…Are The Best People

Piazza27Slices

I’m not sure what to make of this.   I took the title off of the window display of this weeks recap, Piazza 27.  Until three days ago I hadn’t heard a thing about it.  But you know how thing are, you hear about an entity once, you constantly hear about it as it gains momentum in your head, in your life, and within the universe and atmosphere around you.

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But the things I’ve been hearing about Piazza 27 are on the level of life changing, astounding, and out of body, even more so out of this world.

Locals in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore (this is still one of my favorites) have been clamoring for a pizza place with simple New York Style slices to either eat in or carry out.  It’s one of those things that I’m proclaiming based on observation and based on the word-of-mouth momentum I alluded to in the previous paragraph.   I understand that.

Mt. Vernon is a neighborhood full of character, amazing architecture, great shops, bars, and restaurants of all nationalities and styles, but sometimes you just a simple slice of pizza with little wait time.   And this is what Piazza 27 is providing to locals, and students from nearby universities and institutions.

For that and among many other reasons is why I think people love this place so much.  It’s a hidden them that’s going to explode, whether it’s because of this blog or not, is another thing.  But I’m going to show my support because local business with a good energy, a good aura, and friendly people behind the counter (and they were friendly for sure) is always worthy of attention and admiration.  We don’t give enough of it.  We can never give enough.  It’s just the way it is.

But with that being said, how was the pizza?

I honestly felt influenced by the incredible reviews of this place on their Facebook page and other sites (they don’t have a website yet, which I actually find awesome) that is may have been hard to be practical in my own critiques.

I’ve been guilty in the past of buying into the dogma of a place, and going against my own genuine opinion, because so many other people have lauded the place to the point of annoyance.  And the counter to that would be I would find a place less than stellar in comparison to the reviews, because it was either out of spite or because I was sick of hearing about it.

The fact that I’ve already said all this would lend you to believe that my opinion might still not be own but headed towards a confirmation bias one way or another.

Well I’m going to do my best to say how I truly feel, but with the suggestion that you should try this place yourself if you live in and around Baltimore, Mt. Vernon, or plan on visiting.

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I purchased 4 slices with the total being only about $13.   If you do the math, this is a deal, a bargain, and this will get you two lunches worth at least.  Yes I made this into multiple meals.  I can’t eat this all at once, that would be crazy,  or would it?  Hmmm…

The friendly face behind the counter was just that.  She could not have been more kind in explaining every slice to me.   That’s the stuff that’ll make people keep coming back, and they’ve been coming back alright, or so I heard.

For this final pizza post of 2017, the four slices I purchased were cheese, white with veggie, chicken bacon ranch, and chicken bacon pesto.  That last one, I know I know.. It’s different alright.

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I want to be honest here.  All the slices were really good to great.  I completely understand why people are raving about this.  The crust, the dough, the sauce, and the way it was heated were great on some slices, and better on the others.

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But I also want to understand where folks are coming from.  I think if the pizza quality was a tad lower, I sense a lot of people would still be thinking highly of this place. It’s just a thought.  There was a lack and this place filled it, but it filled it and then some.  The pizza is terrific.

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Yet some are calling it the best pizza in Baltimore, the best New York pizza they’ve ever had outside of New York, and some have said it’s the best pizza every.   This isn’t hyperbole, reviews are here & here saying similar things.  There’s local community sites sharing that same sentiment.

Piazza27ChickenPesto

I can’t say it’s the best pizza,  but that’s not a fair thing to say anyways.  It’s great pizza.  The cheese and chicken bacon pesto were the two favorites of mine.  And you know you can tell what’s a good pizza place if their cheese slice is good, then it’s going to be the gateway to other tremendous pizzas.

I’ve always loved pesto but this is up there with the best of the best pesto.  And how it doesn’t clash with the the bacon is a pleasant surprise.

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That’s not to say that the other two slices weren’t great.  They were delicious.  The white is one of the better whites I’ve had, and the veggies didn’t get in the way like some places might.  It complemented the white slice so well you could easily taste the ricotta, garlic, and olive oil.

I got a kick out of walking out of the place with this big to-go box in my hand.  Based on how I was feeling and the location, it only seemed fitting.

These slices also tasted like brand new a day later.  And that’s the best judge of a place.  I think these could last a few days and still taste great. Easy to say about any decent leftover pizza, but there is an aura about this place and these slices.

