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Jan 16, 2008 11:14 AM

Iggies Pizza and other B-More disappointments

Disappointment #1: Iggies Pizza

So today, since Iggies is almost literally ten paces from my job, I decided to investigate what all of the clammer over their pizza was about. I viewed their menu online but was not forewarned about the price. Suffice to say, I was startled reading how much I'd have to invest in a standard 8" cheese pizza. But it was easy to see why; Iggies seems to be all about adding a "trendy" upscale spin on an otherwise blue collar meal. I've been to these types of places before and they usually pale in comparison to honest, family owned and neighborhood driven counterparts, especially in the arena of pizza. Anyway, I coughed up $8.50+ tax for an 8" Quattro Formaggi which had obviously spent a smidge too much time in the oven. That may have been the culprit, but I doubt it could explain the sad looking pie. What was supposed to be roasted garlic tasted more like they spread a garlic paste under the cheese, and it overwhelmed the pizza along with the taste of burnt embers. The use of cheese was stingy, at best. For the same amount, I could have bought at least 6 Mama Celeste pizzas from Shoppers and been outstandlingly satisfied. Same size, better value.

Disappointment #2: Blue Moon Cafe

You know, it seems like most places that are raved about in local papers and spoken highly of on AOL City Guide I have a bad experience with. Such was the case at Blue Moon. It could possibly have been the wrong day, or maybe the alignment of the celestial bodies, but I probably won't be going back for a redemptive meal. First of all, eating here is a tight squeeze. Now, I had the unfortunate experience of getting here by 10am on a Sunday, so anyone who's been here can imagine the wait that had already formed. I waited in the cold, in my car, and in the cold again for at least 25 minutes before my name was called. OK, I can excuse that; business is good. Anyway, I am finally seated with my guest and, being the caring and concerned male that I am, I chose the less comfortable of our seating options at the table: the chair next to the door. Mind you, it's a blustery morning outside, so not only did I have to constantly move my chair up for incoming patrons, but I'd also get a nice shot of cold air down my back every time the door was opened. Whatever, I excused this also and chalked it up as part of the experience. Besides, we hadn't eaten yet.

One thing that had already irked me was the unfulfilled hopes of fresh squeezed orange juice that had been a raved about item in the City Guide. It was only 10:30 am and they already ran out, so I had to settle for an iced tea. The major disappointment came when I decided to order a Western Omelette to find that they did not offer American cheese. What? A menu offering omelettes and you don't have American cheese? What kind of establishment is this?!! Needless to say, that was the final and deciding blow. I'd much rather have gone to either of the Double T diners and probably would have saved a couple of dollars as well. City Guide and City Paper let me down on this one, but the experience was educational nonetheless.

Disappointment #3: The Real Thing

Not such a surprise, I'd mainly fault this establishment with not delivering on the expectations of such a bold name. The "Real Thing" was a real disappointment in many ways but, to its merit, was not unlike any other Baltimore cheesesteak (this is a sub shop, by the way). The bread was a little better than the usual flimsy, could-substitute-as-hotdog-roll type of bread that I've experienced. The true test of structural fortitude for any cheesesteak is whether or not it can survive a "to go" trip. My sandwich barely made it home, and within a couple of bites it was ready to collapse on itself, which it eventually did and I wound up eating the rest with a spoon and fork. Not a good experience. I'm from South Jersey, so my cheesesteak expectations are a bit high, and on that note, the Real Thing does not deliver anything beyond the usual Baltimore sub. Next time I'll suck it up for the 45 minute trip to South Street Steaks in College Park for a much better attempt at the "real thing".

Edit: To their credit, though, The Real Thing did not provide nearly as bad an experience as the overly hyped Captain Harvey's. Ugghhh, who keeps suggesting this place? Not only was I served meat from a heaping pile that must have been sitting on a grill for hours, when I got the sandwich home (a 20 minute drive), it was a mangled mess and the cheese wasn't even melted. And to think, I spent $9 on that mess of a sandwich.

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  1. iggies promote high quality ingredients not super sized value meals. plenty of local sub-shops will offer 2 for 1 special 8" card board sysco pies for $8 and change. this may be perceived as value to some consumers. in adhering to thin crust tradition, the crust of the pie is charred to have that textural contrast. this lends support and depth to the toppings. not a big fan of superfluous cheese on anything. when you go to iggies, you get a solid thin crust pizza w/ incredibly fresh ingredients at a higher mark-up. this means substantial incr. in raw cost due to incr. in energy & commodidites and low currency valuation since most of their raw goods are from europe. iggies is not for all consumers but they def. do have certain flavor profile that behest most pizza parlors in the baltimore area. this is of course IMHO.

    2 Replies
    1. re: curious4food

      I can respect that. Maybe this sort of thin crust isn't my thing. I tried Joe Squared and wasn't particularly blown away either. And I guess I can do away with the "high quality ingredients". The always affordable corner pizzeria always sufficed well. I guess I'll stick with searching for more of those. Next up: Matthew's and Fortunado's.

      1. re: curious4food

        Also, Iggies has a "no tipping" policy, so there prices may seem on the high side but if you eat in, its the same price.

      2. Wow. I certainly hope these all haven't been in one small time period or you might be so melancholy that you'd never want to step outside your door to eat in Baltimore ever again. Thanks for the reviews. I've never been to The Real Thing and your experience with Bull Moon seems just unlucky.

        But I was pretty surprised with the poor trip to Iggies. I really enjoy Iggies; I think it fills out a good niche around here. No, it's not the place to go for a bargain pizza, I agree. If you want bargain, get a frozen pizza or order a half price pie from Maria's, or better yet, make a pizza yourself - it's super easy, super cheap, and super delicious. What I find at Iggies is a friendly establishment with friendly people. I love sitting at one of their large tables and talking to people whether I've brought friends myself or not. I also think that if you noticed the pizza was burnt, you should have taken it back up to them. It happens, and I've never had a problem with asking them to fix these kinds of things. Something like that is up to you to bring to their attention. I guess that I feel like I'm paying a little bit for the 'experience' (for lack of a better word), and their pizzas always come out pretty delicious for me.

        Sorry your experience wasn't as good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Wangus

          Matthew's is a great pie, but make sure you try Pizza Johns if haven't already.

          1. re: bmore_flavor

            definately try the pie with "both" cheeses at matthews. it's devine.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. i'm not going to get on here and crush iggie's because their product is ok. does it equal the money spent for it? no. (but in reality most food doesn't) is it mind blowing pizza? no. is it terrible? no.

            i have been there, and it's not spectacular. it's quick, it's ok, but judging from what others have said, i can understand what you experienced. the mama celeste comparison? i think that might be a stretch.

            1 Reply
            1. re: wild bill

              No stretch. Mama Celeste would have made for a much better lunch than what I had today. Maybe it was a bad day at Iggies or just a bad pie for me. I just want to give an informed opinion.

            2. It sounds as though your criteria for food is solely on price. Would you have been happier, say, at Iggie's if the pizza was $4.25 instead of $8.50?

              5 Replies
              1. re: baltoellen

                I think everyone would be happier. Heck, I know I'd be happier if my favorite restaurant slashed their prices in half. And? Isn't price considered in most cases when assessing an eating establishment? My criteria, of course, is not based solely on price. If that were the case, I'd limit my diet to Ramen noodles and chicken gizzards and only eat out at Mickey D's. Sorry if I misled you to thinking that my bias is based on price alone. It's ultimately up to everyone to try these places themselves. They might have a great experience, like the one I was anticipating.

                Funny as it is, no one really seems to care what I said about the other two places. Maybe Iggies has a cultish following of sorts or something. I'll keep that it mind the next time I decide to slam a place here on CH. Tough crowd......

                1. re: jharris

                  Granted, I think you're getting a bit harsher of a verbal slewing than you really deserve. But most people I think just feel like you didn't like the food NOT because it wasn't good food but rather because it wasn't what you expected. Regardless of if that was what you meant, it does come off a little like that.

                  Don't be put off though, reviews both positive and negative are what make CH great. Just know that you might need to firm up your points and wear a bullproof vest if you're planned on criticizing an overally enjoyed establishment.

                  1. re: Wangus

                    If I may offer a cases in point to back up Wangus' observation.

                    In the Iggies portion of the review you mention not liking "trendy" pizza, and having an issue with Iggie's pricing. Yet the item below the Quattro Formaggi on the menu board is the Pulti - Tomato sauce and Mozzarella, for two bucks less for the small size than the Four Cheese. Based on the comments you make, it sounds like you would prefer the cheaper, simpler pie.One wonders why you went with the choice that seems to have been predictably less likely to be what you wanted.

                    Same with the Real Thing - You admit it's pretty representative of a Baltimore Sub, then slam it for not being a Philly cheese steak.

                    And I share Bob W's puzzlement about the Blue Moon review.

                    As Wangus says, your overall tone (intentional or otherwise) seems more focused on complaint about what each place wasn't, rather than taking each for what it is and commenting on how well they did at what they set out to do.

                    1. re: Warthog

                      In the interest of finding at least one point of agreement with the O.P., I share the bafflement about Captain Harvey's. Yes, food in huge quantitites at a low price has an attraction, but there ought to be some enjoyment, too.

                      That said, I'm not sure any cheesesteak travels well. I've always thought of cheesesteaks or subs as being in the category of "eat when and where ordered, or don't bother." I'm not sure even my favorite Philly sandwich, Tony Luke's Italian Pork with Sharp Provolone and Broccoli Rabe would be worth a cheer after a long wait in the wrapping.

                      1. re: Warthog

                        My puzzlement did not end when jharris expanded his remarks.

                        "My guest had the huevos rancheros, which I probably would have liked, but that's not her type of breakfast dish and therefore she was disappointed with it."

                        Well, you know, if I ordered grilled calves' liver, I'd be disappointed with it too, even if it was the greatest plate of grilled calves' liver ever placed before a diner, because I can't stand grilled calves' liver. Why didn't the guest order blueberry pancakes or french toast? Whoever heard of knowingly ordering something you don't like? And if for some reason she didn't know what huevos rancheros is (even though it's described on the menu), she could have asked before ordering it.

                        But don't blame the resto because you order something you don't like.

                        The whole episode just makes no sense at all.