Hailing From New Haven

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Pizza All Over The World

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Or maybe just in one of my favorite cities, Philadelphia.  This was going to be just like most pizza posts.   I was going to talk about the pizza, perhaps the area, the atmosphere, and maybe some awe-inspiring trivia fact about the the establishment itself.

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Well Pizza Brain out of Fishtown brings the inspiration right to you.  And it’s the first pizza museum in the history of the world.  This is a big deal.   And they set have a Guinness World Record for pizza-related memorabilia.  How cool is that?  I didn’t know this until after I already left.   I’ve honored and proud to say I set foot in there.  And that concludes this weeks post.  But seriously…

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How do you top that?  I did take some pictures and they’ll be spaced out over this record setting word-for-word blog post (yeah right) for your  viewing pleasure.

Most importantly, how was the pizza?  I like the fact that pizza is the only thing being served.  The menu in-house and online has an endearing and bohemian vibe to it.  At least that’s my interpretation of it.

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For my estimation the prices on a full pie are a bit on the pricier side.  Yet I envision you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck on this, since all three slices were really good.  And out of that, I thought two were tremendous.

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So yes I went with the three slices that we available for completist sake.  That and there was a credit card minimum.

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The Jane is what it name implies.  Grana Padano is the virtually the same as parmesan cheese.  Whether or not I could taste a difference doesn’t matter.  It may be so subtle that many of us won’t notice.  I thought it was just a great pizza.  The basil was fantastic.  It tasted fresh and  the made this pie anything but a plain Jane.   They had provolone!  Now that I could taste.  It added a bitter and our taste to this pie.   This also explains why the padano may have gotten lost or forgotten in all this. But man this was good.  Many of us like our cheese simple but this is was a great take on the cheese pie.

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The Henrietta Blanch is essentially the Jane but with sausage and peppers added to it. That sounds so Philly and Jersey doesn’t it?  The banana and roasted red peppers were great yet didn’t dominate this slice.  The fennel sausage was on another level.

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The Felix Huppert was not quite as good as the first two.  This isn’t a knock on it, even though by me saying that would make it feel like I am.  I love gruyere but maybe after having two parmesan based slices that I didn’t get to fully appreciate this as much.  I love garlic.  The more garlic on anything the better. And that worked here.   And with that I love thyme.  There can never be enough thyme. Yes I meant that in at least two ways.  Caramelized onion complete this other Philly special.

I saved plenty to eat for later.  The thin crust made these slices too.  If the crust were more doughy and standard, the pies and flavors would suffer.  There’s a lot of thought and care going on here.   And speaking of which I wish I had asked about their community based efforts.   Their contact info is here and may be able to shed some light on this.  I love the mystery.  I dig this place.

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I’m not done raving on this place.  I may be back soon.  And it looks like more is coming.

Spacing is limited inside, as the museum gallery and installations (ha I’ve been waiting to say that) justifiably take up a lot of room.  I wish I had stopped by the ice cream shoppe, which shares the space afterwards.  Summer means ice cream and ice cream means summer.  Next time.

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What’s been eating at me while preparing this post, and may haunt me till Christmas. But can anyone tell me where I can find this gem?

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Philadelphia brings it once again.  Here’s my growing collection of Philadelphia Pizza Posts!

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This may continue next week.

Love To You My Friends,

Ideen

 

 

Bake Shoppe Brilliance

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Yes!  They spell, ‘shoppe’, the way I like spelling ‘shoppe.’  This makes me so happy. Kermit’s Bake Shoppe out of South Philadelphia, is a happy and cozy place.  It makes me yearn for a place like this near me in Maryland.

Where else can you find a combination of a bakery and a pizza parlor, all in a tiny, yet efficient space.

I was immediately drawn the mural outside the building.  I felt this was going to be a massive and imposing location where I would lose myself in a world of baked goods.  Most of that space is for the staff and equipment to make all their foods and toasty treats.

Literally, when I walked in, what I saw was everything.  We had your ready-to-go cookies and cakes in what area, pre-made whole pies and cakes in another, and course the pizza by the register.

