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Top five Baltimore area pizza places?

Let me reveal my ulterior motives up front. If I were to ask for the best pizza in the Baltimore area, we'd probably get a lot of responses citing the same small group of places. By asking for your top five, I'm hoping to do two things.

First, I hope to get some mentions of places I've not tried, rather than a series of "me too" accolades for the top places. Second, I hope to find out something about how you rank the top handful, which will give me some insight into how your preferences map to mine, which will come in handy if you mention someplace I haven't tried.

That said, I'd also like to request that if you have a particular set of toppings that you use as your benchmark, please mention what it is. If instead, you like a place particularly for the variety of toppings available, mention that, too.

To kick things off, my top five at the moment are

1. Matthew's
2. Joe Squared
3. Cafe Amore (Glen Burnie)
4. Iggie's
5. B.O.P.

Close-but-no-cigar - Uno's (yeah, I know - it's a chain), if only because it's the closet thing to Chicago deep dish in the area, though the Uno's chain has badly degraded their "deep dish" from the original.

In my case, my usual benchmark pizza is sausage and onion, at least for thin crust pizzas.

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  1. My top 5...well, 5 would be stretching it unfortunately. I'll say:

    1. Chef Paolino's (Catonsville) - Great pizza by the slice
    2. Matthews - I love the Great White
    3. Cafe Amore - Plus great pastas and sandwiches at lunch

    And I can't think of any other Pizza that I've been happy with in all of Maryland! However, I haven't gotten to Joe2 yet. My list of disappointments is pretty big, however. Iggie's (good toppings, terrible rolled-out crust), and in Ellicott City Serafino's and Luna Bella (now Della Notte), both with wood-buring ovens and terrible pizza, Egyptian Pizza/Al Pacino, BOP all have been disappointing. Actually, the chains Bertucci's and Three Brothers can put out decent pizza, but I'll still reserve my list for pizza that I really like.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jason1

      RE: Chains
      I feel your pain. I, too find some of the better chain pizzas to be above the average for pizza in this area. I guess Baltimore just isn't a pizza town. But it could be worse. At least we have a few independent places that rise above the mundane and beat the best of the chains - perhaps this thread will turn us on to more. I've seen some localities where the more run-of-the-mill national chains were "as good as it gets" when it came to pizza. Now THAT is scary for a pizza lover!

      1. re: Jason1

        TutTI Gusti in Canton is very good...the cheese is good without too much tomato sauce

      2. The takeout/delivery pizza from the Jay's/Viccino restaurant group. Although the crust/sauce isn't the best I've ever had, their wide selection of free! veggie toppings makes up for it. Most of their veggies (zucchini, broccoli, spinach, tomato, garlic, eggplant, etc) can be added for no additional cost.

        Also, Al Pachino Cafe has some interesting topping combinations. The crust is often too sweet/doughy, but the tandoori chicken and summer squash pizza is addicting.

        1. I actually love Maria D's pizza in Fells Point!

          1. Have you ever been to Pizza John's in Essex? I think it's THE best pizza in Baltimore, hands down. It also has to be the cleanest restaurant I have ever seen.

            1. Pizza John's
            2. Matthew's
            3. Fortunato
            4. Iggy's
            5. Egyptian Pizza (moved from Fells Point to Belvedere square). Specifically, tandoori chicken pizza.

            I just realized I left off Fortunato in York Rd (and added it to my list).

            8 Replies
            1. re: mgarland

              Thanks for the tip on Pizza John's! I went last night, and it's a good pie - the sort of "community favorite" independent pizza place that is very common back home in Chicagoland, and seems like an alien concept around here. I got my usual large sausage and onion, and I was impressed. It may not be the best pizza I've ever had, but it's a product they can be rightly proud of. I was particularly intrigued by the sauce - it looked like the sort of dark, slow cooked, herb-laden sauce some Italian granny would make to put on pasta. Some will like it, some won't, but that's the idea. I'd much rather go to a place that strives to achieve the owner's idea of the perfect pizza, with whatever quirks or unique aspects that might imply, than to go to a place that is content to churn out yet another "OK" pie that's no different than that being produced by any of the other places in the area.

              I grew up in an area where pizza was taken seriously. You were an Aurelio's guy, or a Sanfratello's guy, or possibly a Geneo's guy, if you played softball (16", slow pitch, bare hands - Chicago style!)and liked pizza with your beer, rather than the other way around. And you were willing to argue the merits of your favorite over the other at the drop of a hat. That's been one of the biggest cultural adjustments to living out here. Not only are there very few such "community flagship" pizza places, but "pizza" is deemed a commodity food. Around here, with few exceptions, one goes for "pizza", not a *particular* pizza. I see some of the same sort of loyalty to particular crab shacks, but even there, it just doesn't seem the same.

              Maybe it's not so much the location, as a change in the culture. Few people back home play Chicago Style softball anymore, and maybe the old loyalties and passion about pizza is also dying. Maybe we're all being programmed to the "chaining" of America, where you can get off a plane anywhere in the continental U.S. and be largely unable to tell where exactly you are, because the same stores and the same restaurants are in the same commercial developments everywhere.

              Forgive me ranting. I weep for future generations. Or should I say "Generic-ations"?

              1. re: Warthog

                I'm so glad you tried it! I think that either very few people outside of Essex know or even care about Pizza John's. I have told about a billion of my friends but none of them have even bothered to go outside of the city to try it. My family drives out there almost every weekend.

                I read on their web site that the family (3 brothers, I believe) originally came from Abruzzo (sp?) in Italy, so maybe it (the sauce) is a recipe that came from that region of Italy.

                1. re: Warthog

                  what does the 16" refer to in softball??

                  1. re: Jamie D

                    Circumference, I believe. It's about the size of a grapefruit. Most other places in the known universe use a 12" ball and gloves, whether playing slow pitch or fast pitch. Those of us in the Chicago area historically played 16", bare hands, "no guts, no glory". You can tell a softball player in Chicago by looking at his hands - most serious players have fingers that are no longer anything close to straight, thanks to multiple jams, dislocations, and breaks over the years.

                    Tying back to food, the pizza and bar culture of the Chicago area is strongly tied to softball, though 16" softball is sadly dying out. Many of the local leagues have teams sponsored by pizza places and bars, and so loyalty to a particular pizza place is in some circles tied to loyalty to one's team.

                  2. re: Warthog

                    The Papa John's family (Coruzzi) are indeed from the small village of Collevecchio near Teramo in the Abruzzo Region of Italia. Good chow!

                    Casale in Abruzzo
                    http://villacasale.net

                    1. re: Warthog

                      The family is from the small town of Collevecchio near Teramo in the Abruzzo Region of Italy. Their pizza is highly recommended.
                      Casale in Abuzzo
                      http://villacasale.net

                    2. re: mgarland

                      Based on the recs here, I just tried fortunato's for the first time. Great slice with a thin crispy crust. Now one of my faves. Thanks, hounds.

                      1. re: mgarland

                        Fortunatos!!!! We used to go there all the time...try the chicken and broccoli pizza! I also like Egyptian Pizza.

                      2. Do you have an address, directions, or perhaps a description of where Pizza John's is located, for those of us who don't know the Essex area well?

                        Thanks!

                        1 Reply
                        1. I always wince a bit when pizza topics come up.

                          We all know what we like and yet we argue about what is "real" pizza (NY vs Chicago vs St. Louis vs Baltimore vs whatever)

                          My favorite place is BOP for a slice.

                          Is it the best in the world? No. But it is a good slice.

                          Matthew's is good as well I just don't like their prices.

                          Now I buy fresh dough at DiPasqaules in Highlandtown and make my own that is much better than the rest.

                          But I do still swing by BOP for a slice when I need a quick fix.

                          1. I can't come close to five, but when I have a craving for pizza it's usually for BOP's. I haven't been to Uno's in probably six years, but I used to like their deep-dish. Come to think of it, there used to be a place in Owings Mills Mall (is that what it's called) that had great deep-dish pizza. Haven't been there is probably ten years. Does anyone else remember this?

                            I'll have to try Matthew's (I live about two miles from there and never knew about it).

                            1. The only one I can add is Speranza's in the food court in the 300 block of N. Charles St. Nice thin crust pizza, good veggie toppings.

                              1. What about the pizzas at that place accross the street form towsontown mall, for some reason the name eludes me but i remember it was great NY style pizza. also amazing chicken parm subs.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: cleveland park

                                  Villa Pizza and Pasta Mista are both on Dulaney near the mall (I think Villa is on the same side of the street, though). I don't think there are any on Joppa or Fairmount, so... Pasta Mista?

                                  1. re: cleveland park

                                    I accidentally ran in to Pasta Mista a week and a half ago, I found it to be a high quality pizza. Definitely worthy of a revisit. I also like Pizza Johns from the one experience I have had there.

                                    www.roguefood.com

                                    1. re: cleveland park

                                      Pasta Mista is one of my favorite. They are also opening in Canton right next to the Five Guys in February

                                      1. re: cleveland park

                                        pasta mista is across the street for towsontown mall! amazing pizza

                                      2. First off, my benchmark is always a plain cheese pizza. And I don't mean a margheritta. Some places correctly make the distinction. For example, Iggies just added a cheese pizza that is great (I forget the name she uses, but its towards the bottom of the menu).

                                        Top 5:
                                        Iggies
                                        Vicinno's (order pizza "well done")
                                        BOP

                                        Special mention to the now defunct Appricella in Little Italy to further gauge my pizza tastes.

                                        I also love Matthew's but for me, they are in a different categroy than the above.

                                        Same with places like Joe2 and Thirsty Dog. I enjoy going and eating, but its more like like flat bread or open-faced sandwiches than pizza (sorta, kinda, you know what I mean?)

                                        I am now down to one slice of Maria D's in Federal Hill per year just to reassure me of how far they have fallen and to see if they ever plan on coming back up.

                                        Edit: Wow, I just read that and am depressed. Sorry, I couldn't be of anymore help Warthog. Post back to this thread if you try some place and like it.

                                        19 Replies
                                        1. re: KAZ

                                          It's Matthew's Pizza all the way for me. But where and what is this BOP that you guys keep talking about?

                                          Maria D's in Fed Hill is pitiful. Vito's out in Owings Mills is tolerable.

                                          I miss NYC.

                                          1. re: daeglo

                                            It's Brick Oven Pizza (I think - I didn't know either)

                                            Thanks,

                                            Kevin

                                            http://www.boppizza.com/

                                            1. re: daeglo

                                              BOP is Brick Oven Pizza, on the square in Fells Point, across Lancaster St. from Bertha's.

                                              1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                It's also horrible pizza...don't waste your time. I think the only reason it keeps appearing on these lists is that people generally eat it after they've gotten drunk in Fells Point when anything with grease will taste good.

                                                The only pizzarias even worth trying in the Baltimore area are Matthew's, Chef Paolino & Ledo's (again a chain, but at least a tasty Maryland based one). Charm City ain't exactly pizza heaven.

                                                1. re: Jonny Pops

                                                  You lost your credibility with me by recommending Ledo's...yuck! I'd take BOP over Ledo's any day.

                                                  Does Matthew's Pizza have weird biscuit-like crust like Ledo's? If so I can save myself the trouble of trying it.

                                                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                    Trying again - prior reply to Hal L's Feb 06, 2007 post didn't seem to "take".

                                                    Matthews is a style unto itself. It's thicker than a "thin crust" (even the usually doughy thin curst that seems to be the norm in Maryland), yet it's neither the thickness nor the consistency of a "Chicago Style" (AKA "Deep dish") pizza. The closest comparison I can come up with is what is sometimes called "Sicilian style". Another factor is that Matthew's "small" is about 10", and a "large" is about 12", which has an effect on the crust-to "inside" ratio. While I can't promise you'll like it, I'd say that Matthew's is unique enough to be worth a try, rather than depending on inadequate comparisons.