I’d say definitely go here.  There’s something going on alright.  Best pizza ever?  Not to me, but I’m just one opinion.  It’s great pizza at a great price, at what seems to be the ideal location.  A few businesses have been unsuccessful since I’ve been in the area, but I think that’s over now.  I know that’s over now.   We have liftoff.

We have a winner here in Piazza 27, and once they gain even more momentum, all bets are off.

Piazza27Menu

They’ve only been open a month (menu can be found here) but the cat’s been long out of the bag.

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I’m going to have to come back here and do a sequel.  Something magical is going on here, and I’m even getting a better energy and feeling as I write about it.

Happy New Year, Peace Be With You, and I’ve got to come back here.  And soon.

Ideen

 

 

 

True Tampa Style

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I owe all this one to a dear friend who I visited this past June in St. Petersburg, FL.  I visited many friends, many amazing places, and experienced many awesome things.  For that I’m grateful to everyone who welcomed me and made me feel like home.  And it certainly did.

This vacation was somewhat bookended my some sight seeing in Tampa.  While it’s always fun playing tourist, it’s always a pleasure when a friend looks up pizzerias in the vicinity, to try, and for the sake of this blog.  If it wasn’t for my friend’s insistence this post would never see the light of day.

Thank goodness for good friends.  And thank goodness for great ‘za.

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After a few circles and strolls around Downtown Tampa, we marked our territory in what I now realize is the highly sought after and touted, Eddie & Sam’s N.Y. Pizza.

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As many of us do on a trip, we over indulge, we like the finer things in life, and we should always strive for those finer things.   With that said, I had five massive slices.

I mean who knows when I’ll be back here? I have every intention of doing so, but still, you never know.  And before you ask, no I did not eat everything.  I essentially ate a little bit of each, and then some more, and then some more.  And hopefully the significant amount that was saved was left for the person it was intended for.  I ask and I still don’t think I remember how that turned out.  Alright enough of that.

How I review is this going to be instinctive yet going with the flow as I write this.  That might mean the same thing, I’m not quite sure right now.

First, let me say that the dough on these pies is tremendous.  For some it stood out with much more passion than others.

Eddie & Sam’s imports water from New York to make this as authentic as it possibly can. I understand that the elements of time, space, and travel may not make this exactly New York Style.  And being in another state may pay a part in that.  But to be honest, I haven’t been to New York in quite some time.  I forgot how their pizza tasted.  I just remember some places being great, some being drab, and some everywhere in between.

We’ve all been to places that claim NY Style, only to be disappointed or accept the fact that it’s just pizza, sometimes good, but nothing memorable.

It’s been three months and I still think about these slices.  A lot has to do with being a new city, an unfamiliar city, an unpredictability of where this day was going, and being around great company.

Here are the five I ordered:  1) Cheese, 2) Blanca aka White, 3) Buffalo Chicken, 4) Chicken Bacon Ranch, and 5) Lasagna.   I realize now that vegetables are missing in this discussion.  I must have been in the mood for some protein.  This also leaves the door wide open for another visit and post sometime.

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The cheese and buffalo chicken were the two main stand outs for me.   And if you judge a place by its cheese, this place is doing things perfectly.

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But it was the dough on the buffalo chicken that stood apart from all the other slices. And yes while they overloaded all these stunning pieces of chicken on this pie, the softness of the dough mixed in with periodic crispy bites made this comfort food to perfection.

These were my two favorite slices by far.

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The lasagna was loaded with flavors but maybe I was expecting something more.  While still really good, I wanted a little more wow.

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The Blanca, while good, still is not what I had come to expect from a white slice.  I’ve mentioned this numerous times before, and maybe I need to lower expectations.  Maybe my tastes keep evolving but I don’t remember the last time a white pizza blew me away or was at least great.  This came close but not quite what I was looking for.

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The Chicken Bacon ranch was my least favorite of the bunch.  But it does get credit for having real pieces of breaded chicken and genuine pieces of bacon.   In many instances the slices served by many pizzerias will only include diced pieces of chicken and bacon bits.  That’s defeatist and in a way misleading to a pizza patron.  For presentation, Eddie & Sam’s get a lot of credit.

