Goody’s Is Exactly That

GoodysSlices

I promised after last week, that I would venture across the street.  And I did just that.

GoodysFront

Goody’s Pizza in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington has a strange, eerie, and yet familiar feeling about it.  And when I say eerie, I only mean it in a good way.  There’s just something going on here that reminds me of another place, another time, and maybe a past life.

This past life could be in this life, but it feels so homey, so approachable, and so inviting that it reminds me of places I used to go to in my childhood and I swear something beyond my existence on this planet.  I may be going on a limb but it felt like another dimension.

And once again, I say this all with love and the most sincerest of feelings.

And for all the times I’ve hung out in the neighborhood,  I never ate here. I’ve walked by how many number of times after a night or day out, and never set walked in.  Why?  I don’t know.  A place that looks so cozy from the outside is exactly what I want in my life.  I want more establishments, not just pizzerias, this genuine in my life.  They still exist.

I’m glad in this instance I didn’t have to look so hard.   Like I’ve said before, my first time was meant to be this time.   If not just for this blog, but for something I want to explain, but I can’t.  Maybe it will make sense later.

What does make sense is how tremendous these slices are.  I’m serious.  I’ve had New York Style in that said city, and even though we’re in Virginia, this is close to that.   I almost think they used the water from New York to make these pies.  It’s that great.  No these are not the best slices I’ve ever had nor did I expect them to be.   But just something hit me in a special place.

GoodysTable2

The interior is so quaint  that I just wanted to sit there and appreciate the moment.  I did for a little bit.  And I did the same outside.

GoodysPie

My decision on what to order was made simple.  The slices on display were cheese and pepperoni.   I got one of each and was more than excited to try them.

GoodysSlices2

The amount of cheese on each may look like a lot to some, but it was just perfect. It was chewy, gooey, and everything else that makes a cheese slice magnificent and breathtaking.  Yes I said breathtaking.   The pepperoni’s made me feel like a kid again. Whether they were the freshest or most hearty pepperoni’s I don’t care.  Both slices made me so happy.

GoodysCheese

But what made these pizzas so endearing was the dough.  It’s the epitome of comfort food.  And I got comfortable, full, and full of happiness.   That word artisanal gets thrown around too much to where it means nothing.  This to me is what you would call that overblown word I said two sentences ago.  If you had to call it something then you could also call it awesome.  The dough was soft in spots, crunch in others, and it made me so happy.

GoodysPepperoni2

This is my kind of style of pizza.  And sometimes it doesn’t need a city or a label to describe that style.  It’s just marvelous eating day or night.

I say day or night because they’re open for the late night crowd on the weekends as well. But I would put this pizza up against any of the greats in the area for a great daytime slice or pie.  I mean that.

It was so affordable too.   And for this area, affordable is always welcome.  I think I barely spent $6 on both.

Most important of all, the owners behind the counter could not have been nicer.  It wasn’t just what they said but it was how they carried themselves and how they said things.  They just seemed so sincere, so genuine, and so happy to be running a great business that looks like is doing well and is a bright spot in a sea of chain restaurants and bars that all start to look the same after a while.

Local business is what it’s always about and I’m honored to have supported this one.

GoodysTable

If you’re in the area I cannot talk about how great this place is.  Here is their menu,  here is more on the pizzeria itself, and contact information.

GoodysUSA

Everything about this was beautiful.  I can’t wait to see where the pizza journey takes me next.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

Lovely Lena

LenasPizza3

Any chance I get back to Alexandria, VA, I’m all about it.   I live closer to Baltimore now.  And even though Alexandria is 90 minutes away it still feels like a road trip or vacation.

I was born here.  It’s not something I always bring up to the world or make it a focal point of conversation.   None of us have any control over where we’re born.  It’s just one of those things that happens, literally.   But even though I didn’t grow up here, it’s something I’m happy here and believe there’s a reason it happened.

LenasSign

More of those reasons will be presented to me over time and when the time is right.   One was made available to me earlier this week with a visit to Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza & Tap.

Now this isn’t in Old Town like my one previous pizza dining experience around Christmas (link can be found here), but the location, on the outskirts of Old Town, near had a charm and aura all its own.

Braddock Road may not sound glamorous but the area where this new pizza restaurant sits still feels has the older feeling of Northern Virginia houses built decades ago, and while more development is coming, the neighborhoods nearby look like they won’t be going anywhere for a while.

LenasPatio

Why do I mention this? Because on first glimpse the newness of the building that houses Lena’s may look like the sign of the times.   More things starting to look the same and a lessening of the character of what made these small towns so charming in the first place.  Lena’s is part of a bigger restaurant group called Alexandria Restaurant Partners that extends outside the state.

LenasFront

Now just because a restaurant is a part of a growing chain or restaurant conglomerate doesn’t mean I will alter my opinion.  My goal is always to support local business and give all the love to mom and pops, independents, and stand alone pizzerias, restaurants, and similar establishments.    With that being said, how was the pizza?

