We were hankerin’ for some fresh pizza and my fiancée read some favorable reviews of Chef Paolino’s Cafe. Our standard “go to” for pizza is Fortunato Brothers in Towson, but we were up for trying something different. When we entered, we grabbed a menu and walked up to the deli-style counter that displayed all the pizza slices and various rolls ready to order. There were so many selections that looked appetizing, garlic knots (garlic bread sticks tied up into little knots) and the bruschetta rolls (a long, thick roll smothered in chopped tomato, basil, and melted mozzarella) immediately caught my eye. But we came for pizza, so pizza it was. Instead of deciding on a single pizza, we bought it by the slice: a slice of mushroom and a slice of pepperoni and sausage for me, a slice of feta and tomato and a slice of pepperoni and sausage for her. We supplemented our slices with a Greek salad to share.
The do-it-yourself ordering and seating gave the process a cafeteria feel, but the dining area reasserted the standard dining experience. I did enjoy looking at the large murals depicting Italian landscapes and other scenery, but the drywall painted as brick with mini arched recesses holding wine bottles struck me as extremely tacky. Thanks to our dining between the lunch and dinner crowds, or order number was called almost immediately after we sat. I walked back to the counter, expecting to be able to carry everything back to our table, and then I saw the size of the salad. I looked like a mountain of greenery topped off by a feta snowcap. My two hands could only carry the four pieces of pizza and my fiancée came and carried the giant salad. Once we were all placed, we wondered if maybe we suffered again from our Eyesbiggerthanourstomaches Syndrome as the gigantic wedges of pizza laid next to the enormous mound of greens, onion, tomato, olives, peppers, and our dressing on the side. The dressing wasn’t nearly as wonderful as house dressing at Samos, but what can’t really compare these two places fairly.
Unfortunately, the pizza didn’t live up to the reviews and was overshadowed by our enjoyment of the salad. I do prefer a crispy, firm crust to my pizza and Paolino’s fit that bill, but I found the overall flavor incredibly salty. I understand that sausage and pepperoni can be prone to saltiness, but the mushroom and tomato and feta also brackish flavor. She decided not to finish her pizza, but since I always feel obligated to eat what I purchased (I know, very counter-intuitive to a diet), I packed my remaining slice and we both focused on finishing the salad.
Will we come back? Yes, probably when we’re heading back home from Columbia, but it won’t be for the pizza. We really did enjoy the salad enough for a return visit and the bruschetta roll and garlic knots looked very tempting. I hope it doesn’t lead to disappointment.