Another Door Opens

EatalianTrios

Eatalian Bistro of Towson sits in a location that’s all too familiar to the locals and folks who like to spend a day or afternoon or shopping nearby at one of the two local malls.

Sometime back I wrote about what was once there, and it reminds me of the many occasions I ate there, during and way after college.  I went to the University nearby. Here is my growing and storied history of pizzas I’ve had in the area.

What was once there was a solid, sometimes fantastic restaurant with great pizza, overall good food, and reasonable prices.  What it also had going for them was 25 years of history and goodwill within the neighborhood.   But times have changed.

This is not the Towson I remember from 10, even 5 years ago.  Towns and cities change, adapt, and grow, and sometimes the small businesses feel the brunt of it, and either close up, or move away.    But this is happening everywhere, not just close to home.  Well it may be happening close to your home…

EatalianFront

Life goes on, and this brings us to Eatalian Bistro, which doesn’t have a website, but info can be found here, along with their menu right here.

EatalianMenu

So this is a review of two visits as we lead into Towson’s Christmas tree lighting which will take place today, as in the day this article is posted (12/1/17) literally footsteps away.

EatalianSpecials

When a pizzeria promotes three slices for $6.00, you have to do a double take.  But that’s exactly what Eatalian Bistro is promoting.  It’s unheard of. This constitutes stealing, this constitutes too good to be true, but most importantly this constitutes expressing gratitude and thanks.  I just don’t see a deal lasting like this forever.  If it does, you’ll at least have a regular customer out of me.

And with that, a total of six slices will be reviewed, but in really simple fashion.

EatalianFirstThree

The first visit led me to order a cheese, meat lovers, and a bit of a unique slice, chicken and mushroom.  What I love about going to places with slices is you never know what you’re going to get.  Not every slice will be available every day.  And the unpredictability factor leads to making different orders at time, and keeps it from being all too familiar.

EatalianCheese

These are good slices.  They aren’t going to change your life, or make you think this is the best pizza ever.  I didn’t see it like that.  But if you’re going to judge a place on the cheese, then this place will do just fine.

The meat lovers was a bit heavy for me, but that’s also a personal thing along with a reflection on the pizza or the pizza makers themselves.  The chicken and mushroom was good, but I think it’s capable of being a great a second time.  Too bad I didn’t get that chance because on my…

EatalianTrios2

Second visit threw some changes.  Where there were no white pizzas during round one, this appearance brought about a white broccoli and white spinach, so I had to get both.  And to spice things up, I went with the Sicilian.   No chicken and mushroom on display this time.  Like I said, different and unpredictable is good.

The white slices were pleasant and I thought better than anything I had the first time, except for maybe the plain.  These are well done, if not safe in how they were prepared.  I’ll say the crust tasted better this go around.  You can see the pictures and understand why.  You see a little more golden brown that you don’t see in the previous slices.

EatalianSicilian

The Sicilian was my least favorite.  Depending on where you go, these things can be incredible or an absolute disaster.  I’ll put this in the middle.  The cheese and tomato sauce didn’t work for me, but it could easily work for you.

The colors look like Christmas.  I didn’t plan for this, so I like how this came together naturally without me thinking about it or forcing it.  That does make me happy.

However, the staff each time has been friendly, approachable, and happy to help.  This restaurant is only a few months old and deserves every opportunity to succeed if they’re putting themselves out there to provide the best food and serve it can.

In the spirit of the holidays, and all year round, I’m wishing the best for Eatalian Bistro, and hope that it becomes a staple of the neighborhood like many businesses have been able to do so.

And with those holiday spirits and wishes, the events going on in Towson are on this flyer below.

EatalianChristmas

It’s December and there’s plenty of days and weekends starting with this one to get all your Christmas in.  I plan on doing my best to get involved in as much Christmas spirit as I can.

Have a blessed one, and happy holidays!

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Slice 2.0

slicetowsonslices

Not quite two years ago I did a write-up about Slice Pizza in in Nottingham, MD.  I was critical and constructive in my thoughts.  That review can be found here.

I thought the pizza wasn’t up to par with what they were charging, and the creative slices.

