Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'll say this people either love peanut butter or they are allergic to it. Or at least that's what it seems. As the health food craze continues, I shouldn't call it a craze actually, it' a movement towards better eating and it's legit. Peanut Butter is a food item that can have a lot of positive benefits and sometimes represent something of a treat. So along with Jif, Skippy is working hard to establish new items in their portfolio.

Skippy P.B. Bites are items that can be used as a quick snack after school and for lunches. Small poppable bites they come in two flavors, double peanut butter and peanut butter pretzel. in my household we tried the latter and they are pretty decent. You have to like peanut butter for sure because the outer portion is a peanut butter shell with a core of pretzel which makes the outside part palatable when you bite into it. the peanut butter is still overwhelming so the double peanut butter I think would be too much for my tastes.

Now while I thought it was alright, my son enjoyed these immensely, taking the entire cup for himself and snacking on it over several days. If you are looking for something that you can have around for the kids when they get out of school and before athletic games this is a great little snack to keep around. They have a little bit of protein as well to help stave off hunger.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Today I had the pleasure of stopping at the corner bakery cafe, which is a chain similar to panera bread in some ways in that they sell baked items, sandwiches, salads and soups. They also offer pancakes and full style breakfast not just oatmeal and sandwiches. There is a nice counter which has the pastries, cookies and cakes that they sell.

I ordered a Turkey sandwich with havarti cheese on a pretzel roll with a spicy mustard/mayo. I did not get the onions or tomatoes that normally come with the sandwich but I do feel like there should have been something green at least offered. Some sort of lettuce or crunchy green would have been welcome, although I love Havarti Cheese which was on the sandwich. The pretzel roll itslef was nice and soft, could have been slightly more "pretzel-ish" but it was still good.

I also decided to indulge in several desserts, lemon hand pie, mini chocolate bundt cake, and a chocolate whoopie pie. The mini bundt cake itself is very chocolatey and moist. The frosting on top was a bit much but it isn't a bad topping at all. It's almost as good as the chocolate cake that I make at home. The whoopie pie has the same good chocoalte cake around a creamy icing that at first glance I didn't think I would like but turned out to be better than my expectations. It also has more flavor in it than most whoopie pies that are just sugary.

Finishing up is the lemon hand pies which I feel like not many people are the most fond of. Me I enjoy Lemon pie a bit so I had to give these a try. The crust is fine, it could be a little more flavorful but it isn't bad at all. The powdered sugar works well with the lemon pie as well and it isn't too sweet or bitter so this was another win.

The service there was a bit slow at first however. There was a long line and I'm not sure if it was some of the customers with overly complicated orders or the staff. Once I did put in my order it was very quick for my order to get completed and given to me. The food is at least a four but the time spent waiting in line dropped it down a notch.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, October 9, 2015

Jif is one of the most aggressive brands right now when it comes to expansion into other areas with their product lines. They have individual cups, cookies and cookie bars. They also have extended into the area where Nutella has been making their money, the Hazelnut spread category.

This Jif spread is for snack, desserts, and cooking. A ribbon of  cream with broken up chocolatecookie pieces runs between the chocolate Hazelnut spread. Taste wise, it's sweet, and chocolatey but the cookies and cream ribbon doesn't add much to the flavor or change things because the Hazelnut chocolate is so strong. It looks cool in the jar but doesn't do much for me. It's not bad but it isn't something that is revolutionary either.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

So there is yet another new spot in the local area for on demand Artisan pizzas and it was one I was looking forward to seeing once this trend really began to flesh itself out. MOD pizza. One of the things I have been watching closely was the proximity of these chains to one another and it seems that there is little overlap for most of them but it is starting to make me think of the numerous sub shops that exist locally. But hey, I'm willing to continue giving these places a try as they pop up.

First up, there is a menu which is pretty good and does have a lot of signature selections with a top ten of pie flavors that they offer. The design is more of the rustic reclaimed wood and dark hard grays, blacks and silver. The chairs all look like they were left over from Shake Shack. Mod does offer one major thing that most pizza places don't offer, milkshakes. The layout also has a much better setup for the pizza turner who uses a small metal paddle for the 11 inch pizzas and not a massive one which is blocked by the counter at some of the other places. In many of them I think they put more of a premium on the customer seeing the pizza than they need to.

