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Friday, April 26, 2013

Joe Squared Gives Pizza a Name in Baltimore

David and I
Not too long ago I ventured through Baltimore, MD after getting picked up by my good friend Caroline at the BWI airport.  We were on our way to Williamsport, PA for a week of catching up, eating out, and an adventure to the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York.  Before getting out of the city, Caroline and I made a stop at Joe Squared, a pizza joint where David Mathie Bersch, a friend that I had met while filming Season 2 of Masterchef in Los Angeles, works and plays.

I'm usually in awe of David's facebook postings, finding ways to create flavor combinations with miraculous beauty and composition on a plate.  I'm well aware that I lack his finesse when it comes to cooking, but I still get inspired by it.  Joe Squared isn't really where David does his artistic cooking though. It is more of a working-class pizza joint with beer and wine, and one Hell of a selection of rum.  I liked it because of its uniqueness.  Who has a rum collection like that?  And who drinks all those rums?  Well, I for one, wanted to try some just because I could, and my not ever get the chance to again!





Joe Squared
The inside flap of Joe Squared's menu had an insert for weekly specials.  I knew I liked the place just from reading some of it.  First, just the attention to detail to constantly challenge one's self in the kitchen and to continue to create great specials on a weekly basis instead of simply relying on the standbys is great.  Secondly, a special of the day just doesn't cut it anymore.  I'm not looking for one special dish.  I'm looking for a whole menu.  For some actually thought, creativity, and pairings.  Some of the items on Joe Squared's weekly menu were a Spinach and Lamb Soup, Gorgonzola Dulce and Toasted Pistachio Risotto, draft beer and wine specials, and Raspberry Mole Chicken Wings.  I got the chicken wings.  I rarely pass up a mole.  And I'm glad I didn't.  The wings were fried to a nice crispiness on the outside and tossed in a spicy and earthy chocolate mole sauce sweetened with the fruity notes of the raspberry.  They were messy, but I ate the heck out of them!

Raspberry Mole Chicken Wings at Joe Squared in Baltimore
Since Joe Squared had a risotto menu in addition to a pizza menu, I couldn't help but get one for Caroline and I to try.  I wanted something different, and they had about 20 options to choose from on the menu.  I kinda wanted to go with the weekly special but if memory serves me correctly Caroline picked out the sausage and carrot risotto with Gouda and roasted fennel seed.  Either way, I applauded the decision as the risotto delivered a creamy texture full of flavor.

Sausage and Carrot Risotto

For the pizza we went a little outside the box compared to normal toppings as well.  We ordered a large pizza, which of course is square shaped.  On one half we got the Chicken, Corn, and Apple and on the other I demanded the Cumin Braised Lamb pizza with roasted eggplant, mozzarella, Romano, parsley, and mint.  Both sides were certainly worth eating.  If I had to knock anything, it would be the corn.  The whole kernels tasted like they were just straight out a can or the freezer.  And the apple flavor didn't really come through.  I liked the creativity of it as a whole though.  The lamb pizza, on the other hand, had every element working from crispy crust to succulent lamb.  The mint even added the right touch of uniqueness without being overpowering.

Square Pizza
After the meal and a few rum drinks and brews (for me, Caroline was driving!), we bid David adieu and took off for Pennsylvania.  I definitely enjoyed meeting up with a fellow Masterchef contestant once again though.  And I'd gladly go see him again at Joe Squared!

Joe Squared Pizza and Bar on Urbanspoon