neither a good or bad statement.  There’s so many options to eat, let alone ones specific to pizza.

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But something about the Old Town Alexandria location seemed so much more welcoming and approachable.  There is a heavy bias here. I was born in this beautiful town, just minutes away from Old Town.  So I have loads of attachment and love for this place.

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Even still things would come up for the universe had other plans for me when I visited Alexandria.  I’ve been to many restaurants and many places along King Street and the surrounding areas, but never here.

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Well the wait and fate finally crossed paths.  All it took was a little Christmas Cheer and a peaceful drive to one of the great towns of America.

So how was the pizza this time?

It was busy.  Christmas was observed on a Monday this year and the town was buzzing. People had off and made the most of their post Christmas time.  Well that sounded like safe yet dramatic thing to say.  The restaurant was packed and the staff was busy. Did that affect the pizza in any way?  That I don’t know.

Even in a frenetic setting my pie turned out really good.  I ordered the Genovese which consisted of parmesan, pesto, and potato.  How about that combination?

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Now I wasn’t sure how this was going to look but I loved it.  These were real slices of potato.  If you’re thinking that I ordered this in light of a Christmas hangover and hoping for mashed potatoes, you might be right.

And that pesto tasted fresh, authentic, and from somewhere magnificent.  Where that is I don’t know.  But I like to think there was a lot of care and soul put into creating that pesto.

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That wood fired crust was tremendous as well.  I’ve heard friends say it’s the best pizza they’ve had in all of DC.  That’s a tough one to decide on.  It’s all relative.  I will say the crust was fantastic and I’m craving it now as I right about it.  It just had the perfect burnt and charred taste to it.  And that thin crust was shaped perfectly.  And a thinner crust was needed on this day.

The overall experience, ambiance, and service definitely made it even better.

For how busy the restaurant was, I was still able to get diner style seating and enjoy my meal in solitude.  I got to sample a couple of red wines before deciding on a favorite.  I was pleased with my decision.

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I was pleased with the pie.  I was only able to have half, which was fine by me.  I got to enjoy the rest later.  For a personal pizza this was a hearty sized meal.  You could easily get two meals out of this without question.  Or maybe my stomach has been feeling the effects of all the holiday eating that it was a reminder to slow down and take it easy.   And to enjoy the peace and spirit of the holidays.  They’re not technically over yet.

So I enjoyed my time in Old Town like I always do.  I took some pictures of the nearby historic streets and even one by Pizzeria Paradiso.  I hope you enjoy just like I enjoyed my pizza.

They’re one of the major players in the Washington, DC area when it comes to pizza.  And I’m glad to have ended the year with one of the more soothing and peaceful dining experiences I’ve had in a while.

I promise it won’t be another 16 years till the next visit.  How about I revisit this again in 2017.  That’s a promise.

Here is their story, their beer menu and online ordering info for those nearby.

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I look forward to what 2017 brings.  That feels weird just typing that.

Happy What’s Left of the Holidays,

Ideen

 

 

Flatbread Fridays

BistroWithWine

Over the course of these Summertime posts I’ve mentioned how I wanted to focus on lighter fare, as long as the focus remains on pizza.

Lets face it, the majority of us love pizza.  Nutrition value is out the window.  We want our comfort food any time of year.  It’s something that bonds us together.  There’s a multitude of ways a pie can be made.  That’s one of the many things that makes this thing so fun.   It doesn’t discriminate even if our tastes may.  And that’s another joy.  We all don’t love the same flavors.  If we did, that would be boring.

Thicker dough is not my friend.  I’m not sure whose friend it would be.  Bread is a tough one and while the weather is hot and bright, it’s easy for me to get bloated and full without hardly eating a thing.  The yummy pizza crust becomes a challenge in these months.  This isn’t a complaint.  I’d take this weather all year round.

This brings me to a surprise discovery.  And we’re back at BistroRx in the Patterson Park neighborhood of Baltimore, MD.

But is it really that much of a surprise?  Just because a place isn’t known for their pizza, or in this case flatbreads, doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed.  It just gives expanded options and I will be taking full advantage of such.