In addition I saw pastries done up in funny shapes.  I’m not sure if they were straight up pasties or calzones.  I was a bit mesmerized by it all, while still having a one track mind for some hopefully yummy pizza.

I didn’t need much of a menu as the pizza display area only had a few pies at the time.  It makes the decision that much easier.  Sometimes too many choices can drive you crazy. But I’m still for many options as possible.  That wasn’t meant to be as contradictory as it came off.

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The mood called for three slices.  Well that’s just my mood sometimes.  Another more sensible person may come in for one or two.  But the affordability of the slices lent itself to a little splurging.    My three slices came out to under $10.  That’s what I’m talking about.

There’s no tables, chairs, stools, or anywhere to sit.  I like that.  You get your food and you go on your merry way.  I dig this shoppe.

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Happy Belated National Cheese Pizza Day. I did go with the traditional cheese as my first slice.  The pleasant person behind the counter told me this one just came out of the oven and didn’t need to be reheated.  It’s a simple cheese.  I wasn’t blown away by it nor was I disappointed.  I had no expectations either way.  The flaky crust was a definite plus and that was the theme throughout these three slices. The cheese was decent and the tomato sauce was what you would expect.  I think I’ve gotten used to either none or higher end tomato sauce that my palate has moved in a different direction.

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Next up was the White Mushroom had some charm to it.  I love white pizza and this was really good.  I love mushrooms and the shrooms tasted fresh.  This was reheated in the oven but I almost think I’d enjoy it more lukewarm.    After reviewing the menu I forgot leeks and sea salt were two of the ingredients.  No wonder there was a little more to this than a usual mushroom or white pie.  And crucolo is not something I have everyday.  I may have to change that.

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Finally, it’s the the Kerminator.  Yes you read that right.  I asked what it was and the team member actually opened up a binder to explain the ingredients to me.  That was going above and beyond when not necessary.  I felt bad making her go that far.  What would be even worse is if I didn’t order it.  Of course I did. Choucroute, which is fancier name for sauerkraut is the major selling point here.  This was thick and rich for me, so I took my sweet time eating this.  And across the board, I saved some of all these slices.  I can’t eat all this at once.  The caramelized onions did it for me.   Gruyere, crème fraiche, and ham seem more like something I’d like more during the cooler months or during the holidays. Well that will happen soon enough.  But for now this was enjoyable and I’m all for different.  I think I would appreciate this more after a second try.

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Even though the place has only been open since 2013, I get the sense that the neighborhood loves it.  It’s a place for locals, as the surrounding area is very industrial and the food and drink options are a a bit scarce in the few block radius that I saw.

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One of the friendly staff working there told me they were going through a transition. Everything seemed fine to me, but I’m sure whatever they have in mind is going to be spectacular.

When I’m back in the area I would love to try more than just their pizza.  This place has much to offer and I’ll be happy to  take them up on said offer.

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And a ye old bake shoppe just tugs at my heartstrings on the premise alone.

Here are my past posts from the City of Brotherly Love and Za!

More pizza shoppe reviews to come.

 

Ideen

Vesta Is Besta

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Sometimes the  cheesiest and dopiest of titles just come to me.  You can write this stuff ladies and gentleman.   But this pizza is up there with the best of ’em.    But don’t take my word for it.  Vesta Wood Fired Pizza & Bar out of East Rutherford (or is it in Carlstdat),  NJ was voted best pizza in the state by NJ.com.

If you look at the list, it’s written very simply, similar to my posts. I dig it. So what makes a pizza number 1? It’s really all so subjective and based on opinion.  Could be based on anything else?  Are we talking word-of-mouth, sphere of influence, or confirmation bias?  None of those three possibilities are necessarily mutually exclusive by the way.

VestaFront1

Nevertheless, I was in town recently for a concert and maybe some other sight seeing.  The latter never really came to fruition but I did have time for some good pizza.  Thank goodness because I almost didn’t walk in.  I drove by a couple of times before and thought the outside look a bit intimidating.  The nearby neighborhood of Carlstadt (or is it East Rutherford haha) looks more down-to-earth and has the feeling of a tight knit community.  Never judge a book by its over as Vesta for all it’s gloriousness outside, had the most endearing and approachable charm inside.

