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

 

 

Still Plenty of Good

BronxSlices2

For those friends and other peoples that have lived or spent time in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, right outside of Washington, DC, you’ve seen change right before your very eyes.

Whether those changes are for the better is probably not even up for debate.  That may sound defeatist and helpless but in the past 10+ years this neighborhood is hardly recognizable compared to how it used to be.  This is an overly sentimental person viewpoint which is what I’ve always tended to have.   I’m not sure what the rush was but it’s happening all over and the best we can do is either embrace it; seek out the local, the character, and the older style businesses, or move somewhere else.

Well I never lived here, but I did hang out here quite a bit.  I never fully felt like I belonged here but I appreciated (and still do) my friends who live in and around the area.  And can still appreciate the gems that still exist, when I visit.  And there are gems. As I write this there’s more than I realize within in all the chains, the sameness of the bars and restaurants, and the box stores.

There’s still plenty of good in a place where the good seems to be vanishing.

BronxFront

This brings me to Bronx Pizza & Subs that’s smacked right in the heart of everything, where heart might not always be in the right place.  With plenty of restaurants (many new, many have been entrenched before massive changes) in the vicinity, maybe you just want a slice, something quick to eat, and something you don’t have to think about.

Bronx Pizza would be your place.  I was in the area right after most people had lunch, so the wait time was even shorter and there was plenty of room to sit.  But I just wanted a couple of slices to go as I had some exploring and adventures to partake in throughout the day.  But this isn’t about me, it’s about the pizza. Well it’s about me too haha.

BronxMenus

I ordered a cheese (Bronx Pizza) and a chicken carbonara, which they call the Tremont Avenue Chicken Carbonara. Both slices and a soda came out to about $7.  For the location you can’t complain about that.

BronxCheese

But I was a bit surprised as the size of my slices.  I saw others on the counter for both pies that looked larger. Maybe that’s the luck of the draw and those are the breaks. However, quality is what’s paramount and I think something was off.

The cheese just tasted like a cheese pizza.  There was a spark, some inspiration, and a taste that was lacking,   I just didn’t feel anything from the cheese, the sauce, and the crust.  It was good enough to finish.  Actually no, I think I saved it for later and I don’t know what happened.

BronxChicken

Same goes for the chicken carbonara.  I just didn’t feel that wow I want to feel from a slice, or anything that I eat.  Maybe I was expecting too much.

There’s a couple things I find surprising to me.  I didn’t realize they’ve been open for almost a decade.  Have I been here before and not realized?   They’re open late night, which for the location is a pure money maker.  When the bars pour out I’m assuming many folks walk in for the their late night cravings.

BronxSlices

What this also says is I don’t hang out enough here, and I’m not sure what I’m missing if anything.   It also tells me that if I were to have their pizza again, I would once again want it to be during the day.  I’ve rarely written about late night eats because unless a pizzeria is known exclusively for their after hours slices, I don’t think that’s the correct judge of a places’ character.

Even though these slices were not my favorite, I would give it another go, because I’m all about supporting local business, and local is the way to go.

BronxBanner

For those in the area or are going to be, here is Bronx Pizza’s Menu, their story, and their contact information and hours.

Unless things change I think this adventure will continue footsteps away at another Arlington/Clarendon pizzeria.

Thanks so much and Happy 4th.

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

 

 

Dogs = Love

petespizzaupclose

You know what makes most people happy besides pizza?

The comfort and companionship of our animal friends is invaluable.  There is no price the love and friendship that comes from a dog, a cat, or any of our other pals with paws brings. So when I find a place, not just a pizza place, but a place that supports helping and protecting our friends, I’m all aboard and then some.   More on this near the end.

I had been to Lost Dog Cafe one time but I didn’t order anything. My time was limited and was only looking for slices on that particular day.  The wait time was 15-20 minutes for food that I decided that day was not meant to be.   Why force the issue on some deliciousness when you know that there will be a place for this in time.

There’ll be a day where I can appreciate a pie where a little more time and craftsmanship than usual.  Man I’m setting myself up for a disappointment aren’t I?   Well when it comes to an individual sized pie (which is the smallest they have) I’m hoping for something that feels a little more, well personal.

lostdogssign

That day was yesterday.  Call it fate, call it destiny, call it I happened to be in Arlington, and a Lost Dog Cafe was mere minutes from me.   Here we go.

lostdogsfront

South Arlington was the setting and upon walking up, I felt like I was on a set of a movie and everyone was on break.  It seemed eerily quiet.  It was lunch hour so I wonder where all the people went. But I should also appreciate the quiet time that has been presented to me, as I know it’ll be temporary.

Inside there’s nothing but pictures and murals of dogs in happy situations.  That makes me happy.  I took some but wanted to leave more to your imagination.  If you’ve been here, like many of my friends in Northern Virginia have, you know any of their locations have set ups like this.

