Now Open For Business

AngelinasPizza1

The joy of this thing comes in finding the pizzerias outside of major cities.   And the joy also comes in when I’m not looking too hard for it, or not looking at all.

This brings me to Odenton, MD, which is a town not everyone in Maryland (or outside Maryland) has ever heard of or let alone visited.  Until a few years ago I was one of those folks.

But that’s the fun of it, different town, different experiences, and that means finding a hidden gem, pizza or otherwise.

It made me so happy as I was driving towards a nearby neighborhood in the area when I saw decorative signs for something.  I had to look closer and even closer, and to my pleasure it was for the newest pizza place in town, Angelina’s.

AngelinasSign

Just the thought out of that alone made me so happy.  I have a log of things to write about, and I’m glad to keep certain places on the back burner for now.  They didn’t fit write just yet.   While a place that has been barely opened a month certainly fits perfectly.

The space is massive.  I have no idea what was in this space (if there was another restaurant) and in this instance it doesn’t truly matter.  What matters is what was going on at the time.

But back to the space.  There’s plenty of picture frames on the wall from all walks of life. There was Italian music playing as soon as I walked in.  I think I heard an Andrea Bocelli song once or twice.  No complaints there.

And the dining room with their beautiful chandeliers on one end was gorgeous.  It’s a great setting for a dinner party with pals.

There were plenty of slices to choose from.  All averaging around $3-$4.

Because I’m hardly ever in the area, and the newness of the place, I wanted to recap more than just my standard two slices.  This time we have four.  And as I write you’ll understand that I didn’t finish everything all at once, or at a later time.

AngelinasPizza3

I loved how the white and the caprese looked so bright and so inviting.  I just had to try these two first.  But neither one translated into quality slices.  The crust was fine but had a flatter kind of crunch than what I would prefer.  And the cheese seemed to be missing something.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the quality of the cheese, the crust, and the toppings on both just missed that wow factor.  It wasn’t close to that.  I would call it decent but not much else.   After picking at both slices, I didn’t finish half of either.

AngelinasCaprese

AngelinasWhite

That’s because I was saving for a couple more to go.

AngelinasPizza5

For the road, I went with the cheese and buffalo chicken.  And while my expectations were lowered I didn’t discount how good either of these could be.  I love the look of breaded buffalo chicken on a pizza, or anywhere.  But unfortunately the chicken tasted dry and flat.  The celery and sauce were fine but the chicken took away from the rest of the pie.  The crust was once again decent, but it felt under cooked as the previous two slices.

AngelinasBuff

But we know the truth.  You have to judge a place by the cheese, and the cheese alone.   So after feeling a bit dismayed at my previous endeavors, the cheese was tremendous.

AngelinasCheese2

Even at first glimpse it seems a little more care was put into this pie versus the others. The sauce was better, the crust was eons better than the others, but the cheese reminded me of the great slices I’ve had in a while. This isn’t the greatest cheese I’ve ever had but I’ll be thinking about this for a while.  I’m thinking about it now.

AngelinasCheese

If I’m back I will try some more.  If you’re in the area I would suggest giving them a try and finding out for yourself.   Local and family business is always the best.  And I have to say it again, their cheese was fantastic.

Here is their menu and their contact information.

AngelinasPoster

Man that was cheese was good.

Ideen

 

& A Lot More

pizza2

I had been greatly anticipating the opportunity to write about &pizza, but only if the circumstance and proper location presented itself.   I know not every week can nor should be an existential piece on why we love pizza, and why it brings such joy to our lives.  But it certainly makes for a fun discussion, and more importantly, what’s the point if there can’t be enjoyment.

pizzasign

That’s why I find great satisfaction in finally finding the proper instance to talk about my experience with this charming and fascinating pizza paradise.

This is not my first rodeo with &pizza.  But previous visits didn’t feel right to elaborate on. I’m hoping that makes sense.  There should be a little story behind the neighborhood, the time of day it was, the mood,  the ambiance, and all those other quirks that can make the pizza experience all the more memorable, or in some instances forgettable but fun to make fun of.

pizzafront

My visit to the historic Barracks Row location, checks off many of those boxes and brought a little something more to the table than I expected.  How I ended up here is just one of those meant to be scenarios.  But in my traditional curious sense, I needed to see what was nearby, in terms of shopping, food, and of course the za.