                                                    As for Ledo's, there seems to be great variation from location to location, even if the recipes are nominally constant. I've liked Ledo's in some locations, and hated it at others. As with my comment about BOP (also just posted), I prefer to stick to places that are a bit more consistent from visit to visit.

                                                    1. re: Warthog

                                                      Matthew's Four Seasons pizza is the best I've ever had, bar none.

                                                    2. re: Hal Laurent

                                                      LOL...I'm not going to be lectured on credibilty by someone who recommends BOP as the best pizza in the area. Good god. Ledo's is definitely different from the BOP, Dominoes, and Little Caesar's you're used to. They're Greek and use a Phyllo dough for their crust which makes for the different consistency you misdescribed. They're also a bit inconsistent from branch to branch and none seems to match the original (now closed) at Adelphi Shopping Center in College Park. But they are still head and shoulders above that Fells Point abomination you recommended which apparently puts puke from the local bars in their sauce for that "special tanginess".

                                                      But honestly, arguing about the best pizza in Baltimore (with the exception of Matthew's) is kinda like arguing about the best BBQ in Nova Scotia. Come up here to NYC and I'll point you to some real pizza.

                                                      1. re: Jonny Pops

                                                        Umm, the original Ledo's was still open the last time I drove by there two weeks ago.

                                                        1. re: alopez

                                                          no need to feel uncomfortable. that's good news. i'd read they were closed numerous places.

                                                        2. re: Jonny Pops

                                                          BOP's pizza isn't anything like Dominoes or Little Caesar's. Your credibility is suffering again. :-)

                                                          I love phyllo, but not for pizza dough. I don't think puff pastry works for pizza dough, either.

                                                          My favorite pizza nowadays is the stuff I make myself. I make my own dough, too.

                                                          1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                            They're very comparable from a quality perspective. Pizza! Pizza!

                                                        3. re: Hal Laurent

                                                          I checked on the Ledo's website hoping this news about the original being open was true and there is no listing of it. Can anyone confirm this at Adelphi Shopping Center in College Park?

                                                          1. re: Jonny Pops

                                                            Somebody else in this thread (or maybe the DC pizza one) posted something about the original owners selling the name to the folks who run or franchise the other locations, but not much else. If that's the case, the original may not be affiliated with the franchises, and might therefore not show up on the Ledo's franchise website.

                                                            Just a theory, assuming the original is still open, as the prior poster asserts.

                                                            1. re: Warthog

                                                              I like that theory. I hope it is still open under the original owners. That place was great before a Terps game.

                                                              1. re: Warthog

                                                                I realize this is a pretty old thread, but if anyone is looking for the website of the original Ledo's: http://www.ledorestaurant.com/

                                                                Clearly, they have differentiated themselves from the chain.

                                                            2. re: Jonny Pops

                                                              In my admittedly limited experience, BOP is erratic, at best. I've had some pizzas there that were total grease slicks, and others that were pretty decent, bordering on excellent. I'm not sure if it's dependent on topping choice, who's making the pizza that day, or what. I'd love to have a consistent repeat of the best pizza I've had there, but I'm personally not willing to play "pizza roullette", so I usually stick to places where the product is a bit more predictable from one visit to the next.

                                                              1. re: Jonny Pops

                                                                I don't see how you could leave Iggie's off this list, but I agree BOP isn't all it's cracked up to be, nor is Egyptian, they just have interesting toppings and cheap dough.

                                                        4. Do pizzas in non-pizza/Italian places count - or maybe this is a separate thread. Best pizzas in non-pizza places. Can't come up with 5, but there are 3 that jump out:

                                                          *Garden Pie at Bartenders (Canton) - only $6 on Mondays
                                                          *the garlicky one at Thirsty Dog (Federal Hill)
                                                          *Plain cheese at Ale Mary's (Fells Point) - I can't tell you why, but it always hits the spot

                                                          And while I am here, am I the only one who truly doesn't like BOP? Always underwhelmed...and I've stopped getting it and when I need a quick slice going to the place across the street in the Broadway Market.

                                                          1. iggies
                                                            bop
                                                            others are not even worth mentioning

                                                            1. Iggies pizza good ingredients, good toppings, tough dough (too much oil perhaps)
                                                              Matthews is far from traditional but perfect in what it is
                                                              Joe Squared excellent (in my opinion the best). Also you can order it on a thicker dough if you want, they even have on the menu now a lombari-style pizza made to imitate lombardi's in NYC.
                                                              Pasta Mistas in towson is excellent (spaghetti on the pizzas)
                                                              BOP is good but not good enough to be the best in baltimore as they proclaim. I'd sooner eat at any other on the list then them, but, as said before, this is really not a pizza town.

                                                              I don't know why anyone goes to Al Pacino, they don't cook the pizza.

                                                              1. How could I have left off Angelo's in Hampden. Despite the novelty size of their slices, I REALLY like their pizza. Thin crust, usually well cooked.

                                                                That makes four for me:
                                                                Iggies
                                                                Angelo's
                                                                Viccino (order well done)
                                                                BOP

                                                                1. I think my favorites have been hit for the most part.

                                                                  I will add Italian Gardens in Kenilworth Plaza to the fray. It is always a favorite of mine.

                                                                  Also, at the above mentioned Angelo's dont get "The Big Slice" it is huge, but not the same as the regular pie.

                                                                  1. I've only had good at pizza at two places so far in Baltimore:

                                                                    1. Tutti Gusti (Canton) - Quattro Stagione & Genoa pizzas are excellent, although the sausage is a tad bit salty.
                                                                    2. Matthew's (Highlandtown) - Interesting Baltimore-style with good cheese and low prices.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                                        It's at Fait and S. Ellwood. The pizza bianca is amazing. And a frequent hangout for BPD.

                                                                    1. Based on previous threads here, I've become quite a fan of Joe Squared. I like to go there and order takeout, and drink a couple beers at the bar while I wait.

                                                                      It's good stuff.

                                                                      1. For some weird reason I've always like Vennaro's Pizza in Columbia (Oakland Mills). It has a unique taste that isn't necessarily good in the sense of straight up fresh brick oven New York pizza. But there's something tasty about the chewy dough, the weird spotty saucing and cheese. Maybe it's just me, I dunno.

                                                                        1. 1. Fortunados York Rd
                                                                          2. Pasta Mista Dulaney Valley rd
                                                                          3. VIccinos Mt Vernon
                                                                          4. Trattoria in Ellicott City
                                                                          5. Thirsty Dog Federal hill

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: voodoohutch

                                                                            Enrico's Trattoria at the Dorsey's Search village center between Ellicott City and Columbia makes an excellent thin crust pie.

                                                                          2. favorite
                                                                            Thirsty Dog
                                                                            Little Italy
                                                                            Iggies

                                                                            Least Favorite
                                                                            Joe Squared- maybe I didn't order the "right" pizza but the one I got was inedible (I think it's name is the italian flag?)
                                                                            BOP
                                                                            Orioles Pizza

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                              For what it's worth, I think that the sourdough crust and the general style of Joe Squared's pizza is unique enough that it tends to get into "love it or hate it" territory. I've not heard too many people who are ambivalent about it. I don';t think it's a matter of one particular pizza there being the "right" one. I think it's more that you either love what they do, no matter which particular toppings or crust you choose, or you wouldn't like any of it.

                                                                              Pizza is one of those things that people have strong opinions about - no need to apologize for one's likes or dislikes. I say that as a Joe Squared fan, but one who could understand why others might not like it.

                                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                                You are not alone. I really didn't like this pizza either. Perhaps not coincidentally, I also got the Italian flag.

                                                                              2. Just had Matthew's on saturday, I think it's the best pizza in town!

                                                                                1. I can't believe that no one has mentioned the Thirsty Dog in Federal Hill. They have great pizza, great beer and they are open until 2am every day for carry out.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: rrebarchick

                                                                                    It was mentioned twice so far. Now you are the 3rd.

                                                                                    Italian Gardens pizza in the Kenilworth mall is a nice thin crust pie.

                                                                                  2. Here's a new one that's already leap frogged to No. 2 on my list: Serpico's in Hunt Valley/Sparks.

                                                                                    Order a whole pie and ask for it cooked well done/crispy and you will be amazed.

                                                                                    Cafe Amore is No.1 for the obviously superior quality of the crust, sauce and cheese ( get the 18" XL if you like it thin because it is the same ball of dough that is just tossed thinner) and Piazza Italia is No. 3.

                                                                                    Since Apicella's is gone I would have to give Vito's amd Italian Gardens 4 and 5.

                                                                                    1. Being from NYC I tend to lean toward the thinner side of crusts. Matthew's doesn't do it for me, but I can see how one would like that. Having just relocated from downtown to Baltimore County, I am in a wasteland. However, I have found pizza that I actually like. The place is called Pasta Blitz (horrible name) and it's in the same mall that the REI is in off of Timonium road (even worse than the name is the fact that I am buying pizza from a strip mall joint). Ask for it well done. i've also had their meatball sub...not bad at all. They get the bread to just the right crispiness. In the city, the best pizza and possibly the best sandwiches, are at Tutti Gusti in Canton. Get a sandwich with the homemade bread. It's worth it. Not a fan of Iggi's. Overpriced and average. looking forward to trying Joe 2.

                                                                                      1. Don't forget Carmine's in Hunt Valley. It ranks up there with Italian Gardens and Fortunatos.

                                                                                        1. My wife and I moved here from Al. Tried to find a good local pizza delivery no luck. It was only when I started a new job located above a huge dough delivery company that I realized all the dough we were trying was the same.
                                                                                          I am a dough freak (toppings are second) I like it very crispy and chewy any suggestions.

                                                                                          1. Mathews
                                                                                          2. Egyptian
                                                                                          3. Pizza Johns

                                                                                          1. I'm not letting my husband use the computer anymore.

                                                                                            Sorry y'all: when clicking on "post my reply" he got a strange html page and thought the post wasn't posting. Didn't mean to post it 3 times!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: snowcroft

                                                                                              joes squared was incredible the first time I ordered it, delivered. The next 5 times were mediocre at best. They are so stingy with the toppings and the crust is oftentimes burnt on the edges. matthews is delicious but you must order a fresh pie. egyptians is tasty, too.

                                                                                            2. Sorrentos West (Rt. 40) - Greasy, cheap, cheesy and delicious
                                                                                              Brick Oven Pizza (Fells Point) - Sturdy toppings
                                                                                              Matthews (Highlandtown) - Everyone has said it already
                                                                                              Nino's II (Mt. Vernon) - These guys know how to make a pizza, my favorite of the all the neighborhood places (I'd considering Matthews, BOP and Iggies to be "restaurants")

                                                                                              I live up the street from Iggies and I know where Joe-Squared is. Maybe I'll give them a try this weekend.

                                                                                              1. Easy -
                                                                                                1) Dominos
                                                                                                2) Papa John's
                                                                                                3) Pizza Hut
                                                                                                4) Pizza Boli's

                                                                                                1. Seems we hardly ever go out for pizza anymore but when we do it's Joe's Squared, Thirsty Dog or Egyptian. Frank's Pizza on Belair Rd also makes a great pie for carry out. If they delivered we'd be regulars!