LenasPizza

Well there was more than pizza.  I want to first give a huge thanks to my server, Francesca, who was absolutely first class in every sense of the word.   She was helpful with all aspects of my meal.    I almost ordered a glass of wine or a similar libation, but this was not the day for that.

 

LenasCider2

I usually just have water with my meal.  But what a pleasant surprise to hear that they had fresh and hot apple cider on tap.  I mean, how often is this available in a restaurant?  And it’s Spring.  Is this the season for it?  I said the heck with it.  I want some hot apple cider.  It was presented to me with a cinnamon stick and all around good vibes.  It was delicious.  I already liked where this was going.

LenasCider

Now Francesca had to steer me right when it comes to a pie.  I was presented the option of getting a half and half as long as the sauces were the same.

LenasMenu

LenasPizza2

She recommended the Diavola and the Meatball.  The latter is made in-house and thinly sliced to look appropriate on the pizza.  The former is somewhat of an anomaly for me.  First of all, I love kale and it’s one of those en vogue vegetables that we’re going to hear about till the end times.   I’ve had it on pizza before and it just didn’t work for me.  This time it did.  But first…

The meatball was just kind of standard.  It was just kind of there.  It wasn’t that it was bad.  It was just a lot less than what I was expecting.    The ricotta cheese was fine but I really didn’t get a lot of flavor from this pizza at all.   But with the both, the pizza crust was cooked perfectly.   I like a good wood-fired dough.

LenasSlice2

The Diavola was tremendous.   Like last week, honey on a pizza is a tricky thing.  But when it works it really works.  And that salami was absolutely terrific.  I had to sneak a couple of pieces of it on its lonesome just to see how good it truly tasted.  And it was wonderful.   Yet with all that goodness, the kale really was the stand-out.  And they really piled it on to perfection.

I’m a big fan of kale and now an even bigger fan of kale on pizza.  Delicious.

And just when I thought it was over, I was convinced to order their house made donuts to go. By the way, this pizza lasted me 2 1/2 meals.  It was an individual pizza but quite filling.

LenasDonuts

I was told the donuts would be good for a day or two, so I savored them.  I did sneak in a couple of bites before and they tasted like the holidays.  Just like that cider.  This entire meal was all over the place.  Kind of like this experience.   I’m getting a kick out of this by the way.

I’ll be back.  I just don’t know when.  This was an even more endearing experience than I remember.  And to be all nostalgic just a few days post-meal is the point of all this.  It’s corny, overly sentimental, and happy-go-lucky but that’s the point of all this.

LenasBar

For more about Lena’s, read this.  This is interesting.   And here is their contact information.

LenasToGo

I love Alexandria and I really enjoyed this visit.  This makes it two for two.

This is what I hope most of my visits during this Spring and beyond will be like.  I like the unpredictability of the locations, pizzas, other foods, drinks, service, and all the other details. They’re all significant.

I can’t wait to see where I end up next.

 

Ideen

 

Paradise By The…

paradisopie2

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.

paradisosign

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.

paradisocorner

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.

paradisoboard

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?

paradisopie4

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.

paradisopie5

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.

paradisowithwine

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.

oldtownroad

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

Happy What’s Left of the Holidays,

Ideen

 

 

Sentimental in Swedesboro

mamafrancescaslices2

It’s my intent to keep all these posts as simple as possible.  Sometimes things happen and there’s a boatload of photos and the verbiage has gone off the rails.  For this one I truly intend to keep in concise and to the point if at all possible.  I mean it’s just pizza right?  Ah well everything has significance.  And the location has just as much importance as the subject at hand.

But when it comes to pizza I just can’t talk about the pizza.  A drive through one of the most charming towns I’ve ever seen, Swedesboro, New Jersey (previous Jersey posts can be found here and over yonder), means the pizza and everything else I’ll experience while here is going be larger than life.  At this point I don’t care how good or bad the pizza is.  Actually yes I do, it better be good enough to come up with another in my long tradition of melodramatic openings.

mamafrancescafront

Mama Francesca Pizzeria doesn’t have a website,  I can barely find a menu, but more importantly what it does have is soul.  It has character, it was charm, and it has a welcoming aura that can’t be measured my clicks, searches, or any other technical term that wasn’t even on our radars in what feels like as short lifetime ago.

What if I never walked in and only imagined the pizza as the greatest thing ever.  It would be more romantic to have just driven by and thought what could have been.   But this isn’t how things work or how you eat pizza.  You actually have to eat the pizza.

The exterior took me back to places I went with my family when I was a kid.  And I remember all the pizza being the best, no matter how good or bad it may actually have been.   I loved my cheese, I loved my bread, I loved my sauce.   But then I also loved everything else that went with the package, company, location, and that moment in time.

The inside had small counter with a few places to sit facing the window.  The main seating area was led by a set of stairs and that’s the part that truly to me back to my childhood.  I remember seeing places like that but can’t recall exactly where. And that might be the best form of Deja Vu imaginable.