One look at their full menu will tell you all you need to know about how dynamic and daring some of their signature pies are.  But daring doesn’t always translate to good. Some of us want our simple cheese slices that are affordable, ready to go, and harmless

There’s the flip side.  Do you want it too much on the unique and chaotic side, or will a simple plain do?

slicetowsonstorefront

Well why am I rambling on about a place I already wrote about?  Well I have a reason.  And along with that, they’ve since opened a second location not far away in downtown Towson, MD.  They don’t have a website but hopefully this will help.

slicetowsonsign

I found myself at their new locaotion, like I always do when it comes to where  I choose to eat, rather serendipitously (no such thing as coincidence) and just in time for lunch.

They had an even wider array of slices that I wouldn’t think to make.  However, this some of these slices bordered on chaotic.  And chaos, no matter how organized and clean, may intimidate some.  Not me.  I say bring on the mayhem.

And I was hoping for a major upgrade from my original visit.  Now onto the pies…

I don’t know what it is, but I just tend  to be in the mood for mushrooms from time to time.  So with further adieu how did my slices turn out?

chickenmarsala

First up was the the Chicken Marsala.  I’ll tell you what, the pieces of chicken on top of this slice were fantastic.  I couldn’t tell if they were marinated or chicken cutlets.  But either way it was a good start.   This is more about the pie than the makers themselves.  This was a little too rich for me on the inside. I’m assuming they used marsala wine to add to the sauce.  And it just didn’t work for me.  The crust was heated maybe just a little too golden brown and burnt on some ends that it did lose some of its flavor on top of the pie Not the best slice I’ve ever had nor the worst.

tomatomushroompestocado

Now we go to the Tomato Mushroom Pestocado.  Now if I said anything wrong about the title of this slice, please correct me.  This was good.  The fresh uncooked tomatoes on top added so much to this pizza.  The lukewarm mushrooms added a little something else.  Whether it was meant to be cooked more doesn’t matter.  I dug it.  And I’m assuming this was an avacado based pesto as part of the well, base of the pie.  I may be wrong on that too but the main thing I felt took away from this was there was too much ricotta cheese and it wasn’t very good.  That’s when I realized this was a white pizza with all kinds good goodness piled on top.   Take out the ricotta, this is a really good slice.  The crust was heated better on this one too.

The two staff members working the counter could not have been nicer.  They made the experience so much better.

slicetowsoncard

What I did find troubling is the $10 total I paid for both of my slices.  I know these are on the gourmet end but $10 did feel a tad steep.  Luckily the do have lunch specials where two cheese slices and one drink do only cost $6 and change.  We’re only talking a few dollars here but I’m looking at this from all areas.

Since there’s so many unique slices to choose from, this is only the beginning.  I almost feel I could run a supplementary blog for all their outside the box slices.  I love that and I love when folks break tradition and go their own way.

slicetowsonbox

Another visit is in order and soon.

slicetowsonpizza

Here’s my ever growing history of the pizza of Towson.

Happy New Year,

Ideen

 

 

Four For The Fourth

VitosAllFour

It’s already July and that makes me sad.    Some people view the upcoming 4th of July Holiday as the halfway point.  Halfway point of what?   Ah I don’t even want to say it.

The intrigue continues as I’m literally going to review four slices that I (sort of) purchased earlier tonight.  How quickly I forget how apropos this was going to be.  I’ve expounded on different ways but I’ve never been one to believe in coincidence.

VitosFront

I found myself at a familiar place, Vito’s Pizza in Baltimore.  For my friends in Baltimore, you might be asking which Vito’s exactly?  There’s too many to count.  Or maybe I just don’t feel like counting.  No, I just don’t care.  This is my Vito’s today and their website offers no help and that’s fine with me.

Sometimes we just want pies without all the other bells and whistles.  Even though a multitude of businesses have some form of a social media presence, some like to live in the past.  I’m ok with the past and the simplistic way of going about things.

To be specific, the neighborhood is called Cedarcroft.  This is the first time I’m hearing this.  I’m not sure what to make of it.  I find the whole thing hilarious, but it’s really not that funny.  Haha.

I went to a university not far away so Ii’ like to consider it Towson/Baltimore border.  I don’t know if this place existed when I was a student, but nevertheless now the place is infiltrated with them.  Students.

The vibe in the area is something I subconsciously (wait what?) paid attention to, but never put my finger on why I was drawn to this place.   But I figured it out on this night. There tends to be a sense of community and togetherness in the plethora of neighborhoods behind the strip mall where this pizzeria stands.  Whether it’s genuine, artificial, transparent, or hollow, it’s there and I can’t escape it nor do I want to.

Enough of the metaphysics, how was the pizza?