It’s funny because I used to spend a lot more time here in what feels like a lifetime ago, but I didn’t recognize it at first.  Some of the bars and restaurants look the same but other than that, like most major cities, more stuff and more stuff is has come and is coming. That means a few more chains but hopefully more local business as well.

&pizza is a local chain that is only going to continue to grow.  With stores in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, and soon to be in New York, you know it’s only going to get bigger.

But it originated in DC first (here is my history of DC area pizza), so that’s where I’m going to begin.

What I loved instantly about this location is the warm welcome from the two team members working the counter.  It was a little bit after lunch hours so maybe the chaos of people had subsided, and they could be a bit more personable, but this was from the heart. And I sensed these folks would be like this no matter how many customers were waiting and how high the stress level may be.

That kind of kindness is usually going to make your food taste better.  I truly believe that. There was a personable aura that is always appreciated.  And this is in Washington, DC, which isn’t the most welcoming and people tend to be in a rush around-the-clock.

pizzamenu

I wanted it simple, so I went with the Gnarlic.  Yes that’s exactly how it’s spelled.  I wanted a white pizza with some veggies and on whole grain bread.  Yes you have your choice of white or ancient grains.  I wanted to pretend I was eating healthier.  Maybe I was.

pizzagnarlic

This is over-the-counter style, so everything is made and heated in front of you, and ready to serve in five minutes.  Because I was one of the few people at the time, that wait time felt even shorter.  Maybe time just stood still.

pizzadrinks

While I was waiting, I noticed the craft soda machine.  I guess I never noticed that before.  I usually never order a beverage in a quick place like this.  It’s usually water.  But for the sake of the experience and trying something new I went with the Pear + Fig Elixir.  This was something special.  I highly recommend this.  What’s funny is while I thought it tasted amazing, I had forgotten that it was pear and fig that it was tasting.  It was a fruit punch that was a punch to the heart and soul, but in a good way.

pizzadrink3

So my pizza came out and boy does that look beautiful right?

pizza1

This was a thankfully light and crisp pizza.  Like I stated I’d been here before but never found it memorable, until now.   The garlic and onions were the stand outs.   It was just like eating a simple flat bread or pita bread like I’ve done many times before.  I wasn’t in the mood for thick and doughy crust this time.  And since the weather was nicer this encouraged a lighter fare.   What did surprise me is I didn’t taste much of the pesto that was drizzled on beautifully.   Maybe it was meant to taste light?  But that part wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.

pizza3

The cheese also tasted lighter, which I definitely welcomed.  I just adored the shape of this pizza pie.  I adored so much of it.  And the charm and the ambiance of the place certainly helped.  As did seemingly having the whole place to myself for a bit.

The sun was shining, house music was playing inside, and I had a beautiful view of DC and a mix of locals and tourists strolling along enjoying the view.  Is this DC or another dimension?  How about a little bit of both.  And &pizza is a big a part of that.  There’s a feel good vibe that should be the norm but still might be the exception.

pizzabox

This is only the beginning of my recaps of their pizzas.  They have a bunch of locations and a bunch of pizzas to try.  When I go them again will be up to the universe and some complete random series of events.  Or I just walk into a location, haha.  I feel like this set the bar very high and will be hard to match.  I welcome the challenge.

Their website is easy to navigate, for all your informational needs.   More scrolling and less clicking is m.o. here.

Stay gnarlic, oops I mean gnarley, or something.

 

Ideen

 

Love & Pizza

wethepizzasquash1

I just had to get back to one of of my favorite Washington, DC area pizza places, We The Pizza.  The charm, the energy, the charisma, the positive energy, and most of all, the pizza has stuck with me since my inaugural visit to their Crystal City location back in November of 2015.  You can read about that surreal experience here.

