Saturday, December 28, 2013

Patro's Pizza

We've all dabbled in the ever-shifting world of greasy corner pizza joints, which stay open very late, waiting for you. They know you'll come. Maybe not at 11pm, maybe not at midnight, but by 2am when the bar closes, there you are pondering the yellowed backlit display menu, its items photographed from inexplicable angles on desolate foam plates. Why wait until 2am? You can eat this pizza any time of the day.

Pizza Club visited Patro's at midnight to obtain a representative sample of their pie. They are located at 2334 N. Charles, across from the Safeway, which is not open at midnight in case you were thinking about that as an alternative. The former tenant of this space was American Wings and Pizza, not to be confused with American Pizza and Wings on 29th St., or Wings, Things, and Pizza on St. Paul. Or maybe Wings Things & Pizza was the one on Charles. Crap. The past flaps away beyond my reach like the shiny greased flesh of a chicken wing.

Also I lost my notes from this meeting, which were written on the back of a jumbo-size coffee filter. If you see a really big coffee filter with diagrams of pizza on it blowing around Charles Street, please capture and return it to me. We had some intelligence going into this experience -- Patrick advised us against a plain cheese pie, steering us towards feta and mushrooms. Patrick wins MVP for this meeting. You need some toppings on these pies to make them taste like anything, and the feta was tangy and pretty good. It helped with both texture and flavor. 

Although they represent themselves as a take-out and delivery place, Patro's does in fact have enough seating in their storefront for up to eight people to scarf pizza fresh from the conveyor belt. Seeing no possible benefit to waiting, we ate our pie in the white-tiled fluorescent glow. Like many crusts in the cheap-pizza range, this one uses buttery stuff to make up for lack of depth or integrity in the dough. So you get a heavy, spongy, kind of sweet crust that definitely fills your stomach. The cheese was laid on thick. We could see into the food-prep area, and they were using a big ol' bag of Sorrento, so unless Sorrento makes a special line of adulterated mozzarella for fast food places, at least this is legit (they advertise 100% real cheese on their online menu).

The mushrooms also seemed fresh; the sauce was plain and sweet. There was a bit of "swim," my new term for when cheese and toppings move around and the crust is too floppy/soggy to lift. As mentioned above, feta is a must. We were satisfied and this pizza even exceeded our expectations. It will cost you $10.50 for a large pie plus $1.25 per topping, but there are all these deals deals deals that you can get if you refer to their menu and want a bunch of Pepsi products to go with your seven pizzas.

The only other point of interest is that Patro's online menu lists an Indian Pizza with garlic, ginger, cauliflower, spinach, and paneer. This wasn't on their in-store menu, but seems worth investigating. I have many larger questions about the life of a corner fast-food place: why Patro's, why here, why now? What's a "papersteak"? Patro's seems to be doing good business, so I guess the delivery thing is working for them. Is this possible because of Foodler/GrubHub/etc., sites that let people order random food from the vacuum of the internet? Patro's offers free delivery. Boli's pizza is better, but Patro's is doing something unique and important: they're an active storefront on North Charles that's open late and has people coming and going all night. This is good for people walking or biking up Charles St. through an area that can get pretty dark and deserted. The guys who work at Patro's are friendly. Maybe that is enough of a service to Baltimore that you should get off your bike and have some pizza on your way home, although we have nothing to say about their by-the-slice option because that's not a good idea anywhere and you know it.

4/8 slices

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