My daughter and I decided to go out for Friday Night Date Night, and I suggested we try out Mission BBQ. Melody isn't a very big fan of barbecue, though, and she suggested something else. She likes pizza as much as I do, so she suggested (a local place that is also a chain). I told her that if we're going out for pizza, we really need to try something new and different and stay away from the chains (Ledo's is the exception.... they are my favorite, but we wanted a new place). So I brought out my handy-dandy pizza app and started looking for area pizza joints. This is a real thing, by the way. It's called the "Pizza Compass", and it's like a directory of pizza places located...well, everywhere! It organizes them by distance, or you can search on a map, and it links with Four Square (which I know nothing about) to provide information about the place, including reviews, and links to websites.
Anyway, we were weighing whether we wanted to go to Coal Fire, which I've heard a lot about, located in "ColumbElkicott City", and a place called Pazani, in Elkridge. Since Coal Fire was closer, we, of course, went to Pazani's, which one reviewer called... "the best pizza in HoCo". Okay, so off we went.
I've noticed a problem with so many of these small strip malls that have really good, really popular restaurants. The parking lots are just way too small! It creates a problem with trying to find parking, and it can be very frustrating when there is nothing available. That was the case with Pazani's. In fact, before I knew it was a problem, I went by an open space thinking I'd find more available, and when I didn't, the original spot was already taken, and the two women who parked there laughed and pointed at us as if to say, "Nyah, nyah." We parked at the bank next door, which was closed and had one available space.
I had hoped Pazani's was a sit-down restaurant where you order from menus and a server takes your order, but it is not. It's one of those "order-at-the-counter-then-sit-down-and-we'll-bring-out-your-food-here's-your-number" restaurant, which requires a unique kind of etiquette for ordering your food. It's apparently very popular, since the place was hopping with people. After figuring out on our own how to order, we went up to a register where a young man took our order. He seemed to have trouble hearing me (the place is kind of loud), but I said we were ordering in, and then we ordered two New York style pizzas, one cheese and one with mushrooms, pepperoni, and black olives, plus two drinks. He very slowly repeated my order, I paid, and he gave me a card with a big "29" on it, then he walked away. I didn't know what to do, but I assumed that we were to go find a table and sit down with our number "29" hanging high enough for someone to see it and bring us our food, so we did. I was kind of confused, though, since it was apparent the drinks were the get-it-yourself kind, but the register guy didn't give us any cups. So we waited, assuming they would bring us cups with our pizzas.
While we waited, a LOT of people came in and out, apparently getting carry-out, and every once in a while, a guy named Tony came out from the kitchen and talked to people. Tony had a thick Italian accent, so I knew our pizzas were in good hands. Soon, a young lady brought out our pizzas. She asked if we needed plates, which we did, and she brought them out to us. I asked about drinks, and she said the cups were up near the register, then she disappeared. We wanted utensils, too, so I went up to the register area to find them. I found plastic forks, and grabbed two, plus a stack of napkins. I had to go back up to ask about cups, and I couldn't get near either of the two registers due to the number of people in line. So we started eating. When the line diminished a bit, I was able to ask the lady (who may or may not be Tony's wife) there that we had ordered drinks, but didn't have cups. She responded with, "Well, get some." I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't want to assume we could just grab them." She just smiled at me, with a look as if to say, "I'm not sure you paid for them, but I don't care." I grabbed two cups, then went to the drink dispenser. They only had one sugar-free soda, Diet Coke, and it was out of order. There was plain tea, but I was only able to get about half a cup, since it was almost empty. They only other option was water, which I got for my daughter, and three other sweet teas. I'm a diabetic, but I figured a half sweet/half plain tea was better than water or regular soda.
Okay, so we weren't really having a great time so far, but I have to say the pizza is good. I mean REALLY good. Yes, it may possibly be the best in HoCo. Melody really enjoyed hers, and mine was excellent. It was the perfect combination of thin, tasty, doughy, crispy crust, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. The mushrooms and pepperoni were typical but good. The only negative was that my pie had kalamata olives instead of black olives, which were much stronger and gave the pizza a saltier taste than I was expecting. It was very filling, so we needed a box for the leftovers. I tried to get the attention of one of the servers, but had no luck, so I went up to the counter to get one. I waited to get someones attention, but I was ignored and I finally gave up. Melody decided to go up to the counter to try, and she was able to ask a young lady, who told her they were over near the registers. Melody went over to get one, but they weren't pizza boxes. They were small Styrofoam containers. She grabbed two, and we stuffed our pizza into them as best we could. Then we high-tailed it out of there. Again, the pizza is great, but it appears that the staff makes a lot of assumptions as to what the customers can and can't figure out. A little patience and assistance on their part would go a long way towards making our experience a little better. But the place is very popular, and given how many customers knew Tony's name, there must be a lot of regulars. Will we go back? Maybe, but only for carry-out. The pizza is worth the drive, but be wary of the lack of parking.
Have a great evening, everyone!