I had said I would be back here sooner rather than later.  How does nearly 14 month sound? And how surreal again is it, one the eve of one of the biggest events in the area, and in our nation in a long time.   Life is funny that way.  It presents us scenarios.  It naturally plants us in situations where we either take it or throw it back to the universe for reorganizing.

wethepizzaside

For many, a situation might be too much too handle and we withdrawal, we have reservations, and we overthink.  Heck what am I talking about?  I was footsteps away from where there was so much commotion, and the DC version of We The Pizza was in my sights.  Maybe that’s all there is too it.   Maybe.  I didn’t have any reservations.  Speaking of which, this is what they call, casual digs, no need to call ahead and reserve a table. I I suspect some of the folks in line might be paying a hefty tab for a dinner later on this weekend if you catch what I’m saying.

wethepizzafront2

The strip of bars, shoppes, and restaurants around Capitol Hill does have some charm to it. As much as DC has become so homogenized with bloated new apartment and condo units, it still has loads of charm.  You don’t have too look too hard to find it.  I forgot one of my new favorite pizzerias was nestled right in the heart of it.  It’s been here for  over six years. I don’t think I’ve been away that long.

wethepizzafront1

The vibe was much different than it’s Virginia Counterpart.  Yes there were plenty of “What Do You Do?” types mulling about.  But there seemed to be an overall intensity of joy all around.  The sun was out and you could almost get away without wearing a jacket.  It was that nice out.  That always helps.   On first glimpse, I didn’t sense as much as dining space as in Crystal City, but then I walked around and realized wow.  There’s outdoor seating, front seating, side seating, and more upstairs.  This is the combination of cozy and widespread.   I think this has always been the norm (if plausible) in restaurants within rowhomes, but I still like to point it out

To say there was a sense of community around is a statement.  Maybe you thought I would say understatement but now.  But not an overstatement either.  People seemed happy.  I saw people saying hi to one another.  There’s good everywhere and we don’t have to look hard to find it.  I bet sharing pizza has a lot do with that.  More on that shortly.  But speaking of which…

I wanted to keep it simple this time around.  But when you see their whole assortment of pies, it’s hard to just stick with cheese and pepperoni.   I’ll get to the meats in good time. But I did go with three slices, one was one of the magnificently crafted slices I’ve had.  You may see it hiding behind the other two, in the picture on the right above.  That overused artisanal word can be applied to that one.  The unveiling is coming.  I’ll get to that in pizza three.

wethepizzawhite

I went with with the White Pizza first.   I’m going with this one initially because this shocked me how disappointing this was.  White is usually hard to make poorly but something went awry here.  All the standards are there, but was it the fontina that gave this a strange taste?  Was is the ricotta?  How about the white sauce?  Maybe the whole not equalling the sum?  Maybe it was an off day. I’m really confused.  But look how beautiful this is?  Yet, I couldn’t finish it.

wethepizzawhite2

I will say the crust on all the pies is tremendous, cooked to perfection, and with the perfect charring all over the place.

wethepizzacheese

Now we move on to simple cheese.  This was fantastic.  And the cheese is just like someone’s mom used to make, and hopefully still does.   It reminds me of pizza I had when I was a kid and still luckily find periodically.  I know in the past I’ve used that similarity before, but it applies here as well.  This was so damn good.  But the fresh oregano is the key ingredient that makes this magical.

That would have been enough to make it a 2 for 2 in visits.  But this just needed a little something else didn’t it?

I’m big on dramatics, even when it comes to something simple as pizza, but I noticed one pie on the counter that didn’t have an identifier.  I asked one of the pizza makers what this was and he asked me to look at the sign up ahead.  I keep making it so hard on myself. But it also makes it exciting no?  Well someone out there will agree with me.

wethepizzasquashsign

Anyways, what I thought looked like a dessert pie on first glimpse was actually the Roasted Butternut Squash.  I jumped like a little kid and said “me me, I want one!”   No that didn’t actually happen but my enthusiasm level went to a brand new level.  I’m building this thing up in anticipation of eating.  I deliberately saved this one for last and to call this a masterpiece would not be enough.   I just wish I noticed this sooner.  The squash by itself tasted fresh out of the garden. And as individual pieces they were perfect.  I pulled a few off for safe eating.

wethepizzasquash2

Everything that was incorporated brought all the other flavors and textures to life.  From the goat cheese, to the caramelized onions, the thyme, the balsamic glaze, and the bechamel?

wethepizzasquash3

I would be lying if I just threw bechamel acting like I use that word regularly.  But after reading about it, I see that it has just as much importance to this pie as everything else.  And I will now be on the lookout for other meals and foods that use bechamel.  But I really know what it is, I swear!  How many times can I say that without looking like a complete goof. Bechamel bechamel bechamel! Yum!

