Brick N Fire Fridays

BNFPie

I had heard so much about BrickNFire Pizza out of Catonsville, MD, that I knew I was destined to try it.   How or where I would have my first encounter would be purely unplanned.

BrickNFireSign

As luck would have it, I was enjoying myself at a wine festival last Friday, and I was happy to see they were serving up their pies as part of the event.

In talking to people in the past, the great majority of them have sung the praises of their pizza.  They’ve said how great the crust tastes.  And that the overall flavor and presentation is distinct.   Their toppings are homegrown which is always a plus. And they make their own sauce.  Everything sounds amazing here. And in just the one year they’ve been operating, they have made a wonderful impression on a lot of pizza lovers.    Sounds like a recipe for success.

However, to my surprise, I did not have the best of experiences.  I can take what people tell me and use the information as a basis to form my own opinion. And maybe understand where they’re coming from. But in this instance something fell flat.

I do say this with a disclaimer, I got my pizza in the latter stages of the evening.  I ordered the Megan’s, which looked really good on paper.  I don’t think I’ve ever had squash on a pie, so I was really excited to try it.

To my disappointment, they were out of their Heirloom Tomatoes, as they told me this was the fastest selling pizza of the night.  I can understand that and willing to try something else.   The staff there suggested green peppers in place of that and I was ok with that.

BrickNFireMenu

It just did not come together well.   I could see the tomatoes were a huge part of this one, and the flavor was missing.  But, there were a couple of other things wrong.   I didn’t taste much in the way of basil on half the pie.  The garlic oil and mozzarella seemed non-existent. It just tasted very plain to me.  However, the vegetables were great.   I really liked  the squash and the peppers were fresh but they did not fit in with this pizza at all.  And I will not give them demerit points for offering a new topping to replace the tomatoes.

But I will question the $15 for this pie.  I understand this being market price but I don’t see the justification in the cost, especially for not having all the ingredients as advertised.

BrickNFireBrickNFireUpClose

The dough was tasty and the burnt parts really added something.   A friend who was with me liked how certain parts were more charred than others, but agreed with me that the pie had been compromised. It was a serviceable yet mediocre creation.  I think the soul was missing from here. And that’s just as important as anything else.

I like Neapolitan-style pizza so this made me sad.

I know it was towards the end of the evening, but this was disappointing.   They also took a while to making my order by a few minutes longer than promised.  I understand they were backed up, but I feel as if I hadn’t come back to check on my food, they may have forgotten about me.  Heating it up at this temperature only takes a few minutes.

BNFBox

With all this being said, I will definitely try one of their za’s again.  I have mainly heard positive things about their pies, so I was a bit surprised at my troubling experience.  Their wood-fired oven looks impressive and I have posted pictures of the massive work of art. I’m not big on first impressions, and I expect my next pie to be nothing short of stellar.

BrickNFireEvenCloser

For more on the wine festival I attended, where BricknFire was click here.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

We Take Care Of Our Own

PizzaPartyFriendsFirst

For a while now, we knew we wanted to make our own homemade pizzas, and were just looking for the right occasion to do it. Along with celebrating my birthday, a friends raise and their job, and the Summer, it’s always fun to cook at home.  And it’s always more fun with friends.

We each picked out the proper ingredients like cheese, sauce, oils, and toppings.   It can get exciting but can also be pressure packed to make a good pie.

As I was reminded, it’s always better to keep it simple.   It’s also good to be creative.  Most importantly, it’s about having fun and learning from mistakes and experience along the way.  As I learned here, less is always more.

ArchivistWithGlasses

We each made two pies a piece.  And they were all from delicious whole wheat dough.   Thanks to Wegmans for the majority of our ingredients.  For more on the wine pictured above, click here.

Here are the results of round one :

PizzaPartyMyFirst

Mine was a pesto base with cheese, mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.   This was an adventure and maybe not the best one.   The ingredients were fine but the whole didn’t equal the sum of its parts.  The tomatoes didn’t need to be included and I picked those off the pie and ate them on their own.   I think a pesto base is great.  I adore pesto.  But just didn’t work here.  I was able to finish it, but it was a minor struggle.

My friends kept is simple for their first entries.