                                                                                                  1. Hopkins Deli believe it or not, has really good pizza, the closet I've had in Mobtown to what I have in NYC.

                                                                                                    1. I have to say we haven't had better than Vito's in Pikesville/Owings Mills, just above the beltway on Hooks Lane. Particularly their white pizza on a good day... great crust.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: TKinBaltimore

                                                                                                        Vito's just opened a second location on York rd in the shopping center next to Well's liquors.

                                                                                                        I have been a couple of times and the pizza is actually even better than I rememebr from my youth. The sauce is a little bland for me, but they know what they are doing.

                                                                                                        1. re: gusshane

                                                                                                          Where is the Vito's on Hooks Lane? The Vito's I know is further out on Reisterstown Road in the Shopping Center with the Giant. Also, Vito's Express on OM Blvd.?

                                                                                                          Also, daeglo mentioned a Nick's pizza in Owings Mills in another thread. Anyone ever hear of that place?

                                                                                                          1. re: mez

                                                                                                            The Vito's I referred to is in that strip mall on the south side (toward the Beltway) of Hooks Lane, east of Ruth's Chris. It's before you hit the huge apartment complex (Annen Woods).

                                                                                                      2. What about Squire's in Dundalk. I can't believe it hasn't even been mentioned!

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Debora_1

                                                                                                          Good point. When I first moved to the area, they were always winning "Best Pizza" awards from all the local publications, year after year. Did their standards slip, or did the public's tastes change, or are they still as good as they ever were?

                                                                                                          1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                            The mention of Squires got me curious, so I went back last night. Quite a decent pie! Maybe not the top of my personal Best of Baltimore lists, but the sort of place I would be a "regular" at, if I lived closer.

                                                                                                            They also have a nice special Monday-Thursday, with their "extra large (16 inch - the other sizes are "small" and "medium") going for $7.95 (vs. $10 and change, I think), with additional ingredients at the usual price for add-ons. Not a bad deal.

                                                                                                            The other thing I noticed is that like Pizza John's (see other comments on that place earlier in this thread), Squire's uses what looks to be a very long-cooked tomato sauce, with possibly onions, herbs or carmelization of the tomatoes (or some combination of those factors) leading to to an almost mahogany brownish-red color, and relatively thick texture, along with a very deep flavor pallette. As with most things about pizza, I'd guess that some folks like it, and others dislike it, but I do appreciate places that have a distinct and recognizable aspect to their particular vision of pizza perfection.

                                                                                                            It occurs to me that when I first moved to the area, Squire's was widely considered "the place" for pizza. It would seem that between them and Pizza John's, there was a very distinct Dundalk/Essex "style" of pizza. I suspect that if one were to have the same pizza from the two places side-by-side, there would be very clear similarities. I wonder if there are perhaps other clusters in the surrounding 'burbs of a few long-time establishments with a similarly recognizable shared "style".

                                                                                                            It might make an interesting thread to see what the longest-lived pizza places in the area are. Or even the longest-lived restaurants of any genre. Sort of "Chowhound anthropology"

                                                                                                            1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                              I believe that the one of the owner's of Pizza John's used to cook at Squires, hence the similiarity in the Pizza. And, you are right you either love it or hate it. I don't know too many people who fall in the middle. Me i think they are both pretty good.

                                                                                                        2. I lived in "Little Italy" when I was the Chef at "Della Notte". I thought we had the best pizza around. The crust was the best I've ever tasted (at least it was while I was there),Thin crust w/out all the crap on it. Enough sauce, but not too much.

                                                                                                          1. second on Sorrento's, as skeezy as the place may be, you can't beat the pizza. place has been there 20 years, lg. pies only 5.49

                                                                                                            1. great! finally, I'm able to post a reply!
                                                                                                              i stumbled on this thread by accident by attempting to do some research on pizza parlors in the baltimore area. When I saw this topic I had to reply.

                                                                                                              First let me say that I am half italian. I am also a pizza fanatic. It is really the only thing I eat.
                                                                                                              Now as for THE best pizza. You will find no Great pizza in Maryland. If you are in search of the best pizza I suggest venture out to the NewEngland area. Specifically New Jersey, and New York. Don't look for big restaurants as they will have satisfying pizza that is way better than b'mores, instead look for the small family run pizza joints. This is where the treasure is at.
                                                                                                              As for my taste in pizza I am a traditional pepperoni guy. However the sauce, bread, cheese, every part of it is important. Especially the sauce and how it is cooked. I prefer brick oven.
                                                                                                              With that said, the Few adequate pizza joints in the Baltimore area I know are:

                                                                                                              1) BOP aka Brick Oven Pizza, located in Baltimore City's Fell's Point on the corner.
                                                                                                              I'm a regular there although i live a good 15 minutes away. I take the drive and tip the cashier, whether its that nice elderly lady with the glasses, the elderly man, or the elderly with the short hair. The pizza is made by a crew of hardworking hispanics. The slices sold will most likely not be fresh at all unless your lucky to catch it out of the oven in time. They are usually cold and put in the brick oven to be heated up. I'm sure many of you have seen this haneous crime exercised in other places. SO DO NOT order slices. INSTEAD ORDER freshly made whole pies. These are always made fresh. I also believe the establishment has been decorated with baltimore city's finest pizza for a year or two...as well as visits from celebrities. I hope that ends debate about BOP. It deserves a top 5 spot in this area for sure.

                                                                                                              2) Little Italy - this is not the name of a pizzerria parlor but a location in baltimore city. I say this because I went to one of the family run pizza places about five years ago and it was great. It is a small building tucked in as you walk along the sidewalks of little italy. Just check out what the street has to offer. there are also small family run italian places that sell fresh pizza products essential for making the best pizza in the world, YOUR PIZZA.

                                                                                                              3) Carrabas - yes i know its another chain owned by the same man who owns unos and outback, thats why you usually see the three together. The pizza is thin crust but brick oven style. ALTHOUGH, recently I think they changed the cheese or chef or maybe i hope i got unlucky because it was just horrible...Its been a while since i've been back.

                                                                                                              4) Unos - another chain, i pick this only for its deepdish, and only. The pepperoni's are not the best. It would do wonders if they made them thin and worked on the bread instead of the flakey crust that falls apart in your hands. Do they call that bread?

                                                                                                              5) god only knows I wish I could give you fellows a healthy list but this is sad isn't it?

                                                                                                              it sounds like iggys and pizza johns are popular. I'll check them out.
                                                                                                              In short the best pizza I've learned is the one YOU make, how you want it, whenever you want it. But check out the little italy's in your city's, new jersey, new york.

                                                                                                              excuse me as i order from papa johns now, i need my fix and i just dont feel like leaving the house.

                                                                                                              Best of luck with everyone and I hope that helped.
                                                                                                              Tim

                                                                                                              1. sorrentos is good for price of what you get, not quality.

                                                                                                                1. oh yah let me also say if you ever go to italy, your idea of pizza is not pizza.
                                                                                                                  It is on thin flat pita bread with vegetables and meat. but hey this is where it all derived from so take it all in and try new things! Near rome and sicaly they also have not just red sauce but the option of white sauce.

                                                                                                                  1. Speranza's in the food court across from Super Fresh in the 300 block of N. Charles St. has good thin crust pizza.

                                                                                                                    1. Iggies, far and away - not only is the pizza great (thin crust, yummy toppings - leek & mushroom, yum!), but it is just such a great space - BYOB, wine tasting, tips go to charities.
                                                                                                                      I'm a Matthews fan too, but very different pizza, clearly. Fills an entirely different craving.

                                                                                                                      1. Iggies
                                                                                                                        Pasta Mista (two guys from Naples--try the tortellini pizza)
                                                                                                                        Alonso's
                                                                                                                        Mamma Lucia at 33rd and Greenmount

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. Pasta Mista is in Towson, on Dulaney Valley just north of the circle on the left in a strip center. Right across from the entrance to Towson Town Center.

                                                                                                                          1. Are there any pizza places in the Baltimore area that make pizza with super-thin crispy crust (way thinner than New York style)? When I was in Maui, there's a place called Pizza Paradiso that had pizza with cracker-thin flatbread crust (I know Maui is certainly not known for Italian food or even pizza!) and after eating there several times, I was hooked! I haven't been able to find anything like it since then...

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: charliedog

                                                                                                                              Have you tried Iggie's in Mt Vernon? Their crust is on the thin size.
                                                                                                                              As I recall (it has been months though), Joe Squared pizza has a thin crust.

                                                                                                                            2. Favorites:
                                                                                                                              Allissa's (Hampden), Carmine's (Hunt Valley), Iggies, Matthew's, & Pizza Hut

                                                                                                                              Least Favorites:
                                                                                                                              Fortunatos (Towson), Joe Squared, & BOP (although the white pizza was decent)

                                                                                                                              I look forward to trying Pizza John's and Pasta Mista.

                                                                                                                              1. Dionysus. (In Mt Vernon, on Preston between Charles and St Paul streets)

                                                                                                                                Their crust is home-made, medium-thick, and chewy.

                                                                                                                                I have only every had their white pizza, which is to. die. for. Crust, a layer of italian dressing, ricotta and some other cheese, artichokes, and prosciutto. Maybe spinach, too? The dressing provides the perfect amount of "wet" and a little bit of zing.

                                                                                                                                Hands down, the best pie in Bawlmer, hon.

                                                                                                                                1. I really enjoy the Gambari (sp?) pizza at Al Pacino's aka Cafe Isis on Cathedral Street. It's a white pizza with garlic, mozzarella, shrimp, and spinach. I usually order it with extra cheese and the whole wheat crust. I won't claim it's the best in town but it is definitely what I crave when I want pizza.

                                                                                                                                  1. For NY-style pizza, Mr. Baltoellen swears by Little Italy Pizzera on Bdway in Fells Point. I've not had it, but he and his friends rave...May be working checking out if people are still on their hunt for that (near) perfect slice in Baltimore!

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: baltoellen

                                                                                                                                      Come to my house. Matthew's is nothing compared to my homemade pizza.

                                                                                                                                      Lots of folks in the Northeast like Gil's on Belair Road. I prefer Costco's pizza.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: baltoellen

                                                                                                                                        Little Italy Pizzeria slices are big but I find their pizza dry and pretty tasteless.

                                                                                                                                      2. If you like heavy pizza with a thick, very greasy crust then by all means head to Matthews'. Just have the napkins ready.

                                                                                                                                        Personally, I don't enjoy it at all. It reminds me too much of Pizza Hut, but bread and grease are what Americans want in their pizzas.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: cdaddari

                                                                                                                                          I like Matthew's Pizza, can't stand Pizza Hut.

                                                                                                                                        2. We would appear to have similar taste in pizza-for me it's mostly about the sauce. Also cheese other than just mozzerella-preferably provelone.
                                                                                                                                          I like BOP for the crust and selection of toppings. About once a month I stop at Georgio's on York Rd. in Timonium for half-price pepperoni, sausage and onion w/ a little extra sauce-fantastic flavor and decent crust-incredible value.
                                                                                                                                          If you want Matthew's and don't feel like going in town-try DeSanti's on Belair Rd in Perry Hall where you can buy it frozen and put on your own toppings -you'll never eat another frozen pizza!
                                                                                                                                          Any other faves in the Perry Hall/White Marsh area? Remember great sauce!

