Live Life On The…

CaulipowerMargheritaPizzaThree

Last month I wrote about cauliflower based crusts and how they can be such a wonderful alternative to standard, or even gluten free crusts.   With the evolution of pizza, and how we eat in general, every alternative is worth considering and trying out.

This time I didn’t have to search for a restaurant.  There’s always the joy and simplicity of going to your local grocery store and discovering something new, along with always knowing where to find your familiar items and staples.   Going back to when I was a kid, I always found it so peaceful and so blissful. I think I just said the same thing twice.  But I hope you know what I mean.

There wasn’t this vast selection of healthy choices at any time in history until now.  I don’t always acknowledge that fact, but I am grateful.  I only heard about cauliflower based crusts a couple of years ago.  And before last month had only had them via someone else’s creation.  Cauliflower crusts to prepare at home are becoming more of a thing and easy to find.

Caulipower is exactly that.  It’s got a lot of power to it.  Right off the bat, I had a great feeling about their pizzas.  I had such a feeling I bought three.  The Three Cheese, the Marhgerita, and the Veggie are all wonderful.   I can’t find any flaws to this, nor why should I?  There was a good feeling leading up to this and these pizzas found me and I found them like magnets.  We found each other.

What immediately stands out is well, everything.  There’s a look about them and matches what a frozen pie would look like, which is a sign of things to come.  Because 15 minutes later they came out of the oven looking magnificent.  All I did was heat these but they just had this visual of a work of art.   The folks behind this (their difference, their story, and where you can find their awesome pizzas) have put a lot of effort and dedication into making a masterpiece.  Now that word, masterpiece, gets thrown around too much.  A blank canvas or a crust encourages us to create our own, and sometimes beautiful things can happen.   Their pies are a beautiful thing.  At around $8 it’s more than worth spending a few extra dollars versus their counterparts.

The constant in all three pies is actually a number of things.  First, this crust.  Oh my goodness this is fantastic.  I wouldn’t know the difference between their crust and a regular crust unless you hit me over the head with it.  Don’t do that as that would be a waste of food, but you get what I’m saying.  Under a blindfold test, I couldn’t tell the difference and I shouldn’t want to either.  I should love for what it is, and there’s so much to love.

Then there’s the cheese.  The way the respective cheese on these pizzas complement the other is a beautiful visual and is a joy to your palate and soul as well.

Garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and spices are important parts of each of their pizzas.  Their the heart, their the soul, and their the glue in a lot of ways to make this pie that much more magical.  While some pizzas have too much going on, and some items mean little to nothing, every means something here.  And they mean so much.

I love these pizzas so much.  Do I have a favorite?  They’re all my favorite.  They get my highest recommendation.  Maybe it’s already a favorite to you, like it seems to be with many.   This is some of the better pizza you’re going to find, and the crust is only part of the story.  There’s a story within a story, and then some.

This is magic and this is art right here.  I think I already called it art, but why the heck not.  This deserves repeated praise.

Before we head into the season of indulgence (which can be any time of year to be honest) I’m glad that I’m able to share with you a lighter fare alternative to all the comforting foods that are out there.  And while comfort is good, there’s comfort in the good.

CaulipowerPizzaSlices

This was spectacular.

Whatever I get to next may have a hard act to follow.  Only time will tell..

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Try the Caprese

MargheritasSlices2

Three years and change ago, I wrote about Margherita’s, and their Kingsville, MD location, knowing that more would be coming.  Another location would coming.

When I saw the signage and construction begin for their newest digs in Bel Air (menu can be found here) like a goofy kid, I was excited.  But in similar ways, I got distracted, and I got busy.  And I kept saying I would get around to it.  I would be in the vicinity and just not be in the mood for pizza (sacrilege I know) and keep saying there will be a next time.  There’s always next time

Enough rambling, how was the pizza this time?

