3700 Gough St.
Pizza Club has often felt the inexplicable drive to put disgusting pizza into our bodies: pizza suffused with the hydrogenated oils of late capitalism, pizza desiccated under the wan lights of the 7-11 counter, pizza sodden with the cynical rhetoric of saving the world through consumer choice.
The death-drive is a well-documented motive force behind America's relationship with convenience foods, and Pizza Club is no exception. A veneer of ironic epicureanism makes the thing more palatable, the thing being our non-optional participation in a nihilistic system that will probably destroy everything we love. Maybe it's the potassium ions in our cells longing for a return to equilibrium, how the universe's matter wants to spread itself across an immense silent vacuum and pizza is merely a means to this end.
There are, however, things that make the daily struggle against entropy worthwhile. Some of those things, confusingly, are also pizza, like Di Pasquale's on Gough St. in Highlandtown. Di Pasquale's is a purely pleasurable experience of pizza. They're doing almost everything right, and also surrounding you, the pizza-eater, with towering shelves of Italian specialty foods.
We enjoyed “one of the best sauces in Baltimore” and the firm but elastic sound of fresh cheese masticating between our molars. The crust is thin, but has substantial fluffiness around the edges and holds its toppings.
|Soppresatta: also much-loved|
Pizza Club tried some exotic options, like pies with tuna fish and chicken on them. These are sometimes attention-seeking menu moves that don't pay off, but Di Pasquale's handled them reasonably well. The tuna pizza was “good-weird,” and a favorite of the group, though sauce-less and more like a flatbread. The chicken, “always a little weird” on pizzas, was intermingled with some slimy spinach and thus we'd recommend steering away from that combo. Get the most normal pizza you see on the menu – not a pile of toppings, just a pizza – and you'll experience a thing that this century-old pizza establishment does very masterfully.
|Tuna: surprising novelty success|
Pizza Club is even prepared to adjust its metaphysics based on this experience. We've long regarded Gill's as Baltimore's ur-pizza, but in fact there may be two pillars of pure pizza-form rising from the primordial chaos. Gill's represents the perfection of a suburban pizza mode that is cheap, tasty, feeds your whole family, and is unabashedly no-nonsense American which entails an undercurrent of darkness and destruction as you drive up Belair Road in traffic. Di Pasquale's is the brick oven Italian-style pizza that we thought wasn't even worth looking for because we stopped believing in authenticity or any fixed “reality” at all. Christine the librarian has been telling us about Di Pasquale's for years and we just weren't ready to accept that there might be a knowable past that we could touch in the form of a continuous pizza tradition. So listen to your librarian is the other take-home message here.
|Chicken and spinach: not meant to be together|
You could go back to Di Pasquale's again and again. They close at 6pm, which requires leaving work early. Adjust your schedule, be honest about your motivations, get the thing that imbues you with a will to soldier onward into the dissipating grey Baltimore evening.
Photo credits: Dave