BistroPieWithWine

As we were enjoying our wine (for more on this bottle click here), a small plate was necessary.   I almost decided on a salad or random finger food, but the answer was right in front of me.   We went with the Margherita and what a superb choice.  If I went in another tangent or direction, this post doesn’t happen.  There’s a little dramatics for you.

BistroPie

I had no idea the shape would be just as immaculate as a regular pie.  But what is a regular pie?  It can be anything you want it to be.   Nevertheless, this crust was superb.  It was thin enough to enjoy in the heat.  And that pesto was dazzling.   It can make any pie a winner and this would win some titles if they were handing out belts, or trophies.   Hopefully this praise is on par with those rewards.

Besides the pesto and crust, the mozzarella and tomato sauce make this simple recipe on the level of some of the better za’s I’ve had recently.   This flatbread never had a chance.  If I was feeling unreasonable I’d have ordered another (and maybe another).  It was that stellar.

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I will be frequenting Bistro more.  I’ve had quite a few meals and this was on that level of pristine eats.  I’ve mentioned some of the other diamonds I’ve had, and you can read more about that here.

The energy and the vibe certainly helped.  Outdoor seating didn’t hurt either.

I’ve made friends in the neighborhood, some who just moved in and some were here temporarily, they have praised Bistro’s food above most, if not all, of Baltimore.  I can understand why.  It’s top flight and I want more.  I’m pining for another meal from there as I near the end of this post.  They’re closed now as of this writing.  Maybe some other time.

Yes I know this experience didn’t take a place on a Friday but it makes for a great, albeit cheesy title.  I’m fun and funny.

Until next time,

Ideen

 

I Love Luna

LunaFullPie3

The stars aligned for this one, big time.  I’ve been fully engrossed in these blogs for well over a year-and-a-half.  The best experiences are the ones that happen organically and unplanned.  That fact has been reiterated many times over.  But I can’t say it enough.  Life can be magical and majestic if you let it.   This leads me to what I’ll look back on fondly and say it was one of my favorite experiences, Luna Blu of Annapolis, MD.

LunaFront

Just a day removed from writing this, I found myself in beautiful Downtown Annapolis and got in touch with a dear friend who works in the vicinity.  In previous attempts, timing wasn’t in sync and schedules didn’t always match.  It’s only because the first encounter was meant to be on this day.  You know I have a flair for the dramatics but this story and the build-up has to be told.

We met at her office and after doing the grande tour, we reconvened on where to get food. After a few suggestions on where to eat in her town, she suggested a place where she has had an outstanding working relationship. Yes, the aforesaid Luna. And she mentioned they served pizza.  The theme of thoughtfulness is going to permeate throughout this post.   She recalled my blog and this was the perfect merging of everyone benefiting from this visit.

I rarely mention names here, mainly for the sake of imagination and letting the experience tell the story itself.  But in this case it’s necessary.  My dear friends’ name is Rebecca and she runs Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA for short) of Anne Arundel County.  In the past she mentioned how generous Luna Blu has been in helping with her events.  I’ve lucky to have been a part of several events and seen the multiple bottles of wine and food donated to CASA.  It’s a beautiful thing when people help one another.  It inspires me to want to do more when I see the height of altruism.  I get those warm and fuzzy feelings.  And you can never have enough of those.

On this beautiful Summer day this translated into our meal.  And I mean from top to bottom.  I was introduced briefly to the owner Erin, who was everything Rebecca says she was and more.

LunaSalad

With the gorgeous day, the sunny skies, and the positive energy radiating all over, everything else would be gravy.  Luckily, we didn’t order gravy.  We glanced over the menu and saw they do lunch combos.    I would love to do that another time but instead we split the Spinach Salad with Grilled chicken, and the main event, the Chicken Pesto Pizza.

 

LunaPieMenu

How many times have I sung the praises of pesto over these many months?  This may have been the best display of this most magnificent of sauces.  And the actual presentation of our za reminded me of large pies I used to get when I was a kid on family outings.  I responded like a kid when this yummy goodness came out of the oven and onto our table.   The salad and the chicken was delicious.  The same authentic pieces of grilled chicken were piled on high on our pie.