Overall, this was a wonderful, memorable, and joyous experience.   Another thing, these pizza slices vary in price.  I think for my five I spent around $25.  It sounds pricey but an experience like this was invaluable and worth its weight in pizza, and in everything else.

And while the exterior feels welcoming yet intimidating all at once (depending on your point of view), there’s room for everyone and the staff was working hard and were extremely friendly.  I sense many of the folks took pride in the pizzas they were creating, and aimed to make them the best they could possibly be.

That’s all you can ask for.

Eddie&SamsMeatLovers

Well my friend did order this work of art.  What else needs to be said?

Eddie&SamsNYPizzaMenu

Here is Eddie & Sam’s Menu and their contact information.

They make over 20 slices a day, so I want to say we’re just getting started.

We’re just getting started.   It’s New York Style yes, but I’d like to call this Tampa Style. Tampa now has my heart, but maybe it always did.

Let’s do this again sometime.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

 

The Cheese Stands

AnthonysSlices

I wanted to love everything Anthony’s N.Y. Pizza & Pasta House.  It wasn’t quite everything I hoped it would be.  But after thinking about it I don’t know what I was hoping for exactly then and now.   I wanted good pizza and there was some of that.  But that little extra oomph wasn’t there.  And I really thought it would happen.

AnthonysStoreFront

The beautiful thing is pizza is everywhere and it will always be everywhere.  In every town, every city, and every neighborhood there’s going to be some semblance of a pizza parlor, pizzeria, or a restaurant.    It makes my day discover a new one in a town I don’t always frequent, Bowie, MD.

What I’ve found fascinating is in talking to close friends who live in proximity have never heard of this place.   In doing further research there is a similar sentiment.  Maybe the location isn’t ideal or noticeable immediately.  To me it’s perfect.

However, I wouldn’t say this is in the most folksy or most approachable part of town. Where that is in Bowie I don’t know, but when I see a pizza place, in particular, one with slices to go, the small town and romanticizing of a happy place and folksy folks (while a more-than-welcomed bonus) is not always going to be there.  And that’s ok.  I  think.

I had come to find out that owner of this and the Clarksville (I’ll get to that later) locations are from New York, which means the N.Y. Style is actually more authentic and since than many of these places that say N.Y. Style as a cliche and the slices are bland and taste worse because they portray themselves as something they’re not.

So expectations were set a little higher.   I didn’t expect this to be just like New York Pizza.  To be honest, I could barely count on two hands how many times I’ve had N.Y. Style and it’s different.  But you don’t have to be an expert to know the difference.  There is an aura about it.  There’s so many elements that make a pizza a pizza.  And for with New York like any city, there is an aura about it.

Just like any other food, it’s going to be best served in the city or country of origin.

It could be the water, the universe, or just being there in that moment that makes it what it is.

And just because the location is different means the pizza will be a cheap imitation.  It doesn’t necessarily have to match the authenticity of said location, but it can be great and it can even be a masterpiece.

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I wanted to love the three slices I ordered.  I don’t always feel like that about places.  But this one had something else going for it I can’t put into words.  That could be once again romanticizing the situation and only hoping for the best.    Luckily, one slice really stood above all else.  Maybe the title gave it away.  I’ll save that for that.

AnthonysChickenSpinach

First up was the Chicken and Spinach White with balsamic glaze.   I’ve said it before that certain pizzas have that whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts situation.  This one also fits that bill.

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This white pizza looked spectacular.  And you’re going to get a theme from this and the next slice.  It’s not a case of judging a book by its cover.  But in the reverse sense.  This had all the makings of an amazing pizza but something didn’t completely work.

I think there was too much going on.  I never got a taste of the balsamic.  And the cheese also seemed to vanish.  The spinach was great.  I enjoyed picking pieces of spinach off my slice and enjoyed them on their own.  But that chicken was phenomenal.  I would gladly eat pile of these blackened pieces of chicken on their own, or with a spinach salad.  I mean it.  The chicken was spectacular.  I think the main take from this was the pizza crust didn’t work here.  I think if the crust had more of that crunch you’d expect I might be telling a different story.   But it didn’t necessarily need to be NY Style.  Something was just off.  This was ordered right at lunch time so the pizza was fresh.  But something fell short.

