God I missed pizza. On the long list of things I had made in my mind about my return to the East Coast, it should come as no surprise that many food items were included. Pizza is high among these, after a spoiled childhood of glorious pies from local shops or jaunts into the city. And now? Enter Baltimore.
Gourmet. Artisan. Fancy. Call it what you want, but posh pizzas are no joke in Baltimore County. I am finding my way through the intense foodie scene in town and also picking up a few favorites… ok, a LOT of favorites.
Here are some of my recent experiences from super fancy (and accordingly priced) to consistent and affordable standards.
Birroteca / http://www.bmorebirroteca.com/
1520 Clipper Road (Hampden)
Had it at a housewarming party and was able to enjoy samples of at least two different kinds. Menu boasts local produce (“Locavore”) divine cheeses and sassy sauces (fresh mozzarella, fontina, bechamel) and a host of other delights.
My personal fave: Duck, Duck, Goose: Duck Confit, Fig & Onion Jam, Balsamic Fontina & Asiago, Duck Egg. Tremendous!
Also tried: Spicy sausage & fennel.
Side notes: Intense appetizer list and huge craft beer selection for in-house dining. Gluten free pies available.
Prices range from $14 margherita to $17 posh pizza.
Verde / http://www.verdepizza.com/
641 S. Montford Avenue (Canton)
* Voted Baltimore’s Best Pizza in 2013
Favored by colleagues and featured in Baltimore Restaurant Week this was on my to-do list. It’s settled into a sweet neighborhood corner and is very cozy both in and out. I tried it this past Sunday for BRW and it was a steal for $30 (entree sized salad, medium pizza, dessert).
I tried: Pistachio e Salsiccia, a BRW white pizza. Pistachio pesto, sausage, fresh basil and EVOO. Epic.
Dying to try: Brunch. Pizza. 2 favorite words!
Side notes: Great bar and specialty cocktails – I tried one with ginger beer that was perfectly refreshing while sitting in front of the brick oven. A gluten free friend notes that this is the thickest gluten free crust she’s ever had. Portion sizes are incredible.
Prices are higher here: $7 for standard marinara, $12 for white with arugula, $20 for some specialties (!)
Vito’s / http://www.vitosowingsmills.com/
Multiple locations in Towson, Owings Mills, Pikesville
There is something to be said about legitimate pizza. I grew up on the East Coast so I have a very specific idea of what “legitimate pizza” entails. The sauce, the crust, the size of a slice, the meat to cheese ratio, the grease .. we are opinionated and united in this, as ever. Don’t believe me? Watch Jon Stewart tear up Chicago style pizza like a true New Yorker:
(For the record, I do like Chicago deep-dish).
Facts: Vito’s has my kind of pizza. You can buy a slice of whatever your heart desires, and it’s larger than my face and / or a paper plate. The owner speaks Italian and his workers speak Spanish (we had Barça football to discuss the first time I was there). The crust can stand up to just about anything, including New York scrutiny (I tested it on a few friends).
I like: Chicken parmesan and fresh mozz & tomato
Side notes: The garlic knots will keep people away from you for 2 days. Hot & cold subs, pasta, calzones, stromboli .. all the real deal.
Prices are delightful, maybe $3-6 a slice depending on toppings.
Mario’s / http://www.mariosoriginal.com/
5849 York Road (Towson)
Although my mailbox had been peppered with advertisements for local pizza, including a strange mix of Indian + pizza in one place (?) – I found Mario’s via GrubHub. I’d never used it before coming to Baltimore and now I think it’s the best thing since .. well, pizza. You can order on your phone, read menus and reviews, access coupons and track your order.
I ordered: White pizza with broccoli. Apparently the GrubHub menu did not specify broccoli OR spinach as the restaurant intended, so a manager called and asked me what my preference was, which I thought was lovely.
Side notes: Some restaurants do have a delivery minimum, so you might get conned into buying more than you want (see, my earlier order from the sub par Chinese restaurant).
Prices are perfect with $8.99 for a medium cheese pie and up to $15.99 for specialty pies like the large Veggie Lover.
Also on my Baltimore pizza list:
* Joe Squared (a runner-up in 2013)
Thanks for satisfying my pizza craving, Baltimore!