Friday, March 14, 2008

Exits 27A and B: MD-146 (Dulaney Valley Road, to Towson)

As with so many other exits, this one branches off into two directions. Foodwise, there isn't much down Exit 27B except for houses. If you want some history, head down to what was the US's biggest house in 1790, the Hampton National Historic Site, a massive plantation which is now a site of many lovely Christmas celebrations, so I understand. Hell, it's run by the park service!

Going the other direction, there are many places I have frequented. Many, many places. I've eaten so much in downtown Towson, and written about much of it. So in case anyone plans to accuse me of leaving them out: Kyodai, Jasmine's (now off Exit 22 - the replacement is yet another sushiería), Kabob Hut, Sushi Hana (the Mt. Washington location, though apparently the original one in Towson is better), and Café Spice, just to name the big ones. And of course, the Towson Farmer's Market on Thursday mornings during the warmer months, up and down Allegheny Street. It's puny, but still a nice excuse to get on out to Towson.

There are a few places I have visited on or near Allegheny and Pennsylvania Streets, and a whole lot more I have not. But it seems that the rule of thumb in Towson proper is that if you throw a rock at any restaurant, that restaurant will likely be Italian, Indian or Japanese. Of course, I don't want you going around throwing rocks at these places. They probably wouldn't invite me back if you did.

A few years ago I stumbled across the Kathmandu Kitchen (map), when I was looking for an Indonesian restaurant that had just closed down not too long before that. Out of this place and Kumari, I think the latter is a little better for Nepalese food, though Kathmandu has a good, basic Northern Indian buffet ($9) that is easy enough for me to get to. It's worth a look. Then there is the Thai One On/San Sushi Too (map), which i visited a few times until it just got too expensive. It's across from Kyodai. I visited a fw times, usually getting sushi though I should stop by at some point to try the Thai half of this place. I found their pork katsu to be overall satisfying, even if a little dry.

And get this: I still have yet to tackle a range of spots, and I know I am leaving many of them out because there are just too many (not a lot of chains outside of Towsontown Center, I might add): The Japanese-Korean Purim Oak Restaurant (map - it's nearby the Jerry's Subs, a small and diminishing chain that serves pretty average subs), Italian at Strapazza (map) and at Cafe Troia (map), the "New American" Vīn (map, a Great Tastes Show exhibitor), The Melting Pot (map - whose fondue everyone in the city raves about but isn't for me - $75 a meal? Oy - and which is a national franchise based in Florida), even more sushi plus Chinese at the Olive & Sesame (map) and even more Italian at Paolo's Ristorante (not bothering with a map - Really, Paolo's and O&S are right across from each other so why bother with a second map?). I totally missed A Taste of Philly (slow link from the Towerlight; here's the map) - apparently the taste here is pretzels, not cheese steaks.

There really isn't much worth eating in the mall, by the way. There, I said it.

The places I did get to on this trip were on the cheaper side.

Burger Bros (map):

After parking at Trader Joe's (yes I did that - sue me), I cut through the Barnes & Noble and made my way up Allegheny. I was not sure where I'd go, but the burgers smelled good and seemed like they would be cheap. So into Burger Bros. I went. The place is modest, as is the wait. And while it does take a little while to get you food, the burger, at least, is pretty satisfying. I should've asked for it rare, because it was well, but it was good apart from that.

$10 after tax got me this: one cheeseburger ($5.50) with various toppings (I chose "caramelized" onions and jalapeño slices with pepper jack cheese), a small fries ($(about $1.50) and a small fountain drink (again, about $1.50). They had Fanta birch beer - which I didn't even know Fanta made - but I went for the Diet Coke to avoid all that sugar.

The burger was good enough to back for, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. The fries were extremely salty, and that was before the Old Bay (so why did I put Old Bay on them? Because it was there). I finished the burger but only half the fries (I ate about $8 worth of my meal). Perhaps I will try the onion rings next time.

Mmmm. Burger.

Pasta Mista (map):

Located next to the Super Fresh on Dulaney Valley Road, in Dulaney Plaza, this is a VERY busy place. Just as small as Burger Bros., but with many more people shoehorned in. And my oh my! Lots of inexpensive slices of pizza sold at the counter, in so many different varieties. I got two massive slices. One looked like a buffalo chicken pizza (it had sparse but large cubes of chicken, and those were surprisingly tender) and the other was a tortellini pizza with pesto on it. I would've taken a photo just to remember all the varieties and ingredients, but I felt self-conscious even whipping out my cell phone, the guys behind the counter were that close. Each slice had delicious cheeses. I would've waited for the three cheese pizza to be replenished, but I didn't feel like waiting. I should've tried the mandragone pizza, a super thick-crusted pizza with thick slices of mozzarella and tomatoes on it, but I had already ordered, and I only had $6 with me. I waited a few minutes for my pizza, which they set for a few minutes in the oven to melt the cheese. And again, it was pretty busy during the 12 to 1 lunch rush. So much pizza I had to cut each slice in half - I will be eating them sometime in the next few days (average cost of a meal, for me at least: $2.30 - after tax these two slices were $4.60 so I basically paid a pittance for two meals). So many varieties, I have to go back and try some. Plus I think they serve pasta or something.

