Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exit 33B: I-95 North (to New York)

You just cannot get away from White Marsh. You just can't! Not in this quadrant of the beltway. Just about every exit from 29 through 33 provides easy access to it, so long as you go the right way. For this exit - an Interstate - my plan would normally be to take the first exit off of it. But wouldn't you know? That would take me back to White Marsh. And I've been already. So this time, I went to the next one, an extra seven miles away (total miles one way: about 20). With gas prices the way they are, I'm not driving that far again for lunch. Unless it's dim sum. Eh, scratch that.

The next exit past 67 going north towards New York is Exit 74, taking you into Harford County. Go further and you go past Cal Ripken's stadium, Cecil County and the Mason-Dixon Line, then on to Delaware and beyond. But first, you have to pass by MD-152 (Mountain Road), which takes you
again past US Route 40 (Pulaski Hwy) and MD-7 (Philadelphia Road). Go long enough on MD-7, as our parents and grandparents did, and you end up in Philly. Maybe when I have a more fuel-efficient vehicle, I'll try that trip.

Following the signs pointing me toward FOOD FOOD FOOD takes you south to Route 40 and Edgewood. Here you find your best dining options between 95 and Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

The Snappy Tomato Pizza Company (map) is a Kentucky-based chain with locations in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, plus a smattering in a few other states. Apparently they have spread as far as the UK (whose webpage is much snazzier). This Joppa location isn't on their website, so it's either brand new or just closed. It's just at the intersection of 40 and 152 (where South Mountain becomes Magnolia Road). I thought I might go in, except for the conspicuous absence of cars in the lot. There was one and only one car, with a little old lady probably waiting for her pizza. In fact, there were fewer cars than there were alignment-screwing gargantuan potholes that will mess up your car quite bad if you go over them any faster than, say, 10 miles per hour.

Further on into Edgewood you find a
lot of fast food. There are still a few less fast options, both on and off Pulaski Hwy. The ones I saw on Rte. 40:

  • Fortunato's Italian Eatery (map) and, further up, Giovanni's Restaurant (map) are two of a few Italian places in Edgewood. They cover the range of Italian-American dining. Fortunato's, in the Woodbridge Center, is a pizzeria. I actually didn't get as far as Giovanni's though it is prominently featured on the road signs pointing weary travelers on I-95 to food. It is a nicer, more of a sit-down family restaurant with nary a pizza on the menu. Giovanni's also offers catering and "party pans" for self-catered affairs.

  • I didn't get through the EdgeWater Village. From what I can tell there is a Big Lots. I love Big Lots, but I find so few of them in Maryland.

  • Across the street are some more strip malls that offers a few food options. Near a little Latin American / international grocery is Cheyenne's Southern Cafe (map). I would've gotten some pecan pie or something had it not been closed.

  • The next strip mall over has a few more options, including the Double Dragon Chinese Carry-Out (map) and Gus' Pizza & Grill (map), not just another pizzeria but more of a pizza and subs place. They also have wings and crabcakes.

My final stop, one of those mentioned on the ubiquitous "FOOD" road signs on I-95, was the Venetian Palace Restaurant (map). Cuisine-wise, it is probably the halfway point between Giovanni's and the various pizzerias in the area. When you walk in, it seems like the long-lost Italian cousin of El Salto down in Parkville and Brooklyn Park, decorated almost like a little pallazzo. They have a bevy of Italian, American and Maryland-specific choices at this small but festive restaurant. The pasta, seafood and platters are not cheap - especially the crabcakes. Their sandwiches and subs are cheap, and their pizzas - at $7 for a 10 inch cheese - are if you get no toppings. Some of the pricier pizzas range around $10 to $12 for a 10 inch, including Hawaiian, meat lover's, veggie lover's and the "Venetian Palace Deluxe" ($15) which probably has just about everything. For some reason I remember them being more expensive on their menu, but their online menu says otherwise, so it's probably just me.

I opted for one of their sandwiches (around $5 to $8). For just around $8.50 I got a fried oyster sandwich with toppings of my choice (lettuce, raw onion - both nice and fresh - and a little mayo - not drowning in it. With the sandwich came fries that were very good, almost on par with those from Broadway Diner, much better than most places' fries. For one dollar more I got a Diet Pepsi, which the man behind the counter insisted on refilling before I left.

I took them the half-hour ride home but not before sampling. The fried oysters were nice and hot, only a little greasy - crispy not soggy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Even after I got them home (listening to the radio, didn't want to stop just to eat) I was pleased. A little moderate microwaving (45 seconds on high) made them taste hot out of the oven again, and I ate most of what I had. Still juicy oysters but crispy on the outside, still-crispy fries.

Other photos:

A hungry dinosaur! Hope he likes Italian

Places I visited:

Venetian Palace Restaurant (Italian / pizza / American / seafood) -1901 Treetop Drive, Edgewood, MD, 21040; Phone: (410) 679-2330

  • Would I eat there again? Yes

  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? With these gas prices? Otherwise, sure.

Places to look up later:

Cheyenne's Southern Cafe (Southern) -1812 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood, MD 21040; Phone: (410) 676-7900

Double Dragon Chinese Carry-Out (Chinese) - 1908 Pulaski Highway #B, Edgewood, Maryland 21040-1612; Phone: (410) 612-0005

Fortunato's (pizza) - 1401 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood, MD 21040; Phone: (410) 612-1260

Giovanni's Restaurant (Italian) - 2101 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood, MD 21040; Phone: (410) 676-8100

Gus' Pizza & Grill (pizza & subs) - 1904 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood, MD 21040; Phone: (410) 676-0060

Snappy Tomato Pizza Company (pizza) - 1012 Magnolia Road, Joppa, MD 21085; Phone: (410) 538-7627