VitosCheese&Veggie

I’ve always loved the cheese and veggie here.  That continues on this visit.  Keeping it simple is the theme of this post.  The cheese is essentially an extra cheese with delicious pizza sauce and that crust is masterful.  Throw on some onions, peppers, and other various vegetables and you got the latter slice, which also was stellar.

VitosChickenDuo

The breaded buffalo chicken was good but as great as it’s been in the past.  My only thought is the lack of buffalo sauce.  Otherwise this was good.  The barbecue chicken was not edible for me.  I’ve never liked that combination on a pizza but this was disappointing here.  3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

But why did I get 4?  Well I came in late enough that the owner was trying to get rid of as many slices as he could.  He messed up my order and basically gave me that barbecue chicken for free.  But I think he would have done so anyways.  He almost gave me the equivalent of a large pie to go but I wasn’t feeling greedy.  Hopefully those slices didn’t go in the trash as they tend do to at close of business hours.  And no, I’ve only had tiny portions of my slices, I may be able to get a total of four meals out of them.

The owner is funny.  He seems like a real Italian.  At least I want to believe that.  He isn’t friendly or standoffish.  But he has the look of a guy who works hard or maybe just carries himself like he does.  I wouldn’t expect him to recognize me but he always has this same snarky and dry sense of humor with me and his other customers.   Hopefully that’s his way of showing appreciation.  Otherwise I could see my people would be turned off.

Speaking of which, he did double charge me on my meal, so look at your bank statements after the fact.  This shouldn’t dissuade you from trying a slice.

Neither should the lack of atmosphere on the inside.  I’m all for ambiance but this is just a pizza after all.  Those beautiful distractions are eye-candy but the pizza has got to be yummy.  That’s a technical foodie term by the way.

If you like solid pies that are bigger than usual and a throwback to what an authentic no-nonsense pizzeria might feel like, this is right up your alley.  If you’re looking for something inspiring, you might get it outside, or maybe that’s just me.

Happy 4th,

Ideen

All Fired Up

JZ'sDuo

A serendipitous moment took place at a wine festival I attended and volunteered at took place.  While sampling various vinos a little chow is not only going to be necessary, it’s going to be inevitable.

JZ'sTruck

From generic food stands to flavored nuts to seafood to pasta, and everything in between. I’m only glossing over what I saw or what I choose to see, but once I saw JZ’s Brick Oven Pizza, it only felt right and this was destined to be.

JZ'sSign

As you can see they had a limited menu for the festival which is only right.  You only need just a few slices to please everyone.  Luckily, they pleased me and it seems like most of the attendees would concur.

I went with the cheese and since I’ve seldom had it anywhere, the Greek.

What immediately stood out is how cheap all these slices were.   Everything, including the aforementioned slices, the pepperoni and buffalo chicken were only $3.00.  For any type party, festival, or facsimile that is a bargain.  And I may be understating that.  I’ve seen similar food trucks charge more than double what they’re asking for.  That’s automatic brownie (or cheesy, man I’m cheesy) points in my book.

JZ'sWoods

These slices would be worth double that.  I mean that sincerely.  These were highly enjoyable.  No it’s not going to win best pizza in the world nor that does scenario really apply here.   These tiny guys were delectable.  I really got the brick oven feel and taste that I haven’t always gotten from places that proclaim the same.  Maybe it’s the people and brains behind the operation, but the folks behind these slices seemed to be enjoying themselves.  And the charring looks artistic.

JZ'sCheese

In spite of the growing lines, my pizza came out swiftly and efficiently.  The cheese tasted exactly how I had hoped, nothing more, nothing less.  Maybe it was the festival vibe and atmosphere, but this was comfort food and it’s finest.  And this was a source of comfort.

JZ'sGreek

The Greek was the stand-out of the two.  I could have devoured a whole pie of these.  The garlic, feta, olives, spinach and tomatoes blended  together to make a champion.

Maybe the stroke of genius is these slimmer slices only left you wanting more.   I did notice familiar faces going back more seconds, and maybe thirds (even more?) and that’s the sign of a winner.

JZ'sOven

I do believe this would work in a multitude of settings.  The atmosphere of this event lent itself to foods and wines maybe tasting better than they normally would in a regular environment.   Most people aren’t too picky, they just want good food with a good vibe.  This was the best of both.

And I would love to have this again.