I need more of that squash pie.   I should have just ordered one to go and did what I could to preserve it to enjoy over the next few days.  That just means I’ll need to come back.  And it won’t be another year plus for the next recap.  This place is too good not to be applauded for all their fantastic za.

All three slices came out to $12 and change.  For the location, that’s more than reasonable.   Cheese is $3 and most other slices are $4.

And for all the good they do too.  Here are some links on that, being in the community and helping the environment.

If you’ve never been or are traveling to the area this weekend or anytime, here is their contact information, locations, and news feed.

This is what I alluded to earlier.  Pizza, almost 100% of the time, makes people feel good, it brings people together.  At that moment you’re enjoying a marvelous pizza pie, with good friends, good family, or whatever awesome company you may have, and just loving life. This is the whole point of  why I write about pizza and why We The Pizza does what they do.

The “We” and the “Us” is paramount here.

The charming pictures on their restroom wall help too!

Like I said earlier, they have too many slices not do be revisited again.  So I hope WE do.

WE’ll do it again soon!

Ideen

 

 

 

Word To The Wiseguy Version 2.0

wiseguysiciliantruffleslice2

This is one of those once-in-a-while posts where the pizza experience was so fascinating, that it had to be sliced into two parts. No puns whatsoever. Last week’s posr can be found here.

I’ll cut (oops) right to the chase.  Wiseguy NY Pizza has some of the best slices I’ve had some time.  I know we tend to heap praise and glamorize while in the moment, and after the dust settles and we’ve had a few minutes to process, we come back down to reality. It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m still thinking about these slices.

While last week at the DC location had one incredible slice, the visit to the Arlington had a one-two punch that is up there with the best of them.

We’ve all had those meals and those experiences that resonate with us.  We do tend to romanticize those events from the past as being much better than they were.  But then there’s those times you knew something was special and that over time, it was going to feel just as awesome (if not more) now than it did then.  Ah who am I kidding, it’s just pizza, or is it something more?

After that build-up this better be good right?

A drive through Arlington isn’t anything visually inspiring, unless you like big buildings, corporate entities, and people moving fast trying to look important.  But nestled in the heart of all this commotion, was my inaugural trip to Wiseguy.

I never have presumptions when it comes to food.  Several factors such as, price, location, atmosphere, my mood, and the universe dictate my feeling of the pizzeria and the pizza itself.  I don’t ask for much.

But to say certain biases don’t shine through when I’m near our nation’s capital would be a lie.  However, when you find a parking spot right in front of the place, you know it’s going to be a good day.

When I waked in I had no idea what I was going to get.  And fortunately I was in a short line (unlike visit two)  at lunch hour, so everything was available.

wiseguysiciliandisplay

And the first thing I saw was those squared shaped, Sicilian Style, cheese falling from the sides and some of it fried from the way it was heated in the oven.  I knew this was going to be remarkable.

wiseguysicilian1

I didn’t even know there was Feta immersed in this gem until I perused the menu again. Feta on a white pizza, feta when done right is perfection.  It’s one of those cheeses I’ve appreciated since I was a kid, thanks in part to my parents and my background.  I don’t have it enough or maybe I have it just enough to appreciate it and look forward to it more.   And of course you have your appropriate cheeses, fresh motz and mozzarella, and fontinella, to make one of the best slices I’ve had in a long while.  This is bordering on five stars.  The roasted garlic makes it five stars. Garlic and feta on a white pizza, who knew? Yum!  And even for a thicker style dough, I loved every minute of this.  I’m crazing a slie now.  Just as I’m craving…

…When I thought it couldn’t any better, I up and get the Mushroom Truffle.  You would think that eating two slices like this in concert with each other, that the flavors would overpower from one pizza to the other.  I took my time, I ate them separately, and I savored every bite I could.  The mushrooms tasted fresh out of the garden, and the inclusion of truffle, goat cheese, and basil makes this pure insanity.  How is this slice even possible?