I’m not a kid anymore.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t get that same vibe of feeling happy, harmonious, and just grateful to grab a couple of slices and enjoy myself.

mamafrancescaslices

I came at an odd time so the only slices available were cheese and a white vegetable. That made my decision easier.

mamafrancescacheeseslice

This is nowhere near the best pizza I’ve ever had.  But I didn’t expect it.  What I did get was slices that reminded me of my childhood.  That cheese was your standard cheese with a thick and crooked looking crust, looking like it’s been through a war.  But I didn’t care.  It was perfect for this moment.    I’m cherishing it even more now as I write it versus when I was actually here back in August.

mamafrancescawhiteveggie

And just to clarify, the white chicken veggie is not something I frequently had as a kid. I can’t say any stood out. If it did I would actually think something was seriously wrong.  I guess I was mostly a cheese and pepperoni kind of guy.  This slice was stacked with vegetables, and it was exactly what it was supposed to be, and nothing more.  It was a slice good enough to eat and enjoy but it’s not going win and awards.  And it doesn’t matter.

mamafrancescadisplay

I loved this town.  I would write about other experiences I’ve had here but that means I would have to create other blogs. It would water down some of my own memories .  Some are best kept internal, for you, for me, and for the universe.

If I could write about small towns every week I could.  I don’t seek them out.  I let them find me.  It’s fun to dream and envision living in a place like this but with the understanding that maybe I’m heaping praise on somewhere I’ve never been with no expectations, no hang ups, or any other biases.  And maybe the second and subsequent visits would lose its luster.

As we approach the holidays I hope to discover more places that feel like just that, the holidays.   It’s important to see the good in everything and it’s easy said and done.  But that just sounds like kids stuff.

Exactly!

Ideen

Neo Soul

NeoUpClose

Things do have a way of working out so serendipitously don’t they?

Shark Week starts this Sunday and I had no idea I would have the great joy in writing about a pizza relating to this massive event.

NeoFrontNeoSign

Per a recommendation from some good pals, I took the small trip to beautiful Annapolis, MD to one of the newest restaurants and pizza place in town, Neo.

Fortunately, I find myself in this mesmerizing town quite often, so I always welcome dining at any of their wonderful establishments.   My friends were recently dined here, during of the first weeks it was opened, and had nothing but stellar things to say about it. They said the pie, the vibe, the interior, and the location were awe-inspiring and were looking forward to returning soon.

I’m going to second that sentiment.    They’ve only been open since March, at the Annapolis Town Centre and all indications are that this place is going to rock the house.   I loved it.  I felt so at peace and spent nearly a good two hours there enjoying my pie, my wine, and the energy around me.

The timing of them opening in the Spring, with all the events and concerts nearby on the square could not have been any better.

So I’ve spoken about all the peripherals and details about everything other than the pie.  So how was my pie?

While perusing their menu I was indecisive in what to pull the trigger on.   So when it was suggested by one of the bartenders, who was very friendly may I add, to try the Great White, I was in. This was timed perfectly. I knew exactly what I would be writing about for today and got to try a new pizza in a new and clean restaurant.

NeoSharkWeekSpecial

The ingredients are listed above.  You can’t throw enough superlatives on this one.   We have a pie for the ages.  The crust was toasted to perfection.  It was just the right about of crispness to it, and still soft enough to enjoy.   The balance between thick and thin was in perfect alignment.

That’s a lot of adventurous items for a whole pie.  But nothing got lost in the shuffle.  Some flavors stood out more than others.   The cheeses all complemented one another for some savory bites.  I’ve always said that I love tomatoes on a pie, or on just about anything. And it added so much here.   And the olive oil added a little flair where you didn’t think it would need anymore.

NeoSlice

What can’t be discounted is the freshness of the basil and the arugula.  As you can see, especially the arugula, looks and tastes wondrous.   You’ve got be kidding me.  I was enjoying pulling a few pieces of basil and arugula and indulging in them on their own.

I just low how pizza has hit all new levels of creativity and continues to expand.   That’s where the sun-dried tomato aioli comes in.   What a way to top the whole thing off.  I wish I could post a million pictures of this pie. It’s one of the most inspired and exceptional meals I’ve had.

I had grilled chicken added to mine, as the person seated next to me as well as a few other folks in house, had done the same.   That was a great call.

NeoPizzaServed

I learned from the bartender and the friendly chef that their oven was imported from Italy.  I love how they’re going all out on this.

NeoWithWine

Neo isn’t all about pizza.  As posted here and here, they have an expansive food and drink menu.  In traditional fashion, I reveled in my pie with a glass of red.   There was no rush in finishing this.   My sublime experience was two weeks ago. The staff didn’t know exactly when they would end the Shark Week promotion, but I’m going to assume that you have until at least next week to try this plate of joy

If you’re in the area I strongly recommend you do so.

NeoToGoBox

These are the places I really want to succeed.   I’m a staunch supporter of local restaurants and businesses, like many of us are.   I look forward to many visits in the future, and hopefully a couple more this Summer, to fully appreciate the warm weather and the towne center experience.

Thanks so much and Happy 4th!

Best,

Ideen