                                                                                                                                          1. Been in bmore 20 years and read CH all the time, but this thread actually got me to sign up. Like everyone here, pizza is very important to me. I still love Bmore style pizza, but lately my SO has convinced me that NY style is the standard by which to judge and I have grudgingly conceded. Everytime we are in NYC (4-5 times a year), we visit almost every other pizza shop we pass by and we share a slice (until we are finally sick of pizza, heh.) While it is true that on average it's easier to find a better slice in NYC, I feel Bmore has just as good pizza albeit a bit harder to find. New Yorkers are always complaining how Baltimore doesn't have a decent slice, blah blah. I feel this is just their pizza elitist nature, and more psychological than anything else. I will put Pasta Mista (in Towson) head to head against anything I've had in NYC. This past weekend, I had two really good slices in NYC's West Village, one at Bleeker Street Pizza (a Food Network award winner or something) and Joe's around the corner. I went to other places New York CH'ers recommend in that area, like Ray's and Village Pizza, but found them lacking. And that was only in West Village. Just want to show I have a baseline to compare against. But my SO will think even the "bad" pizza in NYC is better than pizza here, so I don't know what to tell you if you're from NYC. Just pay the $40 in toll, you pizza snobs, haha. Just kidding. Ahem, anyway, here is my list of good Bmore pizza:

                                                                                                                                            1) Pasta Mista
                                                                                                                                            2) Toni's Pizza and Grill (at intersection of Rolling Rd and 40, same plaza as Han Ah Ru [Asian Market])
                                                                                                                                            3) Chef Paolino's (they just moved to a larger space about 50 yards away from their old location)

                                                                                                                                            Additionally, all three of the above I find to have high quality menus in general.

                                                                                                                                            4) Pizza John's
                                                                                                                                            5) Trattoria

                                                                                                                                            About some of the other places folks mentioned. At Sorrentos on Rt 40, I usually can't tell the difference between the crust and the cardboard pizza box. If you want value, BuonGiorno (on Dogwood Rd in Woodlawn) has a $6 large cheese special on Mondays evenings. Their pizza is above average and they also have good panini. Maria D's has gone down in quality considerably. Carmines (Hunt Valley), Pasta Blitz (Columbia off Waterloo Rd), and Speranza (Charles St.) are all in the decent but not great category for me. I have not tried Matthews, BOP, or Iggies in a really long time so I'm not comfortabe commenting on those places. I think someone mentioned that place in Hampden with the *huge* slices. It's fun and the pizza isn't that bad either.

                                                                                                                                            My absolute worst pizza experience in my 20 years of living here has been at Joe2. They gave me completely burnt crust on my pizza, literally covered with soot/ashes. It was horrible. Additionally, I also got fries and the fries were literally black in color and drenched with oil, even worse than the pizza. This was just about 5-6 mos ago. I was taking out, so I didn't see the food until I got home. I tried to talk to them but no one cared. I don't know if it was because of prejudice or what, and I hate to pull the race card, but I don't understand how anyone could look at that pizza and those fries and serve them to a customer. I went on a weekday and they weren't busy at all. An absolutely horrendous experience. I've been discriminated against in only a few other places (most notably G&M Restaurant), but at least the food was edible. There's a difference between an off day and what Joe2 did to me. I'm sure others have better experiences, but this is what happened to me.

                                                                                                                                            Hope some of this helps somebody. :)

                                                                                                                                            P.S. A lot of the better pizza that New Yorkers recommended to me wasn't true NY style either. I went to Da Nico's in NYC's Little Italy and Adrienne's near the Staten Island Ferry and both places had good pizza, but it wasn't traditional NY style.

                                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                              bmorecupcake-- Is this Chef Paolino's related to the place of the same name that used to be (maybe still is??) in Columbia Mall?

                                                                                                                                              TIA

                                                                                                                                              www.roguefood.com

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pool Boy

                                                                                                                                                yes, it is related, but that one was closed a while back, not sure why. at present, there is another branch in downtown, in the bank of america building on pratt right before the harbor begins. but the downtown one only does breakfast and lunch. they also have a branch in annapolis called mama lucia's i think, it's right next to the mall there. one of the staff told me the catonsville one is the busiest, but the annapolis one comes close.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                  You mean thr old Md National Building on Baltimore which is now BoA?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ko1

                                                                                                                                                    No, ko1, not that one. It's actually pretty close to that, around the corner. I think it's called Bank of America Center and I'm fairly certain it's on the corner of Pratt and Charles. It should also have an entrance on Lombard. If you come off 395, don't take Conway, make a right on Pratt and when you're about to cross Charles you should see it on your left.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                      What happened at G&M? I knew it was icky with crabcakes only the undiscerning could like, but did they reveal other than cooking deficiencies?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowsearch

                                                                                                                                                        Well, I would just have assumed the waitress was having a bad day, but it was just blatant disregard for us all the way through. We were seated before two other parties (they were seated right next to us), however our waitress tended to them first. Our water was never refilled, not once, not even after we asked. She refilled the other parties water multiple times. I was even arguing with my SO to give her a break, maybe she's had a bad day, etc. But it kept on coming. Our food was much, much later than the others. All our food was served mildly warm at best, we were missing items, the crab cakes were burnt (I know, I know, I probably deserved it for ordering crabcakes there). We told her the corn was cold, and she said that's how it is, but the people next to us had steam coming from their corn. It's the only time I never left a tip (I think we left a penny.) One of the other parties was Asian, so I don't think it was just blatant discrimination for all foreigners, just for Middle Eastern looking people. People kept telling me their crabcakes were good. And they are always packed, so I thought that equated to goodness, but I know better now. I only trust CH.

                                                                                                                                                        I should also add that my SO had been there two times before and told me she wasn't treated right, but I coaxed here into going a third time. I also have learned to listen to said SO. :)

                                                                                                                                                        These days, if I walk in a place and get any sort of such vibe, I just walk right out. Happened to me recently at Burke's. Walked in, stood there for more than 5 minutes. A white couple walks in, a waitress sees them walk in, and the waitress stops what she's doing (walking toward the kitchen or whatever) and seats them FIRST!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                          My condolences. Yet another reason to spend our money at more-deserving places. I try to understand why it's popular--I think it's because people who haven't had real crabcakes at Faidley's, the Narrows, Jennings, Peppermill, Ikaros, Koco's, to name a few--just don't know better. They get suckered by really large cakes with a lot of mayo, butter and luscious-looking hunks of crab that are probably pasteurized, with little taste other than the mayo and spices--and from overseas--but nice looking, like that Philips fake stuff. Timbuktu, a couple miles down 295 off Rt 100, has good looking big cakes that actually taste like crab. And G&M is truly a dump, and not in the "find" kind of way. The salt and pepper shakers are always greasy.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, I'll be walking from my office at Calvert and Baltimore. I'll definitely check it out! And I thought I knew downtown!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                      Is there a Chef Paolino's in Catonsville? The only one I know about is the one downtown and I have always wanted to go in there since they closed in the Columbia Mall. Used to go that one there a lot for lunch and I really liked the pizza.
                                                                                                                                                      In NYC you should try DiFara in Brooklyn
                                                                                                                                                      True "pizza snobs" will refer you to Sally or Pepe's in New Haven, CT, but DiFara is just as good, without the attitude (quality control is also better at DiFara because it is just one 80-something year old guy making the pizza at a leisurely pace)
                                                                                                                                                      But hey, Chef Paolino's ain't that bad...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: RolandParkGuy

                                                                                                                                                        I just tried Chef Paolino's downtown and found it merely okay. I prefer Speranza's downtown.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: RolandParkGuy

                                                                                                                                                          Yes, there is a Chef Paolino's in Catonsville and I would say it's at least as good as the old one in Columbia Mall. The Catonsville location is open for lunch and dinner. I have never been to the one downtown, but I've passed it many times and it's always closed after lunch.

                                                                                                                                                          As far as I understand, DiFara has closed. You should search Google for the details because we are not allowed to mention such things on CH.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                            No, DiFara is open. They'd been having some trouble there for a while, but they're back making your fave pizza. Check out http://sliceny.com for the whole story as well as pointers to great pies all around (and no, I do not work for them).

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                          Columbia was closed down because of absurd restrictions and rent.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                        I posted this below:

                                                                                                                                                        I recently ordered a pie from Joe2 on North Avenue. The mushroom pizza was decent, but seriously lacking salt.

                                                                                                                                                        Despite the rave city paper review, it's easy to see that Joe2 is a hit and miss place. The restaurant/bar is staffed by young urban "hipsters," complete with tattoos and thick black glasses and black clothes. This is a big clue that you are in a place run by people who don't have the full professional or culinary training of a proper restaurant, and which is why one night the food is terrific, and the next night it's bland and mediocre. I doubt (certainly I hope not!) that your poor food/service was because of racism-simply due to inexperience and an off-night.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                          Toni's next to the H-Mart in Catonsville is now under new ownership. After three consecutive trips there since new ownership took over, I must say that, although they are decent, the pizza is not nearly as good as it was under the original owner. It's a shame. Their pizza had such a great, light crust and fresh, flavorful sauce. It will be missed and I must take it off my top 5 list.

                                                                                                                                                          P.S. H-Mart is the new name for Han Ah Ru. I figure they wanted something everyone could pronounce. ;)

                                                                                                                                                        2. Matthew's is the best. No contest. Afterwards, the slices at Angelo's are an indulgence, but make sure they heat them up enough. They can be cold and if the place is busy, the staff doesn't notice. Some of the bars like Red Star in Fells Point have decent pizzas. One time in April my wife and I were at the bar there with beers and the bartender gave us a free pizza. He said the kitchen made an extra one for some reason and would we like it. It was above average.

                                                                                                                                                          I divide my time between homes in Montgomery County and East Baltimore and while Baltimore has it way over Washington for bar food and casual eats, the pizzas at Piola in Rosslyn and Sette Bello in Clarendon (Arlington, Va.) are the best around. Baltimore would be lined up around the block if either place decided to open up in Harbor East or Mount Vernon. Check out Piola, it's an Italian and South American import and is really excellent. It can save a rainy day or a cold winter night.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jkosnett

                                                                                                                                                            Iggies in Mount Vernon has excellent neopolitan style pizza (www.iggiespizza.com). Having spent considerable time in and around Naples, I wouldn't say it's as good as anything in that holy city of pizzas, but for American pizza, Iggies is pretty damn good. As good as Two Amys.

                                                                                                                                                            I recently ordered a pie from Joe2 on North Avenue. The mushroom pizza was decent, but seriously lacking salt.

                                                                                                                                                            Despite the rave city paper review, it's easy to see that Joe2 is a hit and miss place. The restaurant/bar is staffed by young urban "hipsters," complete with tattoos and thick black glasses and black clothes. This is a big clue that you are in a place run by people who don't have the full professional or culinary training of a proper restaurant, and which is why one night the food is terrific, and the next night it's bland and mediocre.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                                                                              Iggies has a duck confit and asparagus pizza that is great.

                                                                                                                                                              I used to live a block away from Iggies, and I really miss it.

                                                                                                                                                              Also, try their mac and cheese as well.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Casa Mia's in the Rotunda!! Best NY Pizza in Baltimore!!

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blahblahblah

                                                                                                                                                              Having grown up in Baltimore [and living here now] and having lived in NYC for 10 years and recently trying both Pizza Johns and Matthew's...I can say that Baltimore just isn't a pizza town. And that's ok. I've never had anything here half as good as the stuff in NYC. Pizza John's is pretty good, Matthew's I was less than thrilled by [not so into the thick crust]. And clever toppings on pizza isn't appealing to me. If you can't knock my socks off with a plain slice then you can't knock my socks off. When I am eating one of those places pies and am thinking of Di Fara in Brooklyn, it just isn't satisfying.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I can't believe only one person mentioned Casa Mia, which has a fabulous veggie white pizza, but it's all about the crust, so cheese can be just as delightful. Not too much sauce. They're in the Rotunda.

                                                                                                                                                              1) Casa Mia
                                                                                                                                                              2) Vito's on York Rd (in Balto. at the county line)
                                                                                                                                                              3) Fortunato's
                                                                                                                                                              4) Egyptian

                                                                                                                                                              FYI, BOP was not impressive the one time I ate there and I've not had some of the other favorite places listed, but since I live right at the Belvedere Sq. these choices keep me happy.

                                                                                                                                                              (this is basically based on good ol' cheese pizza at each site, since nobody else has a veggie like Casa Mia's).

                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Insight Spinner

                                                                                                                                                                I had 2 plain cheese slices yesterday at Vito's on York Rd. I can honestly say that it was the best pizza I have had in a LONG time outside of NY/NJ. What's weird is I have had their pizza before and thought it was good, but yesterday it was fantastic. Maybe it depends on who's tossing the pies.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: toro head

                                                                                                                                                                  I tried Vito's for the first time on August 7th, same day as above post. My large mushroom pie was amazingly good also! It looked great, thick topping of cheese (without getting cheese-heavy, if you know what I mean), not greasy at all, a little salty, chewy crust without being doughy or undercooked or just too thick. I used to love Fortunato's, but the last pie I had there was weak, nothing special with a tasteless crust.

                                                                                                                                                                  Top Five:

                                                                                                                                                                  Large-Cardboard-Box-With-Bad-Graphics Division:
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Vito's
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Casa Mia

                                                                                                                                                                  Gormet Division
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Iggie's (by far)
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Vaccino's
                                                                                                                                                                  3. b
                                                                                                                                                                  4. Alonso's
                                                                                                                                                                  5. Egyptian Pizza

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Insight Spinner

                                                                                                                                                                  No Casa MIa is not notable pizza. Vito's is better, pretty good actually.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thedanny

                                                                                                                                                                    I have always found Casa Mia's pizza to be on the greasy side.

                                                                                                                                                                3. Bartenders
                                                                                                                                                                  Joe 2
                                                                                                                                                                  iggies
                                                                                                                                                                  BOP
                                                                                                                                                                  matthews

                                                                                                                                                                  1. I was in the mood for a pizza tonight and re-reading this thread to figure out something new. I still need to try Pizza John's and Squires (without anchovies), but to be honest, it's a bit of a pain in the ass to drive there from Federal Hill.

                                                                                                                                                                    So I went to Thirsty Dog, which has several mentions. The verdict -- pretty darned good. I walked up and drank a beer while I waited. The pizza comes in one size -- 10 inch, which is pretty much a personal pizza. If you're a big eater, they offer something called the Smash Dog, which is two pizzas stacked on top of each other. Not sure what that's all about.

                                                                                                                                                                    I got the Fox and Hound ($8.50), which is tomato sauce, smoked gouda, mozzarella (not fresh), sausage, red peppers, mushrooms and fresh garlic. It's a thin crust, and wasn't as crispy as I like, although I did walk the three blocks home with it in a cardboard box, so it might have been crispier if I'd eaten in. All the ingredients were plentiful and flavors easily distinguishable.

                                                                                                                                                                    As near as I can tell, it's likely the best in Federal Hill, which is pizza purgatory for the most part. I was pleased, and unless I find something better it's gonna be my local pizza joint, even though it's really a bar.

                                                                                                                                                                    The beer, which I assume they brew, was good as well. I have no idea what it was -- I just told the bartender to give me something good.

                                                                                                                                                                    While I'm on the subject, I should mention that i ended up eating a pizza at the Owl Bar a few weeks ago when the Drinking Liberally group met there. I got the Greek pizza, which was black olives, feta, and other stuff that I don't remember. It was surprisingly good though. Most of us got food, and from what I can tell, this might be a place whose chow is worth looking into.

                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                      I have found that Thirsty Dog pizzas suffer seriously from take out. They are much better if you hang out and eat there. We still get take out (or used to when we lived down the street), but with the understanding that it's just not as good.

                                                                                                                                                                      On another note - Fed Hill is getting a new restaurant that I just wrote about in another thread, where Vespa used to be. If they have pizza on the menu like they brought the neighborhood party at the Flower Box last week, they could be a serious contender for best pizza in Fed Hill.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pigtowner

                                                                                                                                                                        pigtowner,

                                                                                                                                                                        any update on this new restaurant? or do you have a name so i might check it out?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MarcDC

                                                                                                                                                                          That place is open now. It's called Junior's Wine Bar. There's another thread on it. The pizza is pretty good, but it's not a blue collar pizza joint like Matthew's or Pizza John's. Federal Hill is still in need of a great little pizza joint.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                            thanks. My go to pizza place in federal hill has been dog pub (which i think is pretty good, as I like thin crust pizzas)... Ill check out the Junior's Wine Bar thread.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Whoever liked Allissa's pizza in Hampden - it is now gone!

                                                                                                                                                                      http://skyline.bosconet.org/pjohnson/...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I ran over to Fell's Point today to keep my promise to hon and Baltoellen to check out some of the other items at Sophies in Broadway Market. While walking by, I remembered quite a bit of discussion on BOP (some positive, some negative) and felt I owed it to myself to check it out.

                                                                                                                                                                        I had a a slice of the regular cheese and tomato sauce pizza and a slice of the white pizza with four cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                        The former was quite good -- nice tasty crust that held up well -- not exactly crispy but almost. It was a superior slice of pie.

                                                                                                                                                                        I wasn't as fond of the white pizza -- not nearly enough garlic taste and almost too much cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll go back, but I'll stick to the regular pizza in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                          BOP is controversial, mostly because of their crust, which is a bit more like bread than the typical pizza crust. One thing is constant with them, however. It is much better if you get a whole pie rather than by the slice. In my opinion the best slice in Fells Point is Hot Tomatoes, and their whole pies are great too, if you want the whole 18 inches. They make a nice NY style thin, crunchy/chewy crust with fresh, tasty toppings. Plus, they are open until three am, for those post bar munchies.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Amer's Cafe on Belair Rd. they make their own crust.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I just tried Matthew's again and I am sorry to say my response is.....'eh'. I don't get it. The crust is spongy and airy and limp. I believe I understand what they are going for, I am not trying to evaluate it as NY pizza or Chicago pizza. Still, I don't find it very interesting or tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                            Pizza Johns, Vito's, even Ledo....these places get my thumbs up.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 1.Iggies- love the arugala and ricotta in the summer
                                                                                                                                                                              2. Matthews -when I want something decadent
                                                                                                                                                                              3. Zellas in SweBo- I'm diging the artichoke pie-it's not mentioned in this thread have people tried it?
                                                                                                                                                                              4. Thirsty Dog-when i want a pretzel with my pie-love the greenjeans
                                                                                                                                                                              5. pizza johns- when I want something classic

                                                                                                                                                                              Fortunatos once would have made the list but somewhere a few years back their pie started to decline rapidly

                                                                                                                                                                              Pie I eat more often then I like to admit- Bella Roma (but think the sauce is too sweet)
                                                                                                                                                                              Oh I'm hungry I need to stop

                                                                                                                                                                              1. matthew's "both cheeses". what's happened to tuti gusti lately. DOWNHILL!!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I come here looking for good oysters in Baltimore. I leave my list of the best pizza spots:
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Tutti Gusti, Canton, Fait and Sellwood - try the Pizza Bianca, full of veggies and ricotta
                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bella Roma, Hampden, Falls Rd and The Avenue - closest to NY pie
                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Dominick's of Parkville, Parkville, Harford Road - get a pepperoni, you won't be disappointed
                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Matthew's, Highlandtown, Eastern Ave - love it or hate it. I love it. Chewy spongy airy yeasty extra-proofed dough, I get the popular with extra cheese well done with extra sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                  5. Italian Gardens, Towson, Kenilworth Mall - best crust, brushed with olive oil and herbs, yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I can't put my finger on why, but for delivery, I really like Spartan Pizza in Highlandtown.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Pasta Blitz, the name?, fuggedaboudit, the family is from Naples, every time there, they're talking to customers in Italian. Pizza's great especially if made to order. Strip mall just south west of York Rd X Timonium Rd. Bring your own wine. Rest of menu is very tasty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                                                        Bartender's on Boston St. has really good pizza!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                                                          Is Pasta Blitz a chain? I've been to the one next to Eggspectation in Columbia a couple times.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                                                                                                            Pasta Blitz is a local chain. They have half a dozen or so restaurants - three in the Columbia area (east, west, and south). The odd thing is, they're all slightly different. Most chains are very strict in keeping the format and menu the same, but while the menu's are similar, there are differences (some have Baked Ziti on the menu, others don't) and the level of service / casualness is different as well. The one that just opened (south of Columbia off of 29) had really nice service, but it's kitchen was still working out the kinks. The east Columbia one (Snowden&108) is very consistent, but has almost no service.

                                                                                                                                                                                            They're all comfortable places to get a decent Italian meal - especially after a good session at the gym.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dzoey

                                                                                                                                                                                              Does any one know if they're also related to the Strapazza locations? I've been curious when I noticed their daily special sheets are, I believe, identical. And somehow the Clarksville Pasta Blitz is connected to another local chain, Squisito. I've convinced myself that some underground group secretly runs all of the Italian restaurants in Maryland, which accounts for the reason that every place I go has almost the same menu!

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                                                            I second Pasta Blitz! Love the Napoli thin-crust pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. I just got done eating a pizza from Pizza John's on Back River Neck Road. The pizza was somewhere between very good and excellent, but it didn't cause an "out of body experience". I think the best pizza in Baltimore that I have had was Matthew's. My regular place for buying pizza near me is Dominicks.
                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.originaldominicks.com/stor...
                                                                                                                                                                                            A couple years ago when I lived near Essex we use to get white pizzas from a place called Bello Vitto's on Rossville Blvd. We were never dissapointed.
                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...
                                                                                                                                                                                            I remember Pizza Uno having good pizza. They had an appetizer called pizza skins that was great.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                                                                                                                                                                                              I posted my Pizza John's experience in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/462778

                                                                                                                                                                                              So would Dominick's be worth the drive from Baltimore City, given that we have Matthew's and Iggies?