AnthonysBuffChicken2

The same goes for the Buffalo Chicken.   It looked so beautiful.  The celery was fantastic as was the breaded buffalo chicken.   What went wrong for me was the blue cheese. It was bit too heavy for me.  And equally as rough was the buffalo sauce.   This is something that can easily be remedied.  I’ve personally made foods with buffalo sauce and sometimes add a little too much.  It happens.   I think others will love it but this wasn’t as good as I hoped.   Again that crust was the issue.

AnthonysBuffChicken

But…

AnthonysCheese

The cheese.  It may look like a standard cheese slice, which is everything right.   I don’t know if I planned it that way, but I did eat this one last.  And I’ll tell you, you can always judge a place by how good their cheese is.  This was fantastic.  This is not the best cheese slice I’ve ever hard.  And honestly, I don’t remember where that was.  But this was tremendous.  There is no special reason why this was.  And I wouldn’t say this because it’s authentic N.Y. Style.  I think there’s a bigger spirit and soulful element here.  What that is I don’t know.  And maybe I’m not supposed to.  Not yet at least.

I don’t often do repeats.  And if I do it may be a different location.  It makes it exciting to do a compare and contrast.

I’m sentimental to the small town of Clarksville, MD and had no idea there was a second location there.   Small business is a beautiful thing and I’m happy to support it.   So when I get a chance to visit this will be revisited again.

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And I look forward to sharing it with you.

Have a happy holiday weekend.

Ideen

 

Little Lackluster

I had intended to do a Fells Point related pizza post in conjunction with and leading up to the Fells Point Fun Festival.  That was supposed to take place last weekend.   The universe had other plans and we’ll see you in two weeks.  But the neighborhood posts will keep on coming leading up to the event.

My post from last week was meant to be the revealed on the weekend of the event, but I have adjusted accordingly. I am prepared for the challenge of finding spots that are hopefully informative and do the area justice.

LittleItalyFront

This week brings me to Little Italy Pizzeria, which is right off the heart of Fells Point.  That picture I took makes the place seem very authentic right?

Well that’s where it ends.  This pizza parlor suffers from the same issues, in my opinion, as Brick Oven Pizza which I wrote about two weeks ago.   Up until five years ago I would’ve said this pizza tasted great during the day, at night, by the slice, or a grabbing a whole pie to go.  It wasn’t fine craftsmanship but it was guaranteed to be a good pie that would do its job.  And sometimes that’s all you’re looking for.

Now the last few times I’ve ordered from them the crust, dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings all seem so lifeless.  There’s no feeling behind it.  But it serves its purpose.   I used to always order a za from here day or night and feel like I’ve enjoyed something tasty. And my interest has waned to the point where this might be the last time I go for a while unless I’m desperate.

I will recap the two slices I got, on my most recent a little over a month ago.  I’ll try to find the positives.

You know how when you see pictures of pizza you get hungry and get excited?  Even bad pizza will do that to you.   However, when looking at these photos I am turned off by them.

LittleItalyCheese

There’s barely any cheese or sauce and that’s what I remember tasting. The crust tasted undercooked and a bit soft. Sometimes that’ll work but not here.   I do realize I was eating around 8 or 9 pm so the quality may not be as high.  But I’ve had the same slice during the afternoon and it was just as mediocre.

LittleItalyBacon

The bacon, chicken, and ranch didn’t taste fresh.  The toppings seemed boring and just thrown on there.   Even bad pizza could be good pizza but this doesn’t apply here.  Even bacon which is hard to screw up, either tasted like it was past its sell by date or it wasn’t real bacon.  I’d rate both of these below average.

LittleItalyDuo

My hunch is that the business is just going through the motions.  It can try to please everyone and change the quality of their pies at various times of the day, or just wing it throughout.  I suspect they’re doing the latter.  I can only assume why the caliber of their pizzas has dwindled.

I remember barely eating half of either and feeling bad I had to throw them in the trash.

The interior is narrow.  There’s only a few sets of tables and chairs which is what I do like about it.  It’s a grab-and-go kind of place.  I’d just use caution on the pizza.  Lowered expectations would work here.

More to come.

Best,

Ideen

On The Avenue

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Since being around the Baltimore area for the past 15 years, I’ve always been sentimental to White Marsh. So it’s about time I review a pizza place nearby. And this brings us to Slice Pizzeria on The Avenue.

