The ‘Shoulds’ In Life…

MellowMushroomHoly2

What am I attempting to say here?  There’s so many things in life we’re told to ‘should’ do, that we ‘must’ do, and that we have to do.  It’s programmed and wired into our brains pretty much the day we’re born.

It’s that which controls us, gives us wants and desires that may not always be reasonable, they may also be the path of least resistance, or in other words, following the herd.

We like our life simple, and with as few headaches as possible.  Experiences, challenges, and obstacles are going to come in our way.  We’ll experience heartache, joy, exhilaration, fatigue, and everything in between…

That’s the macro, or maybe the micro, or maybe I’m just being vague again.

Then there’s the ‘shoulds’ that are about the simple things.  We should have gone on this vacation, we should have accepted that job opportunity, we should have accepted when someone asked us out (or we should have mustered up the courage and asked them out, what’s the worse they can say?), or we should have…

This brings us to Mellow Mushroom, with a growing list of locations in the northeast, south, expanding westward, and many in Maryland, and a charming menu to boot.

The Rockville, MD location is footsteps to many things family.  A family business was once nearby, my family lives in the Rockville Town Square, where this and many businesses, commerce, and local entities reside, and where many of us have seen a transition from a historic town to well, looking like everywhere else.

No, that’s not a dig.  I’m just sentimental to how many towns used to look like, and many still do.   There’s another ‘should’.  I’m all for change as long as it helps everyone, yet we must also help ourselves.

Mellow Mushroom is among a list of many places I would suggest to pick up food from, or dine out at with my dad, when I would come visit him.   Yes a family business was footsteps away, so it was nice to come and spend time on a weekly basis.  Sometime more, sometimes less.  I loved every minute of it, more like every second.

But he has his favorite few places,  like many of us do.  And we get comfortable.  I get comfortable.  There’s another path of least…

Yet at some point something that is familiar and easy to us now, was once a stranger and foreign to us as well.  See what I’m saying?  Before I digress like I tend to do, let me talk about the pizza.

For the first time I finally walked into a Mellow Mushroom (just typing that out and saying that in my head makes me laugh, the name just sounds funny to me), without asking if he wanted any, because the ‘shoulds’ have done me in and done enough.

It felt like a different universe.  I can’t explain it.  But it felt like a place I’ve had recurring dreams about, and not in a bad way.  It’s just well…

MellowMushroomMenu

The pizzas themselves are reasonably priced.  I got two small pies to share at $13 a piece.  The House Special and The Holy Shiitake.

MellowMushroomHouseSpecial2

The former is decent.  And the latter is really good, maybe even great.

MellowMushroomHoly

The crust on both, especially the Shiitake really complemented the pie well.

MellowMushroomHouseSpecial

The House Special has a lot going on more for my taste.  The extra mozzarella added on top is a nice touch.  And I know some people love it, or are going to love it.  It was a bit too much for me.

MellowMushroomHoly2

But the Holy Shiitake has everything I want in a pizza, and in food in general.   Olive oil, garlic, shiitake, portobello, caramelized onions, aioli, and truffle oil is up there with the best combinations in pie, or in anything ever.  Yet something was missing…

What was missing was… I ended up eating this on my own.  I came to visit, yet I was only able to enjoy it by myself.  I left the rest for family, and hope at some point they get to enjoy some too.   I wish I had done this sooner.

MellowMushroomSlices

I had all the intentions of getting pizza here, a year ago, two years ago, maybe even longer, and that didn’t happen.

What I’m saying is, with anything, don’t wait till something happens to do something.  I have to tell myself this.  You should just do, just be, and not overthink things too much.  I’ve done a lot of that, and continue to so.

You never know when opportunities like this are going to run out, or ultimately….

I was told by a wise man once, don’t let something monumental happen or be forced to make changes in your life.

Have a blessed one…

Ideen

Family Time…

MammaLuciaSlices

The title might give it away?  Well, it’s about mamma, but it’s also about papa, family, and all the simple things in life you should appreciate as much as possible.   Don’t take the good stuff in life for granted.   Easy said, easy done,  but I know myself, and sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses, or the pizza.

Almost two years ago today, I wrote about Mamma Lucia, and their Rockville Pike location.

I want to get the pizza part out of the way first.

I’ll just say that the plain White Pizza from today was one of the best slice I’ve had in some time.    The rest were solid but nothing to write home about.  The cheese and the sauce on the meat lovers, and the one veggie itself were missing something.  But today it didn’t matter.   I just wanted to get a little pizza review in before I completely went off the rails here.  The New York Style crusts were all good to great on there.  But that White Pizza, oh my goodness.  Something was in the air today.

MammaLucia

Something today (as of this writing) has brought me back many times over this week and over the past several months, that I was due to stop into their Fallsgrove location.   But first, let me get all the particulars out of the way…. For more on Mamma Lucia, here is their menu, their list of locations, and contact information.

