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Pizza in Baltimore

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Any tips on where to find a great slice of thin crust in Baltimore? Nothing fancy just basic sauce, cheese, and peperoni on a very thin crust, seasoned and cooked to perfection. My favorite is Rubino's in Columbus OH, if anybody happens to be familiar.

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  1. If you are looking for a NYC-style "slice" (despite the Ohio reference), you will likely be disappointed. Baltimore does have some "by the slice" places, but few of any note.

    Try this thread for a good summary of all things pizza in the Baltimore area:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/319398

    4 Replies
    1. re: Warthog

      Chef Paolino (downtown, in the B of A center where Lombard intersects Charles Street) serves a credible slice. But in general I agree with Warthog.

      -----
      Chef Paolino Cafe
      100 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

      1. re: lawhound

        Pasticcio Italian Kitchen in Pikesville.

        1330 Reisterstown Road Pikesville, MD 21208-3805 - (410) 484-4781

      2. re: Warthog

        Rubino's looks a lot like Chicago thin crust style, particularly because they cut their round pizzas "party" or "tavern" style and the pizza has no real discernable raised outer edge, or "il cornicione".

        I have not been to Rubino's, but the sauce on Chicago thin crust style (if that is what Rubino's is a close approximation of) is in my experience more seasoned/spiced than the sauce encountered in Baltimore City.

        1. re: pizzablogger

          That sounds exactly like what i'm looking for. So, no go in Baltimore?

      3. Iggies on Calvert Street doesn't sell by the slice, but they have small pies. Thin crust and my favorite in town

        1 Reply
        1. re: fedhillhound

          For gourmet thin-crust pizza, Iggie's is the best, hands down. I love bringing a bottle of wine and sitting on the sidewalk on a summer night.

        2. I think the best pizza in town is Joe Squared. Thin crust, great ingredients.

          1. Fortunato's in the York Plaza strip mall (York and Gittings Avenue) has very good pizza by the slice.

            6 Replies
            1. re: kim2310

              Yeah, it ain't bad. And if you want to do a little mini-pizza tour Vito's in the strip mall next to Well's liquors right next to Fortunato's is pretty good too.

              1. re: kukubura

                Vito's is not bad! And it's always full of Loyola students, which is probably a sign that it has the stamp of approval of NY and NJ transplants.

                1. re: pomme de terre

                  Yeah I like it. I will say, however, that like so many slice joints in Baltimore, they cut their pie into 6 slices and not the 8 that I'm used to from growing up in NYC. So instead of walking to the pizzeria and eating 1/8-1/4 of a pie and then walking somewhere else, you drive to Vito's, eat a significantly larger 1/6-1/3 of a pie and then drive away. Guaranteed to contribute to making you a fat ass! Oh well.

                  1. re: pomme de terre

                    Spoke too soon. Had one of the worst pizzas of my life from Vito's a few days ago. Got a margarita pie to take home after work. When I got home I found a watery, flavorless pile. By then I was too tired to go back and complain. In my exhaustion I forgot the number one rule of living in Baltimore: Always inspect the merchandise before you leave. Sigh.

                    1. re: kukubura

                      kukubura, I'm assuming Vito's, like many NY pizza stores, offers a margarita where somewhat large sized whole milk mozzarella is put on after they cook the pie.....is this correct?

                      If so, user malfunction. That whole milk mozzarella has much more moisture than the aged cheese usually used. The pizza goes in a box, gets steamed and the water from the mozzarella leaks out all over the place....making soggy areas watering down the pizza. It's happened to me before......had to learn the hard way it needs to be eaten fresh outta the oven >;(

                      1. re: kukubura

                        I KNOW, the customer service at NY pizza places is so congenial! So kind, they truly worry if there is moisture in the box or if your slice is perfect. PLEASE. Most of the crusts are like cardboard, no sauce unless you get it fresh fresh. NY pizza is in your head. I was there last week had pizza twice in four days. Nothing better than some places here.....Rocco's in GB is good So is Scittino's in Catonsville. Rhode Island has some pizza that is better than Ive had in NYC. Pizza is a personal taste.

                2. Iggies on Calvert Street has the best pizza in Baltimore. Try the 2009: hot sausage, peppers, and olives...Molto Bene!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: edresner

                    I also want to endorse Zella's pizza in Sowebo. It's a really cute place, with great, basic pizza. The sausage is especially excellent. While the crust isn't as thin as Iggie's, it was well-cooked and chewy. Seems like they use high-quality ingredients, too.

                  2. fugggedaboudit....it doesn't exist. Not by the slice and and not entire pizzas either. The best you'll do is come close to a mediocre NY pizza. And that's not saying much.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: michael4ny

                      So what if the pizza isn't up to the "amazing" quality that is expected in New York? Someone always seems to bring up this point making Baltimoreans seem ignorant when it comes to pizza. We understand there are better pizzas to be had elsewhere in the country and around the world, but our city has some fine options. Sure they might not serve the most fresh traditional margherita pizzas, but we have inventive chefs who are looking to create new varieties of great handmade pizzas throughout the city. Every thread referencing Baltimore pizza inevitably has someone come along to bash the offerings of the entire area; can we for once just have a positive discussion of the best options in the city?

                      1. re: edresner

                        Almost as bad as the snobs who say you need to specify the "style" of "NY Style" and proceed to rattle off all different types of "NY Style" pizza... as if because a type of pizza is made in at least one restaurant in NY, it qualifies...

                        That said, I grew up in NY and the best NY style I have found in the Baltimore area are (in order):

                        Pasta Blitz - Timonium
                        Pasta Mista - Towson/Canton
                        Chef Paolino - Catonsville (the downtown location was far inferior the one time I tried it)

                        While none of these will compete for the best slice in the world, they are all solid and if I want a slice or two, I never feel let down at any of them.

                        1. re: Chowtimore

                          Yep -- I agree... Pasta Mista is as close to a (good) New York pizza as you're likely to find anywhere in or near B'more. Their sauce is perfectly salted & seasoned, with a hint of sweetness and a good dose of garlic, and they use just the right amount, IMO. Their crust is thin, and has both a crispness and a softness that I find appealing.

                          Iggie's is delicious -- mainly because of their toppings -- and I usually like their crust, but the other day we ordered 4 pizzas from there and all were SUPER tough and chewy. Hope it was an anomaly... or maybe they were training a new pie-maker.

                          -----
                          Pasta Mista
                          822 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204

                        2. re: edresner

                          THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

                          1. re: edresner

                            As long as, IF the options are actually mediocre, THEN you specify they're "the best" but still not good, sure. :D

                            And you should check and post the temperature of the deck and roof of the ovens they're cooked in. That's the best single determinant of crust quality and overall quality respectively.

                            1. re: KWagle

                              Anyone can turn an oven to its highest setting or purchase an oven which reaches high temperatures, but that does not mean the dough going into the oven will be any good. While high heat is a critical part of great pizza, how great the crust can be is largely determined long before the dough/skin hits the deck of the oven.

                              Oven temperature in and of itself can be only moderately useful. Perhaps more important is the time it takes for an oven to cook a pizza. It's no good to have a hot oven if that heat is not efficiently distributed....and you do not have a skilled person on the sticks to manage the pizza (moving them to hotter and cooler parts of the oven) in such an inefficient oven....ovens like the barrel vaulted and/or more rectangular ovens originally used for bread or modelled after such ovens like at Lombardi's, Patsy's, Sally's, Pepe's, etc, etc are not good at conveying even heat. Hence the need for talented people on the sticks.

                              And absolute temperature is not the tell all. The material that comprises the floor of the refractory chamber plays a huge roll....not all materials have the same thermodynamic properties. The individual fire bricks used to buld a traditional low domed, round Neapolitan wood-fired oven need to be heated to between 800°F to 950°F on the floor to cook a pizza in the 60-90 seconds typical for that style. If you were to replace that brick floor with a thick layer of cordierite (what kiln shelves are commonly made of), cooking at the same 800-950 temperature would likely burn the pizza in 60-90 seconds as cordierite has a better ability to transfer heat at a given temperature than firebrick. Soapstone would cook faster at a given temperature than cordierite, steel plate at a faster rate then soapstone, etc (assuming equal thicknesses and same oven chamber).

                              I've made plenty of 120 second pizzas in my home oven on a cordierite kiln stone heated to 775°F. My newer soapstone shelf cooks a pizza in the same amount of time, but I have to lower the launch temp of the stone to 725-740 or so to cook the same 120 second pizza without burning it for the reasons previously mentioned.

                              So, while high heat is very important (the fuel source providing that heat is not that important, as long as it is high), how that heat is distributed in the oven (due to oven design, materials, etc) and what materials the oven are constructed of are also vitally important. --K

                              1. re: pizzablogger

                                It's true my ancient HearthKit makes decent pies (about three minutes) as low as 729. But it really is happier at 800 or so. I'll have to look into the other stones you mentioned. We haven't tried steel plate yet, but it's on the list. assume you had to modify your home oven to get it up to 775... what did you do?

                                Most home ovens' highest setting isn't hot enough, unless you're lucky and have an old one whose broiler runs continuously. When I wanted an oven which could reach higher temperatures, I once asked the folks at Superior's now-closed Boston outlet about commercial ovens. Superior called Blodgett, and whoever they spoke with claimed they didn't have anything that could regulate at over 650dF. I

                                One thing I've been curious about is how the airflow requirements for a given fuel affect the pie. A coal oven with a separate firebox (which I believe is how Wooster Square ovens work) presumably doesn't need airflow at all. I've always cooked in gas ovens (modding an electric oven is also on the list) which require constant airflow for obvious reasons, which is also true of these trendy wood ovens.

                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                  Nice post ;)

                          2. Most slice places in Baltimore suffer from bland undercooked crusts, topped with over sweet sauce and gummy cheese. HOWEVER, The best slice I have found is at Hot Tomatoes on Broadway in Fells Point. Excellent crunchy chewy crust and everything is hand made. This place is one of Baltimore's unknown gems. Plus, they are open late - until 3am weekends.

                            -----
                            Hot Tomatoes
                            717 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: HungryinBmore

                              Pasticcio in Canton (near Safeway) or go for a drive to Rocco's in Glen Burnie for my favorite in the area. I've heard people hype up Bagby's (but I found the crust to be a bit bland. Glad to see no one mention BOP on this thread. What a joke that place is!

                              1. re: illcook4u

                                Gummy cheese? I think its you... its like my parents that say oh it needs more salt every year they get older it needs more of something.....its you. Pizza is personal.....

                            2. Isabella's is my current favorite in the area. They are located in Little Italy, very close to Vaccaro's. They make their own Mozzarella and I love the flavor imparted by their wood burning oven. During lunchtime Isabella's will serve a single serving size pizza.

                              http://www.isabellasbrickoven.net/

                              It's more on the "fancy" side, though, so not the category you are looking for. Still, last time I was at Joe's in NYC, I was wishing I was at Isabella's instead. I recommend you check out the Pizza Blogger. With his detailed descriptions, you should easily be able to find exactly the pizza you are looking for.

                              http://www.pizzablogger.org/

                              As far as BOP (Brick Oven Pizza in Fells Point), either my palate has vastly improved or they used to have a much better product. Still, it's just easier to send some people there... you know, those people who are apprehensive of any place that's not a chain.

                              1. Although located in a not so popular neighborhood, there is a place called Mamma Roma in the Reisterstown Road Plaza at the city/Pikesville border on Reisterstown Rd at Patterson Ave. They serve up very simple, but very tasty standard NY style pizza by the slice. There can be some variability to the slices, but when they are good, they are superb.
                                I've lived in NYC before and they are very good for the Baltimore area, a real substitute for NYC pizza in the area.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: bmoreguy

                                  Pasta Mista is great! Chef Paulino is great! Pasta Blitz is okay. One more place to try on Reisterstown Road is Vito's. Great pizza! If you are in the Columbia area, you MUST try Mama Lucia. Their pizza is fantastic! If you want a quick carry out pizza in Columbia, try Trattoria. There are 2, one in Dorsey Hall and one in King's Contrivance. If you are in Hunt Valley, try Carmine's. Good pizza too.

                                  -----
                                  Pasta Mista
                                  822 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204

                                  Pasta Blitz
                                  11550 Philadelphia Rd Ste 100, White Marsh, MD 21162

                                  1. re: Pizza_Head

                                    Are the two Trattorias related?

                                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                                      I had heard that the owners are related.

                                      In Howard County, I would prefer Facci on Johns Hopkins Road over the Trattorias -- although I know they have loyal people.

                                      1. re: HowChowBlog

                                        Isn't Facci in PG County? Nevertheless, it's worth the half hour wait to get a spot these days, but Panzani in Elkridge is pretty good for pizza, too, if you don't want to wait.

                                    2. re: Pizza_Head

                                      Due to work concerns, I just visited Mamma Lucia's in Annapolis (Jennifer Road) for the second time. First visit I had re-heated slices which left a lot to be desired. so today I ordered two whole pizzas (one cheese, one pepperoni).

                                      I felt like telling the owner that it was hotter outside than it was in his Baker's Pride oven. Heat and cooking time are two critical factors for nailing NY-Style pizza and this place struck out swinging.

                                      My two pies were the only two in the bottom deck and the cook times were 10:17.44 and 10:41.59 respectively. That is literally *forever* for this style. When I am in a NY-Style joint and my stopwatch goes beyond six minutes, I know I'm getting a second rate pie. These pies lacked any real snap to the outer shell, the inner crust (crumb) was dry and cottony and the top of the end crust was very pale...all hallmarks of low temperature, long bake times.

                                      Either repair your ovens if they are old and have lost heat output or turn the friggen' dial up on the thermostat already. Mamma Lucia does add a nice dusting of pecorino before adding the mozzarella, but too much mozzarella is added to the tired crust which spends an eternity in that oven.

                                      Better than chain pizza, but not worth a special trip. Mediocre NY-Style pizza.

                                      This ended a week of pizza eating that started with Little Italy Pizzeria in Fells Point (Baltimore) and included Totonno's in Coney Island, L&B Spumoni Gardens (Brooklyn), New Park Pizza (Queens), NY Pizza Suprema (Manhattan), Iggie's (Baltimore) and then Mamma Lucia today. Seeing 18" NY-Style pizzas being pulled from the oven in just under 3 minutes at New Park Pizza was a good sight....and tasty pizzas!

                                      1. re: pizzablogger

                                        Love NY Pizza Suprema. Wish we could get that here.

                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                          SIX minutes? I wouldn't cook a pizza past five minutes AT HOME. I certainly wouldn't go back to a place that took more than three minutes to cook a pie (which is why I mostly go to Patsy's in East Harlem these days.)

                                          SIX minutes. I guess now I know why I've never been impressed by pizza in NY.

                                          1. re: KWagle

                                            I hear you KWagle.

                                            I'm not saying six minutes is the ideal number to shoot for at all, just that at around six minutes (if not five) a NY-Style pizza really accelerates downward towards Mediocre-ville. I've had a good pie from Joe's (Carmine St) that I timed at just under six minutes. It wasn't a great NY-Style pizza, but good.

                                            Pizza enthusiasts will argue about cook times, but many will agree that true, archetype NY-Style pizza should ideally cook in a range of 3 to 5 minutes, regardless of oven type (the common gas deck oven is capable of these times). You just start driving out too much moisture from the crust after 5 minutes. This is why so many NY-Style pizzerias serve pizza with a crumb (inner crust) that has that really dried out, almost cotton-like texture. Not good.