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What stood out right away was how tiny the inside was.  It only seats a few people indoors and there are tabletops outside for dining when the weather is nice. They also have a side entrance where you can order from the outside (as seen pictured above), which gives it a local shoppe feel.  I find that awesome.  In the nearly two years they’ve been open, they have developed quite the following.  And being next to the movie theater is a plus.

Unfortunately, I feel their pizza has become movie theater quality.  When I was originally going their slices were quite tasty. They lived up to their New York Style thin crust reputation.  In my past few visits, I have noticed a decrease in goodness. The slices I will review were based on my most recent stop.

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First up was The White Pizza.  I just didn’t get much from it.  It was ok.  The crust was fine.  The cheese just seemed lacking.  It didn’t have the usual flavor I have come to expect.  It tasted more like cheese on toast.

Next in line, we had The Shore Pie Pizza.  And boy did this look promising.   The ingredients are grilled chicken, butter, Old Bay, mozzarella, and blue cheese. Now you would think this would be a recipe for success.  I really wanted it to be.  But again, it just didn’t come together.   I really like the idea of butter as an ingredient.  But I never felt like I tasted it. In addition, the Old Bay and blue cheese didn’t seem to click.  I can imagine for many, this is a match made in pizza heaven.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  And the chicken was ok.  I’ve had better pieces of chicken on a pie. Again, this was an ok slice.  But I can’t say I’d try it again. bacon

And lastly, we have the Rancher Pizza.  We got bacon on this one, so it’s gotta be great right?  There’s grilled chicken again, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, and the aforementioned bacon.  This just didn’t work. I had a hard time eating this one.   I didn’t love the bbq sauce.  It was too sweet for me, but that is what wasblisted.  I found this one the most disappointing. Since they have one of the most creative and inventive menus I’ve seen, I will give it another go.  I just recall their pizza tasting a whole lot better. Some of their slices are over $5, which is a bit steep for me.

There’s a lot of positives though.  The staff is always friendly and happy to assist with questions about the unique entrees. Every time I’ve gone in, they’ve been smiling.   In addition, their slices are of generous proportions, which could justify the price somewhat. Just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean you won’t.

And judging by reviewers, a lot of people are fans. I do wish Slice all the success and look forward to trying another concoction again. Thanks so much. Best, Ideen

Tutti Gusti

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There is something charming about this neighborhood pizza place, nestled in a cozy location, in the nooks and crannies of Canton.  Giovanni’s Tutti Gusti has a great staff and equally amazing energy, which adds to the soul and the heart of their food. They always greet their patrons like one of their own.   It’s the little things that are the big things.

Many of my friends who a residents of Canton, Brewers Hill, and Highlandtown; have given mainly glowing reviews of their pies.   It took me way too get here.   I drove by this establishment countless of times, never to pay it any mind.  Shame on me. Their slices have never disappointed and are noticeably cheaper compared to the competition.

The two slices I purchased today (which are pictured above), were the Chicken Ranch and the Pizza Bianca (White Pizza). Both were heavenly.

The Chicken Ranch is habit forming.  To begin, the ranch sauce is out of this world.  I don’t know if there’s any hidden ingredients, but my goodness.  It can’t be put into words how good this tastes.    It’s topped with grilled chicken, that tastes like real grilled chicken; mushrooms, tomatoes, and what looks to be basil.  Nothing gets lost in the shuffle here.  This might be my favorite pizza from here.    This slice never had a chance.

The White Pizza tastes wondrous as well.   It’s a simple concoction of ricotta, mozzarella, broccoli, and tomatoes.    I am really like the way vegetables tastes on pizza right now.  It’s what my taste buds are feeling at the moment.

One more thing, the way the crust is prepared is insane.  It is a perfectly cooked thin crust.  I would like to know where this dough is from or if it’s made in house.   I detect an ever so slight buttery taste to the crust as well.  Or that could just be the Ranch sauce.

I have only been here a handful of times and I will be back soon.  I am asking these questions, well, because I am still fairly new to Tutti Gusti’s and I am here inspiring pizza research.

I strongly recommend this place.  Their pizza is delicioso and there’s a magnificent aura from within.  On the few occasions I have visited, I have seen all types of folks from what walks of life in here; from police, firefighters, business people, students, locals, and everyone in between.    No matter what we do, in the end, we all want some good pizza to eat and something fun to talk about.  For that, and many other reasons, we are all the same.  And we’re in this thing together.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen