Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe in Mt. Airy is a Fine Dining Hidden Gem, Hands down the best pizza in the area. Not to mention their mouth watering Entrees.

Usually when I travel to Mt. Airy MD, it’s a quick there and back trip. On these trips I have to admit, I don’t have time to sit down for a meal. So, BK it is. This last week, I had a little time to kill while waiting for my appointment, so I started looking at dining options. I did not realize Mt. Airy has an old town section with a number of excellent restaurant choices. The restaurant that stood out to me was Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe.

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. They serve gourmet pizzas. They have a nice selection of pasta’s. But, when you review their entree’s, you

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. I don’t know that I would call them an Italian restaurant. They serve gourmet pizzas, with a nice selection of pastas. But, when you review their entree’s, you see dishes such as French Onion Pork Chops, Sesame Ginger Mahi Mahi, and a dish I settled on, Chicken Evelyn.

The interior of Laurienzo’s is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. At the same time, they have Family Style tables, with a menu section titled Family Style. This is perfect for Business Team Meetings or an outing with the family.

The first night I went to Laurienzo’s was with a singular purpose. I was interested in trying their Wood Fired Pizza.

Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza
Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza

Hands down, this is the best pizza in the region. Maybe in the entire state of Maryland. Given that this is not my first Rodeo when it comes to dining on Wood Fired Pizza’s, I expected the crust to appear well done. Laurienzo’s even has a note on their menu stating the nature of Wood Fired Pizza’s. The edges usually appear dark.

I ordered their Carnivore Pizza, my first bite sent my taste buds into overdrive. So many flavors melting together. My first thought was they do not skimp on the quantity or the quality of their toppings. The sauce is not an afterthought. Laurienzo’s actually uses spices in their sauce. Having said this, the spices are not overwhelming. This is one outstanding pizza.

It is a rare occasion that I will return to a restaurant two days in a row. Especially when it’s an hour drive, but I went back for lunch the next day. I had to try their entrees.

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe Corn Chower
Laurienzo’s Corn Chowder

When it comes to soup, one of my passions is Corn Chowder. Seeing Corn Chowder on the menu I had to try it. In their description of the ingredients, they call out spiced cream, sherry, fresh corn. Once again, I can’t say enough about the flavor of this soup. You first taste the corn flavor in the broth, then you get hit with a little heat. If you don’t like spicy food, not to worry, the spice is subtle, but definitely makes this a unique interpretation of Corn Chowder. I could go back just for this soup. When they say fresh corn, I saw someone carrying in ears of corn.

Laurienzo Brick Cafe Chicken Evelynn
Laurienzo Chicken Evelyn

So far, I’m batting a thousand. With the Carnivore Pizza fresh in my mind and having finished the Corn Chowder, could they go three for three. Once again Laurienzo’s prepared a dish, I cannot say enough about; Chicken Evelyn.

Chicken Evelyn is a chicken breast that is stuffed with prosciutto, that is served with garlic mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, goat cheese, and a lemon dill sauce. Every component of the dish could stand on it’s on. Together it makes a fantastic bite. Not one aspect overpowers the other. I’m not one to eat spinach on its own, but when combined with the chicken gives you a pleasant tart after taste. I’m a huge fan of  lemon dill sauce. Not to overuse the term balanced, every component of this dish works together. The portion is large enough to where you should plan on a doggy bag.

Good food worth driving for is the motto of this site. Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe, fills this bill perfectly. The next time I’m in the mood for a good meal, I will make the trek to Mt. Airy.

As you gathered, I am highly recommending Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe. Have you been to Laurienzo or do you have a favorite restaurant that features Wood Fired Foods.

Rad Pies

Rad Pies in Williamsport MD has the most flavorful pizza in the region.

I’m always on the search for new pizza restaurants to try. In the case of Rad Pies, My doctor recommended them. When she said try Rad Pies, my brain said this is the same woman who just said I need more exercise and cut back on the carbs, so she peaked my curiosity and I had to try them. Williamsport is not exactly close to me, so this was definitely going to be a destination drive.

A few things struck me when looking for Rad Pies, first of all they are not off a main drive, if you weren’t looking for them, there is probably not a chance you will stumble on them. Secondly, they are located in an industrial park. Finally, Rad Pies is co-located in the Cushwa Brewing Co.