PizzaPartySimpleCheese

A basic cheese was made with pizza oil, and the results were better.  This was in the similar style to a white pizza.  You can see the cheese baked in the dough like a professional would make.   I got to try a piece and thought it was fantastic.

PizzaPartyAFriendsFirst

The final creation for the first go around was a tomato sauce base with cheese, peppers, onions, and chopped pepperoni. This turned out very well, as this was also kept simple.  The pepperoni pieces were a great add-on, as you’ll read about in our second set of masterpieces.

For round two, it was a combination of being creative and keeping it simple.   I chose the latter.

PizzaPartyMySecond

I learned quickly from my first undertaking to get back to basics.   This time I used tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and fresh basil for my pie.   The basil was growing by the kitchen window, and was found upon instinctively while we were making our meals.  I was happy with how mine was looking, but the basil really put it over the top.  After mine came out of the oven, I was pleased.   The shape of both of my personal pizzas weren’t the best, but that will be learned with experience, patience, and repetition.  But overall I was heartened with mine.

PizzaPartyFreshBasil

One of my pizza pals had a similar pie for theirs except no pepperoni. And he put the cheese on first, then the sauce (and a lot of it), and basil.   He was happy with that one.

PizzaPartyStromboli

And finally, my other fellow pizza pal turned hers into a calzone.  How cool is that?   This is a perfect case of knowing to be creative, but to also keep it simple and yummy.  She was pleased with hers as well.

We will be doing this again, either to celebrate, or for no reason at all.  It’s good to change it up a bit, and see if our meals can measure up to the outside pizzerias.  I was happy with this and can’t wait to do it again!

Keeping it simple, fundamental, and then taking the right chances is the way to go.

PizzaPartyAerialView

Have a great day!

Best,

Ideen

A Hidden Gem

Margherita There’s a place to get a slice or a whole pie almost anywhere you look.  I like to change up where I go, so I don’t overdo the same spot and even neighborhood.  There’s an unlimited amount of places to go.  Variety is the spice of life, and pizza!

It’s not just about the big city locales.   The heavy hitters in Baltimore (and in other metropolitan areas) are coming.  As a matter of fact, I wrote about an amazing place last week.   However, l would be doing a disservice if I only talked about those.   There’s treasure in the county.   I posted about one recently.

Today, I will be talking about Margherita’s of Kingsville, MD. And it’s damn good. Honestly, I didn’t know Kingsville was even a town, until a few weeks ago.  And that’s my clumsiness.  I assumed this part of Belair Rd. was an extension of Bel Air.   If you drive past the tiny strip mall, where this pizzeria is located, you will easily miss it. I’ve done it countless times.

Fortunately, one day driving back home from errands, I stopped in and I’m glad I did.  Their nestled in a convenient segue between Baltimore and Harford County.

They do pizza by the slice.  I recall,  during my first visit, getting one cheese and a veggie, and both were wonderful.

For this particular visit, I ordered two whole pies, for me and my friends!  MargheritaPies!

First up, it’s namesake, the Margherita is a very simple, yet delicious offering.   Their homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil tasted just something out of your family’s kitchen. And that’s a good thing.

Next, their White Pie, happily titled ‘Our White Pizza’, was a joy to eat.  This is a six ingredient bundle of joy. The mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheeses merging with oregano, olive oil, and garlic, make this a hit.   This could have not have come out any better. Amazing stuff. Every flavor was detected and got superior after each bite. MagheritaPies

For more information, on the wine in the photo above, you can click here.

I noticed on their carry out box, of a location in Bel Air. I thought it was a misprint or a former establishment.  But, they’re coming soon.  And I was able to snag some pictures, that can be seen below. APizzaBoxPreviewsNewOne

If you’re ever near the area or are feeling adventurous, I highly recommend Margherita’s.  I have yet to stop by Pasta Blitz, which is their sister store, but can only imagine it’s equal in quality.

And there’s the fun with writing about food or anything you might love.  The choices are abundant and the sky’s the limit. With pizza, we eat it year round, so there will always be something to talk about. As the weather gets warmer, and more people are going out, the posts will reflect that.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and enjoy some yummy pizza!

And Happy Spring!