I ordered a "Mad Dog" pizza which is the classic red sauce, meatballs, sausage and pepperoni. I opted to not get the sausage because I'm not a big fan of sausage honestly. I also ordered cinnamon strips and dipping sauce. The pizza itself is pretty good, the meatballs went a little heavy but maybe thats because the location is new and they were alright but i wasn't blown away by their taste. The sauce is pretty good but it does have a little bit of a spice to it. The pepperoni's were perfect. Aged well with a good spice to them and the cheese blend was fresh and top notch. At the end of the day, the crust of course tells the tale and the MOD crust is pretty good. I still think that bagby pizza is a little better but that's a local place which you're not going to catch everywhere. It bubbled up nicely and had a good crunch and didn't completely fall apart as I ate it.

The dessert I purchased, the cinnamon strips was a 5 inch pizza crust with butter and cinnamon on it, Simple right. The strips themselves could have been put into the oven a tad bit longer to get some more crispness- that would have made it perfect. However, this was all before I tasted the syrup/sauce of creamy cinnamon sugar goodness that was extra delicious. That dipping sauce is a highlight and it might be worth a visit on it's own I enjoyed it so much.

Taken altogether the pizza was excellent as was the dessert which definitely puts the entire experience up a couple of notches. This particular location is pretty new outside of the Columbia Mall which probably affected the staff and their relative inexperience with some aspects of the menu. However as they get some more practice, things should get better.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trying to be different and avoid Mcdonald's led me to take a skip off of the beaten path and try out the Einstein Bros Bagel Company this past week. They have a few new intriguing items on their menu which include the vast array of fall Pumpkin flavors and the French Toast Bagel Sandwich which I had to try.

This sandwich is made up of a French Toast Bagel, an egg circle, bacon, and a Maple Cream Cheese beschamel sauce as well as cheese. It reminds me a lot of a Pancake Lasagna that I make on occasion. The bagel itself was excellent, chewy on the inside, not too crunchy or hard on the outside. The Bacon could have been slightly more crispy, I know they all use the prepackaged kind but some places get it more right than others, this could have been a little better. The Egg was fluffy, but a little weird, I think it's because the texture is more like regular scrambled eggs but it was patty formed. The star that makes it stand out is Maple cream cheese sauce which is a good mix of the flavors, it's not more than one or the other flavors and it works really good to balance out the entire sandwich.

Einstein Brothers Bagels are pretty hard to find for a lot of people but if you happen past one and you like french toast I'd suggest you give this a try. The one thing I don't recommend is their coffee but if you have to have it then go for it. The sandwich though is a worthwhile taste.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, September 14, 2015

In the search for a good lunch spot, I ventured into the Moe's Southwest Grill at the Laurel Town Center recently instead of Panera Bread. Tex-Mex was once the hottest things but the growth has slowed down a bit. I have heard of this particular restaurant before but this was my first chance to really go to one.

Now the menu is a little weird to me, I mean it's not small or limited more than other places but nothing seemed to really pop out saying buy me. Maybe it's the way the board and colors are set up but it didn't sell me the way some places do. So it's obvious they are ready to promote the nachos and queso, because i was asked several times about it. I ordered the fish tacos and i must say I was underwhelmed.

The Fish was fine, could have used some more flavor but it wasn't too bad. The taco shells were supposed to be soft but they were heated too much and ended up being crispy soft tacos which I didn't care for. The fish was also topped with cole slaw which just wasn't good, it was all vinegar and the lime squeezed on top wasn't really my favorite, but I'm not a fan of that flavor. I ended up getting some queso after being asked several times and it was alright, but it wasn't so great as to have it kind of thrust upon me as it was although it did make the nachos better and was better than the tacos themselves.

Service wise, maybe I came at a bad time it was around 1130 or so but people were already in the restaurant although the staff didn't seem quite ready. the Fish wasn't prepared and then it was simply reheated, it wasn't fresh grilled like at Baja Fresh. I did read reviews of the chain itself and they were right to say that the greeting "welcome to Moe's" which is yelled out every time someone walks through the door gets really old if you're sitting and waiting for any period of time. I feel like not enough care is taken on the food and it is a place people settle for when they just want something different or the lines are too long at some other places. Maybe a chicken taco would be better for me but I'm not sure I will try them again.

Rating: 1.5/5

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

School in session and lunches can get really boring if you don't find a way to spice things up and one way is to grab one of these little somewhat new products. Jif to Go Dippers are small cups that come with pretzels and either chocolate silk or peanut butter. These little snacks are really handy and a bit of a delight.

The chocolate silk is really good with a not too sweet, or too dark and bitter style of chocolate that goes good with the flat crispy pretzels which have a little bit of salt on them which brings out the sweetness even better. These were so good my son even took one and he isn't a huge chocolate fan. Now the Peanut butter, is different. The peanut butter is a plain flavor, not sweetened in any way and seemed extra dry. Maybe I haven't had Jif in a while but it wasn't very good to me. So if you like chocolate I think this works, but the peanut butter needs some work.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Sorry I have been away but I'm back right now with the newest local sensation in the hot segment of on-demand artisan pizzas. I really don't know how Domino's and their kind will keep up as the urban millennial has so many new and unique choices when it comes to something that is as simple as a pizza. This local place, Bagby Pizza, I saw while heading home and I thought it was some sort of national chain based upon the sign until I got there and actually looked the place up as I waited in line.

So just like most of these places, if you're familiar with the ordering style for one you know them all. There are a limited selection of specialties that the staff is trained to make quickly and good for beginners. Then there is the custom option where you can pick your particular toppings and get it made to order in the brick fired oven. Now Bagby also offers a custom salad selection and their toppings bar is very generous and has a lot of variety. And let me not forget, they also have two limited specials as well. Now the toppings bar like I said is pretty big with radishes, capers, edamame, bacon crumbles, meatballs, and several cheeses and greens to choose from in both your salad and on your pizza.

When it comes to the pizza itself, my daughter got the Honey BBQ Chicken, my son got the plain cheese and I made my own with pepperoni and bacon crumbles and the basic red sauce. The Honey BBQ chicken also came adorned with plenty of fresh peppers and the default does not include red onions like so many chains are doing. The sauce is definitely fresh made and the cheese was fine, nothing standout there. The chicken on the BBQ pizza was outstanding and very well seasoned. The pepperoni on my pizza was fresh and new but thats kind of the opposite of what you want because as it sits and ages the tastes become bolder and fit together well. I wouldn't go for bacon and pepperoni together the same way because the salt kind of blends together. The final aspect, the crust is very good, much better than Blaze pizza which is very similar.

The final aspect of this visit was the service, while the staff was nice especially the young lady who took my initial order, the time was somewhat slow. I understand the nature of this model means the pizzas take some time to cook since they go into an oven and someone has to physically turn them and watch them, but this location, much like Blaze pizza has the oven in the worst possible position for the work flow although it is good for customers to watch but there isn't enough space between the counter and the oven and the pick up area to not walk all over one another and it made the employees also seem cramped on the other side. for long term success, fixing this has to be a priority at all restaurants of this type.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, June 25, 2015

There are a ridiculous amounts of cheese varieties in the world and sometimes if you want to try something or get into a new thing in food, you go familiar with flavors and tastes you assume you would like. So it's obvious, if we're having pasta that I would try garlic bread cheese right, it solves two needs that go together, cheese and pasta, and garlic and pasta. All things considered, this is a simple choice, plus, this is a 'grilling' cheese, meant to be cooked up quickly and eaten warm.

This cheese was so simple even my wife tasted it with no hesitation and she is very wary of trying new things. First things first, instructions, open the package, heat and eat. Simple right? I chose to pan fry mine on all four sides. It comes out of the package with some of the cooking marks already on it but i was able to get some more with a medium heated pan and a minute or two on each side. The cheese itself if firm and has a great bite to it. It's actually almost exactly like a mozzarella with garlic infused into it. You get the mild mozzarella flavor and the saltiness added with the garlic flavor it's very good. If you like marinara sauce you can get a little dippage going on and boom, a great appetizer or side dish to give your dinner some flair.

I really liked this cheese, and would get it again especially to show off a little with a gathering or dinner party. It's also a domestic cheese, made in Wisconsin if you are concerned about that too.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I'm not really sure if this counts as a restaurant review or a taste test but whatever. A couple of weeks backI took the kids to The Gathering at Owings Mills Town Center which is one of a series of food truck meet ups during the summer on Friday evenings. It's cool I suggest everyone try it out and get to one. This time, the kids well, the boy, decided he wanted grilled cheese from this truck, he of course opted for a plain grilled cheese which was on Texas Toast, how boring right?

My daughter opted for a cheeseburger which was alright. She liked the meat and everything, but the burger itself was kind of a puck and once the toppings were added, made a big mess from how it was situated on the bun. I got the mac and cheese deluxe which is a crab cake topped with macaroni and cheese, monterey jack cheese on Texas Toast.

Let's break down some of the components, the mac and cheese was plain, and it's fine cause actually it's more of the idea than how it is executed with something like this. A more flavorful mac and cheese would have been good and it might have eliminated the need for any additional cheese to begin with, so anyone wanting to make something like this at home can take that into consideration. Now I've had several food truck crab cakes and while they all are good on crab meat, they aren't well balanced in flavor to me and this one isn't any exception. It was a bit salty and flat. For something like this you really want the taste of the crab to come out and be present with old bay or seasoning playing a supporting role and not drowning everything else out. The one thing I will say is that I dislike tomatoes so opted not to get one on my sandwich but I'm sure that the lightness and moisture would have diluted some of the saltiness I experienced.

Overall I am still excited about current food truck culture which is doing a lot to bring New American cuisine to the forefront. There are a lot of variables and not to be too critical but just a few subtle tweaks can take something from being good to being outstanding.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The last thing you probably need to get yourself started in the morning, or to go along with your salad at lunch is to get one of these calorie and sugar laden, decadent cookie dough parfaits from wawa. The good thing about that is I've done it so you don't have to, unless you really want to.

Buying this the cashier asked if I had already had one because they were selling but no one had come back for this, it was all first time trials. that leads me to think they did a great job coming up with and packaging this parfait to make it look ultra appealing. By itself the cookie dough was cool, slightly sweeter than I'd like it, especially being that you end up mixing it into a sweet chocolate pudding. The cookie dough could be a little 'sharper' so that there is some contrast.

The pudding fell a little flat as well. It wasn't a strong chocolate, but it was indeed creamy and milk chocolate smooth. It gets points for that but once it was mixed with the cookie dough, the chocolate chips don't really do anything and the entire parfait becomes just one note and boring. I like a lot of wawas products but this one didn't do it for me.

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

So I have seen groupons for RG's for month's now and never purchased but while looking to find a pie 5 I drove past and made a note to come back and give the place a try. The reviews have all seemed to be good and I love a good BBQ joint, I mean who doesn't?

First thing the spot is small, and I don't mind that and enjoy the old school menu but I couldn't get a good handle on what to order. I mean are there just ribs or could I get my favorite, brisket? It wasn't readily easy to read so in the end, pressed for time I ordered a Pit Turkey sandwich and the jalapeno mac and cheese. Pit Turkey is something I also enjoy around these parts so I wasn't to disappointed to end up ordering it.

The turkey itself was fine, nothing great, nothing bad. I liked the grilled bun and the sauce was fine. So it was a good start but I have to knock major points for the macaroni and cheese. The sauce was way too runny and it wasn't cheesy enough. It was more of a spicy soup with too much heat to it and no other flavors. The noodles were even bland, like they hadn't been boiled with any salt at all. It was just a flat flavor profile and I didn't enjoy it at all.

Overall, the mac and cheese left a spicy and bad taste in my mouth about RG's. Now I might give them another shot and try to get brisket and some greens which are my other go-to's for evaluating a joint like this but I'm not interested in rushing back at this point.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

So in continuing the warm weather treat trend, I saw this small premium looking container and flavor of ice cream and it caught my eye. Don't let anyone tell you packaging doesn't work! There were a couple of decent flavors but this southern banana pudding caught my eye. One thing is that several of the other varieties all have different sets of ingredients to be both environmentally responsible and friendly to a variety of different diets such as gluten free, non-soy, coconut milk based, etc.

This one I chose was one made with more traditional ingredients. Now these things are high quality and the taste is really clean and fresh. Ben and Jerry's is a little heavy, and haagen das is especially rich. Steve's is in another lane of it's own, taking off from the Ben and Jerry style I would think. I could see this company expanding with their niche being the types of ingredients that are more controlled for quality and freshness as well as variety.

Now this ice cream is off the chain. It might possibly be a little bit more banana flavor than some would like possibly, but not I. I mean it is banana pudding and when you make your bowl and dig in with your spoon you can get a good balance in most every bite. There is a great mix of the ingredients into the ice cream with not too high or low a ratio of ingredients. This is definitely a personal indulgence with a regular price of 7 bucks so if you try it, and like it , keep it a secret so that no one asks for some.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Summer is just around the corner and as such it is time for the ice cream companies to bring out the new stuff to get in your wallet as you grab something to cool down with. Custard is getting big as an off-shoot of the gelato craze of the last few years and as people are looking for more unique items for their taste buds.

So Edy's has several new flavors, of course vanilla is one, but to step outside we grabbed the Snickerdoodle variety which is a nice cinnamon flavored cream, but it isn't very strong, with snickerdoodle cookie pieces in ribbons through the dessert. The custard has a nice consistency and while it isn't as hard as some ice cream can normally be, it isn't a really soft custard either. It fits in a nice little space as far as consistency.

This is a simple, review, because honestly it's a premium style of ice cream. Very creamy and made with rich ingredients, the taste is on point and it is just what you would expect. The only beef might be with the size of the container because you don't get a whole lot. You won't be giving this to the kids at their birthday parties. This is for the close family and friends only.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This week's brand new lunch selection was a place called Burger Fi in the new Luarel Town Center. This burger joint has all of the modern claims to fame that are hip with the publiuc these days. Burgers made with fresh more natural if not all natural ingredients, quick but not fast service, and a dining area with exposed wood and aluminum accents.

The thing is I have never been to Shake Shack yet this place seems just like what I expect it to be, only less crowded. The menu board is simple with a regular burger being a little pricey because once you start adding cheese, bacon, specialties it can add up. Small fries are like most places now where you get them dumped in your bag and I had a 'concrete' which I had assumed was a trademarked kind of thing but I guess it isn't. Red Velvet, which was cake swirled with a cream cheese tasting custard.

The burger itself was just alright to me. Maybe it should be with the sauce they make to be at it's best but it really lacked a stand out characteristic. The bacon wasn't memorable either and for a company preaching sustainability, it seemed over done in the take out container which is made from recycled materials but seemed to much. The fries were fine, I like mine a little darker most times but I'm not going to complain about them.

The Red Velvet Concrete was definitely the best thing. The cake asn't too dry and it was a good mix of cake to custard. The custard was smooth and creamy and had good flavor. That one thing was worth it's cost. Overall though I wasn't feeling it very much. The prices aren't great so it isn't a value play, I get it, but for the price I need the flavors to pop and all of the elements to make their mark. Bacon should never be forgettable and the burger really underwhelmed me with the lack of any real flavor.

Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, April 19, 2015

So I saw these desserts in the store a few times but I decided to bide my time before grabbing some to try. I mean they look really appealing and have all of the great buzz words on them and a premium look, but it took me a while to pull the trigger. I was leaning towards the Key Lime Pie Flavor but then only I would eat them (which isn't always a bad thing) but instead I grabbed a box of strawberry.

The outside of these reminds me of the Strawberry Shortcake Good Humor bars. It was a little smaller than I was expecting as well. The outside is really good, a strong flavor and a slightly soft consistency. I'm sure some will have a little bit more of a crunch but this was fine. The ice cream itself was a disappointment. There was little if any strawberry flavor that I could discern and while it was creamy, it wasn't much better than the run of the mill ice cream. In fact, the Safeway Lucerne brand of ice cream is preferable to this.

At the end of the day, all this is is a premium branded Good Humor bar that isn't as good. I would eat this, and I still want to try the Key Lime to see how it stands on it's own but the value or bang for the buck wasn't there with these bars. I wouldn't suggest you try them unless you are getting a more standout flavor that you can't find other places.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Simple snacking is big business and in the pretzel game Snyder's of Hanover is definitely a leader in all things, flavors, and shapes. With so many people looking to cut back on starch, carbs, salt, and processed flour, yet still looking for that pretzel flavor and crunch, Snyder's has introduced the line of pretzel poppers for that market.

Thoughts on these, the size is good with it being full of pretzels and not a half nitrogen and air bag like a lot of snack chips. They are definitely easy to pop in your mouth a few at a time and crunch to your heart's content. My beef is with the cheese flavor in the bag that I tried because it didn't have as much of a cheese flavor, it was more salty and garlicky to my taste buds. The other main issue is that the cheese powder doesn't really stick to the pretzel outsides and ends up more on your fingers making this an in the house type of snack where you can lick your fingers in peace. My daughter got the same impressions and she is a pretzel fanatic.

If you're looking for something a little lighter than regular pretzels or better than chips but with the great crunch you might want to look into these, however the flavor in three cheese isn't going to appeal to everyone and the dust will be everywhere so if you cant wipe and wash your hands easily you might want to wait until you hit home (so don't give these to the kids in the back seat).

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In search of a more healthy breakfast to get the day started and bored of oatmeal like I am, a new item to try is granola in a cup from Kodiak. You may have seen their pancake and waffle mixes around and they are a bit pricey and from my experience, not really worth it in the taste department. These cups are more budget friendly definitely and an item that will probably be on sale regularly.

I have tried both the vanilla and maple pecan and think they are both pretty good. I mean they have some flavor and can be eaten warmed or with your own preferred yogurt to be a bit more filling and if you have some fresh fruit nearby you can make a quick parfait with little effort. If you are heating be mindful of the amount of milk you put in because it soaks up liquid really quickly and can be a bit of a soup if you add too much.

My only beef with these cups is that the amount of granola is kind of low as a stand alone, so you will want to either use as a snack or add something else to it to make it last a little bit as a breakfast.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Doughnuts are just one of the many "new" rages these days with chefs and amateurs alike all taking the classic simple pastry and making them into something more. Locally, The Fractured Prune has been around for a while and the flagship is Ocean City's location. One just recently opened in the Owings Mills Town Center so I took the kids by to grab a taste (my son had never been) and check out the new place.

First of all it was crazy packed but it was the first day so it was what I expected, yet the wait didn't seem too long considering the quantities that people were ordering and it being the opening. The staff was courteous though it was easy to see they were tired. They managed to keep it moving however and the only hold up was waiting on the cake doughnuts to cook. You see the doughnuts are cooked fresh to order then dipped, tossed, and dribbled with the myriad of toppings that are offered.

They offer a great variety of ready designed specialties and as well you can pick out your own unique set of toppings which they will coat your treat with. The doughnut itself is a cake variety and is pretty tasty with just enough sweetness to give it it's own thing yet be a good canvas for other toppings. They did look a little bit dark but they weren't burnt at all.

Taking a look at some of our selections I chose the caramel and sea salt and it had a bit too much salt on it and they are huge blocks of salt so if ordering tell them to go light. Ocean sand is a staple and favorite of sweet glaze and cinnamon and sugar, nothing spectacular. The Banana cream pie was lacking the banana flavor and i thought the strawberry shortcake was cool.

Overall there is a lot to choose from and like and few flaws unless you don't like this kind of cake doughnut

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, March 28, 2015

There are so many new Quick Service Fast Casual Restaurants popping up all over the place it can be hard to keep up. One of the newest concepts you will see popping up everywhere is the on demand pizza model. I previously visited Pie 5 as one is close to me and the family enjoys it. For lunch this past week I visited another version of the idea, Blaze Pizza which is similar but it does definitely have some major differences.

First off the Blaze Pizza is bigger than the Pie 5 and where Pie 5 uses a dough that they have lined up in pans for baking in their conveyor belt oven, Blaze keeps the dough balls waiting until you arrive and press them right there. The ordering is little bit different as well, they have a variety of specialty pizzas and a make your own option which for the price and the variety can be beneficial if you can't make up your mind like me.  So you pick your toppings and they write them on the menu sheet which sits in front of them, which has to be helpful for prep, and put it into their more traditional style oven and it gets turned and cooked in under 5 minutes.

The one thing I have to say is that when it's crowded this area has to get hectic as the cook has to keep up and rotate the pizzas, this particular location in laurel could probably use more space between the oven and register from what I saw. Onto the pizza itself, I got two specialties put together, the Meat Lovers and White Pizza.

The ingredients are very fresh and it's amazing how much of that you can taste and tell. I did read reviews that the pepperonis didn't quite have enough spice to them and they were a bit mild maybe, but it could be from not aging and being processed as much as some other places. The sauce, while fresh had a lack of flavor, I mean it wasn't very tomato tasting nor was it really flavorful. They do offer a spicy red sauce as well so you might want to give that a try. The Meatballs on the meat lovers side were pretty good though.

The white pizza side the sauce was still slightly underwhelming. It could have used a little bit more salt and they sprinkle garlic over the top instead of having more of it in the sauce itself which would have been better so that it gets distributed more. It also has bacon on it which is cool but my preparer left off my arugula which I'm sure would have added some more contrast. it was fine though. My big issue is with a place like this the crust needs to be a star and it wasn't. It was very underwhelming and plain. I contrast with Pie 5 whose crust is very distinctive and worth eating on it's own this was the biggest disappointment for me.

Overall it wasn't a bad experience and the pizza isn't bad, it just doesn't make me scream out we have to go back. There are little tweaks they could make and the size and value are there for the price compared to pie 5 and so that is what makes it a more difficult decision, but if it's based on taste alone I'd choose Pie 5 personally. I almost forgot, I did get a heated SMore's cookie and it was good. I mean the cookie/cracker wasn't overly sweet but the entire composition was still tasty.

Rating: 3/5