Happy Feta Fridee!

BuonAppetitoSlices2

Any time I go a bit out of the area, I’m going to seek out a pizzeria.  No matter how fancy or simple it might be, it’s good to leave home (that’s a relative term) and get to trying new pizzas and having new experiences somewhere else, even if it’s only an hour or so away.

So last Sunday I had the opportunity to be in Chantilly, VA.  I’ve mentioned before that I have ties to the area, so any opportunity to be in or around the vicinity makes me happy and feels like home (see) and feels so real to me.

Chantilly like most of Fairfax County, like most of Northern Virginia, and like many flourishing suburbs in the Mid-Atlantic, and then around the country, is loaded with neighborhoods with fancy houses, pricey houses, lots of trees, a good mixture of people, and lots of peace.  Well hopefully lots of peace.

With that also comes lots of chain restaurants, stores you see everywhere else, and entities that might be deemed too safe the the rest of the world.  Sometimes that’s just what people want, and I don’t see a right or wrong to that.

As I leave one of the these gorgeous neighborhoods, I do a quick search for pizza in the area.  There’s always pizza nearby, you have to believe and trust the universe on this one.

BuonAppetito

And thankfully Buon Appetito’s was minutes up the road waiting for me, and waiting for my patronage.  Well I’d like to believe that.

There’s a lot of offices nearby so I had an idea of how the whole vicinity would look, and it was what I was expected.  And that’s not the most complimentary of well, compliments.

The shopping complex I entered is as bland and generic as it gets.  It’s loaded with stores I’d never want to set foot in, unless I’d really have to, and even that is a stretch.  I as hoping the pizzeria would be an oasis of hope within all the box stores that bookend (and elsewhere) dominate the place.

Fortunately, that would be a yes.

The owner is originally from Naples, so that lends to credibility and authenticity that you’re not going to get everywhere.

The inside is massive, it’s spacious, yet it’s so welcoming.

And I had this idea in my head that I was going to discover a different kind of slice.  I asked politely, and I received.

BuonAppetitoCheese

The cheese slice was reasonably good, but nowhere near the best I’ve ever had.  It’s a solid slice with good cheese and the sauce is what didn’t wow me as I’ve grown accustomed to.  The thin crust was fantastic.  If it’s a simple cheese pizza you’re seeking this will do the job and then some.   Many will love it, and do.

BuonAppetitoFeta

But here comes the slice that’ll keep me coming back.  The white pizza with spinach, and feta cheese cubes planted on top, is what pizza is all about.  Lately I’ve had some white slices that have disappointed.  As simple as it is to make it can also be botched and lose the taste, or either become too cheesy and too oily, or both.  This succeeds on all levels, the cheese, the crust, the spinach, and that feta oh my goodness. I write this in the morning and I’m craving one right now.  It’s absolutely off the charts stunning.

BuonAppetitoSlices

The bonus is that both slices came to under $5.  Yes you read that right.   For that and the feta, and likely so much other goodness, I highly recommend a visit to one of their two locations (Chantilly and Dulles), and I believe you’ll be dazzled as well.

For those who are local, you can order online.  For Chantilly click here, and for Dulles, here you go pal.

BuonAppetitoMenu

Here’s their menu and catering info, and their awesome story.

If I’m back (and I will be), I’d like to to this again.   This was fun.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

It’s In The Way That You Use It

NewmansWhite2

I wanted to have some fun with this one.  I want to have fun with all of these posts.  But sometimes the universe throws you a curve ball.  Actually no it didn’t.  I’ve wanted to write about Newman’s Own for many months now.  The obstacles, or experiences might be a better word for it, came my way, and even though I never forgot, it took me a lot longer to get here.

Because of that I’m going to write about two pizzas instead of one.  And I’ll get it out of the way now.  Both were absolutely phenomenal.  And with all the choices you have on a frozen pie, that’s not a gimme, and it’s not always accurate.

The idea of giving this careful thought and attention came back to me earlier this week.  And we all know how great the actor Paul Newman was.   More importantly, is his philanthropic work that resonates with many of us today.

First things first, how was the pizza?  Absolutely incredible. I kept it simple, which I like to do quite often.  And when it’s summertime we don’t want to think too hard about what we’re eating. Simple food is meant to simply be enjoyed.  With that being said I went with the four cheese, and one of my favorites, the white with spinach.  Both were exquisite.

Maybe its knowing the good behind this operation.  And knowing that 100% of profits go to charity is going to make not just the pizza, but all of Newman’s Own products taste that much better.  Your mind is going to make it believe so. When it’s great, a belief in someone or something makes it even greater. I firmly believe that’s how the universe and our hearts and souls are wired.  But it also helps when his food is usually delicious.  This was no exception.

It was bigger than that.