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Chicken, mushrooms, pesto, ricotta, and mozzarella is a combination for the ages.  The pesto and ricotta blended together is a first for me.   Maybe I never paid close attention to similar pizza styles I’ve had in the past, but this was art.

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This is the New York Style I’m more accustomed to.  It wasn’t the typical crunchy NY Style pizza I’ve been getting at many pizzerias lately.  This was its own style, its own class, and in a universe all its own.  The golden brown that circled the crust was almost too pretty to eat.  Fact of the matter is the whole pizza itself was just so stunning.  Yes I took a lot of pictures and numerous ones have been posted.

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On one of the hottest days of the year thus far, we each barely had a slice.  That just meant a couple of days of meals.   The way the to go slices were prepped was as pleasant as the original order.  Our waitress (who was wonderful by the way) packaged each slice with wax paper in between each.  Who does that?  That’s the meticulous care you only get from a place that cares.  She mentioned they would taste even better reheated.  And boy she was right.  That’s the true test of a pizza.  Does it taste better after the original heating?  The answer is an infallible one.  Delish!

From the moment leading up to our meet up, the discussion, the walk up, the dining, and the departure was sheer perfection.   I love seeing good people succeed and great things happen to great people.  This is what’s happening here.

In a not so frequent instance, I will be back in a few month with a further elaboration.  The reasons will be obvious come round two.   And I’m going to love it.  I think you will too. Maybe I’ll try the Wine & Pizza Pairing on Thursday.    That wine list looks incredibly tempting.  I can’t wait to go back and try a glass or two, heck maybe a bottle.

Cozy and quaint describes the inside perfectly.  For a quiet place to dine and to detach from the rest of the world, this is your place.  I could go on with the superlatives all day, so I will…And here’s one more for the road! :

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This was the perfect Annapolis day.  I look forward to many more.  I love this town, and love to spend it with awesome people.

For more on CASA and all the good they do, click here.  For more on Luna Blu, click here.

More to come on this most inspiring of places.

Much Love,

Ideen

The Groovy Gourmet

PeaceAPizzaSlices

The amount of times I’ve driven by on or on the outskirts of Peace A Pizza without stopping in is too high to count.   I’m perplexed at myself.  But earlier this week I was in the vicinity and decided it was finally time.  Maybe the sun being out consistently has snapped me back into a bit of normalcy.

So when I stepped out of my car and saw a hippie and positive logo on the outside I was hoping I was in for a positive and vibrant experience.   And that’s exactly what I got.

PeaceAPizzaFront

First things first, Catonsville is the home of this location.  And even though I’ve spent a minuscule amount of time in the town, I felt at ease and at peace walking around.  Yes I gave myself a few minutes to soak in the area.  It may not look as historic as towns near you, but it still had a community feel to it that I welcome in my life.

Smack dab and nearly centrally located is this pizzeria.    I was there at an off time so I had the whole place to myself.  While that may sound lonely, it was fine by me.  I was able to snap some photographs I otherwise might not have been able to.

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Without even realizing, the two slices I ordered were based on my favorite ingredients. And I savored both.  I went with the Buffalo Bleu Cheese and the Green Goat, with the latter containing pesto.  For those who’ve been following this blog, I’ve raved about this sauce from the get go.  More on that in a moment.

PeaceAPizzaBuff

The chicken on my buffalo slice tasted fresh and real.  That’s all you can ask for.  I could pieces of chicken on this slice all day.  I didn’t have all day though.  The bleu cheese was delectable but the funny kicker is that instead of sour cream, they used crème fraîche instead of our cream.  What’s the difference?  You can read more here.  The red peppers were a nice touch.  This was a wonderful gourmet slice.  And that’s what they tout.

PeaceAPizzaGreenGoat

The Green Goat is a funny one.  When I ordered the slice at the counter, I forgot to ask what it was.  I just liked how it looked and saw the green pesto sauce emanating from the slice.  So after looking my pictures over and perusing the menu, I can deduct that is what I ordered.  My excitement got the best of me.  At the time I could only officially identify my slice as, ‘what is this?’ or just ‘this’.  That’s the crack reporting you’re looking for I know.