Walking in the door, I was struck by how sterile everything was. There is a bar to order your beers, but ordering your pizza and other food takes place at a kiosk. There is no wait staff, you receive a text when you food is ready and you pick it up at the counter. I hope this is not a trend of the future.

Rad Pie's Detroit Style
Rad Pie’s Detroit style pizza.

Let’s talk pizza! Rad Pies’ Detroit style pizza has to be the tastiest pizza in the region. I mean, Man! this is good pizza. The pizza seasoning blend is killer and it’s not only in the sauce. The thick crust is seasoned with the same Italian seasoning blend. I instantly took a liking to the caramelized cheese acting as a crust. The toppings and cheese are spread over the crust and the sauce is drizzled across the top. I chose to build my own pizza, I selected Italian sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. If I have a bone to pick with them, it would be this: great tasting pizza but where are the toppings. I’m not a fan of ground up sausage and they seemed to go a little lite on the pepperoni. Even with the toppings being lite, this is a very good pizza.

Rad Pies is not what I call a family friendly restaurant, unless you are ready to put out a good deal of cash. I was surprised by the size of the pizza and how much it cost. The pizza was four slices and more than $30.00. Cushwa Brewing Co. is good place to meet up with friends. Just bring your wallet, the beer cost almost what the pizza cost.

If you are in the Williamsport area and want a good pizza, give Rad Pies a try. I will not be making the 53 mile drive anytime soon, but given the opportunity I would like to try their thin crust pizza as well. Have you been to Rad Pies or have a favorite pizza restaurant you think I should try, leave a comment below.

Fratelli’s Italian & Seafood

Top notch service combined with excellent food, makes Fratelli’s in Hampstead MD, my choice of one of the best Italian restaurants in the region.

There are a lot of good Italian restaurants in this country. So, what sets them apart? To start with customer service. Fratelli’s Italian & Seafood restaurant in Hampstead MD has customer service you would expect in a fine dining establishment. At Fratelli’s the staff is over the top in their customer service. I can’t remember the last time I ate at a restaurant and my table stayed so clean. When I finished eating there wasn’t even a crumb left on the table. Customer service means nothing if the food is bad; not an issue at Fratelli’s. The couple that recommended them to me was spot on. They told me they serve the best Lasagna around. I whole heartily agree.

Fratelli's Lasagna
Fratelli’s Lasagna

Out of politeness, I let the waitress run through the specials, but I knew my order before walking in the door. I wanted to see what my friends considered the best Lasagna around. To start with the portion was good sized. In my first bite I noticed the sauce had a perfectly balanced spice level. My biggest complaint when I eat Italian food is when the sauce has a strong tomato taste and not much else. This was not the case with Fratelli’s Lasagna. The next thing I noticed the ricotta cheese was not overpowering. The ricotta cheese was perfectly proportioned. My final observation was even the ground beef was season just right. After eating Fratelli’s Lasagna, I’m looking forward to telling my friends they are right; I can’t think of a better Lasagna served anywhere?

Fratelli's Cesar Salad
Fratelli’s Cesar Salad

The Cesar Salad at Fratelli’s is good, but if I have one complaint, I would serve it with shaved parmigiana cheese instead of shredded parmigiana. I realize this is a preference, but most fine dining restaurants used shaved parmigiana. I do like that the salad was tossed. It drives me crazy to have the dressing served on the side. Score another one for Fratelli’s.

Hampstead MD is home to an Italian restaurant that is fine dining, without the fine dining prices. I will definitely be returning the next time I’m in the mood for Italian food.

Have you been to Fratelli’s or do you have a favorite Italian restaurant. Leave your comments below.

Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar

Cafe Europa in Portsmouth Virginia is in a category of it’s own. Fine dining that is influence by French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisines.

Portsmouth Virginia is home to one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast, Cafe Europa. Dining at Cafe Europa you get the feeling that you are dining at a French restaurant, but the truth is Chef Michael serves up French and Italian dishes, with a Mediterranean influence. Cafe Europa is a Bistro in the truest sense of the word. They are a small unpretentious restaurant that serves an international cuisine. To give you an impression of how good Cafe Europa is, people boating up and down the coast of Virginia, will turn up the Elizabeth River and dock in Portsmouth, just to have a meal there. This is saying something when they could just as easy dock on the other side of the river and eat at one of the many fine restaurants in Norfolk.

Polenta 1_edited
Cafe Europa Polenta Gorgonzola

On this particular evening we were served up two outstanding appetizers Polenta Gorgonzola and Mussels Marinieres. My personal favorite is Cafe Europa’s Polenta Gorgonzola. The polenta is grilled and then rested on a rich and decadent Gorgonzola cheese sauce. This is a little slice of heaven and my favorite way to eat polenta.

Mussels Marinieres

The Mussels Marinieres is served in a white wine and butter herb sauce. The sauce is exquisite. Make sure you ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce.  The Mussels Marinieres is not on the menu, it is usually offered as an appetizer special. On the menu they do offer a Mussels Provencal, the difference is it is served with a Pernod, tomato based sauce. Either appetizer will be a special treat.

Hungarian Veal 2
Cafe Europa Hungarian Veal

Have you ever had veal that melts in your mouth? Whether you have or haven’t, Cafe Europa’s Hungarian Veal with Potato Noki was the star of the evening. The tomato-based sauce with it’s hint of paprika is Chef Michael’s way of paying homage to flavors of the Mediterranean. The sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the veal. I had to ask for another couple pieces of bread to lap up the sauce. The veal is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I seriously considered asking for another order to go. This has to be the best veal I have ever had.

Apple Galette
Apple Galette

All of Cafe Europa’s desserts are made in house. As with the appetizers, every night the dessert menu changes. Talk about a challenge for the waitress, imagine having to memorize 16 or so desserts every night.  You would be hard pressed not to find something you desire. Dessert this evening consisted of a slice of Apple Galette, pictured, and slice of Conversation Tart. The Conversation Tart is a puff pastry filled with an almond filling.  I have tried my fair share of their desserts; I have never been disappointed.

Looking for an intimate evening out, or dining at a restaurant that leaves you feeling as if you just had a meal with old friends, Cafe Europa is definitely worth checking out. If you are in the Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia area, call and reserve a table at Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar. Have you been to Cafe Europa or have a favorite Bistro, share your comments below.

Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant

Family owned and operated, Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant of New Oxford PA, offers a taste of Italy.

It took a couple of tries to finally eat Gallo Pizza, but it was well worth the wait. One of the keys of making a restaurant a destination worth driving to is word of mouth. I was talking to a friend one morning in a coffee shop, when he recommended Gallo Pizza. The first time I tried to go there, the restaurant was closed and family was vacationing in Italy. Then the other day I was in a shop talking with the owner of Dawg Gone Honey. I told her I was looking to eat lunch. She recommended Gallo Pizza. The cherry on top was she told me they were back from vacation.

Gallo Veal Parm 2
Gallo Pizza Veal Parmesan

I have been looking for a good Italian restaurant in the area for a while now. I have visited Italian restaurants that claim to be authentic; yet they seem to forget something as basic as seasoning. This is not the case with Gallo Pizza. I decided to try their Veal Parmesan. Even before I took that first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by the portion size. There was definitely enough for leftovers. I tried the spaghetti with marinara sauce first. The sauce is balanced, well season, not overly seasoned. It wasn’t watery. The Veal is hand pounded, lightly breaded, and deep fried. My first bite left me looking forward to my next bite. This is exactly what I was expecting. I mentioned leftovers. Not today.

Gallo Stuffed Pizza
Gallo Stuffed Pizza

Stuffed pizza, another Chicago original. You might ask, what is the difference between a Stromboli and a Stuffed Pizza. The biggest difference is the pizza sauce is not baked inside the Stromboli, it is normally served in a separate dish. My preference between the two is the Stuffed Pizza. I can’t really say what is my favorite style of pizza. If I had to decide whether to go to New York, the original home of pizza, or Chicago, I would most likely choose Chicago. I do enjoy a good slice, but in Chicago you have both Deep Dish and Stuffed Pizzas to choose from.

Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is execeptionally good. I wouldn’t be surprised if each slice weighed a half of pound or more. No cheap ingredients here. The meat lover’s pizza featured here has Ham, Pepperoni, Salami, Sausage, Ground Beef, Bacon & Extra Cheese. They finish this pizza off with a light coat of garlic oil on the outer crust. Bite after bite, I could find nothing wrong with this pizza. Not all pizzas are created equal. Nothing worse than a restaurant using cheap tasteless toppings. This is not the issue here, Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is one of the best in the area.

Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant is definitely a destination worth driving to. Just make sure you come hungry. Another plus is they are not over priced, so bring the family. Have you been to Gallo Pizza or have a favorite Pizza Restaurant, leave a comment.