MargheritasCaprese

Try the caprese, is all I can say.  This is phenomenal.  Even if the heavier Siclian Style is not your slice of pizza, I would say go for it, or just pick the toppings off and enjoy.  There’s a captain obvious in there somewhere, but yeah no…

What we have here is the freshest of ingredients, cheese, and the finest soul and spirit behind this slice.  You know when you walk into a place, and you know the pizza (or any food or anything is going to be good?  That’s what I sensed and have been sensing.

I’ll be honest, I go to Margherita’s a little more than I’ve let on, but never felt the story was there, or was inspired to do as such.  Maybe this is the first time I noticed the Caprese.  That’s inspiration enough.  In many ways, it’s a great choice for the summer and warmer temperatures.

MargheritasBuffaloChicken

The buffalo chicken and white veggie slices are just as delicious.  The thin crust on these are heated to perfection.  I would say I got there at the perfect time, as many of the pies had just come out of the oven and looked as fresh as a daisy, or a pizza.

MargheritasWhiteVegetable

Seriously, the crust was a New York Style and comforting bread you don’t get too often, from anywhere.

I adore the presentation of the buffalo chicken, as you can tell there’s thought and feeling behind it.   And the white veggies, well, the toppings are prolific but they won’t take away from the pie whatsoever.  This is well done.  These three slices were under $10, yes another reason to be grateful.

I feel like I’m writing this in a way like I did three years ago.

What else is there to say?  This was great, and the Bel Air location feels welcoming and feels quite neighborhood life.  Their Kingsville pizzeria has a small town feel with just a couple of tables, that it’s made for carry-out.  But that’s what makes both places distinct, approachable, and wonderful.

Just about every neighborhood in every town has their pizzeria, their grocery store, bank, bar, restaurant, and those other gems that make a town so charming and has that home like feel.  And the staff was friendly and personable, like any neighborhood spot would traditionally be.

MargheritasSlices1

Margherita’s fits right in like it’s been there forever.  And in many ways it has…

And by all means, try the Caprese.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

See The Innovation…

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices2

Well it’s innovative to me.  The Italian Market of Annapolis is one of those venues that’s going to need a few visits to fully appreciate and grasp everything that’s going on.

ItalianMarketStorefront

Because it feels like a stadium or an arena from the outside.  And I almost felt intimated walking in.  But I made myself feel intimidated.  No one else made feel that way or can make me feel that way.

If I told you I drove by numerous times and wanted to go in, that would be a mix of an understatements and also exaggerations.   Sometimes you just don’t notice what’s hiding in plain sight.  For many things it’ll always be that way.  But with the Italian Market (here’s their menu, their contact info, upcoming wine tastings, and their extensive selection of cheese and pastas) that’s over and done with.  I’m a fan and it’s going to make multiple visits to fully appreciate what’s going on.

ItalianMarketMenu

I came specifically for the pizza this time, not realizing that this coliseum like vibration was inside.  There’s a waterfall in the middle of this place.  I would have presented a picture but there were so many people around that it wasn’t possible.  I had no preconceived notions about this place.  I liked the idea of going in with no idea what’s going on, the crowd, the busy times, or what’s on the inside.

Don’t judge a book by its cover or anything else.  Not yet at least.

I’m glad I got there when I did.  It was almost the nick of time as the line was growing by the doorway, and there were barely any seats in the house.  People were (hopefully patiently) waiting for their food taking upwards of 20-30 minutes.  That’s what I overheard at least.  I’m going to safely assume it was worth the wait.

The pizza was getting decimated and serendipitously I was able to grab a cheese, pepperoni, white vegetable, and meat lovers to go.  I got 2-3 meals out of this, so I took time to savor, reheat when needed, and appreciate my food on a much more patient and deeper level.

ItalianMarketWines2

And on that note, while I waited, I was in awe of their wine selection, along with their cheese, pastas, and various other grocery items.  There were parts of the store I likely never got to explore and one short visit is not going to be enough.  This is going to be an experiment in something amazing.