The goat cheese and pesto are a winning combination.  I love how both slices look. I’m admiring them even more a few days after the fact.  The arugula and plum tomatoes also complement this slice accordingly.  Man I love this one too.

I noticed they didn’t heat up either slice entirely.  I’m actually glad they didn’t.  I’ve mentioned before, that sometimes heating it up too much will cover up for glaring holes and issues with the pie itself.  Lukewarm is a strong barometer of how the pizza truly tastes.What I ate is what I got.  Makes sense right?

The vibe inside is one of happiness, harmony, and hippies.  Did I just do some alliteration again?  Oh boy.  And I wanted to avoid using the word hippie if I could.  But it applies here. I’m all for uplifting vibes and feeling good.

PeaceAPizzaOutside

This is a chain that looks like it will blow up.   There’s only seven locations currently, but I suspect that number will grow.  If you’re near one I highly recommend a visit.

I had way too much fun here.  I will have to come back here sooner much rather than further down the line.  Whether it’s this particular location or elsewhere, I welcome trying some more unique and groovy slices.

PeaceAPizzaDeals

I’m feeling those good vibrations.

Peace and Love,

Ideen

 

Busy City, Busy Pizza

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I’ve had a lot of great pizza in my life and a lot of bad.  Even that bad can be edible.  Even the bad can be tolerable.  But sometimes the bad can’t be written about.  It would defeat the purpose of this thing if I wrote about dreadful pies with little subjectivity.  I’d be done within a couple paragraphs. If a pizzeria touts itself as one thing but doesn’t deliver, that’s worth writing about.

This brings me to this weeks post, Alberto’s Pizza in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC.

I’ll give a brief overview of my experiences in D.C.  I have done by share of bar-hopping and dining out in and around Dupont.  But I never noticed this pizzeria.  Was my one-track mind fixated on other things, other foods, other experiences?  Or was it easy to miss?  In the 15+ years its been open I’m reasonably certain I’ve never set foot in the place.

Our nation’s capital, like many cities, continues to grow exponentially with little end in sight.  The infrastructure and public transportation system is equipped to handle that. Well at least I think it is.

With an aggressively stuffy city, and the neighborhood within, I expect the food to be prepared and served with a similar energy.  That’s not necessarily a positive or an it is what it is declaration.  It’s more of what DC is and will continue to be, transient and immersed in its own universe.  That’s not my universe.

Enough of the monologue.  This pizza was disappointing.  I ordered 3 slices due to the uniqueness of the ingredients and toppings.  Unfortunately, each came out to $5+ a slice. I understand the location and high costs of running a business so the price isn’t that terrible.

But for the quality, I felt short-changed here.

I will attempt to find the positives with these selections.

ZucchiniSlice

Number one – the Zucchini, Parmesan, and Parsley.   For a place that touts itself as Chicago Style, I don’t know if this is that.   The thin crust on all three seemed flimsy and lifeless.   They all felt under cooked but this was the best of the three.  The zucchini and parsley were the saving graces.  The sauce tasted like strawberry jelly. It wasn’t even  jam like. The cheese was ok but when I get around to the next two, this seems feels even worse.

I’m hard pressed to find silver linings.

Mushroom&GoatCheese

Number two – the Goat Cheese and Mushroom.  Like the former, I had high hopes.   The goat cheese and mushroom were fine on their own but why was it on top of the mozzarella and that jelly sauce? Did I miss something or was this an accident?  This was an opportunity lost.

ChickenPestoSlice

Number three – the Chicken Pesto.  If there was chicken, I wouldn’t have known.  This was likely imitation pesto, if there is such a thing, drizzled over that same cheese slice.  I must have missed something.  I never thought I would have tasted bad pesto but this was it.  I’m heartbroken.

I write this with the understanding that they’re open late night on the weekends, so the expectations aren’t astronomical but the pizza should be decent.  And I went at lunch time. I should get my monies worth. This wasn’t even close.

For my friends that know the area, this may be a potential teaser for either next week or soon thereafter.  There’s a lot of action on that street, on that block, and even more micro than that.

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This sign is kind of funny even though it goes over my head, just like this pizza.