MammaLuciaMenu

Now that’s out of the way, I want to talk about sentimentality.   Family is everything.  That meaning your mom, dad, brother, sister, cousins, etc.. etc…  But family is also dear friends who started out as acquaintances but evolved into people you would do anything for, and they would do anything for you, without hesitation.  That’s a special bond,  that’s spiritual beings, kindred spirits, and anything else that seems fitting, which is also family.

MammaLuciaArt

Family can also be the places you go, whether it be a restaurant, a bar, a social club, or the comfort of your own home.  My cat is family, I’m lucky to have many good friends, and a few that I consider family.

Yet you’re also born into family.  That’s your blood, and that’s the family that’s your meant to have initially.  The universe presented that to you, for you, and with you.  Where I’m going with all this is, I recall fondly the many meals I’ve shared with family over the years, many being at this Mamma Lucia location. This goes back nearly 20 years.   I know, time flies.

I’m grateful to have grown up near where I did.  As much as it’s cold at times, congested, and much more populated then 30 years ago, I look forward to going home and seeing family.

It’s not always about the food, but the company.   And that company, is your friends, but growing up, it was always family too.

The pizza here just brings back instances of when I was younger.  It’s not one or two specific incidents or events, but an accumulation of so many things.   Why this place stands out, I can’t tell you.  But driving around the area today really hit a nerve with me.  I’m not as young as I once was.   That’s part of it.  But it’s one of those things, where the more things change, the more they will continue to change.  Some remains constant, but something has evolved, for better or worse.  As have I, as have all of us.  My family dynamic has changed.  And it will continue too, for all of us.

So when I walked in today to other some slices like I always did, I just had this moment of clarity.  Not so much a new lease on life, because that time is coming (if I’m not already going through it), but something else.  It’s something I can’t put into words just yet.

Today it’s not about the pizza. It’s about everything else.

Their might be a follow-up in some way, shape, or form.   This is one of those existential moments that will resolve itself, because that’s how the universe works, for all of us.  It’s looking out for us.   It’ll be ok.   I have to tell myself that.  But…

It’ll be ok.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Back Where I Come From

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza

I grew up around the Rockville, MD area, and each time I come home, I get these feelings of uneasiness.  It still feels like the place I remember when I was a kid, but all that is waning.

Here are my past posts from this historic town.

My peers and I are older now.  Many of the places we used to frequent are no more.  I supposed many people say that, because things end.  Nothing lasts forever.  But that doesn’t mean that when something ends, that something worse takes it place.  That does happen, but with a congested suburb of the Washington, DC area, I still attempt to see the glass half full.

There’s restaurants, stores, hidden gems, and just those things you can’t put into words that are no more.   I still keep in touch with family and friends, because that’s important to me, and they’re also the constant.  As we grow up the reasons we became close still exist and sometimes new ones formed.

And sometimes you discover a place that is one of the new gems, the new parts of a town that easily could fit in with the past.

CSNY

CSNY Pizza (an offshoot of Pizza CS, which I will get to in time) resides in a location on Rockville Pike that has seen many tenants, and many local businesses come and go.   This understated pizza place is not going anywhere.

When I saw the signs last year for this soon to be opened spot, I was excited, and then as time went by I forgot.  And not for any malicious reasons.  I don’t live here.  I haven’t lived in here in some time, and I don’t ever see myself coming back.   Never say never, but that’s not in the cards.

This was home.  It’s still has parts of my heart, but so much has changed.  And in the past year ever more has changed.   Some things are gone and are never going to come back.  I have to make peace with that.  As I’m writing this out, I’m still trying to make that peace.

I’m grateful family and friends are still around.  Like I said, that’s still the constant.

But onto the pizza…

The spot is simple and so is the menu.  Just how I like it.

I ordered three standard slices (cheese, sausage, and mushroom) which were all great.  But the Sicilian Pepperoni was even that much greater.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizzaSlice

If this is their version of New York Style, I want more.  I’m craving more right now.

I don’t often talk the sauce being the stand out on a pizza, but this is what happened here.  It has a a familiar taste that brings me back to my childhood.  There’s just something so divine about it.  I can’t place my finger on it and now is the not the time to. The sauce is an absolute masterpiece.

The cheese, the toppings, and that crust all complement each other so well.  So simple, so understated, yet so amazing.  This is CSNY Pizza and it’s incredible.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza2

Yet that Sicilian Crust is that much more memorable.  The pepperonis are some of the best I’ve tasted, and even though I saved a lot of that crust for later, I enjoyed my few bites.  And that’s all that matters.

CSNYPizzaSlicesAll

I ordered four slices because it felt like the right thing to do, and I will get a few meals out of this, and who knows when I’ll be back.

Oh I’ll be back.