Before I go on a bizzare tangent, Vesta is snugged in between both towns, literally.  I took pictures of both since they were literally yards from each other.

VestaMenu

I went at a quieter time of day, which I tend to do, to get the most personable experience as possible.  Jennifer, who I promised to mention by name, was working behind the bar. She could not have been more helpful in suggesting the right pizza pie.

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I was leaning towards the Pear & Gorgonzola, when I had initially wanted a simple Margherita pie. What on earth was I originally thinking?  This is before I learned about Vesta’s high praise.  I went with the organic choice of the unique pie but not without a further suggestion.  She had recommended throwing some sausage onto my pizza to give it more of a breakfast feel.  If I had only listened to her.

The pear is the stand out here.  These pieces of fruit were custom made for the Summer season.  But you can enjoy this year round.  The gorgonzola and walnuts added some pop to an already intriguing choice.   My minor complaints in hindight were that the walnuts were not as sweet as I hoped.  Maybe that’s where the pear comes in.  Otherwise I have no issue with the walnuts. It’s always fun to see your not-so-typical food items place on top of a pizza.  And that olive oil, mmm..  The ligher and thinner crust, was heated to near perfection.  The fact that it was thin made this all that much more appetizing. This is a pie I would definitely get again.  But only if…

…If I taken Jennifer’s recommendation to heart, and added sausage, I can only envision how much better this pizza would have been.  And I’m thinking earth shattering and off-the-charts levels.   It’s only pizza but when I’m a little bit away from my area, and looking to branch into unfamiliar directions, all advice should be taken under consideration.  I’ve been known to be indecisive when picking the right pizza, but that doesn’t mean I can’t land upon the right one.

She mentioned their #1 ranking to me, way before I did any research.  I wonder if this had any influence on my pizza.  The bad guy in me would make me be deliberately contrarian. But power of suggestion aside, this is a pizza I’ll think about often.

And nothing like some vino to go with my za.

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I took the rest of my pizza to go, and it tasted just as stellar the next day.  That’s another true test of a pizza, or most foods for that matter.  If they have a sustainable shelf life after original feasting, you may have a winner on your hands.  But man, I only wonder what could have been if I added the suggested protein.

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As I’ve said before when I visit a joyous place, it only means I will want to come back.  And for being a littler over two hours away, and just outside New York City, a return is not as far away as it sounds.   This was a fun way to cap off the Summer, even though it’ technically still going for a few more weeks.

There’s a lot of soul and passion behind their pizza and the whole operation.   If I lived nearby, they would absolutely see my business once or twice a week.  What a great addition to a community I know nothing about, but I sense there’s only good.

VestaDiningRoom

Here’s a link to their lunch and dinner menus, along with contact information.

VestaSign

Damn this pizza was good.  I can’t wait to do it again. If you’re in the area, or planning on visiting, definitely stop by.

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Until the next one.

Best,

Ideen

Delaware’s Finest

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I didn’t know much about Wilmington, other than that it’s the largest city in Delaware. Maybe I didn’t know that and I just looked up that information moments ago.

Little did I know that this is a city that’s only going to keep on growing.  But every city says that and they should, as long as its for the better.

There’s a lot of character.  We got old buildings, we got run down ones, and everything in the middle.  Sounds like everywhere right?

No matter what, when you drive into a new town, it’s likely going to be exciting and  the feelings create a sense of curiosity.   For me, when I pass through town I want to park my car and start strolling.  I had no idea I would find myself here and get lost at the same time.

DiMeoFront

Within that curiosity leads me to naturally want to find some yummy pizza slices.  I wasn’t in the mood for a whole pie today.   Fortunately, DiMeo’s checked up so many boxes and more.  But I don’t have a checklist haha.   But the coziness and location already sounded like this was going to be a winner.  And of course it was.

DimeoSide

It’s got a great vibe yet feels like a newer pizzeria all at once.  If you’ve been there or been to a place similar, that will most likely make sense.

