Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Italian Graffiti

October 13, 2011

On a temperate evening a few weeks ago, Pizza Club convened at Italian Graffiti in Fell’s Point. We were compelled to try their pizza because they, like us, had been voted “Best of Baltimore” by City Paper (except they won best pizza and we won best food blog, not to brag or anything). Anything that purports to be the best must hold up to pizza club scrutiny.

Even the best pie in Baltimore needs to have a gimmick. Italian Graffiti is decorated floor to ceiling with “graffiti” of an “Italian” nature, mostly about pizza. It wasn’t entirely persuasive as street art, but seemed to have been lovingly applied. The employees were friendly, but the place seemed to be empty on a Thursday night. This might be because they are known for speedy delivery and many people order from home. We, however, wanted the complete experience. We even dipped into the non-pizza offerings, munching on a bunch of delicious “Graffiti rolls,” which were pizza dough stuffed with spinach and cheese.

As we looked at the menu, we realized that there was only a dollar difference between a medium and a large pizza, which was significantly bigger, so we ordered four large pizzas. It should also be noted that they offer specialty pizzas by the slice, some that are not on the menu and change often.

We ordered four pies: the Graffiti Feta, the Genovese, the Buffalo Chicken, and the Margherita.

The Graffiti Feta is field greens, mixed vegetables, artichokes, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Feta pie was one of those pizzas that is basically a salad on a pizza: it had arugula, roasted eggplant, mushrooms, and balsamic vinegar. This can be a good thing or a bad thing; it was hard to handle, and there were unavoidable topping casualties. However, it provided the vegetable course of the meal, which felt very healthy and nutritious. Andrew said “I like eating pizza and salad at the same time.” The crust was a little dry, possibly because of the lack of sauce, but people appreciated the balsamic tang as the vinegar soaked into the crust.

The Margherita pizza was a definite winner. It was a classic pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil with tomato sauce. It was described by one table as “completely awesome and delicious,” “straightforward,” and “really solid.” The crust of this pizza was more persuasive than the Feta, possibly because of a generous slathering of sweet, hearty sauce. Some felt lie there was too much sauce compared to the giant slices of mozzarella. The mozzarella was good and stretchy. Although a simple pie, the Margherita was a crowd-pleasing classic.

The Buffalo Chicken is breaded chicken, mozzarella, blue cheese, celery and wing sauce. It was pretty intense. There was a lot of chicken on this pizza that was described as “fall-off-the-slice chicken”. The Buffalo sauce was pretty spicy and left a hot tingle on your tongue. This was the first Buffalo Chicken pizza that we have come across that actually tastes like chicken wings. The crust held the toppings well and did not collapse under the weight of the copious toppings.

The Genovese had creamy pesto sauce, sun dried tomatoes, sausage, parmesan cheese and mozzarella. This is a sausage pizza and the sausage was certainly a dominant taste, which was not a bad thing for most people. There was also secret sausage under the cheese. People preferred the sliced sausage on the pizza to bit of sausage they have experienced at other pizza places. The pesto was not overly garlicy. There was debate over the pesto to sausage ratio.

We lingered outside for a while pondering if they deserved to have won Best of Baltimore. It was pretty good and the pizzas were sizable. Is it the cute gimmick? The graffiti delivery car? They must do more business that way. We were uncertain of their delivery radius. Do they offer more than other pizza places in town? More uncertainties. We congratulate Italian Graffiti on their win and hope they do well. Do they win our best of? Maybe not.

Buffalo Chicken: 6.5/8
Margherita: 7/8
Graffiti Feta: 7/8
Genovese: 5.5/8

Overall experience rating: 7/8


Pizzablogger said...
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Pizzablogger said...
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Pizzablogger said...

Consistency is an issue here (as with most places), but the margherita is indeed a solid pizza. On a good day, the regular cheese pie is worthy of mention in the conversation of what is "the best" NY-Style pizza in Charm City.

The special square/nonna pizza here (not the overly puffy regular Sicilian regularly on the menu), usually only made on weekends, is hands down the best square in the city.

Toodley hoo! --K