Apparently I’m the last person to find out about this place, as it seemed all of Annapolis (pizza history lesson here) was there (well it was lunch time), but this was a madhouse and chaos in the most beautiful of fashions.   Maybe it’s my perception but people seemed pretty excited and elated to be there.  I know I was.  I hope recurring visits would bring about that kid in a candy store feeling. I’m leaning towards yes.

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices

The pizza is good to great.  Again, for how crazy it was tasty, crisp and didn’t feel like it was rushed or reheated poorly.   Surprisingly, the meat lovers was my favorite of the four.  I could say I was in a good or something just felt right about it.   By default, the cheese is also solid. It’s a good balance of everything.   And the white vegetable was also a winner.

ItalianMarketPizzaSlices3

Again like last week, not life changing or knock your socks off, but just really good pizza.  I imagine whole pies would even taste that much better.   I believe my four slices were only $12 and change, which seems like a bargain to me.   I know a whole pie may have run me the same, but that’s for next time.  There will be plenty of next times.

ItalianMarketWines

If you haven’d had the opportunity, I highly recommend a visit, even if just to get a bottle of wine to go.  It’s all so beautiful.

ItalianMarketWines3

The interior is immaculate and has a charm all its own.  I look forward to many visits down the line.

Thanks so much.  Have a great weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

Break The Contradictions

MaisysBuffaloChicken

Maisy’s is what Downtown Baltimore or what a downtown in general feels like.  I prefer the latter, because it reminds me of a part of any city, that truly feels like a city.  Baltimore has a lot of neighborhoods within it, yet it does have parts that seem like there’s lots of action.

This particular part of Charles Street, which bridges downtown to Mt. Vernon, is an area I used to frequent all the time.  While it gets busier things also seem to be a bit slower.  Time has stood still, and so does the traffic, so does everybody.

Maisys

Good friends of mine were regulars of Maisy’s when it first opened maybe 5-6 years ago, but for various reasons, life happens, and life goes on.  That didn’t mean to sound so dramatic.   But my friends did sell me on the place without having to sell it.  It’s a hidden gem, hiding in plain sight.  Near several other restaurants, bars, and other establishments it might be easy to overlook and take for granted.   I could see that.

MaisysBoard

The first time I ate here was literally five years ago.  And that might have been my only time.  This was before any blogs or pizza storytelling were on my radar.  Well it was slightly on my radar or we wouldn’t be here now.   I just recall the pizza being pleasantly awesome.

I had been tipped off (sounds so exciting) on the fact that their pizza is one of the more underrated in the city.  That’s a relative term.  What’s rated one way to you, is well, yeah..

Having no recollection of what exactly I had, I can say that the pizza and atmosphere was tremendous.  Maybe it’s having no expectations, going somewhere alone, and going somewhere for the first time.  I also recall that I was in between social engagements that day, so that time alone is always welcome.  Don’t take that for granted.  We all know how time alone is fewer and far between than it used to be.  If we let it.

That was a moment in time.  Nothing noteworthy, newsworthy, or life changing.  Sometimes those are the best.   The way the place was lit did leave a lasting impression, and there’s a quaintness, despite the large space, that is perfect for this or any neighborhood.  It works in a downtown setting.

Moving along a few years later, you can’t replicate the first time.  I was with a friend, and was craving pizza. Surprise surprise.  But this time something felt off.

By no means was I trying to relive something that doesn’t exist.  The restaurant looked exactly the same, which I like.  Well maybe it was different.   I don’t know.  It’s been a while.

MaisysMenu

We shared the Buffalo Chicken and The Mediterranean.

MaisysBuffaloChicken2

There isn’t much home to write about.  It was fine. It was food.  It was there.

MaisysMEDITERRANEAN

You’ll notice the charring on the crusts of both pies. They went a little overboard.  I love brick oven pizza.  I love any way a pizza is cooked, as long as the end result is that it tastes good.  Sometimes you want it greasy, crunch, and with little thoughts to the craftsmanship behind it.