Best,

Ideen

Iggie Pop

Iggies

The first time I visitied Iggies in Mt. Vernon, a few years ago, I didn’t fully appreciate my time there. I was just looking for a pie to go and to most likely eat in my car.   For a spot like this, it’s almost an insult to the establishment and to me.   Last night was a wonderful dining experience.

When I read the menu in advance, the immediate stand out was the Anatra Arrosta, which is the Roasted Duck.    I was looking for a different type of pie, and this was it.

Woof

I walked in and forgot how cool this place looked on the inside.  There were plenty of photos of Italian Greyhounds, that made this animal lover very happy.    I didn’t fully notice or appreciate the first time, if at all.    For this detail alone, this immediately becomes one of my favorite places.

menu

The menu options were abundant, which nearly led me to stray from my original choice.  But I’m glad I went with my first instinct.

pizza!

So how was the pizza?  Well it was amazing.  The whole ordering process at the counter, to when it was brought to me, took less than 10 minutes.

The simplistic recipe of mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, and shredded duck was absolute perfection.  The personal size I purchased filled me up, and I had about half my pie left.   One of my favorite things is seeing how the cheese is baked into the dough.  And how great does that look here?   The crust is thin and baked perfectly.  I enjoyed eating and savoring each bite.

yum

There’s so much additional charm here.  It’s a BYOB spot, so folks were bringing in bottles of wine and their favorite case of cold ones.   My pairing of choice was the complimentary water in a dixie cup!  This is stuff for the ages folks.

I wish I could say more to give this place justice.  They have a Pizza Of The Moment, which rotates periodically.

pizzabox

My favorite part of all is that they help support local charities, and any that help animals, I am always  a fan of.

The amount of creations I want to try here are plentiful.  Iggies could have a blog dedicated to them all its own.   I will be back.  And soon.

entrance

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Buon Appétit

Buon

I have wanted to write about Buontempo Brothers Restaurant, since I began this blog.  And I organically hoped to be in downtown Bel Air, MD to be able to try enjoy some unique slices.  And this week I was fortunate enough to do so.   Oh and you better believe, they have some creative ideas for pies.

Just as important, they have a friendly staff that has always greeted me and as far as I’ve seen, all of their patrons with a friendly hello and some pleasantries.   I have only lived in the area for over 6 years, but I always get the feeling, that there is a strong sense of community and it’s frequented by a lot of regulars, that have been coming for years.  There’s a lot of love going around.   It just feels like what a pizza place/Italian restaurant should be.

And that love translates into their cooking.

Simply put, I love their pizza.  And you see how aggressive their menu is.   You see some selections that are atypical of many pizza parlors.  And ever since, the first time, I visited them in 2008, it’s been nothing short of fantastic quality.

My indoctrination came from their Tuesday special.   A purchase of any large pizza, would get me a second large cheese for just $2.00.   Worth it’s weight in gold, and za!

My favorite slice of theirs, is the Chicken Pesto, and I’ve continuously raved many times on how much I love pesto.    I will review this slice in time, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone again.

First off, I ordered the Mediterranean and as you can see below, I barely made it to the party.

Med

I will say, that their crust has always stood out to me.  I can’t put my finger on it.  I don’t know if it’s something in the water but, oh my goodness, it’s divine.  I sense there might be some parmesan or butter embedded in the crust, or I could be tricking my into thinking as such,  But it’s top notch.  I could’t resist the pesto anyways, as we’re drawn to each other like magnets.   But this is a damn fine slice.   With the aforementioned pesto, eggplant, feta, tomato, and spinach piled on top of a traditional cheese slice, this is a certified winner.  I was so happy to try this and will be seeking it out again.   I know, many of us, myself included, can’t help but devour a pizza very quickly.  In this instance, I tried to savor this.  The flavors and the soul behind this slice, coming together, was pure ecstasy.

My second order, the Stuffed Spinach, almost didn’t have a chance.   I’m glad I got it though, and for folks that love bread, this is amazing.   But it’s too filling for me.   But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try another stuffed pie again.  It’s all a matter of taste.  I was pretty full after the first choice.

