With Baltimore city’s restaurants shuttered to on-premise dining, we’re thinking about some of our favorite carryout staples. In a word: pizza. The simple pie with ancient origins has risen to the top of our fast-food favorites list since it first came to Charm City at least 100 years ago.
One of the earliest in Little Italy was no doubt Neapolitan baker Pasquale Chiapparelli, who opened his High Street bakery in the 1920s. Today, you can still find pizza on High Street, including on the lunch menu at his namesake restaurant, Chiapparelli’s. In more recent decades, pizza preferences have changed with the fashions, varying from deep-dish to thin-crust, New York-style or traditional Neapolitan. Whatever your style, here are some of our favorite places to eat it in the city.
Realtors say “location location location.” Pizza fans say “crust crust crust.” The dough at Zella’s, a popular corner spot next to Hollins Market, is made fresh daily. It pays off in crust that’s wonderfully fluffy and substantial enough to hold its own against the toppings like sausage ham, peppers and cheese.
Little Italy offers numerous spots to pick up pizza, from focaccia pizza at Joe Benny’s to New York-style at Angeli’s. But perhaps our favorite in the neighborhood comes from this teensy establishment on High Street, where brick oven pizzas are made with love and pride. Their signature margherita is topped with slices of tomato, mozzarella and loads of basil. Or choose from offerings like the Lombardi (topped with pancetta, gorgonzola and walnuts) and the Stuarto (proscuitto di parma and mozzarella).
At this Canton corner spot, pie is made with expensive “00” flour, as a true Naples pie must be. Dough slow rises over 36 hours and is hand kneaded before making its way to the wood fired oven. This pizza is everything: proportional amounts of cheese, the nice leopard spotted crust (but without being burned on the bottom) and a sauce that had kick but wasn’t too acidic. Verde’s attention to detail — some might call it obsession — when it comes to Neapolitan pizza, make it one of the top in the city.
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Matthew’s Pizza, which dates back to the 1940s, serves up a cheesy, doughy pie that resembles Chicago’s deep dish pizza. Slightly greasy, sweet and extremely nostalgic, it’s a far cry from the artisanal, wood-fired pies that are so trendy elsewhere in Baltimore. It also happens to be our favorite in the city.
The Essex eatery, which opened in 1966, offers big, classic pies, the stuff of childhood birthday parties and après-skating-rink dinners (or maybe that’s just us?) Choose from the thick-crust Siciliana, traditional tomato and cheese or even a gluten-free version. They also ship bake-at-home pizza packs out of state for “former neighbors who now live hours away.”