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the crust.  This was one of the best thin slices I’ve had in a while.  Something about the soul and character behind this slice is second-to-none.  That and I love mushroom.

For my pals in the area, you can also order online.  And for pals in Arlington there’s the Door Dash option.

wiseguysiciliantruffleslice1

I think I painted the right picture of my two experiences at Wiseguy.  If not, I think the paintings, I mean pictured above tell the story.  This is a nice segue into November. What that means I don’t know but I’m looking forward to continuing this ride.

Stay warm,

Ideen

 

Word To The Wiseguy

wiseguychickenranch1

I had never heard of Wiseguy NY Pizza until just a few weeks ago.

My first experience at the Arlington location was magical and I didn’t know until after I left.  I’ll save that for the end.  I had all the intention of getting around to recapping this experience by the end of November, but as all things nothing goes as planned nor should it. Especially when blogging and having fun.   A chance visit to the Washington, DC location within the past few days brought about a second helping of some dynamite slices. And the experience was something else.  It was something different. It’s DC. I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Speaking of which,  I’ll start backwards like they do in some cinemas.

wiseguydc

It was lunchtime and the line was 20 people deep.  It moved fast and fortunately I wasn’t in any rush, nor should I truly ever be.  But I’ve been the guy who’s paced back and forth and obsessively stared at their phone, hoping I still had time to get my food and rush back to work, without management being upset.  That’s the sense I got from most of the folks around me.  It wasn’t laid back but would you expect anything less?   The guy behind me especially seemed very programmed that if I hadn’t ordered my slices right away, he may have interjected and started that sighing and whining you see in the cinemas.   See I knew I mentioned cinemas earlier for a reason.

wiseguyslices2

That’s the end of the negative.  I ordered the Backyard Veggie and a Chicken Ranch.

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I said that was the end of the negative but I’ll quickly state the veggie was the one slice I had a hard time eating.  Of course I did but it was a bit too spicy for me.  Ingredients for all slices are shown above. The chili peppers were incredibly aggressive.  And I’m not one to complain about spices. In general I’d like it hot.But it didn’t work here.  And I feel the tomato sauce does not complement any of these vegetables.  It felt like too much and everything got lost.  The olives were good though.  I picked those off.  This is also where the crust seemed not to matter.  And the NY Style thin crust was wonderful on the next three (wait, hold that thought) slices across the board.

wiseguychickenranch1

The Chicken Ranch Melt was divine.  It more than made up for the previous slice. The crispy chicken slices and that house made ranch sauce were perfect to eat enough by their lonesome but wait, there’s more.  Throw that on top of a white pizza, and we have a winner.  But the true standout is the parsley. It added something that is too good for words.  If you love parsley you know what I’m talking about. But seriously, this made the slice when it was already made.

wiseguyslices3

I wish I could end the post here and split this into two parts.

Actually that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Arlington, next week.  Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.

Here is more about this less-than-five year old pizzeria, their menu, and online ordering for those local.

wiseguydcdisplay

More next week,

Ideen

 

Hailing From New Haven

petesnewhaven

I’ve decided to go in a different direction this week.  Well not entirely.  I was all set to do another one from Philly.  That will happen at a later date.  I don’t have the entire word at my disposal yet.  But I do have significant parts of the northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

petesstorefront

This weeks brings be back to our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.  And just when I had a place in DC lined up.  I changed my mind this week after an unplanned visit to Pete’s New Haven Style APizza.   And I was pleasantly surprised about so much.

The Village of Friendship Heights neighborhood where this Pete’s is located is right on the DC, Maryland line.  And this is one of the the more cozy parts of the city.  I like it.  In a town of transplants and what-do-you-do’s, this is one of the more folksy and approachable versions of DC you’re going to find.  Is this even real?  Maybe I’m being delusional but it’s fun to just believe.  Even if it’s a fallacy.  Well onto the pizza.

What is New Haven Style exactly?  Well I’m glad you asked.  I just put added the link two sentences ago, and right here for your edification.