On to better,

Ideen

 

 

These MODern Times

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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

 

Eastern Market Moves

7HPie

I don’t go to Washington, DC enough.   It has rapidly changed and I barely recognize certain neighborhoods.  The transformation in the last 15 years is something that a lot of major cities seem to be going through, but I never expected it be like this.

I used to go to Eastern Market with my family a lot when I was a kid.  The surrounding area may not have been the safest but that didn’t seem to bother anyone.

Now nothing could be further from the truth.  The area is flourishing with overpriced homes, nice shoppes, restaurants, businesses, and a plenty of places to sight see.

For reasons that never need to make sense or explain themselves, I found myself in DC and Eastern Market last week.

I had forgotten what the inside looked like and I was hoping, to no avail, to find a pizzeria inside to write about.

What’s fun is no matter where you are and there’s nearby places to eat, you will find pizza.  I found pizza.

Literally steps away is Seventh Hill.

7HillOutside

Nothing stood out about the place.   There were pizza peels adorning the walls and a small dining area and bar inside.   The outdoor area may actually seat more.  And on this late December day, it was still warm enough that the furniture was still out.

The menu is very creative which lists various neighborhoods, landmarks, and famous streets of our Nation’s Capital.

I avoided the obvious and didn’t get the Eastern Market.  I went with the top of the choices and ordered the Pennsylvania Avenue.

7HPie

I regret that decision now.

7HSlice

It’s not that the pizza was horrific.  It just felt bland.   The wood-fired crust was fine.  I just didn’t sense any inspiration behind it, even with one of my favorites, pesto.

However, the pecorino cheese was a nice complement to the mozzarella but I just wanted a little something more.  The olives and spinach tasted fresh.  And I didn’t mind if pieces of either fell off and I could enjoy them individually.   It just didn’t blow me away.

It’s a safe pie that wouldn’t offend anyone and most would like.   I can imagine a lot of their other pies would have more to offer.  Maybe I’m irritated I went with a safer route.   At least the pie named after it’s location has goat  cheese.  And that would be different.   Like I’ve reiterated before, all this means is that I will give it another go.

In the meantime, I posted some pictures of the market and the architecture outside. This brings back a few memories but at the same time I don’t remember this place.   It’s a bit numbing in a way.   I feel so detached.

And that’s what many parts of the D.C. area have become.  It’s just so divergent and conflicting in so many ways.   But I will be doing more DC area, and within the city proper itself.

More to come.

All The Best,

Ideen

 

BOP or Bust?

The Fells Point Fun Festival is the first weekend in October.  For at least the next four weeks, the posts will be dedicated to a pizza joint (or wherever I made eat a pie or slice) in this historic neighborhood.

BOPFront

I knew for a while that I was going to write about Brick Oven Pizza.  This is not going to be pretty.

I had been eating here since moving to the area in 2000.  And like many a tourist I either discovered it by walking around the neighborhood after a night of libations, or through word of mouth.  It’s been a while but for me I think it was the former. And then the latter after learning more about this amazing part of the city.

And if memory serves me correctly, I loved it the first time I ate it.  I loved it all the way up until about 2007 or 2008.   And I’m not quite sure what happened.  Either the quality of the food got cheaper, the way the pizza was prepared and heated changed, or my tastes went into a whole different trajectory.

BOPBuild

Lets be clear.  At one point this was my favorite place for pizza.  I craved getting pies of all flavors.  I loved the cheese, white, pepperoni, and many other toppings.  When I lived in Towson, during and after college, my friends and I would make special weekend trips to get a couple of boxes for carry-out.   I thought it was quality pizza.  And high quality at that.   Not anymore.

In the late 2000’s to now I have seen such a sharp decline that it’s alarming.   I’ve eaten here day and night and the quality has been lackluster regardless of the hour.   I wanted to think that the effort is not quite there after the bars close vs. during the day, but it’s bad all-around.

But yet I kept going back because I wanted to believe that the quality would resurface.  And it’s one of the first places I grabbed a slice when living in the area.   Then I started to go out of my way to avoid it.   What’s even worse now is when I’m in the area, I don’t even think to go unless it’s with friends or for the purpose of this blog.