The website is easy to navigate.  The menu, contact information, and other particulars can be found all on the same page.   Everything about JZ’s would point to be being on the same page.

For more on the wine festival I added, you can go here or here.

I’d like to make mention that I had the good fortune of meeting someone, while volunteering, connected to this group but misplaced their contact information. She said her family is the ones behind this and have now opened up a new restaurant in the Towson, MD area.  I had promised to do an honest write-up and wanted to give them credit as well.  If you happen to read this I just wanted to make mention and say thanks so much.

Here’s to a great Summer and festival season,

Ideen

Pizza N’ Cinema

BJ'sPizza2

We’re swiftly approaching the Academy Awards.  And nothing screams awards like a good pizza.  You know it’s true.

It’s been over a year since the last Towson, MD pizza post.  It has been home to  some of my favorites for a number of years now.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse  is one of the newest additions to the ever-so blossoming Towson Square area.  It’s a chain I’ve never walked into let alone never heard of. What have I been missing?

They’re menu has something for everyone but I have a one track mind.  And away we go.

My friend and I were on our way to the nearby cinema.  So we just wanted a quick drink and something small to eat.   Lucky for us, it was happy hour on specialty drinks, $1-$2 off certain appetizers, and half-off deep dish pizzas.  The finale got me excited.

I saw many appetizing choices from the pizza section, that I couldn’t quite make up my mind right away. My pal and I wanted something we both could enjoy.  The Mediterranean won out.  And this is a winner indeed.

BJ'sPizza1

I know this isn’t likely a carbon-copy of Chicago Style Deep Dish but I’ve never been to Chicago so how would I know if this compares.  But what I do know is that this was a very good pie that did its job.  We weren’t looking for any award-winning creations.   We just wanted something to make us feel good and feed our bellies.  I would say mission accomplished on both.

BJ'sSlice

Pesto was a pleasant surprise to our pie.   That’s a bit of alliteration on my part.   But the basil pesto really brought the excitement.  Everything on the pie did.  The grilled chicken tasted fresh and vibrant. The Kalamata olives were gold and I love my olives.  The sun-dried tomatoes may have tasted saltier than I wanted but that’s not major complaint.   The peperoncinis were a surprise to me.  I didn’t realize they were on our pie.   But the feta cheese stole the show.  There was just enough that it didn’t overshadow anything else.

My friend pointed out how the deep dish crush wasn’t too thick or greasy.   It was the perfect amount of dough that it still maintained the integrity of a deep crush but without the bloated feeling afterwards.

Our bodacious beverages (more cheesy alliteration) were the Royal Soda and the Sailor Jerry Cherry Soda.  More information can be found in the cocktails menu linked here.  I’d come back for these drinks alone.

The serendipitous part of our meal was near the end.   Our friendly bartender overheard us saying we were headed to the cinema.  She mentioned that they sell passes for the movies for $3 less than buying them at the actual movie theater box office.  A gem on top of a gem.  What an awesome find.

I will say that the deep dish pizzas do tend to get pricey as the size goes up.  Our half-off hour-pizza came out to around $6.

BJ'sOutside

So my friends if you’re in the Towson area, you have my vote of confidence on this spot. I’m not a big beer drinker but they got plenty of that too.

And for the rest of my comrades, here is the link to find a BJ’s near you.

As previously mentioned, if you’re interested in reading my previous posts from the area, you can go to this one here, or maybe this one, or finally these bad boys.

Take good care and see yas next time.

Ideen

BOP or Bust?

The Fells Point Fun Festival is the first weekend in October.  For at least the next four weeks, the posts will be dedicated to a pizza joint (or wherever I made eat a pie or slice) in this historic neighborhood.

BOPFront

I knew for a while that I was going to write about Brick Oven Pizza.  This is not going to be pretty.

I had been eating here since moving to the area in 2000.  And like many a tourist I either discovered it by walking around the neighborhood after a night of libations, or through word of mouth.  It’s been a while but for me I think it was the former. And then the latter after learning more about this amazing part of the city.

And if memory serves me correctly, I loved it the first time I ate it.  I loved it all the way up until about 2007 or 2008.   And I’m not quite sure what happened.  Either the quality of the food got cheaper, the way the pizza was prepared and heated changed, or my tastes went into a whole different trajectory.