If you had asked me two years ago what I  thought about this style, I would say no thanks. I would say it’s not real pizza, it’s a cheap imitation of the real thing.  How ignorant was I?

petespies

I had all the expectations of ordering a pie but when I walked in I was pleased to see a display of slices at the counter, and at affordable prices.  This is DC we’re talking about where things can be exorbitant.  I believe both slices totaled only $6.  Fantastic.

petesmenu

For the sake of my first visit here it was only right to go with the New Haven and the plain cheese, which didn’t have an alluring name.   Here’s the menu with all the captivating titles.

petesboth

The New Haven is something that will need time to grow on me.  I love white pizza but clams is an acquired taste.  I love seafood and I love it on my pie.  And even though I’m a still a newbie to these kinds of pies, it was still a surprise when I got a double shot of crunch with from the thin crust and the clams themselves.  Again, to folks who are used to this kind of pie, this is the norm.  For folks used to traditional thicker crusts or New York Style this is an atypical apizza.  Ha I can be funny.    I was so deep into the clams that I hardly noticed the garlic, olive oil, or anything else.

Speaking of that crust, that has grown on me.  I like all kinds and for the many who want less carbs and less bloat, these slices will benefit a lot of us.

petesplain

With that being said the tomato sauce on the plain is still something I can’t completely get into.  I know folks that love it and many of my friends from the metro area love this place. I see why.  There is an appeal.  It’s non traditional for what many of us are used to.  I am being careful as you can see, how I approach what might be traditional may be out of the norm for others.

The positive energy I got from the shoppe make so much sense.  Their community based efforts can be found here.  And here’s a little more.

Locations and contact info can be found here.

petestogo

Speaking of locations, whether I’m back at Friendship Heights or another one will likely be at random.  There’s so many more slices and pies to try that this must be revisited.  I know I’ve said that before about other pizzerias.  I hope I can get back to this one at a reasonable time frame.

I had a good feeling before I even walked in and an even a better one after writing about it.

More to come,

Ideen

 

Self Awareness

DupontSupreme

After that monstrosity and travesty from last week, I headed next door to Dupont Pizza. And when I mean next door, literally.  This is a massive step up, with the understanding that this is a late night destination.

DupontStoreFront

As someone who is passionate about a good pie, I felt it was only right that I try whatever I can in plain sight, pun not intended.  I was only slightly full from picking apart the slices from its’ neighbor, that I had room for more.

DupontDuo

For only $9, I ordered the cheese and the supreme.  I had forgotten that you get these mega slices  So it’s the equivalent of four slices for under $10.  In Washington, DC that constitutes stealing.  That’s not a pun either.

If you just want serviceable pizza with a crust that’s not too thick and not extremely thin either, this is your place.

DupontCheese

The cheese and the toppings were solid. The meats and veggies seemed fresh enough for what you’re expecting.  Like I said, after some of the lackluster slices from earlier, this is going to taste like a five star meal, which it’s not.  I didn’t even need the slices reheated. They looked good as is and thankfully I was right.

The team member behind the counter was no-nonsense yet friendy.  And in DC, I won’t necessarily take that, as people would say.  But it’s better than what I expected.

DupontStack

I was able to get several meals out of this, since this was so hefty.   I feel like I won and won some more.

However, I would happy to eat this if I were passing through or after a late night out.  My later nights and partying in DC are few and far between, so it may be a while before I return.   No big deal.   There’s places like this in many major metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities.

That’s why I can appreciate when a not-so-welcoming and transient region like Washington, DC has a simplistic pizzeria as so. This is where the self awareness title comes from.  They know what they are and don’t need to be any more. That’s appreciated.

DupontStreetSign

I’m all for high end and upscale pizza places if they deliver (I don’t mean actual delivery), and the prices justify what’s being served.  I hope more times than not we can be so fortunate to get what we pay for.

With that being said, I’ve only begun to write about our nation’s capital.   There’s enough material that could last me till rapture.  Hopefully I can make it that far.

Here was my inaugural Washingtonian post.

In the meantime, if you’re in the area, and need a slice in mere minutes to go, this is as good as any.

Have a Happy Memorial Day.

Best,

Ideen