DimeoSign

I didn’t know at the time this was a family run business.   That always tugs at my heartstrings and hits a sentimental spot for me.   So my hope is that the food, ambiance, and vibe will all match what most independent restaurants tend to bring.  I’m happy to report that it did.

The place was starting to pick up as it was lunch hour so I grabbed my slices real fast.  I tend to love my alliteration so I deliberately ordered two slices that both started with the letter, ‘V’, for that reason alone and no other.

I went with the Vulcano and Venerdi.  Yes I originally thought the former was called ‘Volcano’, and that wasn’t as far off as dopey at first glimpse.  It’s a buffalo chicken with a much sexier name.  I like it.  I liked the pizza.  Even though the warm weather didn’t echo dining on a thicker and spicier slice, it was still tremendous.

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If I had to nitpick, the slices didn’t seem as thin as they may have advertised.  But they do Neapolitan Style which further explains the Vulcano name so their crust is going to be a bit different.  It’s freshly baked and delicious, but was a bit thicker for my taste at the the time.  But it was cooked perfectly.  The diced chicken mixed with shredded pieces was charming.  And the sauce, my goodness that sauce, was fantastic.  And just a little bleu cheese goes a long way. This is a great slice.

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The Venerdi was outstanding.  I love mushrooms and spinach.  These two veggies paired together was a treat.  I actually may have liked this slice more. That’s more of a personal choice than anything else. The tomatoes were a nice complement to the rest of the pie as well, if albeit understated.  Man this slice was good.  And the crust actually went better with this than the Vulcano.  But once again it’s a personal preference above all else.

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This was my first time in Wilmington and hopefully not the last.  It’s a little under an hour from me so I shouldn’t make any excuses.  It’s a different world and different is good.  It’s easy to get comfortable in your neighborhood or nearby city, so as to not leave. I imagine that many folks who live here would feel the same, unless they head 30 minutes to Philadelphia.

There’s a lot to like in the downtown area.  And for me I’m glad it all started DiMeo’s.  If you’re interested in hearing more, here is their contact information.

Enjoy Summer.  Yes it’s still Summer.

Ideen

 

 

 

Olympic Style Pizza Party

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Some time back a couple friends told me that Hudson Street Stackhouse does pizza well.   That’s oversimplifying things just a bit  But keeping it simple and down-to-earth is what most of us want from our pizza pies.  It’s just pizza after all.

And the simplistic nature of their pies is what’ll make me want to come back.

Last Sunday a couple of friends and I wanted somewhere to go to enjoy sports in peace. They wanted soccer and I wanted the Olympics.   To say where we walked into originally was a zoo was an understatement.   Overcrowded venues have never done anything for me. It brings out the worst in people.   So after two minutes of chaos, we took a walk and let fate dictate the rest.

Minutes later we landed at Hudson Street and we were fortunate enough to grab some bar stools, and the rest was history.

Many locals and folks into sports know this is a hockey bar.  I’ve been there when this place has been packed to the rafters. Just like the spot we were in minutes before.  And I’ve been a part of some of the busy crowds at this bar too.  So to see a more mellow environment where my friends and I can have a peaceful conversation and hear one another is always welcome.

HudsonMenu

Speaking of welcoming, the bartender was just that.  And I’ve always liked their food here. But how I overlooked getting a pizza baffles me.

It’s been hot out (no complaints from me), so a thick crust is not going to sit well with many of us. Fortunately, their dough is a yummy flatbread that won’t fill you up too quickly.

HudsonPieMenu

I went with their Mediterranean pie, per the bartender’s recommendation, and I’m glad I did.  It was the one I was leaning towards.

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They use diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, and what a call.  I didn’t even miss it.  If it wasn’t specified, I wouldn’t have noticed much of a difference.  Whether that’s an indictment of how mediocre some sauces are in places, or that the tomatoes were so amazing, I don’t know.  I’d say it’s a bit of both.

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This is a vegetable pie that I’m savoring as I reminisce about this experience.  I love garlic. And it heightens so many entrees, not just pizzas.  This was no exception.  And the onions and olives tasted authentic.  This whole pizza was authentic. It was a pleasure to share it among friends.

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Even the oval shape had an Olympic or sports look to it.  I might be reaching but that’s what I was feeling.  Well when the Olympics are over they’ll still be cranking out these pies, so I may have to come up with another analogy.

For such little dough, this packs so much power.  The melting of the cheese is pure eye candy.   There was a lot of soul and positive energy behind this pizza. The slightly burnt edges adds a little more character, and it didn’t need any more.  I’m a happy guy.

I’m coming back to write about another pie.  And the likelihood will be during that sports season I referenced before.

I’ve been hesitant to move on from Summer.  It moves too fast.  It all does.  But many of us share this same sentiment.  I’m loving this season, I’m loving the Sun, and as a bonus I’m loving the Olympics. Many of us are.   Enjoy that while you still can.  And there’s plenty of time too.

HudsonOlympic

Beautiful.

For our friends in Baltimore, if you haven’t been to Hudson Street, I highly recommend it. Here’s some more links (here and here) that’ll help you say yes.  And many people know their beer list is a huge draw.

People have asked me about the heavy hitters and sexy names, of pizzas, in the Baltimore area.  I would put this in that conversation.   I look forward to reviewing another pie of theirs in the coming months.

Best,

Ideen

Frenchman Street

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Did I fool anyone with that title? My mind is still somewhere else or maybe it’s over here.

Nevertheless, we had the most dynamite individual pie brought to us by my new friends at Dizzy Cow Pizzeria.

I say friends because I chatted with them and explained what I was doing.  They were very receptive as long I was being positive.  How do you turn that down?  When supporting local and anything with good intentions, finding the heart and the good is the way to go.  More on that shortly.

Speaking of heart, St. Francis Neighborhood Center does a lot of good for the city of Baltimore.  I’m grateful to know some of the folks behind the operation and helped them volunteer at their Resource Fair & Music Festival this past weekend.  Links can be found here.

When I heard there would be food trucks I got the sense there’d be pizza.  Now I’ve reviewed a few in the past (click here for  more , over here, and wait up I got one more!) so you’d think I’d run out.  This isn’t the case as food trucks are still a growing phenomenon. I figure there’s room for everybody as long as the food and service is quality.

I’m glad I got to try Dizzy Cow for the first time at this event.  My first sight of them was at the Downtown Monument Lighting way back in December of last year.   The event was a frenzy, and as I was about to order some pizza, and snap some photos, my phone died.  It wasn’t meant to be.  It was too hectic, so in hindsight this all worked out like it was supposed to.

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A dear friend had ordered the cheese earlier, or as they charmingly title it, ‘Old faithful’, and it was a great starter.   My friend pointed out, you always start with cheese.  That’s a recurring sentiment.  I knew I was in or something special.

Josh, the owner and operator could not have been more friendly.   And his associate Matt, was just as helpful in suggesting the most amazing of pies on this most momentous of days.

DizzyMenu

I wanted something different from the menu.  I wasn’t in the mood for meats or standard vegetables. Matt said his go to, if he was in the same frame of mind, would be the Frenchman, their house speciality.  No hesitation on my part.  The idea of honey, figs, and brie on a pie sounded awe-inspiring on the surface.  And unique is always good.  There’s plenty of weeks for your traditional pies.

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It was so good that this had to be shared.  I believe three or four folks helped me finished it. When I say it like that you might think I didn’t want any more.  That wasn’t the case at all. This was tremendous.  Honey and fig are two of the essentials I need more of in my life. And that brie mixed in with the mozzarella, you’ve got to be kidding me.  Neither cheese got lost by the other.  But I could always use more brie.  Mozzarella isn’t going anywhere. I’m at the verge of drooling as I write this.  Where can I find some more?   And that soft yet slightly (done to perfection) crisp crust was perfect for this day.

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I didn’t miss the tomato sauce at all.

For my pizza pals in the Baltimore area, here is a list of where they’ll be on a weekly basis.

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And finally here is their catering and contact information.   A user friendly and simple website speaks volumes by the way.  Their amazing pies do all the talking it needs to.  I can’t wait to try them again, whether by chance or some other universal alignment.

I’m hungry now.

Take good care,

Ideen