Maybe it was the place I was in, which might have been at peace, if even for a few moments, that both of these frozen pizzas turned out so amazing.   The thin crust and the golden brown goodness that these pies shows after heating told such a story.  I had this feeling, even before purchase and even before preheating stages, that I was going to eat something special.

The cheese and white had the most beautiful, flaky and thin crust that didn’t fall apart after each bite.  You know many frozen pizzas are known to that.   They each had their own personality and their own ways of showing that great pizza doesn’t have to be delivered or eaten at a swanky pizzeria.  Sometimes the best is at home.

NewmansCheeseSlices

The white with the spinach combination is just a gift from beyond.  Spinach is great and the white cheeses are the perfect complement to one another.  Visually stunning.

NewmansWhiteSlices

Now I’ve had these pizza pies before, but not like this.  I mean all I did was put them in the oven as 12 minutes later they came out glowing.   It’s something so simple that I think, no I know, represents something bigger than all of us.  To some, it’s just pizza.  To me it’s a metaphor.

It’s the most beautiful thing that can’t always be put into words.

So I don’ have much more to say, except wow.

There’s six more pizzas that I could try in the future, and I will.  And maybe in a future story I can elaborate on how amazing this foundation is.  When nearly $500 million has been donated worldwide, it’s something nice to be a part of, even if it’s just the ever slightest.

It’s good to be a part of good, and doesn’t take much effort.

It’ll be much sooner than later when I revisit this gorgeous entity.  I look forward to sharing more with you and with the universe.

For more on Newman’s Own, click here.  Here’s a link to their foundation.  And here’s a list of all their products.  And finally, more on the company, the charity, and there’s love for our animal friends too!  Yes! This is all happiness.  And it’s an extensive list of greatness.

This is greatness.

Thank you so much and have a blessed weekend.

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

 

 

 

The Best View

wholefoodsshrimp

I honestly don’t know what to say.   Columbia, MD has always been an intriguing topic of discussion with my friends.  Actually I tend to be the one that brings it up.  I’m softy for the area.  Some of my friends don’t care for it for the same reasons I adore it.  It’s been deemed to safe, too happy, and too transparent.  Well it may be all of those things to some and some (or many) may be fine with that.    I see the good but understand why others see the negatives.

wholefoodsfront

As we approach the town’s 50th birthday (which I didn’t know about until doing research), I thought it would be cool to do another write-up (here’s my original) about one of the the best places to live in the states.  And based on this intro, it almost makes complete sense to write about the local Whole Foods.

wholefoodsview2

Yes they have pizza, something which not every store has.  They also have one of the most incredible views you’ll ever see from a grocery store, like the one you see above.  But how was the pizza?  In short, I’ve had much better.  I’m also looking at this from a standpoint of this being a supermarket.   That doesn’t mean I’m lowering my standards.  It means I still expect it to be on par with the better pizzas we’ll have at a restaurant or at home.  It should still taste good.

wholefoodsprices

There was a lot of confusion with what their pizza is.  Is it Artisanal, Neapolitan, Wood Fired, Brick Oven, or all of the above?  That first word, artisanal, is used so much and by everybody, I’m not sure how much value it has anymore.  This has nothing to do with Whole Foods, but everywhere.

wholefoodsshrimp2

I went with the Grilled Shrimp Pizza (which was the weekly special) and the White. Neither blew me away nor was either one terrible.

wholefoodsshrimp5

The shrimp looked mightily impressive but something just didn’t add up.  I think as whole these ingredients didn’t work well together.    I love feta, shrimp, tomatoes, and red onions.  And I imagine if this was prepared in a different fashion or with a different energy (but with the exact ingredients and dough) that this would work to near perfection.   Maybe feta on top of mozzarella is a clash of two cheeses.  It may not work.

However, even when I picked off the shrimp, it didn’t taste like I had hoped.  The sauce may have tarnished the shrimp and everything else.  These ingredients don’t work with their tomato sauce.  The crust wasn’t anything special either.  This pizza was ok but this was an opportunity lost.

wholefoodswhite3

The white was a little better but not anything special.  It was kind of just there.  And I’m honestly surprised.  I thought this would be simple yet delicious, and I wasn’t wowed by it. Both slices were ok to eat but not out-of-this-world.  And I didn’t finish either.

I can’t complain on the prices though.  For a place that charges a lot of for their groceries, salad bar, and hot bar, etc., getting two slices for $6 is a bargain anywhere.

I just wished what I ate would have been one to write home about, as opposed to expressing my disappointment.   This won’t deter me from trying some more in the future.   As you can see, they have an assortment of slices and I’m certain there’s a few that will be praised in a post here down the line.

But these views from the outside dining area are worth coming back for alone.  This is one of the newer additions in town, and one of the more visually pleasing parts of town.  That storefront is quite welcoming.  It draws me in more time than not when I’m visiting.  I haven’t done many repeats, yet I’ve teased doing some down the line.  This has been added to that list.