If I lived here I’d be a regular of all five, in some way, shape, or form.  That form would be the love of pizza and pups.

So like I was saying, I’ve praised this place beyond the point of turning back.  Am I positioning myself for a letdown?  Absolutely not.

lostdogmenufront

Since this was officially my first time ordering, I did strain and agonize over what to get. The menu has more choices than a simple man knows what do to do with.  I mean this is life changing stuff.   This could make a break a persons day or life.  Wait did I just  say that? Priorities.

Then something hit me.  Breathe, relax, it’s not that serious.  It’s not.  I may always be this way but the pizza and ordering experience in general, but it’s supposed to be fun.  We have enough unnecessary stress, this should not be one of them.

petespizza

After that over-the-top dramatic build, I went with Pete’s Pie, which is one of their newer recipes.

I don’t know who Pete is but I want to say thank you.  Oh my and pizza party was this a pie. I was engrossed in this excitement I forgot the base of this was a white pie.  At $12, this was a deal and a steal.

petespizza2

That crust is comfort food to the max.  I can only describe it as something that is perfect to pair with a soup or any many meal.  It feels like this dough matches the change in the weather.  Of course this would be enjoyed year round, but I felt like as a introduction, this is how it was always supposed to be.

Pete’s hot sauce along with not just red onion, but green onion, might sound fiery, but anyone can handle this.   And that shredded chicken, you’ve got to be kidding me. Chicken whether it’s in strips, cubed, or dice, is all wonderful.  But something about shredded gives you more flavor and more of a savory taste when eating.

lostdogpizzabox

This pie never had a chance.  Well I did save some for later.  And it was just as awesome the second time around.

But what’s even more awesome is what they do for our animal friends.  For the past 15 years,  they’ve been helping displaced animals find homes.  Links are provided here and if you’re interested in reading more about them and donating, click here.

On that alone, I want to be a support of there’s for life.  Having phenomenal pizza is a bonus at this point.  It’s just a little gravy on a wonderful experience that brings positive energy to our pals with paws, and on that note, to our universe in general.

lostdogssign2

I only wish I had  been here sooner, as in years ago.

Here’s their contact info, online ordering info, and their beer and wine list, which I haven’t even touched upon. Especially with the latter that just means I must come back. With the charisma this place exudes, this’ll be soon.  Hopefully their original location will be next.

I love it,

Ideen

 

 

 

I Love Williamsburg

SalsPizza2

I have so many fond memories of Colonial Williamsburg.  This dates back to my first ever trip when I was in the the 5th grade.   I’m sure many folks can relate and remember a similar excursion.

Times have changed.    I’m a young adult who enjoys many of the simple things in life. And when you’re a kid a lot of those pleasures remain when you mature.  I didn’t necessarily say that I matured.   But I believe you see what I’m saying.

When I go with my friends or myself now, the entertainment is familiar but so much has changed.

The downtown area which faces the beautiful William & Mary campus is exactly how I remembered it, with a few additions.  Obviously I wasn’t eating and drinking at fine restaurants when I was a kid, but I recall the landscape.  I recall the energy.  I remember how I felt.  It felt warm and it felt genuine.  It’s the sincerity and positivity that draws me back.

The colonial shoppes are still there and that’s the main draw.  It’s the simplicity that draws me back versus the commotion of a large city.

So what does this have to with pizza?

The last time I was here was May of 2015 and the reasons are so cosmic that it may be best unspoken. But nevertheless, I was here and I’m all for writing about a pies that aren’t local to me in the Maryland area.

SalsByVictor2

The downside on this weekday night is most things closed by 10 pm and the pizza discovery led me a few miles and a few minutes up the road.

In what feels like a whole different universe, the straightforwardly named Williamsburg Shopping Center, had just what I was looking for.

SalsByVictor1

Sal’s by Victor is a family restaurant enjoyed by locals, students, tourists, and everything in between.  I had driven by multiple times before and never stopped in.  This sounds about right.

SalsByVictor3

My photos make it seem like it’s in a secluded and mysterious area.  It was relatively quiet that I could pretend it was giving me the creeps.   I was just happy to get a pie.  No need for dramatics.

Carry-out was the only option as the kitchen was about to close.  I would have been satisfied dining in and the authenticity and vibration of the interior was so welcoming.   That’ll have to happen another time.

SalsPizza2

I ordered the Campagnole Pizza which hit the spot and perfect for the long drive back.   The chicken was fresh as was the broccoli and spinach. And that crust was heated perfectly.  Look at that color and texture!    I didn’t taste much garlic as I had hoped but that’s a minor quibble.

For a late order this was very good.   In being objective, I imagine this pizza would taste even more amazing under a relaxed setting with a nice seated table, good company, and a refreshing beverage.

For now it’s a memory created that I’ll grin about for a while.

And I can’t wait to be back in this beautiful Williamsburg.

Warmest,

Ideen Barimani