Tortellini on a pizza? I actually have seen stranger things. Wasn't bad, actually.

A note about Pasta Mista: It seems to be a favorite pizza place for transplanted New Yorkers, Garden Staters and Philadelphians who find themselves stuck in the Mid-Atlantic. Pasta Mista's was voted the best pizza in Bawlmer by the Towerlight (Towson U's magazine). Apparently, the pizza in Maryland sucks. Towson college students from above the Mason-Dixon line say this is THE one place that makes good pizza in Maryland. And I admit: I do like their pizza, and plan on getting more. It is tasty and cheap!!! But while I did like Pasta Mista's alot (I'm so trying not to be contrarian here), I might also suggest Tony's next to the Catonsville H-Mart at Rte. 40 and Rolling Road (or at least I would but I suspect they ripped me off when I went to get their tasty pizza, charging me for three instead of two - I said nothing due to the line and that it wasn't that much more money), and Pepe's up in Mount Washington (again, a tasty slice of pizza). But since I actually haven't eaten pizza in New York, I don't have a barometer to gauge what is good in NY terms.

Other photos:

One of many, many Italian places in Towson. And no, I'm predominately Italian so of course I have no problem with it. It's just strange to see us everywhere.

Here's the Macy's side of Towsontown Center. Again, not so great of a place for food. Just leave the mall and go somewhere else - like Trader Joe's! They probably will have free samples anyway.

Not a bar and grill. But wouldn't that be a great name for one?

Places I visited:

Burger Bros. (burgers / subs) - 14 Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 321-1880
  • Would I eat there again? Yes, probably.
  • Would I go out of the way to eat there again? Probably not.
Kathmandu Kitchen (Nepalese / Indian) - 22 W Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 847-9595 Pasta Mista (Italian / pizza) - 822 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 321-8855
  • Would I eat there again? Yes - in fact, I have.
  • Would I go out of the way to eat there again? Probably not. It's more convenience than anything else.
Pasta Mista (pizza / Italian) - 822 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 321-8855
  • Would I eat there again? Yes - I have to try all those other types of pizza
  • Would I go out of the way to eat there again? I might, especially if the New Yorkers are right about it being so good.
Thai One On/San Sushi Too (Thai / Japanese / sushi) - 10-11 W. Pennsylvania Ave. Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 825-0907
  • Would I eat there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of the way to eat there again? If there was no other sushi or Thai around, then probably.
Places to look up later:

Café Troia (Italian) - 28 W. Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 337-0133

The Melting Pot (fondue) -
418-420 York Rd., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 821-6358

Olive & Sesame (Japanese / sushi / Chinese) -
2 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 494-4944

Purim Oak Restaurant (Japanese / sushi / Korean) -
321 York Rd., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 583-7770

Paolo's Ristorante (Italian) -
1 W. Pennsylvania Ave, Towson, MD 21204 (three locations in all, including Georgetown and Reston; is the Pikesville location still open?); Phone: (410) 321-7000

Strapazza (Italian / pizza) -
12 W. Alleghany Ave. Towson, MD 21204 (five locations in all, including Columbia, Eldersburg, Severna and White Marsh) - (410) 296-5577

A Taste of Philly (pretzels) -
40 W Chesapeake Ave., Towson, MD 21204; Phone: (410) 828-5600 Vīn (New American) 1 E. Joppa Rd., Towson, MD 21286; Phone: (410) 337-0797


Heather said...

Purim Oak hasn't been there for over a year now. It's now Cafe Spice, yet another Indian place!

Rooie said...

I have to say that the best pizza I've had in a while is the thin crust pizza at California Pizza Kitchen up at Hunt Valley. We've gotten pizza at Pasta Mista several times...and then decided that we just didn't like it all that much.

I read some rave reviews of the pizza at Pasta Blitz, but I can't say the pieces we got there thrilled me.

Disclaimer: I like really thin, light, crispy crust. Most pizzas nowdays are too doughy and soggy for my taste.

Anonymous said...

I used to like Pasta Mista a lot until I got sick from eating there.