So as I’ve said before, this is just the beginning…

Ideen

 

Creating Art

PastaLaVistaPie4

It’s been 10 years since my first Artscape, and I’m in love with this event more than ever.  My reasons are the same for me as for many others.  There’s the first time we attended this event and it’s novelty, the art we witnessed, the performances, the food, the comradery, the energy, and everything in between.

For a while I felt the local flavor was deteriorating.   Apparently I wasn’t alone.  There was an outcry for more local food vendors and respective artists from the area.   And now for the last two years we’re seeing a renaissance.

My post last year was up the day (and weekend) of Artscape.  This time I chose to post something after the fact.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to come up with for this be all of festivals, but I sensed something was going to find me. Surely, one of the many great pizzerias and restaurants in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood would offer up some great write-ups.  Not yet at least.

As I was alluding to, the local flavor was in full bloom.  There were stands for all types of cuisines; whether you were looking for burgers, soul food, Caribbean, vegan, or maybe just a smoothie, it was there for you.  I indulged in a few of those eats as well, but this is a pizza discussion and I will stay the course.

PastaTruck

This brings me to Pasta La Vista Baby! Yes, with an exclamation point.  Now I had seen these guys in random parts of the city for years, and never brought myself to order anything from them.   I don’t know if the stars weren’t in alignment or what, but this was long overdue, as long as they had pizza.   After perusing the menu after the fact, I’m even more fortunate than I first realized.  There’s no pizza listed but lucky enough for the crowd, they had a white w/ spinach on the big board. That’s what I went with.

PastaLaVistaPie3

It’s different and cooked on a nice flat bread, almost pita style.  On a hot day like it was, this was necessary.  Thicker dough is not going to work in the heat. It’ll bloat you silly, or maybe that’s just me.

The staff working the truck were all smiles.   My lunch was during the earliest part of the event so it wasn’t too crowded and I imagine they weren’t overwhelmed.  This was a deliberate move on my part.  I wanted my food with little wait time.

PastaLaVistaPie2

This was a charmer.  For $8 it was a personal joy and a smidgen of a bargain. The only downside was the added ricotta to the side.  And ordinarily it wouldn’t be.  It was a bit rich for my taste but otherwise this is a great choice. The pizza on its own was enjoyable and pleasing to my sensibilities.  Wow did I just say that?

PastaLaVistaPie1

Even for its size, I was able to make two meals out of it.   I picked up a delicious burnt taste under the crustand,  and flipped it around to see just that.  The charred taste really does wonders. So my educated and over-analysis tells me this was grilled?  This is a winner.  The spinach complemented everything and was the perfect vegetable to go on top (and from within). I’m not sure anything else would.  This was well thought out.

PastaLaVistaFlipped

If they make other pizzas, I’d love to find them again.

Here is their contact info if you’d like to get well you know, get in contact.

Best of all, here is their story.  There’s some soul behind this operation.

For my pals in Baltimore and everywhere else, I’ll leave you with a few images from Artscape.  It was transforming.  At certain times I felt like I was in another world, yet knowing I was still close to home.  I’m not sure these brief pics depict that.   But what is telling is for my friends in the city, you may recognize someone in one of these photos.  This was not planned, and I had no idea until after I glanced at my pics earlier today. Life is funny like that.

Hope your Summer has been rocking!

Best,

Ideen

Some Like It Warm

CasaDellaNonnaSlices

This is a different take on an old favorite.   I love pizza and I love writing about it.  My aim each week is to put a spiritual or atmospheric spin on something many of us love.  What makes this blog fun is I can talk about a place anywhere.   I can drive around from place to place knowing I can add to my experiences.    And that’s what I’ve been doing.

CasaDellaNonnaFront

Several months back I found myself in Severn, MD.   It’s a town I have no connections or attachments that I’m aware of.  But with a visit to Casa Della Nonna, that has changed.

I was all set to say what an obscure and hidden gem this place was.   It’s nothing of the sort.  It’s a staple for many in nearby neighborhoods and through various parts of Anne Arundel County.

My time was limited, so I was looking for slices to go.  It’s a fun adventure seeing if the pizzerias will have a myriad of slices on display.  If they don’t, and I’m on a short window of time, I’m out the door.  To my relief they had just what I was looking for.   My one-track mind avoided any perusing of the menu.

Sometimes too many choices that lead to indecision.  That’s more of a personal issue of note.  All they had was a cheese and a white veggie.   It’s just what the pizza doctor ordered.  Well in this case, that’s what I ordered.    Ha, I’m a funny guy.

There was something different in the air.  I felt it before I even walked in.  The young lady at the counter asked if I wanted it heated or wait till I got home.  Was it something in my body language?  She was insistent that it not be warmed up.  I was wondering what was up here.  She was funny and not in at bad way.  I found it entertaining.   She sold me.   Little did I know it was a blessing in disguise.