This was once home.  Somewhere in all this madness is still home.  I’m grateful the simple, yet oh so memorable, still exists.

This was world class.  This was beautiful.   This was….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

More Pizza With My Poppa

GiuseppisSlices2

After last week, I’m feeling even more compelled to get nostalgic about pizza memories and the town of Rockville, MD, where my dad has built a great reputation for himself as a small business owner, and has cultivated and nourished relationships for over 35 years

Time flies…

As time goes on, towns change and they tend to start looking like every other.  That can be good but in many instances sentimental folks such as myself miss how towns looked 20+ years ago, and in some instances still look like today, but are on the verge of changing.  With that situation I almost feel that the historic parts of a town, or the signs on the road are there in spite of, or in spite of everything else around it.   See what I’m saying?

The more things change, some things to remain the same.  My dad’s business has changed locations ever so slightly.  Literally from one suite many years ago to its current location.  But the heart and soul has remained the same throughout its entirety.

GiuseppisFront

I want to believe the same goes for Giuseppe’s Pizza Plus. Here is their menu.

Many years ago it was located in an old looking and aging strip mall (many years ago you would’t call it that), but it was home to many visits by me and my friends after high school or after classes at the local community college.  And sometimes I would grab a slice or pie with my dad.   It was walking distance, so it was convenient, but in a way we took it for granted, because it was so close.

We didn’t eat here enough but when we did we acknowledged that it’s good pizza that fills you up, makes you feel good, and made life easy when cooking or sitting at a restaurant isn’t an option.   And the affordability was a plus too.

GiuseppisSign

The tremendous deal I remember still exists.  Even with inflation, two slices and a soda is only $5.50.  Beautiful.

And now it sits in its current home next to a movie theater.   You can call it movie theater pizza, you can all it anything you want.  But it’s pizza that you can appreciate for what it is.  It’s the history I have with the place that brings me back.  No it’s not the best pizza you or I will ever have.  But does it really matter in this or most circumstances?  Five dollars and change is the best.

GiuseppisSlices1

For my father I got a cheese and random toppings on the other.  He just likes pizza with toppings on them, that don’t always make sense.  But for me I find that endearing.  And I got a somewhat supreme slice with just the pepperoni, onions, and peppers.

Everything was fresh and everything was fine.  It’s going be to be fine…

Thinking back to how the interior and exterior used to be versus now, it’s a tremendous upgrade.  The same goes for its other location in Gaithersburg.  And here is more about this great family business.

I was thinking about this earlier today before writing.  My dad once lived within walking distance of the Gaithersburg location and didn’t go often.  Again, maybe because it’s always gong to be there.

I say lets not take things for granted.  There will always be reasons to go or not go somewhere, to try or avoid something new, and throw all the excuses or ignoring signs to do this or that.  But it’s important to appreciate what’s around you along with going outside of where you reside or work.   But it’s also important to appreciate what’s right in front of you.  This isn’t just abut a restaurant, store, or entity near you.  It’s about everything.  It’s ok to walk past something to revisit it later.  But if something is there, waiting to be embraced, then that’s exactly what you and I should do.

I write this projecting a lot, because life is about seizing the moment and grabbing things while you still can, and while you’re still here on this Earth.

This is only a pizza blog, but it’s the spiritual aspects that I wanted to hone in on.  And I don’t just mean this week, but preceding posts and for the duration.  I will as much as I can.

But for now, I’m sending good vibrations to you, my father, my family, my friends, and the rest of the universe.

There may be one more post down the line incorporating pizza, my dad, and my family. And after that, I hope the next time will be a meal which actually involves my loving family sitting together, and embracing all the love we have or one another.

I look forward to this happening soon.

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

Pizza With My Poppa

PotomacPizzaSlices

For friends and family who have lived in Montgomery County dating back to the late 1970’s, you know about Potomac Pizza.

I recall growing up as a kid that my friends always gathered at the original location in Potomac, and honestly I don’t remember if I ever joined them.  In my own creation, maybe I thought the place was invite only or an exclusive club.  How foolish of me.  It’s just a pizzeria.  And I don’t mean a pizzeria, but it’s exactly that.  Every patron is a pal and I’m sure they appreciate all business, if it’s good and courteous business.

PotomacPizzaFront

What I also think happened that this was not meant to be my go to place until much later.  Location is everything and so is the company.  And it wasn’t until a newer location (not sure if it’s still the newest location in Rockville opened, that this was meant to be my place.  And more importantly this became my dad and I’s place.  So it’s our place, but I always think of it as his place.  It’s one of his places for a pizza pie, a sandwich, a salad, and everything that is quick and convenient.  Sometimes that’s all you want, more so than a need.