                                            I'm not a pizza expert and have not been everywhere in Maryland, but I have been to many places around Baltimore. I cannot ever recall seeing a pizza cooked in less than 6 minutes, with 10+ minute cook times very common. Even in and around NYC there is a very small number of places still cranking out sub 5 minute NY-Style pizzas. A real shame.

                                            Cook times are not everything. If you put a turd in an oven and cook it in three minutes, you have something that is quickly cooked...but it's sill a turd. But the cook time is a vital part of the equation.

                                            1. re: pizzablogger

                                              "If you put a turd in an oven and cook it in three minutes, you have something that is quickly cooked...but it's sill a turd."

                                              Maybe the greatest line I have ever read on Chowhound! What are your thoughts on Joe Squared? I feel like they have all the pieces of the puzzle, including the quick cook time, but seem to over complicate things.

                                              1. re: pizzablogger

                                                I should've clarified that the cook time at Patsy's is about 1m45s. The total time from order to pie removal is three minutes. Sadly I can't do that at home, yet. Five minutes is pushing it--I'm unhappy to pay money for that but I'll eat it at someone's home.

                                                1. re: KWagle

                                                  I haven't been to Patsy's in a while, but they have apparently sped up their cook times based on your sub two minute bake you reported above. I timed the bake on two pizzas on 7/3/2009 at 3:15 and 3:21 respectively and then on 10/7/2010 I timed my pie at 3:09.

                                                  The pies made famous by the coal fired joints in NYC (Lombardi's, Totonno's, John's, Patsy's, Grimaldi's, etc) are a slightly different style, NY-Neapolitan, than the NY-Style most people associate with the corner slice joint. But still, 3-5 minutes is the window a slice joint should aim for.

                                                  Keep pushing KWagle, you'll get your bake time at home where you want it eventually! :)

                                            2. re: pizzablogger

                                              Mamma Lucia does add a nice dusting of pecorino before adding the mozzarella, but too much mozzarella is added to the tired crust which spends an eternity in that oven.
                                              Better than chain pizza, but not worth a special trip

                                              Pizzablogger - Mama Lucia is a local pizza chain

                                          2. re: bmoreguy

                                            I'm going to try that some time. I had to do a double take because I recently got a slice at Mama Leahs just a bit futher up Reisterstown Road and it wasn't good. It wasn't terrible but I wouldn't go back. It's a kosher pizzeria so no meat toppings, which is fine with me since I don't eat them anyway. But I wanted it to be better.

                                            -----
                                            Mama Leah's
                                            1852 Reisterstown Rd Ste 108, Pikesville, MD 21208

                                          3. I think there is also a Mama Lucia's on Geenmount avenue. That is my go to place for New York style pizza. It may not be as great as the best in New York but is very satisfying.I haven't found a better pie in Baltimore yet. Still need to try several of the recommendations listed above. I thought Iggies was o.k.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tobynissly

                                              I don't believe I've ever seen Gianni's in Severn mentioned

                                              http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid...

                                            2. I grew up in NYC. As for high quality, gourmet, "high end" pizza--Iggie's or Joe Squared. And while maybe the best NYC slice style pizza is better than anything you can get in Baltimore, there's still some good pizza in Baltimore. I like Mama Lucia's on Greenmount Ave in Waverly. This might be an unpopular opinion, but Hopkins Deli on 39th Street in the Charles Village/Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood has damn good pizza and they deliver, unlike Mama Lucia's.

                                              -----
                                              Hopkins Deli
                                              110 W 39th St Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21210

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: smilesmalltimore

                                                I 2nd Hopkins Deli!

                                                -----
                                                Hopkins Deli
                                                110 W 39th St Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21210

                                              2. A new place opened up in the 1600 block of Fleet Street in Fells Point by the name of Grafitti Pizza that is kicking out some pretty good pies, along with other Italian fare. Some of their toppings are a little...unconventional but by and large it's good, handmade, with honest ingredients. Oddly enough I have found slices to be better than whole pies. I can also recommend the calzones.

                                                16 Replies
                                                1. re: mobtown999

                                                  Just to update: the place to which I refer is Italian Graffiti Pizza & Grill at 1635 Fleet Street (410-534-5454). They have apps, soups & salads, pastas and other entrees, subs, panini, wraps, pizzas, calzones, and desserts. They also cater.

                                                  1. re: mobtown999

                                                    For anyone interested, some pics I took while at Italian Graffiti. I got a regular pie and a margherita.

                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                    1. re: pizzablogger

                                                      Gulp, might have to check that out...

                                                      1. re: kukubura

                                                        We went to Harbor East Delicatessen & Pizzeria last night. I know they just opened, but the pizza left a lot to be desired. None of us thought it was better than delivery pizza.....same screens, funny smell, floppy crust and out of the can tasting sauce.

                                                        At $2.99 for a plain slice, that's a lot for what you get.....any of the Fells Point by the slice shops serve a better slice.

                                                      2. re: pizzablogger

                                                        Italian Graffiti Update: After two very lackluster visits here in the last month and not seeing owners Vincenzo (Vincent) or Roberto on site, I wondered if the ownership had changed here.

                                                        I bumped into Vincent and he confirmed that he had moved on. He is currently involved with another Italian restaurant in Bel Air and he mentioned that he is spending some time at Giovanni's Tutti Gusti in Canton. I have not been there in some time now.

                                                        Unfortunately, Italian Graffiti has gone downill and based on those last two lackluster visits, I can no longer recommend it. The crust is more dried out now, lacks any flavor and the quality of the sauce has taken a turn for the worse. Unfortunate, but good luck to Vincent in his new endeavors. --K

                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                          Very interesting. My last pie from tutti gusti was very good. Didn't think much of it as I was starving, but definitely a step above what they used to serve.

                                                          Have you tried Verde yet?

                                                          1. re: gregb

                                                            I have not tried the pizza at Verde yet, but will this weekend.

                                                            Just got back from Rodanthe (Outer Banks) and noticed they were open the night before I left while running errands. Took a quick peek inside just to see the space and ended up talking with the owner, Ed, for about ten minutes before having to leave.

                                                            The space itself is very well done in my opinion. A nice neighborhood pizza spot....not too fancy, but tastefully appointed. Nice tile work, reclaimed wood on the walls, beautiful wooden tables made from wood in a church Ed owned in Chicago and lighting.

                                                            The menu pricing appeared quite reasonable. Dittos for the selection...a few salads and several pizzas. Perfect IMO. Beer and wine only.

                                                            I noticed they chose to go with a Woodstone Mountain Series wood fired oven. Ed mentioned they employ an overnight fermentation....2 hours at room temperature after initial mixing, then refrigerated and finally brought out to room temperature a few hours before cooking. This may potentially be a little short of a time to develop the flavor inherent in high quality Neopolitan pizzas when considering the dough spends time refrigerated, but early reports are that the dough is good. And dough is a large aspect of what Neapolitan pizza is all about.

                                                            Ed was quite enthusiastic about opening and about pizza in general, which is always refreshing to see. We talked a little more about some of the pains involved with opening a pizzeria, which is of particular interest to me. I did not get to time a pizza in the oven (for this style pies should be cooked in 60 to 90 seconds ideally, with 120 seconds definitely acceptable), but a margherita was whisked by me to a waiting table while I was leaving.....and it looked pretty damned good to these eyes.

                                                            Excitied to try this place out this weekend! --K

                                                            1. re: pizzablogger

                                                              Great info...I'll be checking it out this weekend as well.

                                                              1. re: gregb

                                                                Based on my first visit, here is a quick first impressions post I did of Verde on Slice:

                                                                http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                                                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                  I've had ten pizzas from Verde now and they are getting better each time I visit.

                                                                  Again, time will tell if they are able to remain consistent with their quality, but at the time of this post, this is my favorite pizza in Baltimore. This is partly due to Neapolitan style being my favorite style of pizza. Hersh's Pizza & Drinks, the only other Neapolitan-style joint in Baltimore I can think of, is not in the same ballpark as Verde (from a pizza standpoint).

                                                                  I'll always enjoy places like Iggies, Joe Squred, etc. But a really good Neapolitan-style pizza is what really gets my pizza motor buzzing. --K

                                                                  1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                    I finally made it here and couldn’t agree more. This place is in a level of it’s own in this city. We tried a salad, olives, 3 pizzas (plus a dessert pizza), and a calzone. All were very good with my favorites being the Sorrentina and Margherita. While I’m not one for tracking oven time, this thread made me pull the phone out and take note. Half a dozen pizzas all in the 1:37 – 2:14 range.

                                                                    1. re: gregb

                                                                      I had my first lackluster experience at Verde this past weekend. The experience exemplifies the challenges of using a high-temperature coal and (particularly) wood-fired oven. In addition, Verde was written up in the SE Baltimore Guide magazine and the pizza pictured in the magazine was indicative of an "off bake" as well.

                                                                      Both the pizzas I had this weekend and the pizza pictured in the SE Baltimore guide displayed the more even, brown color on the outer crust (cornicione), as opposed to the normal crust pock marked/leopard spotted with small, black blisters. In addition, the mozzarella on the margherita was too melted into the sauce and had larger brown marks on the cheese indicating it had started to separate.

                                                                      These are signs that there was not enough top heat in the oven to cook the pizzas in a fast enough time. I would venture to say there was minimal to no flame licking across the dome of the oven and the pies all cooked in beyond 3:00. Realize after my pies cooked the fornaio (oven man) could have added a log (or stoked the exsisting logs/embers in the oven) to bring the flame and top heat back to where it was needed...thus making subsequent bakes more like the normal high quality pizzas there.

                                                                      This is part of the brutal exactness of these ovens. Keeping the oven at optimal temperature is a constant dance....when to just stoke the existing logs/embers...when to add a log...do you need to add a large or smaller log, etc.. And the high temperatures of thes ovens mean the window between a perfectly cooked pizza and one that is too burnt can be as short as 10 seconds. Add in a flour (Caputo 00 Pizzeria) that is specifically created for high-temperature sub 2:00 bakes....a flour which gets tough and chewy when not cooked quickly, and the possibility of having an off bake is a very realistic issue.

                                                                      These types of issues will likely be minimized as time goes by and more experience is gained. I certainly can do no better than the folks at Verde. Even with my less than usual experience there, the pies I did receive were still decent. So two vists to dine in the joint, two visits to pick up pizza and immediately eat it while walking the dog (folded "a libretto") and four visits to pick up and eat at home and the tally at Verde is now 7-1, with the 7 visits (total of 14 pizzas) being arguably the best pizzas I have eaten in Baltimore and the one visit (total of 2 pies) being decent.

                                                                      Not a bad running tally at all. Sorry for the rambling, just some thoughts on why a bake could be off at one moment or the next (and these are just some of the issues). I'll be back at Verde soon. --K

                                                                      1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                        I was just there and had a great meal. I did not get to try the Sorrentina. Next time, I hope.

                                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                          Proust got nothing on you, baby.

                                                                          1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                            Awesome information, we need to hang out!

                                                                            What you described as an "off bake" is exactly what I got at Birroteca this weekend. Decent pies, but not as good as Verde. The rest of their menu however is excellent. The calamari appetizer is in a league of its own in this city.

                                                              2. re: pizzablogger

                                                                What is this Bel Air place you speak of?

                                                        2. I tried Hot Tomatoes last night and was not that impressed. While the crust was definately thin enough it lack the crispness of NY pies. Also I though the tomato sauce was on the sweet side. Is there one restaurant supply company that provides the same sauce to every pizza joint in town? I feel like every tomato sauce has the exact same flavor. Also I think part of the problem with Baltimore pizzas is that don't use good quality mozzarella. It lacks any taste and ends up an oily goo on top of the sweet sauce. Just for the record, every time I make a pizza it sucks too!

                                                          -----
                                                          Hot Tomatoes
                                                          717 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: tobynissly

                                                            @Tobynissly: The answer would be yes. Many Baltimore pizzerias use sauce that comes straight out of a can from among the same group of suppliers (Don Pepino, a lower end offering from Stanlislaus, Bonta, Pastorelli, etc). It gets dropped off the truck, maybe spiced up a little, maybe sugar added to it and put on your pizza. Most of these sauces run the gambit from abysmal to just okay. I agree they are for the most part entirely too sweet and in some cases downright "tinny" tasting.

                                                            In truth, the bulk of pizzerias all over the place, not just in Baltimore, use mediocre to average quality ingredients to top their pizzas and/or have either a lack of desire or technical proficiency to create a dough that is better than standard.

                                                            And why should they offer anything different? As long as droves of people continue to pay for what is essentially pizza that has been reduced to a commodity type product, there is no need to change. I also don't think the world will support nothing but higher end pizzerias charging high prices.

                                                            There is a huge opportunity for places in the middle ground that would offer a higher quality product without catering to the "gourmet" (I've never had a great pizza from a place using that moniker) segment or to the bottom of the barrel delivery type crap. It's amazing what even a slight increase in toppings quality and a lot of passion and knowledge put into the dough and cooking the pizza can do to an ordinary pizza.

                                                            When more pizzeria operators open a pizza place primarily out of a deep passion for the product and not primarily as a business oportunity focused on selling units, a crap storm of good pizza could one day be stirred up. Until then......

                                                            1. re: pizzablogger

                                                              Hey pizzablogger, where's your pizza blog? Also did you see the recent International Pizza Pie Incident multi-blog online party? Pretty fun and creative stuff got posted.

                                                              1. re: kukubura

                                                                http://www.pizzablogger.org/

                                                                Easily among my top 5 food blogs. Makes pizza loving an art form.

                                                                1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                  Oh heck yeah. As an NYC native who also lived in Brooklyn for many years and now lives in Baltimore I need to read blogs like that... OFTEN!

                                                          2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Matthews Pizza on Eastern Ave. I haven't been there in a few years, I hope it hasn't gone downhill or something. Their pizza has a thick, chewy dough and a flavorful, homemade tomato sauce.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: saturated fat

                                                              I think that's because Matthew's is known for a thick crust. However, about a year or two ago they started offering a thin crust version that's pretty good.

                                                            2. I work at a large university, which has many students from New York, and practically all of them would say that Pasta Mista in Towson is the only place to get a true pizza like in New York City. Personally, I found that they are good, but not my favorite. My all-time favorite would be Lombardi's in Ocean City (back when they used to be called Wolfy's).

                                                              -----
                                                              Pasta Mista
                                                              822 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: Beeracuda

                                                                I don't think Pasta Mista is too bad....it can tend to be undercooked and a little too puffy/bready straight out of the oven, particularly at the Canton location, but even then it is usually a decent caliber slice for sure.

                                                                With regards to the New Yorkers, it's always interesting to find out where exactly in NYC they get pizza from....being that in my limited experience the majority of pizzerias in NYC are either shadows of what they were 15-20 years ago or were never that good to begin with.

                                                                I am certainly no pizza expert and have been fortunate and humbled to have met up with, gone out to eat pie with and been "plugged into" some people that are very much so. My NYC pizza jaunts over the years have indicated to me that the number of places serving a really good NY Style slice in Manhattan is ridiculously minute....and it always surprises me how few New Yorkers are even aware of them.

                                                                At the same time, it is from people who live in NYC that I have had most of my great NY Style findings, so please ask your students where exactly they are getting a good slice from....another great NY Style joint may be awaiting for more to discover it! :)

                                                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                  I agree about Pasta Mista.....we actually ask for the pizza to be crispy and we are then happy with their pies. The tomato pie with fresh mozz is our favorite....I do hate the fact that they, like most Balt. pizza makers, use ground sausage instead of the real thig sliced.....but I digress. jck

                                                                  1. re: jck

                                                                    Had pizza from Fortunato's on York Road last night. The sausage was sliced thin. Ordered both a white with chopped tomato & a deluxe with sausage, green pepper, onion, pepperoni & mushrooms. The deluxe was good last night, both were better this morning. I wonder if this place is related to the chain that proliferated throughout Harford County in the 1980's and 90's. Either way - it is really good stuff.

                                                                    1. re: jck

                                                                      actually ground sausage is what most authentic places use, pepperoni is sliced because it is already cured but sausage is usually crumbled then browned and then added to the pizza evenly to really give you that sausage flavor you crave.

                                                                      1. re: keithlb1

                                                                        Good point Keith. The only old-school pizzeria I can think of off the top of my head that I've seen use sliced sausage is Totonno's (Coney Island, Brooklyn)...and even there it is thought of as kind of strange.

                                                                        Crumbled sausage chunks are the most common at older, "traditional" pizzerias that I've seen.....not applied across the entire pizza, but put here and there across the pizza.

                                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                          I've seen sliced cured polish sausage on pieces, but that was many years ago Don't know if anyone does that nowadays.

                                                                    2. re: pizzablogger

                                                                      I'm not from NY, but I get my NY pizza at Patsy's in East Harlem, which I discovered after reading Jeff Varasano's article from a few years ago. Before that I got my pies at Sally's, Pepe's or Modern. I also enjoyed Totonno's in Coney Island a few years ago, before the fire. I don't know if it's reopened. They only sell whole pies, but I prefer to buy whole pies when I can. It's a rare place that can reheat a slice and make it as good as (and crisper than) it was when it was fresh.

                                                                      1. re: KWagle

                                                                        KWagle, a fan of Patsy's East Harlem here too....although the consistency is more hit or miss there since their long-time pizza maker Jose Jiminez died in late 2009. Totonno's has indeed re-opened and are once again cranking out arguably the best New York-Neapolitan style pizzas in NYC again.

                                                                    3. re: Beeracuda

                                                                      new york city or the northern nj suburbs/LI?

                                                                      1. re: vivinator

                                                                        Yeah, no kidding. I don't know how many Long Islanders/New Jerseyans when I first came to Balt said "Oh you're from New York City too? What part?" Uh, The New York City part?" Not to be a snob, but it was a weird little detail I noticed. And, yeah as I posted above NYC pizza joints have been overshadowed by weird hybrid lunch places that cater to corporate accounts and people who don't know better. The two-slices-and-a-fountain-soda joints of my youth are harder to find but they're still there churning out reliable pies.

                                                                    4. Chef Paolino and Trattoria are two of my favorite pizza "by the slice" places. Someone recently recommended Ciao Pizza Bistro off Quarry Lake in Baltimore. Has anyone had any good experiences there?

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Ciao Pizza Bistro
                                                                      2620 Quarry lake Dr., Baltimore, MD 21209

                                                                      Chef Paolino's
                                                                      726 Frederick Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: biancakay

                                                                        I have not been to Ciao since winter time, so I cannot say what it is like now.

                                                                        When I went in February I thought it was an average pizza.

                                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                          I mentioned Lombardi's in Ocean City in my last post. I know this place is a bit beyond the scope of Balt/Wash pizzas, but I was just wondering if anyone has been there in the past few years, and if so, how was their pizzas? I might get down to the beach this year (first time in QUITE a while), and if I do, I plan on going there first day.

                                                                          They're located in the 94th street shopping center.

                                                                          1. re: Beeracuda

                                                                            Beeracuda, your name is excellent!.

                                                                            Lombardi's is a name I keep hearing about for Ohshawn City, hon. I'm doing a weekend jaunt in the next 3 weeks or so just to eat as much pizza as I can for a beach report.

                                                                            Some people have told me Mancini's Brick Oven Pizza on Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island is a decent option while at the beach:

                                                                            http://www.mancinisbop.com/

                                                                            1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                              Nah, Piezanos Pizza on the Boardwalk is THEE best in Ocean City. Lombarfis??? No, thank you

                                                                      2. http://www.joesquared.com/

                                                                        You gotta try this place. My favorite so far is the "BBQ Chicken Pizza with "Garlic sauce grilled BBQ chicken, avocado, corn, Vidalia onions, spinach, mozzarella and cheddar... this thing is awesome.

                                                                        You have to try the "Mushroom Salad" with assorted house mushrooms, roasted peppers, red onion, thyme and hardboiled egg served over a wilted spinach pine nut salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette. It's not a traditional "cool" salad it's served "warm"...awesome!

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Vidalia
                                                                        1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                                                        1. Since this classic thread got bumped by someone who's obviously having a very bad day (and who doesn't apparently like my posts) I thought I'd add a little positivity to it. Did anyone see the recent Urbanite article about pizza places downtown? It was a fun read: http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/balt...

                                                                          (Incidentally I've been back to Vito's since that awful pie and we've made up. They're in my good books again.)

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: kukubura

                                                                            I was really glad to read that article. Matthew's is my favorite Baltimore pizza joint, but Isabella's is awfully good and doesn't get near enough love on this board. Their sandwiches are damned good too. For such a seriously chow-worthy joint, they are too often forgotten, even by me.

                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                              Amen to Isabella's, that place is great. Try the porchetta if you've not had it yet.

                                                                              1. re: lawhound

                                                                                I just don't get the Isabella's thing....at all.

                                                                                I kept going back to get more pizza, thinking I must be going at the wrong times or getting an off day. But after 10 or so pizzas purchased on weeknight evenings, weekend days and weekend nights, the consistency of the pizzas cooked at Isabella's are all over the map.

                                                                                I've never once been served a pizza resembling the one pictured in the Baltimore Magazine pizza article. All of them are generally cooked for far too long and have crusts which are dried out and leaning towards cottony inside. Some pizzas have had flavorless crusts very much resembling a blank (pre-made dough made off site and sent to the pizzeria).The pizzas certainly are not terrible, but I wouldn't go back there either to pay for a pizza after multiple trips and lots of leftover pizza that did not get eaten...

                                                                                The sandwiches however can be pretty good and I will continue to go for those. Friendly staff too.

                                                                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                  I feel partially responsible for your Isabella's woes as I constantly pestered you to visit them when you had your blog. In the last year or so I would agree with your assessment. Isabella's consistency is all over the map, but I remember their pizza was consistently good at one point. Maybe they have new staff or maybe my standards have changed. One thing I still like about their pizza: their wood oven imparts a nice smoky flavor to their pizza. Sometimes I'll eat at wood oven places and I can't taste any of that earthiness wood ovens are supposed to impart. I even have Isabella's staff toast my sandwich bread in their wood oven.

                                                                          2. Favorite thin crust pizza is Facci's in Columbia. Close tie for second place is Bagby Pizza and Johnny Rad's. I hear Matthew's is doing thin crust. Any feedback on Matthew's?

                                                                            1. I know it's customary to fetishize NYC's magically unreproducible mastery over all human cuisines, but when it comes to pizza in Baltimore I've always been very well-satisfied.

                                                                              To say nothing of the city, Baltimore County alone has some great pizza. A lot of it! And it's diverse. That's the key: pizza is so exciting because it's different everywhere.

                                                                              The best "pizza towns" aren't the ones that are the most consistent in quality and texture (etc)-- they're the ones that are the most diverse, with the greatest range in positive experiences. The key to diversity is having a huge number of privately-owned joints and relatively small, locally-owned chains. Baltimore has that in spades, especially in the county.

                                                                              Conforming to some particular "style" just isn't what pizza's about. I'm a thin-crust man myself, but beyond that stipulation I love the diversity of pizza-experiences available all over this country, from small-town West Virginia pizza-sheds with 60-year-old recipes and 80-year-old chefs to those NYC corner-spots you all like so much. And I really love Baltimore's pizza offerings, especially (again) out in the county ("atna canny," for you lifers).

                                                                              Here are just a few memorable pizzas (in no particular order):

                                                                              Vito's - Reisterstown Rd and Hooks Lane locations-- both locations are excellent, thought the Reisterstown location is tops for old-time, suburban-strip-mall-parlor atmosphere, especially on hot summer nights.

                                                                              Pasta Mista - Much talked-about and justifiably admired on the parallel discussion thread.

                                                                              Pasta Blitz - ditto

                                                                              Olympia- (York rd) An excellent "Greek-style" pizza, much beloved among those who like that controversial style.

                                                                              Maria's - (York rd) The greasiest pizza with the floppiest crust in Baltimore, but a major local classic-- definitely not "NY style"; it's just "Maria's-style," and it's a unique experience that's not for all tastes but it'll last as long as York Road itself. I love it, personally.

                                                                              Al Pacino Pizza- Nearly hidden, on Falls Road. This is a doughy and unusual pizza that's addicting and very unique. It must be eaten **immediately** because it gets far too chewy if you let it sit-- within 10 minutes it's basically ruined. I wouldn't eat it every day. But I've had pizza all over the country and I must that say this recipe is totally unique. It has many admirers in the area.

                                                                              Pizza Palace -- (York rd) Same owners as Olympia, I think?? Strong Greek-style pizza; loud, improbable country music enjoyed at all hours by the multi-national staff.

                                                                              Ledo's -- (York, etc) Love it or hate it, this pizza is also unique and well-loved. It has an unusual and appealing flavor to it that I've never found elsewhere. It's a Baltimore-area classic, and to me it tastes like Bmore County in the summertime, and it goes great with what we call "lemon stick"--yall know what I'm talking about!

                                                                              Salvino's -- Hidden Pikesville spot on Reisterstown Rd used to be very solid for slices; last time it wasn't as nice, but I'm still optimistic.

                                                                              Mama Leah's-- (Reisterstown Rd) This is a good take on an interesting style of pizza which I think of as "Boardwalk style"-- a spongy, chewy type, with a sweetness to the crust, which one often finds at beach-side pizza spots. (Interestingly, Mama Leah's also makes Boardwalk-style fries!) Sometimes they make it too bland, so I've never been a regular, but when it's good it's excellent.

                                                                              Carmine's-- (Hunt Valley) A new place with an excellent crust, garnished with whole basil leaves; a class-act, all around.

                                                                              There's just a few spots. There are many pizzas in the north county that I've yet to try, all along York and Reisterstown Roads, and a few which just opened up on Owings Mills Blvd. So: to be continued!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: timd

                                                                                Nice rundown. Great to see the Pizza Palace is still going strong -- used to be a favorite when I was at JHU in the early 80s.

                                                                                1. re: timd

                                                                                  Wow, timd thanks for the Olympia tip.....never heard of it! I thought Matthew's was the only joint serving Greek-style pizza in Baltimore. Will have to check out Olympia....and I still have not been to Salvino's yet either.

                                                                                  I agree with you 100% on great pizza towns being the ones that have diversity of style, which is why NYC is such a great pizza town (impressive given that their most imitated, and debated, style...the "corner slice joint" NY-Style pizza served in NYC is total dog crap when the style is taken as a whole). Ditto's for Chicago (deep dish is not even the most eaten style there) and San Francisco being great pizza towns for their diversity of styles.

                                                                                  Baltimore does have the variety of styles to offer. But the quality of the pizzas overall in Baltimore border on terrible. This is no different than anywhere else, but at least in places like some of the cities previously mentioned, even in the DC area, you can find truly great pizza. There are some places I spend money on and enjoy in Baltimore....and a couple of places are very good (quite good in fact), but IMO there is not a great pizza in Baltimore. I haven't tried everywhere in Baltimore yet, but I'm not too far off at this point.

                                                                                  Alas, I'm just one opinion of many. What's most important is what you like and enjoy. Now, there are a few interesting pizzerias either getting ready to open or planning to open in Baltimore in the not too distant future.......

                                                                                  1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                    Like what?

                                                                                    1. re: gregb

                                                                                      There are two Neapolitan-style pizzerias in various phases right now.....one in the early construction process and one well known local chef is looking at spaces in Baltimore as I type this. Some other prospects, but I am not at liberty to say more.

                                                                                2. Finally made it to Dominick's. Definitely a solid joint, if a little hard to find (drove past it twice). Also, I guess they don't do a lot of eat-in business as they were out of plates and only had take-out packets of red pepper flakes and stuff like that. Still, if I lived over there they'd get my business. I don't know if I would drive out past Fortunato's to go there but everyone needs a solid pizza joint close to home.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kukubura

                                                                                    ISABELLA'S in LITTLE ITALY !!!! I am baffled on how no one has even mentioned this place. It's family run and has a lot of things to offer besides great pizza. You will not be disappointed. Oh yea, try some of the imported dry hot coppa they sell, if its not already sold out !

                                                                                    1. re: krad3168

                                                                                      Don't be baffled, it's been mentioned like 5 times. But you're forgiven since it is really good.

                                                                                      1. re: kukubura

                                                                                        Funny, I now have a real tough time deciding between Pasta Blitz next to SuperFresh and the newly opened Pasta Mista next to Giant across the street over @ Timonium Square.
                                                                                        The wife gets tired of hearing football for hours on end on the weekend and boots me out of the house to the grocery store for eggs, stuff for her to bake, things on sale blah blah. Since the 2 Grocers are so close and so are pizza places...I pick up the groceries and can't resist the pizza since it's RIGHT THERE ;)
                                                                                        *sighs* I think I give a slight edge to Pasta Mista next to Giant. (Yes, I am aware Marias is across the street from SF but just cause it's Half Off on the weekend doesn't mean it's good IMO. Awful to the point of constipating, As said, "Marias Style". "Floppy". And very DOUGHY.

                                                                                        1. re: kukubura

                                                                                          Always a tight squeeze,(not that there is anything wrong with that!) except for the ousde tables

                                                                                    2. I had to sign up to Chow Hound just to comment on this post. Not sure why no one mentioned Pizza Johns in Essex? By far the best regular pizza I've had in Baltimore. Being from Chicago, and living in NY, I have had some delicious pizza.

                                                                                      Let me tell you about the places mentioned in here:

                                                                                      Joe Squared: If you like wafer thin burnt bottom over priced pizza this place is for you. NOT A FAN

                                                                                      Pasta Blitz: I didn't have their pizza, but their pasta was terrible! Pasta Blitz is more like Pasta Sh_its!

                                                                                      Vito's is average, I used to live over there. I ate Little Caesers if that tells you anything.

                                                                                      Fourtunatos: Bland, blah...

                                                                                      BOP: Pizza's ok, kind of flavorless, overrated I'll pass.

                                                                                      Iggies: Is great if you like gourmet pizza. I'd go back.

                                                                                      Ledo: Is a decent thin crust pizza with good flavor. Seems to slide right through me tho :\

                                                                                      Pasta Mista: Just ok, good for college kids. Who likes spaghetti on pizza?

                                                                                      Dominic's: Their Chicago Style, which is definitely not Chicago Style pizza, but still tastes good. I like.

                                                                                      Here is my top 3 I,ve found so far and still looking:

                                                                                      1. Pizza Johns in Essex

                                                                                      2. Italian Bistro in Parkville

                                                                                      3. Maria's Pizza and Subs on Ridgely Ave

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: amusillami

                                                                                        I think Pizza John's is far enough away from downtown Baltimore that many people either forget about it or don't want to make a trek out to get pizza there.

                                                                                        Pizza John's was better than I expected when I first went there. I cringed at the dough being sent through a sheeter and the near assembly line mechanics of the pizza making operation, but the pies (I've been three times now) are not bad. And they are consistent.....consistency is the bane of many a pizzeria.

                                                                                        Pizza John's is a good local joint for sure. But I would not recommend it's a place worth driving more than 15 or so minutes to get to. Unless I am driving through the Essex area already, I wouldn't make the trek out there for it.......it doesn't take too much longer to make a much better product in your house!--K

                                                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                          This post is quickly becoming a great resource for chow-hungry people in the region: No matter what area you're in, there are pizza solutions. This makes a difference when you're on the "other" side of town shopping and don't want to suffer fast food.

                                                                                          I just noticed that no one has mentioned Casa Mia in the Rotunda. It's not the best pizza in the world or anything, but we've ordered from them lately and the crust has been beautifully brown and crisp with the right amount of good quality cheese and decent sauce. The mushroom-onion pie is really great. All in all, a great pizza experience. When I compare it to places like Fortunato's and Mt. Washington Pizza, both of which we've ordered from in a pinch, Casa Mia easily surpasses those gummy, doughy, over-cheesed glop-fests.

                                                                                          1. re: elspeth mcdoodle

                                                                                            Since Casa Mia is near Hampden, I would be curious as to how it stacks up to Angelo's.

                                                                                            1. re: elgringoviejo

                                                                                              Aside from the obvious difference in form factor (that giant Angelo's slice is a lot bigger), there is not a huge difference between the two. The consistency at Casa Mia is all over the place....Angelo's is more consistent, at least based on my three visits to each location.

                                                                                              You're really comparing two middle of the road quality slice joints, so IMO the differences aren't too large. Casa Mia on my best visit there may be a tad more favorable than Angelo's, but again not a tremendous difference.

                                                                                              That being said, both are better Hampden area options than the wretched horse dung being served at King's Pizza and Philly Cheese on The Avenue or the lackluster pizza at Bella Roma. --K

                                                                                              1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                Thanks for your response. Sad to hear about King's Pizza, since his kebabs are quite good and his pita bread and baba ghanouj is truly excellent.

                                                                                                1. re: elgringoviejo

                                                                                                  The pizza at the Hopkins Deli around the corner from Hampden is very good.

                                                                                      2. I can't believe no one has mentioned Pazani in Columbia....great pizza and even better pasts dishes.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: abovethewaves

                                                                                          The consistency at Pazani is an issue. The variability of pizza quality can and has been pretty wide at times. And the reheats are no good here....putting slices in the smaller, independent warmer (not back in the deck oven) can result in some bad reheats (too moist).

                                                                                          When it's firing on all cylinders, Pazani makes a relatively good pizza, but you have to catch it on a good day. Never tried the pasta dishes there.....will try next time. --K

                                                                                        2. Agree that Joe Square has great fresh pizza very similar to what you get in Tuscany (plus great micro brews). My favorite though is Egyptian Pizza (Al Pacino) on Falls Road--try the Aloha (small shrimp and goat cheese) and Romano styles (eggplant and peppers with salsa). Free small pizza with the large pizzas makes this a great family deal.

                                                                                          1. The best pizza by far in Baltimore is a new place I found in Federal Hill called Hersh's. Since living on the Amalfi Coast a few years back I have searched in vain for a really good pizza place in Baltimore. I have tried nearly all the joints mentioned and was always left wanting. It is a bit more "upscale" than the likes of Joe Squared. Their menu is available at www.hershspizza.com.

                                                                                            1. For thick crust, Barfly's does a great job on Fort Ave. in South Baltimore. Social Pub, on Cross St., is another solid option.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: WhiskeySam

                                                                                                Barfly's was only so-so, in my book. I would not make a special trip, let's put it that way.

                                                                                              2. New Pizzeria Alert: South Baltimore is heating up on Light Street. Just one block away from Hersh's Pizza & Drinks in the old The Lighthouse Inn space is Homeslyce Pizza Bar. The address is 1741 Light Street (Light & Barney Streets). I just drove by it and took a quick cell phone picture, but don't have any more information at this point. Not sure if it is open or not yet. --K

                                                                                                 
                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                  It's open.....as of April 16th. The blog City That Breeds already peeped it. Check out the canoe shaped pizza that is one of their offerings.

                                                                                                  http://citythatbreeds.com/2012/04/hom...

                                                                                                  1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                    I've had those canoe shaped pizzas from a Turkish/American fast food carryout in Bethesda called Pizza Tempo. They call them "pides".

                                                                                                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                                                                      Interesting cupcake. Thanks for the info! --K

                                                                                                2. Not a slice place but a new pizza spot just opened in Bare Hills (north of Mt. Washington on Falls Road). It's called Earth, Wood and Fire (http://www.earthwoodfire.com/). They just opened a few weeks ago and they feature an all wood-fired menu. My wife and I had a Margherita and Bianco ($13 and $12 per 10" pie) and they were both very, very good! Crust was flavorful and crisp with a touch of chewiness. Far and away the best pizza I've had in a while.

                                                                                                  They also have a pretty good beer list ($$-$$$) and a so-so wine list along with a selection of burgers and appitizers. Despite only being open a short time the place was packed by 6:00 pm on a Sunday. Service was great and non-intrusive even though our server was in training.

                                                                                                  On a side note there's an Olive Oil and Vinegar shop opening next door. The space is still empty aside from a stack of 5L fusti's on the floor.

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Vespa1

                                                                                                    Nice report Vespa.

                                                                                                    I just went to EWF for the first time on Friday night (hellacious rain storm!).

                                                                                                    The pizzas are not wood-fired....the oven is a multi-fuel source oven. It's a smaller version of the same Woodstone Fire Deck series oven being used at Coal Fire Pizza in Ellicott City(http://www.woodstone-corp.com/product...). The floor of the oven can be controlled via an infrared element , there is a gas fired flame to the right and in the leftmost end of the oven is a pile of coal. The pizzas spend most of their time closer to the gas fuel source than the coal pile, so I'm not certain how much of the heat the pizzas are cooked by is attributable to the coal itself. In reality, it doesn't matter.....pizza likes a lot of heat and as long as that requirement is met, it doesn't really matter how that heat is provided (coal, wood, gas, electric, etc).

                                                                                                    I timed six pizzas on my stopwatch while watching the pizza making. All between 4:38 and 5:36, which is in the range consistent with coal fired pizzerias in NYC.

                                                                                                    It was extremely busy and from looking at the surrounding tables and where they were in service, it appears many people came within a short-window of time. The staff handled it pretty well for the most part, but the food line showed the signs of a restaurant barely 2 1/2 weeks old still trying to find its sea legs, as to be expected.

                                                                                                    Too early to comment on the pizza. The only thing I will say is I wish the margherita had sauce on it and used fior-di-latte as opposed to pre-shredded cheese. I'll have more to say after a couple more visits and they've had 8-10 weeks to hone their workflow.

                                                                                                    I saw bags of both Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour and All Trumps Hi-Gluten flour (I believe the unbromated/unbleached version) in the back, so I'd like to find out if the dough is a mix of the two flours. The texture of the crust and the browining properties after cooking lead me to believe this is the case.

                                                                                                    More later.....

                                                                                                    1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                      Thanks for the correction on the oven, Pizzablogger :^ )

                                                                                                      1. re: Vespa1

                                                                                                        We're planning on checking out EWF today so I'll report back. (Although I won't be timing the pies...)

                                                                                                        1. re: kukubura

                                                                                                          We sat outside and had a lovely time. They still have some kinks to work out logistically (no soap in the ladies room, service a bit of a mess) but the pizzas were lovely. We had a Traditional and Fromage Blanc. The Traditional sported a nice sauce-cheese ratio and the cheese had a nice bite to it. The Fromage Blanc had a nice sweetness from the sautéed onions and walnuts. The crust could be slightly crisper but that's really nitpicking. Would definitely go back.

                                                                                                          1. re: kukubura

                                                                                                            Thanks for the nice update kukubura!

                                                                                                      2. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                        I continue to be boggled by your discovery that NYC pizza places routinely cook pies for more than three minutes. I can barely stomach a five minute pie, which is why I go to Patsy's in East Harlem, where they cook for 1m45 or so.

                                                                                                        1. re: KWagle

                                                                                                          It depends on the style of pizza you are referring to.

                                                                                                          The newer vanguard of Neapolitan-style and Neapolitan inspired wood-fired pizzerias typically cook a pizza in 60 to 90 seconds, with the ocassional 2 minute pie thrown in there.

                                                                                                          The traditional coal-fired pizzerias (NY-Neapolitan style) vary in their cook times from pizzeria to pizzeria, but generally they cook most of their pies in 4 to 5 minutes. As I've mentioned previously, the times I have visited Patsy's EH I have never seen a sub 2 minute pizza cooked there, but have timed mid-3 minute pies cooked there.

                                                                                                          Outside of the newer Neapolitan joints and the coal-fired pizzerias, the majority of remaining pizzerias are the NY-Style slice joints using gas fired deck ovens. These are the pizzerias most people associate with NY pizza. The cook times at such places are often well over 5 minutes....and sometimes 10. The handful of really noteworthy NY-Style shops still cook their pizzas at higher temperatures and at or under 5 minutes (as quick as 2:30 at New Park), but the majority of pizzerias in NYC are cooking post-5 minute pizzas. As far as the common NY-Style slice goes, it is sad and amusing that to get pies which are archetypes of the style, you pretty much have to leave Manhattan to do so. --K

                                                                                                          1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                            Interesting--every time I've visited Patsy's the pies have been about 1m45s. I tend to go fairly late--maybe their oven is hotter when they're making fewer pies? (At home I take 2-3 minutes, and as I said find the pies notably inferior if they have to cook longer than that.) I have a video somewhere of Patsy's' entire preparation process, and I should find it and post it.

                                                                                                    2. After being late to the Neapolitan-style pizza boom well under way in other cities, Baltimore is poised to get its second.

                                                                                                      Verde Pizza Napoletana will be opening in the space occupied by the now closed Birch's on 641 S Montford Avenue (Canton). The sign is up and construction is well under way.l

                                                                                                      Website: http://verdepizza.com/

                                                                                                      Mention of the owner trying out a Marra Forni wood fired oven on the Euro Restaurant Solutions Blog from a year ago: http://eurorestaurantsolutions.com/bl...

                                                                                                      And what looks to be a picture of the Verde Marra Forni oven on the front page of the Marra Forni website: http://marraforni.com/

                                                                                                      Baltimore's first joint billing itself as Neapolitan with a WFO is Hersh's Pizza & Drinks, which I would argue is doing pizza inspired by Neapolitan pies rather than proper Napoletana, but that's another story (and not saying the pizza isn't good either).

                                                                                                      There are two other Neapolitan pizzerias in various stages of planning at this moment. Last contact I had with one being pursued by an already noted Baltimore chef they were still looking for potential spaces for their "2Amys inspired concept". The other one already has a location selected and is aiming at a late 2012 to Spring 2013 open.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                        There is currently an interest looking hard at the Hampden neighborhood for opening a wood-fired neighborhood pizza joint. To the hardcore pizza enthusiast, the people involved in this will likely raise an eyebrow. More details coming as they become available.....

                                                                                                        1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                          As mentioned above, I can confirm that there are now potentially three different parties that have looked or are actively looking into opening a new pizzeria in Hampden.

                                                                                                          I was talking with a store owner in Hampden two weekends ago and she mentioned someone was recently asking her if she thought a "brick oven pizzeria" would work in Hampden. He further mentioned to her that it was a dream of his to open such a spot in either Hampden or Remington, but the space in Hampden he looked at (and was inquiring the shop owner about) was too large for his purpose. This is of particular interest to me because....

                                                                                                          I have been looking at various spaces in Hampden for a wood-fired pizzeria for going on nine months now and that same space the other party mentioned as being too large is #1 on my list of spaces that I have looked at and liked in Hampden.

                                                                                                          There was another party, one being somewhat well known, that was looking hard at Hampden as late as July 2012, but last contact I had with them they seemed to be leaning more towards Philadelphia.

                                                                                                          To be continued.....

                                                                                                        2. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                          I'll be going to Verde in Canton this week.

                                                                                                          It's received pretty good reviews all around. I'm sure that some of you--Pizzablogger?-- have already visited.

                                                                                                          What are your recommendations?
                                                                                                          ( The Sorrentina -- imported smoked buffalo mozzarella, sliced lemons, fresh basil--is intriguing, although I've never eaten lemon on pizza. : )

                                                                                                          1. re: southbaltimoregirl

                                                                                                            SouthBaltimoreGirl: Yes, I've eaten in Verede twice and picked up pies 4 times now. I think you will find it is a noticeable step or two up the Neopolitan-style ladder from someplace like Hersh's Pizza & Drinks in South Baltimore (which I also like).

                                                                                                            Everything I have had is excellent. I would definitely try The Sorrentina.....lemons on pizza has been one of my favorite go-tos for a couple of years now. I would also try either the Marinara or the Buffalina....the simplicity of those pies are a great test of any pizzeria. Nothing to hide behind and you get to enjoy the elemental flavors of the basic ingredients when done well.

                                                                                                            Enjoy! --K

                                                                                                            1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                              Lacking pizzablogger's apparently limitless pizza knowledge (and handle), I can only say that we had pizzas at Verde and Hershs a few nights apart and found them about equal in quality. Hersh's other food was better and more varied as well.

                                                                                                              1. re: lawhound

                                                                                                                I tried a Verde pie and it was good, but rather small for the price.

                                                                                                        3. The rumor mill has been churning about Iggies moving from its Calvert Street location to Towson. This was initially reported on by Richard Gorelick in The Sun.

                                                                                                          There seems to be confusion with regards to whether Iggies is closing Mt. Vernon and moving to Towson or if they are keeping Charles Street open and adding Towson to the mix. I'll report back with some details if I can get them.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                            Iggies is leaving Mt. Vernon.

                                                                                                            http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

                                                                                                            1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                                                                              And going dinner only.

                                                                                                              1. re: kukubura

                                                                                                                Yes, Iggies is indeed looking to move to Ruxton (Joppa & Bellona Ave) and it may very well come to pass.

                                                                                                                It should be noted that it is not 100% certain this is going to happen yet. --k

                                                                                                                1. re: pizzablogger

                                                                                                                  Iggies ain't going anywhere. Staying in Mount Vernon.

                                                                                                                  http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

                                                                                                          2. I'm surprised there's been no mention of Toss Pizza or Earth, Wood, and Fire on this thread yet, though to be fair, I haven't searched elsewhere on the Mid'lannic board here at Chowhound, Hon.

                                                                                                            Anyone tried either of these places? Anyone like them? I believe Toss (York Road near Bellona) was opened by the people who brought us Zella's in the Hollins Market neighborhood. Crust is on the thick, chewy side. Pies don't exceed 14 inches. Toppings at both places are similar to many artisanal pizza joints like Iggies---pine nuts, caramelized onions, pesto, portabellas...

                                                                                                            Earth, Wood, and Fire is up Falls Road near Bare Hills & Princeton Sports, before you hit Old Court. They offer the thin, crisp style of crust and a good number of toppings. It feels like a chain to me, but that may not be true.

                                                                                                            I like them both.

                                                                                                            Correction: I see above that Vespa, Pizzablogger, and Kukubura all offered solid reviews of EarthWoodFire back in June. Thanks.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: elspeth mcdoodle

                                                                                                              My EWF review was from just a few days ago, so it's pretty current.

                                                                                                              My only experience with Toss was delivery and my street is notoriously hard to find but the delivery driver still managed to go to the completely wrong address and act like he was at the right one on the phone ("No! I'm standing right outside your house right now!" Uhhhh... no you're not) so the pizza was pretty much mush by the time we got it. Not the pizza maker's fault but still we haven't ordered again (and we probably won't ever dine in)