Sunday, April 24, 2011
Baltimore Pizza Club-in-Exile
Cherry Hill, NJ
In recent months, pizza club has been haunted by the ghosts of pizzas past. Not necessarily our own past, but rather the past of the collective pizza unconscious. Apparently New Jersey is an epicenter of this pizza unconscious; I’ve been hearing mythic accounts of People’s Pizza, in Cherry Hill, for many years without ever verifying that it exists or is any good. In a highly unlikely coincidence, some Pizza Club members were driving through New Jersey this past weekend, right after I received yet another People’s Pizza tip from a friend and former Jersey-ite: “the best pizza in the known universe” was his daring claim.
After a long afternoon in the ivy-clad sepulcher of Princeton University, we were ready for some straight-up no-nonsense pizza. We were immediately impressed by People’s Pizza’s welcoming environment (lots of windows for watching cars go by), friendly employees (like, really friendly), and cool jams.
People’s has an extensive menu, with pizza-by-the-slice, specialty pies, and other exotic things that we sometimes couldn’t identify. We ordered a cheese pizza as a baseline, and then ventured into the eggplant primavera (fried eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, and white sauce).
We decided to order some garlic bites to tides us over as we waited for our pizzas to be cooked in the revolving oven. We thought why knot?
Perhaps it was the novel setting, but we felt like we were definitely getting something that is rare in Baltimore. The cheese pizza was thin-crusted and floppy, with very prominent, sweet-tangy tomato sauce. The crust was good around the edges, but too thin in the middle to balance the otherwise well-proportioned sauce and cheese. Oil was a problem for some, but a solution for others: “the oil makes the pizza just slide down my throat,” Dan reported.
The eggplant primavera was, in retrospect, an injudicious choice; it was just too much stuff on a pizza. The eggplant and mozzarella were fresh, but the fried eggplant slabs were overpowering - our group would have preferred thinner slices or strips as a topping. The white sauce fit well with this ensemble, however, as red sauce would have added a dissonant note.
To the claim that this is the best pizza in the universe, we rejoin that this is at least the best pizza in Cherry Hill. The service was an 8/8.
We gave the cheese pizza a 6/8
the eggplant received a 4.5/8
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Rocco’s Pizza in Glen Burnie
April 6, 2011
Pizza is an essential part of childhood. Many people have happy memories of pizza experiences that do not necessarily stand the test of time when revisited as an adult; this is not the case with Rocco’s.
Chris Freeland hosted the most recent pizza club meeting, luring us out to Glen Burnie with boasts of “the best pizza ever”. It was not until we were sitting down that we discovered Chris had been going to Rocco’s since he was a child. His father owned a bicycle shop in the same strip mall and young Chris and his father spent many happy afternoons eating Rocco’s pizza together. However, now Chris was ready to subject Rocco’s to scientific assessment by the Baltimore Pizza Club.
We ordered two extra-large pizzas. One had just cheese, the other had one half mushroom and one half green pepper. These pizzas were huge! They also were extremely cheap, the cheese pizza was $9.75 and each topping cost an additional $1.75. For those of you who happen to have an Entertainment Book, there is a coupon for Rocco’s for half-off a pizza. What a deal!
Our initial responses were positive. Katie Goodwin said that “it is like the pizza that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles eat.” Franco stated that “this is the pizza I’ve been looking for in Baltimore.”
Many were won over by the soft and pleasantly chewy consistency of the crust. This is pizza of the large, floppy slice variety. It can be difficult to manage, and the timid may resort to eating with a knife and fork, but the messiness is part of the experience of a thin-crust pie. The sauce was mild, and the viscosity of the cheese “just right.” Together, they achieved a delicious symbiosis.
The toppings are rather secondary in this kind of setting; though Rocco’s does offer specialty pizzas, we felt that the classic style was the most important to evaluate. Our mushrooms and peppers were clearly fresh rather than canned. The pools of grease spotting the pie’s surface were another topping of sorts; for a pizza this vast, with this much cheese, that’s to be expected, but the grease-shy should be warned.
In terms of atmosphere, this is primarily a take-out joint and thus the accommodations are minimal. We enjoyed the colors-of-Italy decor, and there was plenty of seating for our group, but our pizza “for here” arrived in a to-go box, suggesting that we proceed to the skating rink and/or bowling alley for someone’s 9th birthday party. In fact, you can go straight to the bowling alley from Rocco’s: there are a number of bowling options in the area, and lucky owners of an Entertainment book can get some pretty sweet discounts.
In the final assessment, would like to lay out the factors that might justify a trip to Glen Burnie for Rocco’s Pizza. We wouldn’t recommend making the journey just for pizza, but if you’re going to Value Village, traffic court, or to any of Glen Burnie’s numerous bowling alleys, Rocco’s is a perfect place to pick up a slice.