BOP.Cheese.WhiteBOP.Pep.Pesto

And speaking of that, I will be reviewing four slices, albeit briefly, which took place over two different visits.  One was during the day and one was near closing time.  It doesn’t matter which took place when as they were all pretty disappointing.

BOPCheeseBOPWhiteBOP.PepBOP.Pesto

When I said I will be brief I was serious.  The order does not matter but I got a cheese, white, pepperoni, and that funny looking one.  That’s a cheese with pesto on top.  I had ordered a white slice with said pesto and they gave me that.  I wasn’t even in the mood to tell them they messed up, as the point is moot.

BOPOven

There is no soul to this pizza anymore.  The crust, the cheese, and the toppings had no flavor.  Sometimes I felt like I was eating soap.  It was a struggle to finish any of these.  They look so much better than they tasted.  The dough was cooked funny and I don’t see how a brick oven can make this.  It’s a tragedy.

BOPMenu

And for what they charge there is no justification.  These are not premium slices.

The staff working the front has also left a lot to be desired.  I get people have bad days but a lot of these folks seem to phoning it in.  And that energy reverberates to everything.

BOPCeleb

I think the celebrity testimonials are wonderful but I suspect many are from years ago, when the pizza was impressive.

I write all this because I care.  I miss the old B.O.P.   And I don’t it coming back.  In a way it’s heartbreaking but it’s also time to move on.  Every now and again if I’m desperate maybe I’ll grab a slice but there are food options elsewhere.

Many folks from the area will disagree and I understand.   Some of my friends are loyal to this place.  I was but my heart isn’t there anymore.   It’s time to move on.

BOPVan

I can only hope the Fells Point pizza will get better from here.

Best,

Ideen

Mione’s – Back To The Beach

I was really hoping to like Mione’s on my first visit, but that didn’t happen.  I was also hoping to write about another great pizza joint at the Eastern Shore, but that didn’t happen either.

I love Ocean City and there’s good pizza to be had, like I mentioned in a previous post.   But this was not it.

I’m all for trying something new, and going to places that may not be the most prominent of names is a part of that.

I hadn’t heard of Mione’s until driving through the resort town last year, and I had a couple of slices that day.  I recall they weren’t that memorable.   This go around took place on a busy weekend in July, and this visit was much worse.

Mione'sSlices

I don’t know how else to put it.  The pizza and service left so much to be desired.   I understand during the Summertime that slices and certain preferences can be unavailable at any time.  However, during my visit, no standard slices were available. There was no cheese, nor pepperoni, nor white.   The wait time on the former to come out, I was told, was nearly 30 minutes.  Not many people trying to get a slice, or most foods to go, would be willing to wait even half that time.

My negativity is not necessarily based on the lack of slices, but on what was available.

Thankfully, the chicken and vegetable pesto, white pizza was available.  And a white veggie which included eggplant was also one of the few slices ready to be heated and eaten within minutes.  Now I understand why.

Both slices were disappointing.   The dough and crust didn’t taste right.  It was crisp but not in a good way Pieces of crust were falling off and tasting like it was burnt toast.  Good pizza is good pizza, and it can withstand being heated and then reheated many times over.  I imagine the reheating process made both of these worse over time.

The chicken didn’t taste fresh and neither did the vegetables that  came with it.  The roasted red peppers didn’t have much flavor.   The silver lining was the pesto. Pesto is always good and even this wasn’t the best tasting pesto.

The vegetable slice was much worse  I’m glad I was forced to try a new slice with the eggplant but the results were abysmal.  The eggplant, red peppers, and I think those were mushrooms, did not make a good melange of anything.

Needless to say, I barely ate a third of either slice.  I don’t like wasting food but I didn’t feel good eating this and saw no point in forcing the issue.

Mione's

Despite my harshness, I will be willing to try some other slices.  There is much on the menu to choose from, in term of pizza, so next time I’m back, I’ll give ’em another shot.   And the fact that the staff was so friendly albeit stressed and seemed rush plays a factor in why I will go back, and also why the pizza was disappointing based upon this visit.

The pizza this time around wasn’t good, but they all can’t be winners.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen