Golden Star

MarcosWhiteCheezy

When I was a kid, and even still as an adult at times, when I saw a new place or an unfamiliar place, I might be hesitant to try it out.   And there’s no basis for any of this.  Maybe sometime in my childhood the unfamiliar just didn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.  But when you’re a kid, the new is what’s exciting.  Same goes for now.  Because everything that we know, like, find comfort in, and enjoy now was once well, strange and unfamiliar.

That comfort level may be too far for some as we settle in our routines, and may choose the path of least resistance.  Again that path of least resistance was once… Yep…

I love food and many of us do.  It’s a simple pleasure.  It bring us joy, brings us together, and brings us satisfaction.   Pizza in this case can never be strange.  I’m all for trying new foods, new pizzas, and new anything.  If there is some reservations in life, those should dissipate.  It’s too short, even though it feels long at times.  And for all the pizzerias in the world, there’s room for another, and there’s room for everybody.

What am I saying here?  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I should relax and take it easy with the questions.  Sometimes I should just relax and hang out. Ha.

MarcosPizza

A while back driving through Essex, MD (right outside Baltimore) I saw a sign for Marco’s Pizza (more about their story, their menu, and locations) and like with most discoveries pizza I welcome a new place, and can add it to the ongoing story that will hopefully go on forever…

I saw from the outside looking in their logo and the shopping center it was located in just a buzz and aura about it.  Sometimes it’s the energy we create and sometimes there’s just something there that feels right and tells you when you should come in, and when you should wait.  Both have that same feeling.

So after a few weeks of writing about and trying other foods, the time was right.  A new place to write about, in a town or city I’ve technically haven’t written about, is always refreshing.

I must have been in the mood for tomatoes because the new menu items that stood out to me were the White Cheezy and the Chicken Florentine.  And in this instance I didn’t even look at the ingredients or toppings.  I felt for some reason I didn’t need to.  It’s similar for when going to the movies, I don’t always read up on the plot.  It’s more exciting that way to me.

How funny is it that these two pizzas are so similar, yet just different enough. It’s all relative.

What else is relative is how great they are.  Look at that golden crust?  There’s an art to this.  And a certain amount of minutes, timing, and done with the right energy and spirit is going to make an entree that much better.  You could be in a bad mood and make the pizza the same exact way, and it won’t turn out like this.  This was magical.

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I love how they pile on the cheese with this.  It’s cheese on top of cheese, and with that crust, I nearly took the toppings for granted.

The White Cheezy with the three cheese blend, feta cheese, and garlic parmesan sauce can compete with all the great pizzas.  And as a stand alone pie needs no toppings.  But to throw in bacon, onions, and the perfectly cooked tomatoes is a winner.  The irony is the bacon is what stood out the least to me.

MarcosChickenFlorentine

With the Grilled Chicken Florentine (which may be an exclusive to their Essex location) you’re essentially substituting the bacon for grilled chicken and spinach.  And those piece of chicken taste fresh, taste real, and just taste good.  Another recurring theme is that garlic parmesan sauce.  Maybe I was in the mood for the tomatoes without the sauce.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It was all great.

The folks behind the counter were busy but never looked panicked.  They were friendly and that is symbolic of how the pies turned out.  These pizzas are on the higher end of what you might pay.  My two small pizzas came out to just under $30.  But to pay a little extra for quality never hurt anyone.  And it’s a few extra dollars well spent.

I like this place a lot and I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.  Based out of Toledo, OH, they’re expanding all over the nation.  For our pals in Baltimore, there’s locations in Essex and Pasadena, and a few in Northern Virginia.  So while it may be a little bit of a drive, it’s worth your time and a great change of pace.

This was wonderful, and I can’t wait to try their pizzas again.  Something unfamiliar is now a friend, and I’m grateful Marco’s Pizza is now a part of my pizza experience.  I found them, but in many ways it found me.

MarcosPizzaBox

Peace Be With You.

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.

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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

For My Dad…

MoreGhormehSabzi

I’m going to do things much differently this week.  And it’s absolutely necessary.  I lost someone close to me last week.  I lost someone so important to me.   You only get one parent, one mom, and one dad in this lifetime.  It’s a blessing.  But yes, all things must….

I’m heartbroken to say that I lost my dad last week.   I’m still sad, numb, grieving, overwhelmed, and in a state of disbelief.  And he passed just eight days before my birthday.

The timing is never good for these things.

This post will be seen my most on May 31st, which is my birthday.

For my birthday, his birthday, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, other family members’ birthday, and often no particular reason at all, we would share in delicious food from all over the world, and more often times than not, from our native Iran.

That hasn’t happened in quite some time, and it hurts.  And it will no longer happen in person.  That’s a hard thing to accept, but accept I will have to at some point.  I’ll have to make some kind of peace at this at some point.

However, I can still celebrate his honor and spirit by sharing with you some our favorite dishes.   He’s still with me in spirit and I know he’s watching, and I hope he appreciates the foods I’m about to share with you.  I’m sure he’s either having some of this right now, or will be shortly.  It feels weird typing this out this way.  It’s good therapy I guess, but it just feels so weird.

This is over a collection of meals, locations, and times.  Not one in particular.  I could recommend a few places in the DC and Baltimore area if you would like to contact me.  There’s a lot of good Iranian and Middle Eastern food in the area.  I’m grateful my dad and many of our family got to share in many experiences, and created some amazing memories.

I can only hope there’s more memories to come, albeit they’ll be different…

Ghormehsabzi

First up, is one of the first meals I remember as a kid, prepared by both of my parents, Ghormez sabzi.  I won’t elaborate on every ingredient, as links have been provided.  But this is an absolute gem.  The combination of beef, herbs, and dried lime may come off a bit sour or bitter at first, but that won’t last.  I loved this immediately.  I loved this more to this day.   And I particularly love it that much more today.

Morgh&Tahdig

Next, is Zeresh Polo Morgh, or more specifically just Morgh, in this case. This is a favorite of both of my parents.  It took me years later to appreciate chicken off the bone.  And in the last few years, I would prefer it when ordering food with my dad.  Something about the taste off the bone is such a great contrast to simple pieces of grilled (more on that shortly) chicken.  Both are great, but there’s something about it this style of chicken I now love so much.   The carrots, tomato sauce, and potatoes are the perfect complement to this.  Whoever invented this recipe is a genius.

Bademjan&Gheymeh

What you see with that is the Tahdig (crispy rice) next to it and in the picture below is Gheymeh, which goes with the Tahdig, or goes fine just by itself.  Ah such memories of piling at Gheymey on top of that crispy greatness.  It’s the perfect appetizer, or an amazing dinner all by itself.  Even if you don’t love Persian food, Tahdig is univerally loved.

The Bademjan, is another one that took a long time to grow on me.  But now I find eggplant to be divine and a joy to eat.

Another favorite of mine, which is traditionally eaten at Nowruz, which is Iranian New Year (First Day of Spring).  is the Ash reshteh.  The melange of noodles, beans, lentils, and chick peas is perfect for the cold winter months.  During the summer it may not feel right, but it doesn’t matter.  It’s what feels right to you.

whitefish&kuku

To go along with Nowruz is the kuku and whitefish.   I mean what else needs to be said.  You might be able to tell that the kuku is egg based and it’s glorious.  I’m craving everything I’m writing about, right now.

Kababs

I would be foolish to leave out the kababs, so there you go.  Koobideh makes everyone happy, and so does grilled chicken, onion, and tomatoes.  I know right?

The pastries is the one I’ve shared with friends and pals.  I’ve been requested to bring baklava, bamiyeh, jalebi, and all these other delights to parties and gatherings.  Who am I to say no?  I’ve also had friends request it if I ever stop by a store and I’m happy to oblige.

These are the memories that I love.  Food brings people together.  And it bonds us like not many other things do.  I’m grateful I shared so many experiences with my dad, and now hope to share new memories with family, friends, and of course my dad in spirit.

Every story was different, yet me might have shared the same exact dish.  But not everything is going to be same, or what’s the fun in that?

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Our moods may have been different each time, different company may have joined here and there, the soul and spirit behind the food can vary, yet the constant was me my father.

I’ll miss that.  I know he’s still here,  I know somewhere he’ll be reading it.  I know he’s now relaxing and at peace.  I think he was at peace for a while, but not it’s all official, and that just feels weird.  But it’s time.

Everyone will have their time.But for now it’s time appreciate the ones we love, we care about and adore, whether it’s family, friends, our pets, or anything that raises our spirits.   Surrounding ourselves with the best spirits makes us better ones as well.

I’m so grateful I had one of the best spirits of all, my father.  He was a great a man, he was the man,  I love him and miss him so much.

I know I’ll see him and dine with him again soon.

I love you dad.

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.

 

 

Harvest Makes Me Happy

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The word ‘harvest’, evokes feelings of happiness, joy, tranquility, organic experiences, and well I honestly could go on and on.  It reminds me of what’s good in life, farmer’s markets, a sense of community, giving, and kindness.  Why does a harvest do this for me?

Maybe something happened in my past, and maybe a bunch of life experiences leading up to this story give me warm feeling of a harvest, and all that entails.  I’m smiling as I think about it, and write this out to you.

What I get the most is a feeling of togetherness and helping your fellow family member, friend, or whomever it may be out, and the feelings are reciprocal, but more importantly there’s a feeling of good from within.  I could go on all day…

That feeling of friendship, love, comradery, and all those other superlatives came together last week when my friends introduced me to a new restaurant that opened near them.   And what a most magnificent place this is.   I’m honored, thankful, and grateful to be sharing our experience at Harvest Thyme in Davidsonville, MD, which is comfortably nestled outside of Annapolis.

The location may feel a bit remote, but sometimes those are the best places.   My friends told me that there isn’t much in terms of food and drink in the immediate area, so this is a blessing to the community.   And we were witness to it, as the place was packed near the tale end of happy hour, leading into dinner.

HarvestThymeWines

The exterior has a welcoming aura and energy about it, as does the inside.  I didn’t take enough pictures, but I hope you get some idea of how elegant this place is.

HarvestThymeDiningRoom

We came in with the full intent of getting some pizza to go.  And if we had any second thoughts about dining in instead, those went out of the window immediately.  It was a sea of humanity, but a lot of good humanity.  People seemed jovial, upbeat, and realizing it’s the weekend, having a little worries or cares in the world, hopefully.

CigarWine

We did share a bottle of wine while we waited.  And you can read more about that here.

But my pals and I decided on two different pizzas.  And it’s quite the dichotomy.

HarvestThymeElBlanco

The El Blanco is there White Pizza and it’s great.  When it comes to certain restaurants, you might come to have expectations of how a pizza may be presented; the size, the crust, the amount of cheese, and all those other nuances.    What I’ve looked forward to when some or all of the components of a pie are made in house.

HarvestThymeElBlanco3

Their dough is made in house, and it’s terrific.  This is a good white pie, if you don’t want too much overbearing cheese and garlic, which has been known to plague similar pizzas I’ve written about it in the past.  This is a charmer, a grower, and has many endearing qualities.  Yes I’m still talking about the pizza.

However, even better is the Carnitas.

HarvestThymeCarnitas

The pulled pork, which is twice cooked (I love that), cheddar cheese, and spicy tomato sauce is a blend from beyond and on a whole other level.  My friend joked saying we wouldn’t like this.  Hoping to not have to share.  But you know what they say about sharing.   Right.

HarvestThyymeCarnitasSlice

This to me felt like a sneak preview, an appetizer, and almost a dress rehearsal if you will.  The restaurant has only been open a few months but it already looks like a hit.

HarvestThymeSlices

The dining room looks great, the bar area feels welcoming, and our waiting area felt like more than just that.  And we go to share a bottle of wine on a serendipitous night before we sat down and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.  Yes I’ve got to throw in all the references to the Olympics I can.

This place is great, that’s all I’ve got for you right now.  If you’re in the area, or plan on visiting Harvest Thyme, here is their food menu, their drink list, their story, and of course their contact information.

 

 

More to come from this wonderful ristorante.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen