Monday, May 7, 2012

Casa Mia (that pizza place in the Rotunda across from the box office)

Casa Mia's of the Rotunda
711 W 40th St
Baltimore, MD 21211

  Today we are talking about solid pizza. Where I grew up, there was this stupid pizza place where all the cool kids hung out after school. But the pizza there was really bad. Like, big floppy rubbery vast sprawling grease-ocean bad – the kind of crap that people only feed to eleven-year-olds just because they can get away with it. So me and my bespectacled braces-wearing friends took secret pride in going to the other pizza place, three blocks away, where the pizza was of highest quality and we could talk shit on the cool kids without being disturbed. This became a sort of ritual until we discovered that the Chinese restaurant around the corner was EVEN COOLER (i.e., a place that no one our age would ever go).

I thought of this because Casa Mia, that pizza place in the Rotunda across from the box office, is the place I'd go after school if I was eleven. It's hard to explain what makes it perfect, but it's in a basement and next to a movie theater past this weird deserted hall of mirrors, and there's hardly ever anyone around.

The Casa Mia target demographic is movie-goers, casual by-the-slice buyers, so when I called them up and wanted four large pizzas they seemed a bit caught off guard. However, they were very helpful in explaining Casa Mia's offerings. We ordered two traditional pizzas (a meat and a cheese) and two specialty pizzas (one vegetarian white and one spinach and tomato with white sauce).

When I showed up to get the pies they were still in the oven, so I hung around the Rotunda where there was some kind of pit bull rescue charity event going on that involved nice old ladies wearing “I heart pitbulls” t-shirts. The guys at Casa Mia were busy taking small orders from the theater crowd, but they provided reassurance and glimpses into the oven until my pies were ready. I stared at a poster for the Hunger Games, which I didn't realize was a CGI movie about a young woman who suffers a breakdown after applying too much bronzer.

I drove the pizza home as quickly as possible because we were having a party, the kind of party where you invite people over to eat pizza and then demand that they provide a sophisticated critical analysis of said pizza. The general consensus was that Casa Mia is a solid pizza place for normal, everyday pizza consumption.

The meat pie seemed to have somewhat runny sauce, and the toppings weren't particularly distinguished although the sausage was said to have “good character.” Sara found the sauce on the cheese pizza spicy, and Patrick commented positively on the cheese itself. Patrick is also a closet Casa Mia devotee, which was news to us. He has long believed that their traditional cheese pizza is “the best.”

The specialty pies offered both more rewards and more perils. Some of the vegetable toppings weren't properly prepared to grace a pizza – Milana found the broccoli wet and “strange,” while the spinach was still clumped up, having recently emerged from the can.

The white sauce was a good base for the spinach-tomato pie because it didn't overwhelm the toppings, though some people thought it was too squishy. The toppings were strategically placed under the cheese, preventing messy spills. The vegetarian special boasted a solid sheet of vegetables on top, a happy sight for the health-conscious who like to mask their pizza in greenery. The onions and tomatoes were crunchy and fresh, while the artichokes and broccoli were canned/frozen (as is reasonable for a pizza place in the Rotunda).

The crust was just the right thickness, bearing up well under many toppings and some liquidy sauces. “Not super-special, not cardboard,” one diner remarked. We all ate way too much pizza, just like when we were eleven.

5.5/8 slices

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