There’s some effort put into these pizzas, but something was missing.  It just didn’t wow me.  The style in which it was cut is in line with what I remember, maybe.

The tastes on both were fine.  Once again, I don’t know what happened.  But it’s average pizza.  I wish I could say otherwise.   On the Mediterranean there’s too much going on, and many of the vegetables, feta cheese, and even the pesto got lost in the shuffle.  When the pesto doesn’t work, you know something is off.   The Buffalo Chicken looks amazing, and the pieces of chicken are great, but again something fell flat.  The sauce and cheese is fine but…

If we’re counting this exactly, we’re 1-1.   I supposed the third time is the time charm.  You’ll be the first to know when that is.

Thanks so much and peace be with you…

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

 

Say Hello To Everybody

SammysFourPizzaSlices2

That’s the feeling I got when I walked into Sammy’s Italian Pizza Kitchen, in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.  I’ve talked at length (history can be found here), about my fondness for our state capital.

Here’s Sammy’s menus, contact info, and more on their story can be found at the bottom of their main page.

SammysItalianPizzaKitchen

I’ve been to Sammy’s many times before, initially out of curiosity, but then out of convenience.   The shopping center itself has a feel from decades ago, and once again takes me back to being a kid, and going out to lunch on a Sunday with my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and you get my drift.

It’s a feeling of comfort and familiarity that is a great reminder that restaurants don’t need to be fancy and over-the-top to produce quality food, service, a warm atmosphere, and a positive dose of energy.

Now in every town, you have your bakery, post office, general store (do those still exist?), local bank (one can only hope), florist, and many other mom-and-pops.  That does include plenty of good food, and of course pizza.

That’s the sense I got the first time I drove through this part of Eastport, and discovered this, among several other hidden gems.

What’s funny is there’s been many instances where I have not been enamored with their pizza.  I thought it was good, but nothing to necessarily write home (or write a blog/story) about.  I have an ongoing list of places I’ve been meaning to talk about, and Sammy’s among others was on that list, but I either never felt the time was right, or just wasn’t feeling it, good or bad.

You’ve got to feel it, positive or negative, or what’s the point?

But something about a recent visit felt different.  Maybe it was me, maybe it was the mood I was in, or maybe there’s just something else inexplicable, where I should just let it just be, and allow the best experience to come to me and find me.

That’s exactly what happened.

I love how you can’t see the inside of the restaurant from the outside.   There’s something mysteriously beautiful about this, that will draw many in, and I’m sure scare a few people off.  I promise you nothing about what I’m saying is to be feared or be made to feel afraid of.

The interior feels more authentic than how many more contemporary restaurants try to portray themselves as.  This just feels real.  And if and when you’re inside, I think you’ll get what I’m selling here.  Nor do I have to sell.  Everything about it sells itself.

SammysFourSlices

To go back to basics, I went with the four most simplest slices there is.   Cheese, pepperoni, white, and vegetable is about as genuine and to the core pizza as you’re going to find.  It’s as if the slices were there waiting for me.  Maybe they were.

The staff working the counter made me feel like home and made me feel good about my visit.  And to feel like a million bucks is not something you ask for or expect, but it’s great when it happens.  The next few groups of people that walked in got that same first class treatment.  It’s good to be feel important.  That feeling should come from within but it’s always gravy when it comes from external sources as well.

Before I go on any further of a tangent, this was the best pizza I’ve had by them in the multiple times I’ve been by.  And it’s not even close.  From what was once mediocre to decent, turned into fantastic.

What makes this all the more intriguing is I got these slices at dinner time.  I don’t know how long the pies were out.  Those are not the questions I should be asking, when the pizza turns out to be this good.  Maybe I answered my own question.

Maybe the reheating from the cold pies made it that much more tasty.  But good pizza is good pizza.  And these four slices really turned out well.

The pepperoni and the white were the true stand outs.   The crust and dough just had a taste about them that once again took me back to my younger days sharing pizza with family and dear friends.   That’s where a long synopsis is no longer necessary.