BOPBuild

Lets be clear.  At one point this was my favorite place for pizza.  I craved getting pies of all flavors.  I loved the cheese, white, pepperoni, and many other toppings.  When I lived in Towson, during and after college, my friends and I would make special weekend trips to get a couple of boxes for carry-out.   I thought it was quality pizza.  And high quality at that.   Not anymore.

In the late 2000’s to now I have seen such a sharp decline that it’s alarming.   I’ve eaten here day and night and the quality has been lackluster regardless of the hour.   I wanted to think that the effort is not quite there after the bars close vs. during the day, but it’s bad all-around.

But yet I kept going back because I wanted to believe that the quality would resurface.  And it’s one of the first places I grabbed a slice when living in the area.   Then I started to go out of my way to avoid it.   What’s even worse now is when I’m in the area, I don’t even think to go unless it’s with friends or for the purpose of this blog.

BOP.Cheese.WhiteBOP.Pep.Pesto

And speaking of that, I will be reviewing four slices, albeit briefly, which took place over two different visits.  One was during the day and one was near closing time.  It doesn’t matter which took place when as they were all pretty disappointing.

BOPCheeseBOPWhiteBOP.PepBOP.Pesto

When I said I will be brief I was serious.  The order does not matter but I got a cheese, white, pepperoni, and that funny looking one.  That’s a cheese with pesto on top.  I had ordered a white slice with said pesto and they gave me that.  I wasn’t even in the mood to tell them they messed up, as the point is moot.

BOPOven

There is no soul to this pizza anymore.  The crust, the cheese, and the toppings had no flavor.  Sometimes I felt like I was eating soap.  It was a struggle to finish any of these.  They look so much better than they tasted.  The dough was cooked funny and I don’t see how a brick oven can make this.  It’s a tragedy.

BOPMenu

And for what they charge there is no justification.  These are not premium slices.

The staff working the front has also left a lot to be desired.  I get people have bad days but a lot of these folks seem to phoning it in.  And that energy reverberates to everything.

BOPCeleb

I think the celebrity testimonials are wonderful but I suspect many are from years ago, when the pizza was impressive.

I write all this because I care.  I miss the old B.O.P.   And I don’t it coming back.  In a way it’s heartbreaking but it’s also time to move on.  Every now and again if I’m desperate maybe I’ll grab a slice but there are food options elsewhere.

Many folks from the area will disagree and I understand.   Some of my friends are loyal to this place.  I was but my heart isn’t there anymore.   It’s time to move on.

BOPVan

I can only hope the Fells Point pizza will get better from here.

Best,

Ideen

Italian Gardens – Round 2

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I had a couple of different pizza joints all lined up to review, but I just couldn’t help myself.  I made a quick return to the iconic, Italian Gardens, yesterday.   It was on another spiritual level like the aforementioned visit.   This time I ordered two, which ended up being three, large thin crust pizzas to go.

It was an inspired idea, based on nothing but, well, inspiration.    I raved about the cheese slice last time, but this was my first ever experience with their white pizza.   And oh my goodness, this is on that same level.  Absolutely incredible.   I am used to having three cheese white, but with this one, sans parmesan, is a monumental experience.

The combination of mozzarella, ricotta, basil, garlic, tomatoes (oops more on that in a few sentences), and their homemade olive oil sauce is something special.   The latter puts it over the top.  If anyone knows what’s in it, please let me know?  Or maybe it’s best kept hidden.

I haven’t given a enough credit to the crust either.    The taste, crispiness, and crunchiness of the dough is flawless.

Now onto the tomatoes..

I initially placed a call ahead order, for one white and one cheese.  I inadvertently forgot to say no tomatoes on the former.  Now I love them, but I prefer the pie plain.   When I got there, I did check my order and saw my mistake.   I offered to pay for the order, sans fruit, but they gave it to me on the house.   As before, with giving me two cheese slices for the price of one, they didn’t have to do this.    The service here is top notch, on par with their pizza.    And it may even taste better with those pesky tomatoes.

I can’t remember  having magnificent experiences at any dining establishment, consecutively.

I am heaping some major praise, but believe me, this is warranted.    It will be a while (well maybe) before I do another recap of this legendary pizza establishment.   But, take my word for it, this is worth the drive.    Pictured above is the three orders.  Yes, folks were starving before photos could be taken.   It’s that good.

In the next calendar year, I will have other pizza places to recap and other fun pizza information.   Hopefully a little something for everyone.

Thanks so much and Happy New Year.

Oh and go to Italian Gardens.

Best,

Ideen