Baltimore is going through rapid changes. Whether those are good or otherwise is anyone’s guess. But change can be a good thing. And with change means an upswing in great restaurants, retail, attractions, and everything in between. Does that mean good pizza? The answer is a resounding yes.
I’ve deliberately spaced out the heavy hitters and sexy names in the world of pizza in Baltimore and Washington, DC. Since I live closest to these two cities, I’ve left other cities out, for now. I intend to go through all the places I can in both metropolitan areas, and other locations, if and when I can.
With that introduction out of the way, I’m so happy to have finally eaten at one of the most anticipated and widely regarded pizza restaurants to come to the area, Paulie Gee’s of Hampden.
For whatever reason, circumstances prevented me from dining here at any point in time, until earlier this week. Close friends of mine went around the time of opening to large crowds, long waits, and long faces because some were turned away. My friends that did get the opportunity to eat have nearly unanimously said it’s fantastic and it has become a great addition to the Hampden neighborhood.
I am now a believer. I never really had any doubts other than when I hear everyone else rave about it, does that cloud my judgement? Do I let the opinions and noise of the outside world unfairly influence my opinion, one way or the other? Yes there’s the sad truth that we can get tired of hearing how great a place is that we’ll cut off our nose to spite our face. Just to spite it. I think that’s the phrase. Anyways, I want to get this out of the way before I start reviewing, I loved this pizza. And I’m only getting started.
Let’s begin what might become a regular staple in my life. No, I take that back. This is now a part of my life. Speaking of life, this was life changing. I don’t want to throw that term ‘life changing’ around too much or it will lose its luster.
Thank goodness I had the perfect person to join me in my debut feast at this sublime and divine restaurant. My dear friend is a resident of the neighborhood and is a regular of this fair establishment. It made this experience all the more surreal. For what I thought would be an hour to an hour-a-half meal turned nearly three hours. Yes, that’s when you know things are going swimmingly. No, that’s when you know things are beautiful.
I’ve always thought the entrance and signage had an aura about it and taken on a life of its own. I almost got scared to walk in. The times in the past when I drove by I put this place on quite the pedestal and built this up into something I hope would lead to this day. Success.
The dining room is monumental and has another energy about it I don’t need to put into words. It just is, and it’s spiritual and it’s special.
First up, the salad to get our appetites churning. The Grape To Meet You (Ah I love these names) was such a joy and a treat. The arugula on its own was worth the price of admission, or salad. No, there is no cover to enter. But the tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese made this simple salad taste larger-than-life. So good.
Our wines paired perfectly with everything by the way. We each had a couple of glasses. I just want to tie up those loose ends before we get to the main event.
My friend guided and coached me into ordering ideas. She had something in mind already for her pie, and starting simple and working forward made sense for me.
Once again, a good cheese pizza is a good judge of how the rest of the pies will fare. It’s just something that makes sense. If the original pie is going to be amazing then it’s going to make folks think outside of their comfort zones and order more ambitiously from there. That also means people will keep coming back.
So I went with the Beatrix Kiddo. Yes, that title is awesome. Perhaps you recall where the name came from. This is their cheese pizza. I had fennel sausage added to mine, so if I wanted to pick off the pieces and enjoy a cheese or enjoy a Beatrix with fennel I could. Ah this is so fun I know.
My friend got a White Pizza, the ‘Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me’ with bacon, basil, post heated ricotta dollops (which were a gem), and wait, fennel sausage again?
I didn’t see double dose of fennel until both are pies were out. Is there something to this? Hmm.. Yes we did share and both were astoundingly awesome.
I’m not sure which one I loved more but I’m kind of leaning towards the Beatrix. Maybe I’was and still am in a purist mood. But the amount of cheese and tomatoes placed on this pie was measured to perfection. I’m not kidding you. The sausage was a beautiful touch but I almost think any topping would have added just the perfect hint of something else. Yes I did pick my toppings off for a slice and enjoyed my plain Neapolitan slice in all its glory and solitude.
The Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me was the perfect dichotomy to the Kiddo. The bacon and fennel sausage (which is becoming a new favorite of mine) was a powerful meaty combination. But the basil and dollops were the stand-outs for me. So much yum.
The crust was charred and heated perfectly. I like that dough was lighter than I expected. I was told from previous visitors that it may have been a bit heavy for their liking. That was one of the few minor critiques I heard. I thought it was just right, so maybe those complaints were unwarranted.
I used the term ‘life changing” again over the course of the meal. I had genuine reactions of happiness, jubilation, and then a calming over me. I felt so comfortable during this meal.
This lends itself to the ambiance, the environment, the energy, and the company being just as important as the food itself. I felt so happy and felt so overjoyed in such a welcoming and inspiring vibe.
I loved how everything was being prepared in the center of the restaurant. Yes, their kitchen was hiding in plain sight. The staff was visible but unassuming. I want to thank our server Jenn who was helpful with our wine and pizza suggestions, and was extremely prompt and attentive in waiting on us. Thanks so much.
Since this was my inaugural visit, I’m not sure where to go from here. I can’t leave this to one post. It would not be right. There are so many pizzas with charming and over-the-top names to write about that I must come back. This will need to be revisited and when I do it will make sense and connect with this post.
There are other points-of-view and pieces of information to expound about with Paulie Gee’s but I shall save that for next time.
To click on more info for a location near you, go here.
For the Baltimore menu, hours, and frequently asked questions click here.
My friend did tell me that they are good in supporting and promoting local businesses, and being involved in the community. In addition, the general manager was visible and did have a presence about him that commanded the room. I wish I got a chance to thank for him all our awesome food, and an evening that will be imprinted into my memory forever.
But like I said, this will be done again and done again soon.
Thanks so much Paulie Gee’s and thanks so much for reading.