It’s a simple pizza, with a simple feel, from a creative source.

SammysFourPizzaSlices

What more can you ask for then what I just described?

That’s good pizza, nestled in a neighborhood in one of my favorite places.

If I could write about a place like this every week, I’d be happy.  But then it wouldn’t be so special.  Yet for now, this is to be savored, adored, and appreciated.

SammysItalianPizzaKitchen2

I look forward to my next visit to Annapolis, and a future visit to Sammy’s.

Peace Be With You.

 

 

Time Splitters

TimesSquareKitchenPizzaSlices

This is another one of those by special request.  And I mean by request over the past couple of years.

When I get to or end up in Owings Mills, I’m not always thinking about pizza.  Then again, I’m not really thinking about anything.  I’m here, I drive, I do things, and then I keep going about my business.

It’s an area I would be sentimental to, as you see, it was where I had my first grown up job, out of college.  It lasted for a time, I left on good terms, and all the while I could see the writing on the wall.  The area was growing, new buildings were well, being built; and more land was turning into corporate and professional entities.  This is not a ran about progress or whatever you want to call it.  It’s just an observation.

TimesSquareKitchenFront

Many years later, here we are.  More is coming.  And that more of the past is Times Square Kitchen, in an area of Owings Mills where I don’t even recall what was there before, which makes believe there was lots of green, and lots of land to do what people choose to do with it.  It’s there.  I remember seeing it on the highway which feels like a different lifetime ago.

Nevertheless, there’s restaurants, a library, a branch of college, and a residential development up the street.  I’m sure I’m missing a few things.

Before I lose track, the question always is, how was the pizza?

I found it missing something.  Maybe it was the mood I was in, but it just didn’t wow me.  And I gave everything a chance.   I ordered a cheese, a white vegetable, and a buffalo chicken slice.  So I tried to cover all bases.

Here is their menu.

TimesSquareKitchenCheesePizzaSlice

The crust on all of these was again, fine.  It just tasted like decent pizza.  If you’re to rate a pizzeria by its cheese then it continues to the theme of an alright pie.  The cheese is again, decent.  It’s not that the cheese and sauce was bad (they make everything in house), it just lacked spark.  I wanted to like this.  I actually want to love everything I eat. If not, what’s the point of all this?

TimesSquareKitchenWhitePizzaSlice

The white veggie was a bit overloaded.  The crust wasn’t big enough to handle all this.  And it’s a sizeable crust, but the whole didn’t equal the sum of those things.   I’ve said it before, I think white is one of the more challenging slices to make.  I think you can rate a place based on their blanca, as much as their plain cheese.

TimesSquareKitchenBuffaloChickenPizzaSlice

The buffalo chicken was a bit of a saving grace.  I liked the shredded piece of chicken on top.  The buffalo sauce was good, and this was a slightly better piece of pizza then its predecessors, but again the feel good story wasn’t there.

TimesSquareKitchenPizzaSlices2

I haven’t been to New York in some time.  But I’ve had great slices there.  I’ve had great New York Style slices in various places, including Maryland.   This doesn’t quite reach that.

Even though I didn’t love it this time, you may think otherwise.  I’ve been told by several people that this is one of their favorites in the Baltimore area.   It’s important to agree to disagree.  We all shouldn’t like the same things.  We all shouldn’t love the same things.  That wouldn’t be fun.

TimesSquareKitchenILovePizza

There’s fun in respectfully disagreeing.  There’s fun in sharing the love of pizza (among so many other things) with the people you love as well.   It’s disappointing this one didn’t work out, but I’ll gladly give it another shot again down the line.

Many a time I’ve gone back a second or third time to many types of a restaurants (not just pizza) and was happier.   One iffy visit isn’t going to stop me from coming back, just like one amazing visit somewhere else should sometimes be met with caution, depending on the place or scenario.

That’s what makes this all so fun.    I shall revisit Times Square Kitchen down the line.  Local business will always have my heart.   I’m all about an encore.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen