Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Search of Great Pizza

I consider myself a bit of a pizza connoisseur, and I'm always looking to find good pizza.  I tend to prefer the New York style, with thin crust, slightly sweet sauce, and good mozzarella cheese, with ample toppings (veggies preferred over meats).  That said, I have yet to meet a pizza I didn't like, and will eat all types, and all toppings.

My favorite pizza is something I made for myself and my family when I was a kid:  Chef Boyardee's homemade pizza kits.  I learned early on how to make the crust (something that I don't have the patience for anymore), and the sauce was almost perfect.  I then added lots of cheese (usually a combination of mozzarella and provolone), and mushrooms were the favorite topping.  I think that the pizza one has as a kid is what becomes one's standard pizza as they get older, and all pizzas are judged to that standard.

My favorite pizza that I didn't make was from the Dino Restaurant in Suitland, MD.  It was a square pizza, thin flaky crust, sweet sauce, and ample cheese.  Sooooo good!  Unfortunately, the Dino was in a very bad neighborhood, and disappeared by the time I reached my teens.  By that time, I had also discovered the Ledo Restaurant (thanks to my mom), over near the University of Maryland in Langley Park/Adelphi.  This pizza became famous on a national level, and was eventually franchised.  Now there are Ledo's restaurants all over the area, but they are not quite as good as the original (or its twin, T.J. Elliott's in Bowie).  The original Ledo recently moved to a busier and much safer College Park location.  Ledo's pizza is much like the Dino's, square with a thin flaky crust, sweet sauce, and lots of provolone cheese.  It truly is unique.

But I really want to find a great pizza in Howard County.  I've tried quite a few, but I'm still searching.  All are good, but not great.  I try to stay away from the chains (Ledo's notwithstanding), since I've learned that the holes-in-the-wall tend to be the best.  I've tried Coal Fire in Ellicott City, and it was okay.  I've tried Facci in Fulton, which didn't impress me.  Three Brothers, a local DC area chain, is pretty good, a nice thin-crust, NY style pizza.  But I still can't find a great pizza.

Tonight, my daughter and I tried out Pub Dog in Columbia after reading a recommendation for it.  Pub Dog is basically a bar, which takes away a few points since it doesn't have a family-feel at all.  Service was good, though I couldn't help noticing that the three servers were all cute young ladies with blond hair who looked barely legal age, which bothers me only because it tells me that the folks doing the hiring are looking for a particular look.  I may be wrong, but I think that's wrong.  The pizzas are all 10-inch personal pizzas, and we were told we could customize them, if desired.  My daughter had a basic cheese pizza (called the Cheese Dog).  I had a Veggie Dog, which had mushrooms, spinach, red onions, and green peppers.  Ample toppings and the pizzas were good (though I didn't get to taste the Cheese Dog), but the size didn't appear to be enough to fill up either one of us.  I finished mine fairly quickly, and my daughter, who almost always saves a slice of hers for me, finished off hers in record time.  That was disappointing.  Overall, it was good pizza.  But not great.

So I'm looking for recommendations, though I'm guessing the size of my audience isn't going to help me much.  If you care to comment, though, please do.  Thanks!

Have a great evening, everyone!


  1. Wow! Dino's Pizza is legend in our family. We grew up off of Suitland Road and my Aunt Donna would treat the family now and then to that crispy, square, think pizza. It was a pleasure to find someone else who likes Dino's. You have to check out the Facebook page, You know You're from P.G. County.....and You know you grew up in Suitland in the 70s...Lots of comments about Dino's!

  2. I grew up in Arlington. As a small kid we lived in Sutiland in the early 60's. Moved to Arlington later 61 or 62. My family would drive at least once a month out to Suitland to either eat there or bring it home. Best pizza ever. As a kid I would get a coke in a mug. Always had a cherry in it with a small plastic sword thru it. Great memoris...GREAT pizza.

  3. Me and a buddy used to sit in the parking lot at The Dino in the mid seventies sometimes several nights of the week chomping down a large pepperoni pizza. Somebody needs to bring back or replicate that recipe. It truly is a shame when such an established tradition could be lost unknownly to so many over time. We need to start asking these icons to archive their recipes before they let them go. We had a great place using a crumbled sausage at Columbia Mall in the food court in the 90's. Please stop taking all the pizza away......Dino's had the perfect thin crust with a bold sweet and salty flavor with thin sliced pepperoni which formed perfect domes and toasted up to a light point of crispness.

  4. I'm told that Ledo's pizza is much like the Dino's because they were brothers.

  5. As a former Suitlander (up to age 9 from '54 to '64), it's nice to see someone remember Dino's (which dated back to the early '50s). Last time I ate there was in the early to mid 80s...still had great pizza. Don't forget about Paisano's (the original, not the Paisano's chain today). I honestly can't compare Dino's and Paisano's (too long ago), but they were both GREAT pies.

  6. No pizza anywhere could come close to Mario's Pizza on 23rd Street at Pennsylvania Ave. in S.E. And the place is still there today.

  7. I love how everyone has such great suggestions of pizza places in the DC area. DC is more of a pizza mecca than one might think, and while many of these suggestions are long gone, there are many others worth checking out. Thank you, everyone, for your comments.