You can never go wrong with pizza. Sure, fine pizza is fine, but great pizza is fantastic. I’ve been looking for great pizza in Baltimore for a long time. I can’t resort to Papa John’s anymore – I’ve gotten to the point where I think: where else can they stuff extra cheese or bacon? If you are like me, tired of gross, heavy pizzas and looking for a great pie, stop by Iggies Pizza on N. Calvert Street.
I walked in and was greeted with a huge collage of dog photos. Past that wall art, there was an almost stone-oven-like arch through which I could see chefs kneading dough. Behind the counter, I caught a glimpse of someone spreading basil leaves atop a traditional margherita pizza, and I knew then and there; I was ready to mangiare.
After putting my order in, I waited for about 15 minutes. But this wasn’t a dreadful wait time. Rather, I was able to witness my food being prepared. It wasn’t boring — it was a show. Sitting and watching someone with an almost-choreographed dance in the kitchen with ingredients reminded me of watching my grandmother cook. Of course, no one will ever top her cooking, but that visible love for one’s craft brought me back to my childhood. It felt gourmet yet rustic. Here, you could have a classy night with wine and live jazz or just walk in to grab a quick lunch. The place is versatile, just like its pizzas.
Their showstopper is the Diavolo, and I now know why this pizza won “pizza of the year,” as written on their site. To put it plainly, it slapped. The tangy and sweet sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes complemented the spicy Italian sausage perfectly. The whole black olives gave a cool taste which balanced with the hot red peppers. On top of the classic mozzarella cheese, the asiago, fontina and parmigiana added a nutty and bitter depth that I never knew I wanted. And under all that, the crust was thin and crispy. Most importantly, it does not need more cheese stuffed in every crevice to be passable — the crust by itself was nicely spiced, salty and aromatic.
If you want something more gourmet, get the Cinque Formaggi. Garlic, parmigiana, goat cheese and fontina asiago were equally spread across a golden-brown crust. Each ingredient wasn’t battling another. It was a fromage harmony. The parmesan was hard-hitting but subdued by the sweet dollops of goat cheese. And the spiciness of the roasted garlic blended well with the sourness of the asiago. It’s deceiving — it looked so simple once I opened the box, but it tasted so rich and complex.
They didn’t skimp on the toppings. But they also didn’t overload. You know the worst thing is when you get the slice with too much cheese. You must pat the pizza sweat with a towel like drying a wet dog. Otherwise, if you go for that big bite, everything slides off in a wave of grease. Iggies Pizza found that perfect balance between a cracker and a wet monstrosity.
After tasting a few slices of each, I didn’t feel that post-Thanksgiving-like slog. Their pizzas are light yet packed with flavor. Some customers on Yelp have complained about them being too thin or too small. Each personal sized pizza ranges from $15 to $20. It comes down to a tradeoff between quantity and quality. Do you want a huge portion of a cheap and careless pie, or would you want a personal-sized pizza that’s fresh and made with love?
Iggies Pizza values tradition while still experimenting with ingredients. Their food is top notch and the restaurant’s atmosphere is extremely inviting. I would recommend going at night as it definitely is livelier. It’s a perfect place to go with a group of friends to celebrate the end of the semester. Just go and see for yourself – it’s awesome.