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March 30, 2020 | °F in Baltimore

A nice slice of Baltimore’s pizzeria scene: Part 1

By JESSE WU | February 13, 2020

b2-pizza

COURTESY OF JESSE WU

The large amount of New York flop in the Ribaldi’s cheese slice isn’t great.

JESSE WU / The News-Letter

I have been searching for a nice slice of pizza ever since my brother brought it up over the dozen egg omelettes we ate during the holiday season. Everyone has been talking about One Bite, and I wanted to watch “Davey Pageviews” review Baltimore pizzerias, but he has never done a review in this city. I didn’t get any closer to having insight on the pizza joints near me, so I decided it was time to take action. 

For those of you who are not aware of what One Bite pizza reviews are, they are a series of YouTube video reviews that feature Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports (think who Saturdays are for), hyped up on “Adderall,” standing in front of pizza restaurants and reviewing them. 

He speaks some words, says “one bite, everyone knows the rules” multiple times before trying the pizza, (almost) always takes more than one bite, and settles on a final score out of 10. 

Some of the highest scores given by Dave have been to Lucali’s with a 9.3 and the recently closed Di Fara with a record high 9.4.

This week, I will be starting a continuous stream of pieces consisting of pizza review segments from my inexperienced taste buds. Hopefully, by the end of this journey I will have taken my first steps to eating pizza every day for two years like Dave did. After eating that much pizza, the man knows what he’s doing. 

Ribaldi’s. 

Always judge a pizza place by its cheese slice. That’s fair, Dave. 

The pizza has some structure up until halfway up from the crust. Then, what the hell happened? Half the pizza is holding sturdy in my hand, and the distal half is flopping like an outdated data storage device. The first bite has no texture. It’s all just doughy and cheesy mushed in with your basic tomato sauce. When you take a bite of the crust, though, it’s very clearly crunchier. It’s like eating a whole other pie. 

Rating: 6.2. It’s fine. It’s a slice. Whatever, I’m sure there’s better out there, but I’m also sure there’s a whole lot worse. I still like it.

Moving on to the other slice that I had, from the meat lover’s pie. This one’s got ham, ground sausage, sliced sausage and a million things that look like pepperoni. The first thing you smell is the basil, which gives a nice fragrance. It’s a nice little touch, a nice little kiss to the nostrils. 

First bite: better than that cheese slice. The boatload of meat has really got to carry the flavor on this one, because the base slice isn’t the greatest.

Hopkins Deli. 

Hop Deli is a favorite among my friends. Everyone’s always telling me that their food slaps. I don’t know; I always thought it was just the place underage people brought their fake IDs to to buy alcohol if they lived too far from Eddie’s or wanted a lower risk of getting carded. 

I didn’t even realize that they had pizza right next to the shelves they sell chips from or the refrigerated ones they sell cold cut sandwiches from. 

So, what have we got to work with? I got a slice of cheese, and on a separate occasion, I got a slice from a whole cheese pie. Let’s start with the individual slice, which is what I’ll base my rating on. It’s nice. It’s sturdy. It holds its shape with little flop. The bottom of the crust is a nice golden brown with the lattice pattern of the pizza rack or sheet or whatever you call it pressed into it. 

The cheese is smoothly melted on, and it smells good, like your typical melted mozz. This slice looks pretty damn good. 

The first bite has a nice crunch, something so many pizza places lack. It’s nice and hot, and I burned my tongue on it. Rookie mistake, but I had to disclose it for the purposes of pizza review transparency. 

The entire slice is fucking good. I don’t know what to say. I’ve reheated Domino’s in a pan so it gets the crust all crispy and nice, and the Hop Deli slice cold is still better than that reheated Domino’s. 

Rating: 7.8. I can’t give it an 8. That’s just too high for this slice. It’s still the same cheap mozz you find everywhere and a pretty typical tomato sauce. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing that’s wrong with this slice. Just won the championship in its league is all I’m saying. 

The full cheese pie is different. There’s flop. There’s not as much texture with the same flavor. Go for the slice, unless you’re hosting the Super Bowl or something.

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