Spin

I could hardly eat the crust but, the spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella inside was a real winner.  Toasted to perfection.   On a thin crust, it’d be even more magical.  The marinara sauce, on the side, added some more flavor, that was already bringing some good ones.  Still a solid slice, just not something I would go for, on a regular basis.

I’ll tell you one thing that’s cool, they reheated both and to my pleasure, the slices, ended up being stuck together.  Now some people might find that annoying.  I find that cool.  And the theme of this blog has been about soul, joy, and fun.  And how can you not get a kick out of this :

Duo

I had to break the two pies apart, and perhaps that’s a source of good luck or just great food.

If you’re in the Bel Air vicinity, I suggest going here.  There’s a vibrant energy that keeps many of us coming back.   One review of this place will not do it justice.  More to come.

Best,

Ideen

Matthew’s – Making Moves?

Matthews

One of the staples and favorites, of the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, is Matthew’s.

Before I ever ate here, the amount of times I was suggested to go here was aplenty.   Even though I have heard mainly positive reviews, the negative opinions were also frequent.  I didn’t hear much of a grey area on this.  Perhaps people are sick of hearing about where they should go, because everyone else loves it.  Or because all your friends are going, maybe I should go to.  It’s easy to get caught up in the dogma.  I have been guilty of it myself.

With that being said, the first time I ate here I thought it was pretty good.  It was a few years ago.  I can’t quite remember what I had, but knowing me, it was probably a White pizza.

The last time I went, which was over a year ago, I had the Margherita, and I loved it.   The combination of basil, extra virgin olive oil, and the tomatoes I love so much, was the perfect medley.    I felt good eating it and enjoyed every moment.

This go around, I ordered the Spinach, with some garlic added.   I really wanted to like it, but something felt off.  It was but the mozzarella cheese didn’t taste as good as I remembered.   The crust is really good.  It’s thicker than what you will find elsewhere, but it just didn’t mesh well with the cheese.  But the dough is a winner. The spinach and garlic were great.  But the whole wasn’t as great as the sum of it’s parts, if you will.

I do like the basic way it’s packaged, when ordering to go.   I like the old school packaging paper, taped up, protecting the pizza served on a paper plate.

ToGoMoves

Like I was saying, I really wanted to like my pie, but it didn’t work out tonight.  The way it came out, didn’t look all that appealing either :

Spinach

But we all have our preferences and opinions.   One isn’t better than the other.  I will gladly be back at Matthew’s again, expecting the great tasting pizza we all hear about in Baltimore.  On this visit, it just wasn’t the case.

It’s good to hear the here the opinions and suggestions of others, while still formulating your own.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen

Toss

Toss

Further on up the road, just past the Baltimore City Line, we have Toss.

I learned about this pizzeria from friends who work or live nearby in Towson.  The majority have said it’s a solid to good place.  I checked it out last fall, and though the vibe, for me, wasn’t as positive as some said, I found my pie to be superb.   Something about the energy, is not as what I envisioned.  It’s hard to put my finger on it.

A few months back, I ordered the Portabella Mushroom.   My oh my what a choice.  The dough tasted so fresh, right out of the oven.  It was easy to eat.  I could have eaten the bread on it’s own and been happy.  It broke apart so easily, but in a good way.  So delectable.  The combination of mozzarella, mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, and feta  cheese rocked my world.   An inspiring creation.  The garlic herb sauce was the perfect complement to order.   I wish I had been doing this blog then, as I could write about that one for a while.

This week’s selection, as pictured at the top, is the Satchma’s Spicy Chicken.    I have repeatedly spoken of my love for tomatoes, so that’s some of the reasoning for the order.   In addition, I have been vocal about loving veggies on my pies, so this did not disappoint.  The red onions, mushrooms (which I love so much), the red pepper sauce, the aforementioned tomatoes, and of course, the mozzarella cheese, give this chicken pizza a great taste.   It was very good, but maybe I expected this to be along the line’s of the Portabella choice.

The location, which is easy to drive past, if you didn’t know where it already was, is one of the fun parts about it.   Settled right on York Rd. in Baltimore, makes it easy to go in and out, for carry out or dine in orders.   I do recommend trying it as I will again.   Perhaps I will get another choice heavy on the vegetables.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen