Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chazz: A Bronx Original

After a very long Labor Day weekend with work obligations and friends in town, Monday night meant our first date night in a while. E. and I went to the new restaurant Chazz: A Bronx Original in Harbor East. Enrico was manning the brick oven. He was the maitre d' at Big Grano in Hampden. We were lucky enough to go to Chazz for their soft opening and saw Enrico behind the counter and asked, "What is Gino going to do without you?" Turns out he worked for the Vitale's at Aldo's prior to going to Grano and is now back with them at Chazz. Eric assumed that Chazz would be there on opening night and I completely doubted it. But he was there on opening night and has been there five out of the seven times I've been to the restaurant. This was the only night I didn't see Sergio or Alesandro Vitale because it was Sergio's birthday and he took the night off. Happy Birthday Sergio! You work your tail off and deserved the break with your family.

Enrico is Mr. Personality. If this pizza station was in the back of the house he would have never accepted the position.

The oven area is wonderful and you get a front row seat to all of the action.

Chazz is named after the actor Chazz Palminteri and the restaurant was conceptualized a few years ago while he was in town doing the one man show, A Bronx Tale, at the Hippodrome here in Baltimore. He asked someone where to go for good Italian food and Aldo's was suggested. He went back ten nights in a row and sparked up a friendship with the Vitale family. A few years later Chazz was born. 

The Bronx Tale is a gripping coming of age movie and was Bobby De Niro's first film as a director. Turns out he and Chazz are besties and we hear he is coming to Baltimore soon to check out his friend's restaurant and promote a new movie.

The bar has a great, energetic vibe. They make a delicious dirty martini. Not too salty and extra cold with ice shards. E. spoke with the manager Pete about beers for what seemed like twenty minutes. E. loves a good beer and they have a system to keep the beer really cold on tap.

I'm getting rusty taking "blog" food photos. We were starving and dove into the beet and fried goat cheese salad before I could take a pretty shot. This is still detox worthy less the sugared pecans. I'm still on my health kick and realize that I'm allergic to sugar and flour and get a stuffy nose when I eat them.

The fried calamari was dredged with flour, but the stuffy nose was worth it! This calamari is hands down the best I've ever had in my life. The Carlyle Grill in Shirlington held the title for me until recently. It's so crispy and the calmari is uber fresh. The Remoulade and marinara sauces are perfection.

Throwing my detox out the window, we devoured the Broccoli Rabe and Sausage pizza with a bechamel sauce. To die for delicious. They have really perfected the dough recipe and crustiness of the crust since the first night opening. They also offer gluten free pizza, which tastes a little like a cracker made with rice flour. 

The crust is crunchy but soft and chewy (good chewy) in the middle.

Enrico invited me to the oven area for a closer look. 

It takes 90 seconds to make a pizza in this brick oven. It gets to 600 degrees on the cooking side and can be upwards of 2000 degrees where the fire is stoked.

My Charlie was hard at work and didn't miss me during my adventures in the kitchen.

The pepperoni pizza is one of my favorites.

My video barely does the oven justice.

I love visiting the back of the house.

The head chef was shy, and Enrico practically put him in a headlock to get his photo taken. Love seeing happy chefs.

The signature dessert at Chazz is their Nutella pizza. If you have never had Nutella, run don't walk, to your nearest specialty grocery store. It is a Hazelnut butter-chocolate sauce. The Nutella ads on TV just kill me, suggesting this is a great way to get protein for breakfast. Uh huh, and it will rot your teeth out it is so sweet! However, for a night of breaking detox buck up and order it.

They even have samples sometimes on the pizza bar, give me strength.

The specialty pizza of evening was the Farmers pizza with eggs on the top. This is the before shot...

...and after with the eggs cooked medium. I love the breakfast pizza at Woodberry Kitchen so I'm sure this is delicious.

There is also a charcuterie station at the restaurant. I love nothing more than cured meat but the star of this platter is their pickled vegetables. They are seriously so delicious and as my nutritionist says, are good for your gut. Each area of the restaurant allows you to experience something a bit different. As you enter the restaurant it feels as if you are at the Bronx subway station in New York.

It was an honor getting to meet Mr. Palminteri in person last week. I love how dedicated he is to this restaurant concept and how much he loves Baltimore. They have hopes to open more in Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the future. I'm glad we can claim the original. Well done fellas, and best wishes for your continued success.


Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore said...

We were just talking about this restaurant last night...just showed JCW your post and now we are even more excited. I love desert pizza! Great post!!! xx

Nelle Somerville said...

EAS, JCW should try the Veal Meatball. It is ridiculous! Can't wait to read your post on Chazz!

Pigtown-Design said...

hey... did you see spike's recipe in the wall street journal's off duty section this weekend? yay spike!

Karena said...

Nelle, waht a great restaurant!! The pizza looks sooooo good and the Nutella Desert Pizza, wow. Amazing images!


Art by Karena