                                                                                                                                                                                              Pizza Uno is pretty good for a chain. It's not great, and it's probably twice as fattening as a normal pizza, but it's good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                Dominick's is very good, consistent and inexpensive. Not to knock it, but I would not say it's a destination place - in fact, I think it's only takeout - there aren't any tables but we love them.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Iggies is definately worth a try when you're in the mood for thin crust. I also find Zellas pizzeria an exceptionally good pizza when you're in the mood for medium/chewy crust. The sauce and cheese also seem of better quality than other pizzerias.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mblake

                                                                                                                                                                                                I actually visited Dominick's last night and it was quite fulfilling. The pie was a bit doughy, not too thin and not too crispy. For what it was, a delicious pie. A couple of weeks back I ate at Pizza Johns. Also a very good pie. It should be reminded that these two places offer what I'd consider to be a completely different taste. One is crispier, the other a bit doughier. Dominics is what I'd consider to be "Baltimore style" if there is any such thing. The reason why I say this is because I've had several experiences down here that taste different than pizza I've had anywhere else, yet those ones down here have some consistent characteristics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                There was a place on York Rd. just past Woodbourne Ave. called Gourmet Pizza that had a very good "Baltimore style" pie. A little greasier than some places, but the pizza had that doughiness, and the sauce had a unique, a tiny bit sweet, taste. I can't describe it, but if you aren't into pizzas that dont have crispy NY style crusts, you might not enjoy these places I'm talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Nobody has mentioned Italian Bistro. It's located in the North Plaza Strip Mall on Perring Pkwy. and Joppa Road. They have a full menu of Italian food, which I hear is also really good. But I could never go there and get anything other than their cheese pizza. Something about it is sooo good- almost a salty flavor. Definitely worth a try, especially if you like Italian Gardens, Vito's and Fortunato's. We really want to try Pizza Johns and Iggy's...we're always hearing great things about them. I'd like to hear if anyone else has tried Italian Bistro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. About 7-8 years ago there was a place called Philadelphia Pizza on York Road in Timonium/Lutherville in the shopping center near the bowling alley that I use to like. Recently a friend was telling me that there is a Philadelphia Pizza in Rosedale that is suppose to be good. I found this link through google - I'll have to see if this is the place.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.daplus.us/ShowPhoto.aspx?a...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I took a buddy out to Matthew's last night. It was our first time eating their pizza and, let me tell you, they turn out a very delicious pie. As everyone has attempted to describe, there's something different about their pie. It's not deepdish, not thin crust, but it's damn good. I got the Great White with a bowl of tomato sauce on the side, and my buddy tried the Four Seasons. Needless to say, we both left completely satisfied. Great service, by the way. My buddy ordered a cup of tea that they served steaming hot (hard to get a steaming hot drink at most diners and restaurants per my experience, unless you stress it to the waiter/tress) which was a big plus and not expected from a pizza joint. Matthew's has a great Mom & Pop feel to it as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    With this experience, my list has been rounded out. My Top 3 would have to be:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Matthews
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 3M (Gourmet Pizza)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Dominic's

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As you can see, I'm not the biggest fan of thin crust. Being from Jersey, I grew up on thin crust pizza. Baltimore has some totally different kinds of pizza (texture wise), and I like the diversity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Thanks to all the Hounds who have championed The <"Thirsty" removed for legal reasons> Dog Pub. I normally don't get to that area much, just because I really hate the parking hassle, and paying to park in the garage when I'm only there for dinner just rankles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, I finally went last night, and found the "Fox and the Hound" and the "Cajun Dog" to both be wonderful pies, especially when washed down with a brace of Black Dogs. I'll definitely add them to my personal top tier rankings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That said, those of you coming to The Dog from the Locust Point area or points south might also want to check out the offerings at Luka Cafe. I'd say that the styles are similar ("personal sized" pies, creative topping combinations, thin crust), though the list of choices at Luka is definitely more limited than the options at The Dog. And as another poster noted in the thread on the Luka Cafe, the beer options there are also more limited, though Luka Cafe "wins" in the "food options beyond pizza" category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not in any way trying to suggest that either replaces or is "better" than the other, just trying to let those who like The Dog know that there's a new choice nearby. I've found that in similar situations, it doesn't always have to be a zero-sum game where the older business loses customers to the newer one. Sometimes, having more than one option creates more of an interest in the product being provided, and grows the customer base for both.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fox and Hound is my favorite of the Dog pizzas. If you come down again email me through my profile and I can help you out with the parking thing -- I'm just a couple blocks away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The big advantage Luca's has over Dog at this point is that once the weather gets better I can walk to Luca's and actually burn off some of the calories that I'm taking in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, the crust at Luca's seems to hold up better through the whole pizza than Dog's. I'm not sure if it's the metal tray they serve them on, but Dog's crust tends to get flabby and sort of steamed by the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dog wins on beer though. Luca's REALLY needs to fix that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                        One question. With all the options that have been discussed in this thread, are you ready to make any modifications to your original top five?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, Cafe Amore is gone, and I'd probably drop B.O.P anyway, so if I had to re-rate, my top five (in no priority order - ranking depends on what I'm in the mood for) would now be Matthew's, Iggie's, Joe Squared, and Luka Cafe as solid entries, with Pizza John's and Squires fighting it out for the last spot, just on the basis that they are both very similar representatives of a style that is different than the others in the Top Five.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Had Phat Pug survived, it would have trumped the winner of the Squires/Pzza John's steel cage death match.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thirsty Dog is a contender, but they are similar in style to Luka Cafe, and on the basis of the pizza, Luka has a slight edge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bella Napolia on Mountain Road (Pasadena) is also right up there, as is that place across the street from Crab Shanty, just south of Route 40 (Serafino's?). Both are decent pizzas, just not quite in the top tier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd love to have a good deep-dish option, being a Chicagoland native, but Uno's is the only thing close, and I feel that with the reduced focus on the deep dish pizzas, I feel the product has slipped a bit. Heck, the franchise isn't even "Uno's Pizzeria" any more, it's "Uno's Chicago Grill" or something like that. Says a lot about what they think is important. And I'm averse to piocking chains over local places anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The thick crust at Bella Napoli is an unusual beast - knid of half-way between a Chicago style and a Sicilian style. Again, I like it, but it's not good enough to make the top five.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I still need to check out some of the northern recs, like Fortunato's. I'm trying to get to everything in this thread that I've not yet tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'll modify mine abit. I tried Luca's and Zella's this past week. Luca's was ok for a flat sandwich type of thing. I found that that thin crust was well over cooked, to the point of almost a burnt crust, but the toppings were definitely tasty (I had the steak and the hoagie pizza's).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Zella's was good enough to make into my top 5. GREAT pizza. I had the one with the proscuitto (ok, lets call a spade a spade, that was a salty ham) and olives. It left this tremendous, greasy, olivy juice on the plate that I could have drank with a straw. Zella's, welcome to the top five, with a bullet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KAZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My crust preference is exactly the opposite - I liked Luka Cafe, and didn't like Zella's, though I think the quality of the toppings is roughly equivalent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think this highlights a useful point. Pizza is one of those things where there are distinct styles and personal preferences, and it may be useful to provide a point of comparison when discussing new places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You know, along the lines of "If you like A, you might also like B, because they have similar style of crust, but if you like C's crust style, you may not like B."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There's no "right" answer, so the more we can each do to provide points of comparison for each other, the better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 1.Pizza John's
                                                                                                                                                                                                          2.Squire's
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3.Fortunato's
                                                                                                                                                                                                          4.B.O.P. (mainly for the large selection of toppings)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          5.Bertucci's

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Another addition to the canonical Baltimore pizza thread. I went back to Matthew's last week for the first time in quite a while (not been going out as much lately), and found that they now have a thin crust option available. My first try was somewhat tainted by a reversal of my two pizzas - the one I wanted "regular" came out as the thin, and vice versa, but it shows promise. Very nice crispy texture. Not a "cracker crust", or a New Haven style, but as with the regular Matthew's pizza, it's kind of its own style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The waitress reports that they've gotten split responses. Some stay loyal to the original Matthew's crust, but some "regulars" now order nothing but the thin crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Worth checking out, if you're a Baltimore pizza Hound. It may be worth a look particularly from those whose main objection to Matthew's has been a dislike of their original style crust. Now you have another option!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Hot Tomato on Broadway in Fells Point!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. The following pizza joints following are, in my estimation, presentable, are in NE Baltimore area, and, though are not geared to the Foodie or the intense Chowhound, are great for the family experience and the Fall football party, in no particular order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Gil's Pizza (good crust and cheese you'll remember from your teenage years)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Amer's Cafe (variety, and belly dancers if the wife is not the jealous type)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Giovanna's (Standard OK pizza, but embarassingly cheap, try the Eyetalian coldcut sub with hots)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. Casa Mia's (big, filling, over-the-top, the 1970s all over again)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. Matthew's (over-mentioned of course, but killer yeasty crust, served on nifty cardboard plates circa 1948, and a bizarre "tomato pie" that has no cheese - something your grandparents could probably relate to).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Montebello

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Since pizza & delivery usually go hand in hand for us, Tutti Gusti is our favorite. Thin crust, lotsa homemade sauce, & any topping we want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I don't know if anyone has ever tried the Crazy Greek on Howard Street b/t Baltimore and Fayette, but their cheese pie is a thing of beauty to this lifetime Marylander. My husband is a New Jerseyian, and he doesn't fully appreciate the ultra-doughy goodness of their crust and their very garlicky sauce, but to me, it's perfection. It's worth a try, and they have a delicious Greek pie if feta and olives are your thing (which they should be!)...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I see Squisito came up here in reference to another chain, but I want to put in a good word for it -- it's the only pizza in the area I actually crave. Good sauce, a decently crispy crust, and absolutely loaded with fresh toppings. Favorites are the chicken popeye (spinach, tomatoes and chicken), the vegetarian, and the crabmeat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. As far as Baltimore city is concerned, Pasta Mista on Boston St. is now the best in the city, and i have been to all the others.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm psyched to find this posting because I think Baltimore is hard up for really good pizza joints, especially given the size of our fine city. I think there's alot of mediocre pizza here so I''m glad to see some mentions on here I'd really like to try. I would say my faves so far (in no particular order) are:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        FORTUNATOS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CARMINES (especially the Margherite Pizza)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DIPISQUALES
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        THE OWL BAR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not a fan of Joe Squared or Matthews....sorry I just don't get the rave about them. I keep hearing about Never On Sunday and Thirsty Dog and hope to try those out soon. Pasta Mista and Italian Gardens at Kenilworth are ok if nothing else is available.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dws

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Never on Sunday serves mediocre pizza but their gyros are the best I've had in this city!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jharris

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I prefer the Gyro at Samos. You can ask for fries to be put right on it, and they will accommodate for free, which is the way they are served all over Greece.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I lived for 7 years in New Haven CT, home of Pepi's and Sali's apizza. From the standpoint of a broader pizza perspective, Baltimore is the weakest pizza city on the east coast. I don't know why, but this city is a mostly a pizza desert. For what its worth, its Iggy's or make your own.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ironwood_chef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think that's a bit of a stretch. Ever searched DC for good pizza? How abut Richmond? Virginia Beach? Baltimore may not be on par with New Haven or NYC and, of course, pizza is not our claim to fame here. Still, there's probably more good pizza to be found here than in the other cities I've mentioned. To say this is the weakest pizza city on the east coast is a little over the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. wonder if Pazzani Trattoria Italiana in the post topic just above this right now will make it. first poster said it tastes just like the pizza in italy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            alsofor the poster above mine i think the east coast generally refers to the northeast which some maybe even most, consider balt a part of

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Tutti Gusti! they have great regular pies, great gourmet pies, and they deliver!!! i am always happy with Tutti Gusti in canton. plus, you can order a delicious side of broccoli with garlic and olive oil.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pucedaisy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Didnt really get Tutti Gusti....kind of blah and soupy. I guess the thing about pizza is we all tend to approach it from different angles. When im judging im trying to do solely on the essentials: crust, sauce and cheese. Did try pizza at Thirsty Dog and was extremely disappointed---if there was flavor it was still hiding in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 new finds worth checking though are: Hilltop on Fort Ave. in Federal Hill. Was surprised that this little corner joint had such solid pizza....well, solid for Baltimore. Also Dellas over in Pigtown is worth the trip. This pizza too was pretty decent although a different take on ingredients. Not sure if theyd rank in my top 2 or 3 but definitely worth a visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dws

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hilltop reminds me of Joe Corbi's pizza....not good at all. The place is very clean for a South Baltimore pizza/subs place and the owner is a great guy. The gyro is the only thing I eat from there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Back to pizza....the only good pizza places in MD are Fortunatos in Towson, Pazani Trattoria in Elkridge, and Joe Squared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: abovethewaves

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gotta respectfully disagree with Joe Squared....it was a notch above eating cardboard with ketchup. Kudos on The Fortunatos though...definitely solid. Curious to check out Pazani Trattoria. My top 2 Baltimore spots though continue to be:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Carmine's-Hunt Valley
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -DiPasquales-Highlandtown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Is there a mention for Coal-Fire in Columbia, Ellicott city yet? It's pretty excellent pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 1) Scatino's Catonsville
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2) Pizza John's Essex
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3) Matthew's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4) Iggie's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5) little italy Pizzaria Fell's Pt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BaltoMike

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for posting! I don't think I'd heard mention of Scatino's or Little Italy Pizzeria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Are there other area pizzas that you could compare either Scatino's or Little Italy Pizzeria to, so that those of us who haven't heard anything about them could have some notion of what to expect?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For example, I'd say that somebody who'd had Pizza John's in Essex, but had not been to Squires in Dundalk, or vice versa, would find that reference to the one they had been to would give them a good idea of what to expect at the one they hadn't been to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, there are differences, and somebody might have reasons to prefer one over the other, but as far as the pizza itself goes, Squires and Pizza John's share a similar style of crust, toppings and sauce. They are similar to each other, and very dissimilar from, say, Iggies, Matthews, or Joe Squared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So where on the pizza style continuum do these fall, if you can think of points of reference?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am partial to thin crust-New York Style and Scittino's (on Edmonson Ave west of Beltway) is a perfect example of that. Good crust, sauce and cheese combination. To me the proportion of those 3 are important. (It is a grocery store too and they make their own sausage!!!) Pizza Johns many times has too much cheese though I still like it. Little Italy Pizzaria on Broadway in Fells Pt is also a New York Style pizza. It is my go to when I am down there on a late Saturday nite. Open late and for 3 bucks you get a monster slice. The crust has just enough of a crispiness to it that I like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BaltoMike

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hot Tomatoes - opposite side of Broadway and one block south of Little Italy - has much better pizza than LI. Pretty much everything - crust, sauce, cheese, topping - is much fresher, tastier and more well executed than Little Italy. In fact, I would say it is easily the best in Fells Point and one of the best in southeast Baltimore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Scittino's is not thin thin crust, it's a little bit thicker, I would say like Chef Paolino's. Of the three pizzeria's I frequent in the area -- Chef Paolino's, Toni's, and Scittino's -- it's my least favorite. Even though I'm not a big fan of the regular Don Pepino sauce they use, I must say I always go in hating on it and then I just can't stop eating it. What they do, they do very well. They have a special on Mondays (look in the menu), so I'd recommend going then to see if it agrees with you. When it's cooler outside, there's a huge line there in the evenings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A quick Joe Squared update. I hadn't been in a while, mostly because that area is getting more activity, and it's harder to find parking lately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, I've been on a Pizza Margherita kick, trying renditions of it pretty much every place I've been to recently. As you may recall, Pizza Margherita was supposedly invented to honor Margherita of Savoy, who was Queen Consort of Italy in the late 1800's. The pizza is topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes (fresh, sauce or crushed) and basil, to represent the red white and green of the Italian flag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the J2 rendition, the tomato was simple sauce, the moz seemed nice and fresh, and the basil was a course chiffonade, as opposed to whole leaves or torn shreds. It also seemed to have been added very near the end of cooking, and thus hadn't turned black as sometimes happens when added at the start of cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since my last visit, it seems that Joe Squared has gotten much better dialed in on their new high-temperature oven. I also noted that the crust seemed even thinner than previous, but with a nice balance between crunchy and chewy. The topping extended quite close to the edge, as opposed to leaving a "no topping zone" border. This might be enabled by the more consistently thin crust, or because this particular topping combo lends itself to precision distribution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They also now bring the pizzas out on a sheet of a sort of metal mesh with a thin solid border, as opposed to the solid baking sheets with raised sides that they used to use. I presume this is to allow air flow to prevent moisture accumulating between crust and pan. Whatever the theory is, it seems to work. I found that the crust stayed very nicely consistent as far as texture from first slice to last on their largest size pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As noted many times before, Joe Squared has a distinctive style, anchored by their sourdough crust. Some like it, some don't. But if you liked Joe Squared's pizza in the past, and haven't gone in a while, it may be time for another visit. I think these minor fine-tunings on their established style have improved the product. If you liked it before, you may like it more now. If you were ambivalent before, the improvement made by these tweaks may surprise you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you really didn't like J2's pizza before, though, you probably still won't like it. The things you probably didn't like previously have only been fine-tuned, rather than completely revised. And of course, if your objections had nothing to do with the pizza, the decor, staff, and other aspects of theplace as a whole are still largely intact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        what about Isabella's in Little Italy? I may get to try it out in a few weeks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        how does it compare to Little Italy Pizzeria?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: vivinator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Personally, I don't even consider Litte Italy Pizzeria in the same class as Isabella's. But the fancy schmancy style of Isabella's is not for everyone. Isabella's has an execellent Margherita, btw, as does Di Pasquale's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Speaking of my informal Margherita Pizza tour as mentioned in the post above, does anybody have recs for good ones in the area? I know we have this whole thread of general pizza opinions, but not every pizza place even offers a Margherita Pizza (moz - preferably fresh, tomatoes, basil), and not all places that make one do so well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm finding that using the Margherita as the pizza for comparison is giving me a new perspective on some places, as compared to my opinion of the same place with my usual "first try" order of sausage and onion. There's something about the simplicity of the Margherita that brings out good things in some pizza places, and yet can highlight inattention to detail as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fortunado's on York Rd. I find most of their pizza to be alightly above average and a fresh slice of their Margherita to be top notch and one of the best slices in Baltimore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very nice report Warthog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Went back to Joe Squared Thursday night, and damn, you're right, they've definitely have returned to their glory. Ooooo, delicious pizza. The tweeks have made a vast improvement from when they first installed their new coal-oven. The addition of the metal mesh pan, and the timing and temperature of the oven and how long they cook the crust has been perfected, and I for one am very, very happy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Of course, I have to mention that their AC was broken when we went, and it was probably cooler outside than inside the restaurant, which makes it a little uncomfortable when you're sweating into your beer. Thursday night was extremely hot though, but still, it might be wise to keep that in mind if you're heading over to satiate that pizza-fix to call ahead and see if it's working again, otherwise...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, had a great Hawaiian pizza. Crisp, thin crust with a little char (but I like that) with fresh toppings that were seamlessly integrated. Ah, great stuff. And a great beer selection. Friendly staff. Live music. Quite an interesting place.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When the AC is working, I'll be back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: drunk_again

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Couldn't agree more... the pizza there is really top notch! I was surprised to see how extensive the menu was and after noticing a big plate of great looking mussels on the walk in, decided to order those for an app. They were big, tender, and very fresh tasting, but the garnish on top was a decent amount of chopped cilantro. I have to assume this was a mistake and someone just stuck their hand in the wrong container back in the kitchen. I'll give them a free pass for now, but a knuckle sandwich if it happens again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Among others tried at the table, the meat lover's pizza was perfectly crispy and just showing just enough char to remind you it was cooked in a coal oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, love the beer selection...enjoyed a couple Mama's Little Yella Pils on tap. Can't wait to go back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've not posted any pizza updates in a while, so I'd like to chime in with some strong praise for the folks at Bella Napoli in Pasadena. As noted in a prior post, I'd been on a Pizza Margherita kick for a while, and I had tried the one at Bella Napoli. Good, but I wasn't blown away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On my next visit, however, I noticed that they had Pizza Marinara - no cheese, just crust, garlic, tomato sauce and a drizzle of olive oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My friend Alfred (Alfred's Tomato Pie, Blackwood, NJ - if you're in the area, GO, and tell Alfred that "Kenny from Baltimore" sent you!) makes a similar pie, but with anchovies. So I thought "What the heck" and I ordered a bowl of their "award winning" cream of crab soup (quite good), and a Pizza Marinara with anchovies. The pizza turned out to be a delight, and the pizza man came out toward the end of the meal to personally investigate who this fellow was who would order the marinara with anchovies. It almost seems like a "secret handshake" to those who know about this combination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To make a long story somewhat shorter, he suggested that the next time I come in, I should order either the same pizza or the Margherita, but tell the waiter to request an extra-thin crust. I did so, with a Margherita. For the extra thin, he takes the dough ball normally used for a 12" pie, and makes a 16" pie with it. He also suggests asking for a little less sauce, because if you don't eat the pizza quickly, the sauce soaks into the thinner crust, and the last few slices may be a bit droopy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As a side note, I'd also recommend the pastas at Bella Napoli. The Spaghetti Bella Donna (Marinara sauce, two kinds of imported Italian olives, capers, and imported anchovies) was very nice - the sort of thing you might have at a friend's house, if the friend had an Italian grandmother living in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Back to the pizza ranting, I'm finding more and more that if one shows the chef, pizza maker or owner that one really cares about GOOD pizza, there are many places that will take that extra bit of care if they know they've got a customer who knows and appreciates the difference. Talk to Joe at Joe Squared, or Lisa and Peter at Iggies, or the pizza guy at Bella Napoli, or one of the owners of Coal Fire, or the guys at Serpico's up north. These folks CARE about pizza - it's not just a emotionless product to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know if it's a growing trend of "pizza pride", but I'm sensing that these folks (and surely there are many more at other places in the area) really have a pssion about what they are doing, and want to interact with people who understand and appreciate it. And it seems that maybe there's a movement in this area to get away from the idea of pizza as a generic least-common-denominator commodity food, and to start appreciating that pizza, done with good ingredients and bit of dedication, can be so much more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Have you tried the new Facci's on Johns Hopkins Boulevard just west of Rte 29?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HowChowBlog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HowChow,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I went tonight. The good news - it's a very lovely space with an interesting color scheme and some very nice stonework highlights. It definitely doesn't feel like a strip mall place once you're inside. I predict that if they hit the right price point and quality level, they can be very successful as a sort of upscale, yet casual Italian restaurant that happens to have pizzas on the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If they try to make the pizza the flagship, they are doomed. At a price point of $9-14 for a 10" pie, it needs to be fabulous. Unfortunately, despite the wood fired oven, the imported ingredients, the creative topping combinations, it still comes out little better than the flavorless, chewy, thick-bready-rimmed stuff that one can find in any strip mall carry out in Maryland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pizza Margherita - crust was limp to chewy, with a very thick rim. Very scanty on the basil - a few thin ribbons, more like the couple of flakes of parsley one might find floating on a bowl of soup than being an integral part of the flavor and color balance of the classic Margherita. More the Red and White of the flags of Monaco, Poland, or Indonesia than the Red (tomato), White (fresh moz) and Green (basil) of the Italian flag that the ingredients are supposed to represent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In my opinion, if you like the dough that much, order a pasta instead, get free refills on the excellent bread (presumably baked in that oven), dunk the bread in the tomato sauce of the pasta, and forget about the fresh moz. In a much larger pie that hit the right balance point between crisp and chewy, that thick rim might be a forgivable, but on a small ten inch pie, it's way too much of a percentage of the total pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also tried the white pizza with sausage and broccoli rabe, and while the rim of the pie was thinner on this one, the crust was still flaccid, and despite seemingly good quality ingredients, the flavors were oddly muted. Maybe it needs a little sprinkle of sea salt or a drizzle of olive oil, or maybe they just need to make use of that oven to get the crust to where it should be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On other fronts, the Italian Wedding soup was quite nice, and compared to the pizza, far more fairly priced, in my opinion. And that bread (did I mention they kept bringing free refills?) was marvelous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The tiramisu "traditional" was an odd beast - looking more like a stacking of individual ladyfingers with the usual fillings and such, rather than the more familiar piece cut out of a larger pan of the layered delights. With the single stack of ladyfingers, it ended up looking strangely forlorn, like it really wanted to be a cannoli. Maybe I need to talk to that guy in Baltimore who claims to have invented his tiramisu, and see how "traditional" he thinks this version is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As an Italian restaurant, there are strong possibilities -it's got the sort of vibe that could make it a competitor to Pasta Plus if they get the food to that level. The staff seemed very competent. The owners have clearly put a lot of themselves into this enterprise, and I truly hope they get things in the groove and make a success of the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a pizza place, though, unless they both step up their game and adjust the price point a bit, I just don't see why anyone wouldn't head up the road to Coal Fire to get a far better pizza at a much better price per square inch. Actually, in that regard, Pasta Plus is a good point of comparison - they, too, have individual sized pizzas made in a wood fired oven , but nobody talks about Pasta Plus for their pizza. I suspect it may work out the same way for Facci, no matter what sort of certifications they may get for their pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lest I sound too discouraging, they've only been open a short time. It takes time to really get the hang of wood or coal ovens, especially if one has only used a regulr commercial pizza oven previously. They may improve. I just don't think the pizza is going to end up being the cornerstone of this place's profitability, and I don't think they are going to rise to the level of one of the top pizzas in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Apologies all - in reviewing Facci, I forgot my own unwritten rule that because pizza comes in varied styles, I should try to make comparisons to other places with a similar style. There's no "right" answer, and a pizza style that I don't like may be exactly the sort of style that others do like. Thus, providing points of comparison helps people know what to expect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The first thing to note is that Facci has one size currently, and that's 10", so take that into account - the interior-flat-area-to-rim ratio is different on a smaller pie than a larger pie, whatever style the pizza is. If you like the crust or rim area of a pizza, a smaller diameter tends to give you more of it in proportion to the rest of the pie than in, say, a 14" or 16" pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That said, the most apt comparison I can think of in the local area is Zellla's up in the Hollins Market area of Baltimore. If you like Zella's, odds are you'd find Facci's pizza worth a try. Nearer to Facci, I'd say that Pazani is the closest stylistic match, but I've only had large pies there, so that size difference thing comes into play. Also, I understand (somebody correct me if my information is incorrect) that Facci is run by the same people who own the Pasta Blitz chain, so one presumes that there would be at least some similarities there. I've not had pizza at Pasta Blitz, so I can't speak to exact comparisons. If you're coming from the West, the style, ingredients and price point at Facci seems similar to those at that place in mount Airy with the wood oven - Laurienzo's or something like that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again, I wish the folks at Facci well. A combination of the factors may have led my first impressions to be more negative than will be the case further down the road. First, their current pies are examples of a style of crust that is not my personal preference. Second, the fact that they only opened very recently and may be still getting their pizza making with the wood oven fine-tuned. Witness the learning curve that Joe Squared went through when they first got the coal oven - it took a while before Joe2 got the process down and returned to top form. Third, I was there on a Friday night when they were slammed, and the kitchen may have been slightly overwhelmed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm willing to say that I've not written off Facci, and may go back for another try in a few weeks to see if my first impression was in fact not fully representative of what they ultimately prove to be capable of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd also like to try the pasta side of the menu - I saw some dishes going by on the way to other tables that looked really good, including that shrimp on toast points appetizer. As I said, I suspect they may find their ultimate success is in bringing a higher level of Italian food to the area than the typical strip mall "red sauce Italian, generic salad, or do you want a slice of pizza instead?" type places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Pasticcio's in Canton (or at least I didn't see them mentioned when I skimmed this post). I preferred them when they were called Franco Zeppi but the pizza is still pretty good. My problem with Maryland pizza is that the sauce is too sweet. Yuck! The 2 years I spent in NJ weren't my favorite, but at least the pizza was good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FedHill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I mentioned them. Pasticcio's Italian Kitchen is also located in Pikesville in Baltimore County. 1330 Reisterstown Road. They do have excellent New York style thin crust pizza. Very very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Since this seems to have become the canonical Baltimore pizza thread, here's a link to a new thread on Bagby's pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667704

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So I'm finally going to get to Joe Squared pizza this week and looking forward to it! What pizza do I NEED to try? Should my wife and I try two smaller pies to get some diversity? Any apps or dishes def worth getting? Opinions please!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. My list is based strictly on my lack of willingness to drive for pizza and my taste for New York Style crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1) Pasta Mista
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2) Chestnut Ridge Farm Market (this threw me for a crazy loop. I drive by this place all the time to visit family. I decided to stop and with all of the different options from sandwichs to Peruvian chicken, I ordered a large pizza. It was about 2 dollars more than a pizza elsewhere, but it was excellent. Tangy, but not too sweet sauce, good thin New York style crust I could fold. It could be a new go to spot for pizza in a pizza void area.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3) Fortunato Brothers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4) Vito's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phillyfan77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Phillyfan77,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is the Vito's that you refer to the one that's in strip mall on a side street off of Reisterstown Road just outside of the beltway? Sorry that I don't remember more details, it's been a long time since I've been in that area. If it's not that one, where is the one you are referring to located, please?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Warthog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are three Vito's along the Reisterstown Road corridor, north of the beltway.(they may all be owned by the same family - not sure). I have only enjoyed the pizza at the Hooks Lane Vito's which is on the right about 2 blocks north of the beltway. I think this is the same Vito's you are referring to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The others are in the St. Thomas shopping center about 3 miles north of the Beltway and 1 is on Owings Mills Blvd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. If it hasn't been mentioned, you have to try Fortunato's in Towson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Just saw this and thought I would add my two cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Dominick's on Harford Road in Parkville
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Matthew's on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Gil's on BelAir Rd below Frankford.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Fortunato Brothers on Rt 22 in Bel Air.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. Casa Mia's on Taylor Ave in Parkville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fortunato Brothers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3101 Emmorton Rd Ste A1, Abingdon, MD 21009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hts2804

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I dont need to write a novel like others. Isabella's in Little Italy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Little Italy Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6920 Bradlick Shopping Ctr, Annandale, VA 22003

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: krad3168

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          wow 5 years has passed since i made that post. krad3168 is on the money, isabellas is hands down the best pie in the city right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv'e also come to be a fan of pizza johns, in essex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: i5hawn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm a pizza junkie and these are my top 5 in Charm City, in more or less order of preference, but really I'd be happy with any one of these right now. Damn, I'm hungry!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1) Gil's-Belair Rd. in Gardenville-Since 1956- Sells nothing but pizza, and only one size. Five years ago they got a Coke machine. Everything from scratch, and a great cheese blend they shred themselves. Carryout only.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2) Matthew's-Eastern Ave. in Highlandtown-Since 1942-Baltimore's own take on pizza, unlike anything else I've ever had. Great sauce, unique crust. Their "Great White" with sweet onions is amazing!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3)Viccino's-Charles St. in Mount Vernon-Funky carryout, with a friendly and wacky staff. Huge pies, lots of fresh toppings and loads of cheese. Most vegi toppings are free, so load up on fresh garlic! Also, they sell beer for carryout 7 days a week (always a plus!).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4)Pizza John's-Back River Neck Rd. in Essex- The east county /Dundalk/Essex institution. Truly a walk back in time to the sixties' pizza joints I remember as a kid-white uniforms, paper hats, stacks of dough in metal pans, etc. Crisp thin crust pies served searing hot, very nicely balanced sauce/cheese/toppings ratio. This place is huge and probably seats several hundred people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5)Frank's Pizza-Belair Rd. in Hamilton- Run by a straight-off-the-boat Italian family. Sauce and dough made fresh daily and proudly boasts "no preservatives or dough conditioners." Firm, slightly chewy crust, herb-y sauce, and just enough of the slightly stinky cheese in their blend. Perhaps the most "New York" of the NY-style pies I've found in Balto. Their Italian sausage is excellent quality!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'll also give kudos to Serpico's in Perry Hall and Joe Squared on North Ave., who do delicious pies in totally opposite styles. For sub shop carryout/delivery pizza my nods go to Filippo's on Conkling St. and Dominick's in Parkville. As for Isabella's, good, but a complete rip-off for the money, like most of Little Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Charm City Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Baltimore, MD, Baltimore, MD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Little Italy Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6920 Bradlick Shopping Ctr, Annandale, VA 22003

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I went to Gil's a couple of years ago I was talking to the owner about his pizzas while my pie was cooking (which ended up being for entirely too long I might add).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When asked about what kind of flours he uses and some fermentation questions, he told me "I don't know, they bring it to me and I make pizza with it". Who is "they". Nino's Pizza Dough, Alsham or some other purveyor of pre-made blanks?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The pizza was very par for the course at best. Granted, this was a couple of years ago (circa 2010), but there was nothing encouraging me to return for another try. --k

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: nyquilcoma

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Matthews serves Greek-style pizza, which is more commonly seen in the New England region. Matthews is about the farthest South I've seen or heard mention of Greek pizza being served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The dough has lard added to it, which is a big part of the texture and particular flavor of their crust. --K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: i5hawn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isabella's is really great. We were very happy with the pie we had there when we did our Harbor East/Fells Point pizza walking tour:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/balt...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other real winner for me in that list was Italian Graffiti, which no one has mentioned. Just an outstanding slice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Given that pizza preferences depend so much on where you live my go to places are Fortunato's and Vito's on York road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. My favorite pizza in the Baltimore area is Mama Luccia's. Their Minestrone is also amazing - and don't forget to try their bread & seasoned oil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.mammaluciarestaurants.com/

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: writezoe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Best pizza in the DMV is the original Ledo's pizza which is now in College Park not the franchise BS which taste totally different. You can put that sauce on shoe leather and I would eat it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ledo Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4509 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Honestly, Baltimore pizza sucks for the most part. I do like Iggie's and Matthew's. Pizza John's is decent as well, but kind of PITA to get to if you don't want to do anything else in the Essex area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought Joe Squared was overrated. I was highly disappointed with the burnt cracker crust and tomato soup sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pizza Johns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              113 Back River Neck Rd, Essex, MD 21221

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: armybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess we all judge are pizzas on different criteria. In terms of straight up cheese, sauce and crust there's not much better around here than Carmine's in Hunt Valley and DiPasquale's in Highlandtown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dws

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is true. I like a classic pizza, you don't need a ton of ingredients to do it right. You have to crawl before you walk. When it comes to pizza, I'd say perfect your basics before you branch out into something more elaborate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The crispy crust is a killer for me. I do enjoy a bite to my crust, but Joe Squared was just a disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For more nontraditional pies, I do enjoy Iggie's. The Alice is just divine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: armybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    @armybaker when you say you don't like a crispy crust, how crispy do you mean? Are you referring to that kind of dried out crust that almost shatters like glass to the tooth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You mentioned you liked classic NY-Style pizza. Classic/archetype NY-Style pizza does have a very thin veneer of "crispiness" to it, but it should not run deep into the crust. The classic "snap-chew". The soft, floppy crusts found on many chain pizzas are not NY-Style. Thanks --K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: armybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Burnt cracker crust is a problem for me as well, so I probably won't be making a trip just to try Joe Squared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not fond of crispy pizza crust in general. I tried Pizza John's today and thought the cheese slices I got were very decent, but I'd have preferred the crust to not be crispy at all. It's not excessively crispy to begin with, and I definitely want to go back for more; I just really like a floppier crust like Gil's on Belair Road (unless they changed it. I hope not.). I know that pizza in Baltimore is very hit or miss at best, so I appreciate the recommendations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Clootie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree Pizza John's is decent, but not spectacular. I'm into the New York style of pizza, but it has become apparent that you can only get that in New York. Specialty pizzas are divine, but sometimes you just want a classic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pizza Johns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    113 Back River Neck Rd, Essex, MD 21221