My most recent visit was yesterday.  And while I had hoped it would be with certain company, I feel like going to certain places my dad likes is a way of honoring and celebrating him, for all he’s done for me, all he’s done for his family, and all he’s done for everyone, universe included.   So in a way I was dining in with him (we usually eat at his place of business in a beautiful and comfortable setting) in a spiritual and metaphysical sense.

PotomacPizzaMagnets

Potomac Pizza is more about the pies, but I couldn’t eat one on my own. Luckily, they do slices for folks on the go, in a rush, or in solitude.  I’ve always thought not seeing pizza trays takes away from the slice ordering experience  Maybe it’s a visual thing because seeing all those slices is one of those happy place situations.   Even though I would always prefer seeing trays, there is an intrigue and mystery in seeing how the slices turn out when being made behind the counter and behind the scenes.

I’m happy to say that these slices are exactly on the level of how their full sized pies are.

Their pizzas have always been extra cheesy (without ordering the extra cheese), and the sauce has a distinct taste about it.  It’s sweeter than what you might be used to.  But it’s how I’ve always remembered it.  And their toppings are all over the place, just like any good pizzeria should be.

PotomacPizzaCheese2

And when it comes to all over the place, that’s how my dad is with his pizza.  He’ll get toppings for the heck of it, or may not even realize what’s on it.  I like to think he’s an adventurous guy.  That or sometimes he doesn’t know when to stop.  It’s charming either way.

PotomacPizzaFeta

So in that regard, I went with the plain cheese and then one that he would appreciate, Feta, Spinach, and tomatoes.  It’s part of our culture, our heritage, our family, and just a tradition to have lots of fun veggies, with bread, and feta cheese.   Both these slices were fun.   You can’t compare this (or any pizza) to just anywhere.  It’s not the fanciest, it’s not the most artsy, and they don’t need to be.  It’s charming pizza that makes me feel good and is a part of many enjoyable memories with me and my dad.

And you can never have enough good memories, good experiences, and of course good pizza.

I hope my next experience at Potomac Pizza will be one shared with my dad, and another great one I can share with you.

For menus and online ordering info click here,  For a list of locations click here, here is more of their story, and their contact info.

Thank you so much and have a blessed holiday weekend.

Ideen

 

Mamma Knows Best

MammaLuciaBothI look back at some of the titles of these posts and see how cheesy and nerdy some are. Well what can you do?  You just got to be you.  

This is a throwback to a pizzeria I’ve been going to since as far as I can remember, or maybe just the early 2000’s, Mamma Lucia.   And for this review, I find myself at the first location I ever visited, Rockville Pike.

I’m going to cut the melodrama off at the head right now. Rockville is near where I grew up.  I have more than a handful of memories growing up here and eating pizza will always be a part of mine, and I suspect many folks’ childhoods and beyond.

But ominous things are happening.  The city continues to grow in congestion and traffic is deteriorating.  I’ve always had a hard time driving to the the strip where the pizzeria is located. Maybe that’s part of the charm for some.

But for me I just want to park, do my errands, grab some food, and go about my business.  I can find some solace in this, without rushing like the rest of the world.  And I’ve done my share of rushing to.

After that inspiring preamble, how was the pizza?

I walked in at the most apropos time, of around 11 am.  Many of the pies were yet to be cut and looked fresh right out of the oven, so I had my hopes up.

Your truly ordered a cheese and one I’ve never seen before, lasagna.  Yes I said lasagna. That’s the photo you see at the top right.  A visual masterpiece is one way of describing it. More on that in just a few sentences.

MammaLuciaCheese2

Their cheese slice has always been adequate. It never blew me away.  This time it was even crunchier, like a well-done piece of toast.  It didn’t wow me but I know many of my fellow pizza lovers love that bite.  It’s New York Style at its core,  but not for me. It’s good enough to eat, to finish, but not my favorite. The cheese and sauce were tasty but got lost in the mix of the crust somewhat.

MammaLuciaLasagna

Back to the lasagna. The sauce was added after the fact. I wish I had gotten a before photo. This was tremendous.  You could call this a pièce de résistance.

The same crust works masterfully.  The ground beef, ricotta cheese, and tomato sauce thrown on is a trio of emotion.

The crunch mirrors the effect of the lasagna noodles.  It’s an incredible substitute that seems to be intended. If not, it’s a stroke of genius nevertheless.

This was a random visit.  It was one of happenstance and coincidence, or maybe not.  I was reminded how stuffy and chaotic the area was.  The Rockville area has grown exponentially.  It’s not necessarily good nor bad.  It’s what it is now.

I love coming back.  I have plenty of family and friends in the area so any visit, planned or not, specific occasion or not, is fine with me.

With a half-dozen locations and presumably growing, this is only the beginning. A couple of pals have suggested in the past I expound on their restaurant.   The carry-out menu is only scratching the surface. A full-on lunch and/or dinner is coming.  I look forward to it and you’re more than welcome to join me.

Best,

Ideen