A friend pointed out to me that eating a pizza lukewarm can tell you how good it really is. After hours (and maybe even days) of sitting on the counter, reheating can cover up deficiencies that one would otherwise never notice.

My first response was I wonder how good these would be if put through the oven again. And did I miss out on something special?  But in hindsight this was perfect.  I was also starving so I devoured both slices in my car expeditiously.

I was looking for a moral here.  But I’m not sure there is one.  Well maybe one is to take something at face value, literally.  As I did here.  Both slices were enjoyable.  The dough was perfect, ever under what I presumed were mediocre conditions.  If you look close, you can tell neither slice reheated.

In the future, even when I’m not in a hurry, I may look to grab my slices and request not to have them cooked.  It would be a fun experiment.

The restaurant is more suited for just that.  It’s food is meant to be enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere.  I hope to visit again in such a scenario.  I was grateful to visit a new restaurant in a town I don’t venture to that often.

A repeat visit will happen.  That’ll mean a repeat post.

Until then…

Best,

Ideen

 

The Slice Is Right

The timing of this post is right.  I have some dear friends headed to New Orleans next week and I thought it was only right to go back into my archives for this week’s pizza extravaganza!

I love this city, I love the energy, the people, the outdoor festivals and parties, bars, restaurants, people watching, sight-seeing, and everything in between.  I know I just used a lot of similar narratives but so be it. I am getting emotional looking back and photos and writing today’s post.

SliceFrontSliceSign

After a quick ride from the airport and dropping my bags off my room, I was not about staying inside whatsoever.   I never had that much of a set plan while I was there except for maybe trying a few pizzerias.  It only seems right for changing the geography of this blog when I can.

I wrote about an incredible spot back in July and I’m grateful to be writing about Slice Pizzeria in the beautiful St. Charles neighborhood.

This was actually planned.  Sometimes they do come together. My room was just minutes away.  When I arrived here I got goose bumps.  I’m getting goose bump and chills now.

A few friends had suggested this place to me and I’m all for fun places to go along with wherever random and unexpected turns I make in my travels.

I knew I was in good for a great day and great visit. The inside is so laid-back and so charming.  There were a few regulars and enjoying their food and their cold ones.   It felt so right and a nice start before I did more of the touristy stuff.

Now onto the slices!

SliceCheeseUpClose

First up, in typical vacation fashion, I ordered a cheese slice.   The crust on all of these is perfectly cooked and a bit crunchy. That’s a good thing.   The slices were crisp and thin so I never got bloated.  And that’s good because I would be over-indulging for the majority of the trip shortly thereafter.

I think the cheese was solid but I wasn’t blown away by it.   It was enjoyable but nothing out-of-the-ordinary. However, at $2.75, it’s very reasonably priced.  That was a pleasant treat.

SliceMenu

After that slow start I got a bit more ambitious.  The menu had a nice breakdown of pies between Classic, Signature, and Native.  I think that’s a wonderful touch.

SliceUpClose

Next was the Sportman’s Paradise.  We had a lot of moving parts on this one.   The shrimp and sausage mixed together definitely gave it some power.  I had to pick some of the pieces off just to see how they tasted on their own.  And they were brilliant.

In my honest opinion, having the onions, peppers, and tomatoes might have been a bit much.  Don’t get me wrong, this was another good pizza but I think there may have been one or two toppings too many.   Sometimes less is more and that’s what I felt here. But how can you complain at $4.25 a slice.  This was worth that.  I just think this slice could be incredible as opposed to just really good.

SliceDuo!

So I ordered those two slices together and usually I’d be done at this point.  But I’m in a different universe. It’s time to get ambitious and inspired.  And this final slice I ordered is exactly that.

SliceSpecialty

SliceBBG

The B.B.G., which is short for Bacon, Basil, and Garlic is one of those slices I still think about.   Maybe that saving the best for last and the third time is a charm cliché applies here.  I can’t rave about this one enough.   This is how less is more and how every topping really means something here.

I wish I had ordered a pie of this.  This was heavenly, divine, cosmic, metaphysical, and out-of-this-world.   And at $3.50 I felt like I was stealing from them.  We all know how amazing white pizza is.  But these simple additions really make this something to behold.   The garlic, bacon, and that fresh basil thrown on top is pure eye-candy.  It was almost too beautiful to eat.  Thankfully I saved a photo.

SliceWine

And you know I’m going to enjoy some vino with my meal.

This is how I will always remember how I started my vacation.  And knowing who I am, this was perfect.  I am missing this amazing city as I write all this.  It’s only been four months but I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic and yearning to go back.

The bartender was very friendly and this made the experience all that much better.

SliceTees

There will be more NOLA posts to come.  When the timing feels right.  This feels right.

I miss it.

Best,

Ideen