OTTOs: The Pizza You Never Knew You Needed

OTTOs: The Pizza You Never Knew You Needed

Coolidge Corner in Brookline is such a cute little area because it has a classic movie theatre, amazing pizza shops, along with an adorable bookstore. What more could you ask for?

When I went for the first time, my friends brought me along to their favorite pizza place- Otto. I had high expectations because of all the conversations we’d had about it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The pizza choices are a little unusual. For example, the six of us ordered three different ones: Mashed Potato, Bacon, and Scallion; Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Cranberries; and Pineapple Salsa, Bacon, & Fresh Jalapeno pizza. Unorthodox, right? But they tasted SO. GOOD. Not going to lie, I did have to take off some of the jalapenos because my mouth was tingling and I was running out of water immediately available to me. But even then, the pizza was delicious. I think the pineapple salsa was the best part. Oh, that one was my favorite pizza of the three, by the way. Burning tongue and all.

Plus, the atmosphere inside is really cool. There are hanging bulb lights, wooden decor, and a look inside the kitchen. The tables are kind of close together, but only because they are so popular and need to maximize space. There is also a bar area off to the side that offers a bit more room. The waitstaff are super friendly, attentive, and energetic, and there is some soft music going on in the background to keep the awkward silence at a minimum.

The prices are pretty reasonable as well, especially if you split a pizza with another person. Each pizza comes with six medium sized slices, and it took about three slices before I was full. Simply put: If you’re looking for a fun place to grab some food with friends on a Friday or Saturday night, Ottos is the place to go.

Ciao for now!

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Portland: Places to go during your Maine Journey

Portland: Places to go during your Maine Journey

I drove to Portland, Maine for the first time in August and it was fantastic! The city itself is so alive and colorful, but it was also fun to see it through the eyes of someone who has lived there her whole life. When I arrived, my friend Taylor drove us into the city and we walked around looking at all of the cute shops and I had my first potato donut which was so good! We saw the most beautiful fluffy black dog as we were debating whether or not to get our fortunes read, ultimately deciding $40 was too much to learn what we’d find out in time anyways. We then went back to her house and made pizza and played Wii sports (I know, so 2010) until our other friends arrived for the weekend.

The next day was a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. The group of us drove to this abandoned tower in the middle of a forest-y area and we climbed to the top. It was a dark climb, and at one point the stairs had fallen away so we had to climb on a crate leaning against the wall to get up another floor, but the view was worth it. At the top, we were level with the tops of the trees and with the rain it seemed as though we were in the middle of the rainforest. We could also slightly see the water in between some of the trees.

Afterwards, we headed out to lunch at The Lobster Shack. It is such a cute little place to eat, but because of its small size, it felt very crowded. We ordered our food (I got a lobster roll) and then headed out onto the rocks as we waited for our order to be announced over the speaker. The Lobster Shack is located right on the ocean, so there was a grouping of large rocks below the picnic tables. Although it was slightly drizzling, we ventured out onto the rocks and explored. By the time our food was ready, we had worked up an appetite. The lobster tasted so fresh and filling that I was thoroughly satisfied with my choice. After lunch, we went to the other side of the building where there were even more rocks to climb. We climbed out onto a rock ledge and looked out into the ocean as the lighthouse whirled on the shore next to us.

Later on in the day, we drove to a little river area and jumped off not-too-tall rocks and swung on rope swings into the water. The current was pretty strong, but we had fun swimming against it. It began to really rain after a couple of hours, so we decided to head back. That night, we went up onto the roof with lots of towels and blankets and a speaker. We set everything up and just looked at the stars while listening to quiet music. We didn’t talk much because the stars were brighter and more numerous than I’ve ever seen. Her house is in an area with very little light pollution so we got to see the sky in all its glory. I also saw my first shooting star… and second, and third, and fourth! There were so many and it was awesome in the literal sense of the word. At one point, I started to get annoyed because there was such a bright light off in the corner of my eye that I thought was a neighbor’s house light. It turned out to be the moon in such brilliant light as I’ve ever seen. It was the perfect night.

Our last day, Sunday, it was bright, sunny, and hot so we headed to Peaks Island. On our drive to the dock, we stopped by Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. It was so beautiful and green! There was a gorgeous lighthouse that, according to my friend, is the most photographed lighthouse in the world, and I can see why. The flowers around the trails were stunningly bright and colorful. The water from the ocean was beautifully blue and clear. We only spent about half an hour there, but it was enough to see how absolutely incredible a place it is. I would love to go back and stay longer.

When we got off the ferry at Peaks Island amongst the hundreds of other people, we took a ride around the island on a golf cart so that we could see Peaks Island in all it’s glory. Everything was so green and beautiful and lush. By the time we returned to the dock, we were warm and ready to cool off. We got into our bathing suits and jumped off the pier along with everyone else around us. There were tall wooden structures sticking out of the water that we climbed to the top of and jumped off. Jumping into the Atlantic Ocean felt like diving straight into a bucket of ice water. But it was exhilarating! We had to stop once another ferry was arriving, so we walked a block and got ice cream.

When we finished, we hopped back on the golf cart and drove to a tiny beach on the other side of the island. The water was just as cold over there, except that there were random pockets of warmer water that we occasionally took refuge in. We stayed there and had a wonderful time at the beach for about an hour. On our drive back to the pier, we stopped on the side of the road and stacked some rocks together to add to the accumulation of cool rock towers and sculptures that littered the shore of the ocean. Once back at the pier, we hopped on the ferry with the hundreds of other people leaving and watched as Peaks Island faded into the distance.

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Some places to visit if you ever visit Portland include:

  • The Holy Donut
  • Shipwreck and Cargo souvenir shop
  • The Lobster Shack
  • Fort Williams National Park
  • Peaks Island

Ciao for now!

 

Falling for Fell’s Point

Falling for Fell’s Point

Fell’s Point, for those of you who don’t know, is a fun and adorable part of the Baltimore Harbor area. It is home to various restaurants, shops, and activities. What I love most about it is the scenery. I think the architecture of the buildings is neat, the shops are quaint, the restaurants are cool and quirky, and the water is right there.

I’ve only tried a few places to eat around there (Barcocina and Smoothie King), but there were plenty more I’d like to try out. There was one restaurant/bar, The Horse You Rode In On, that I kept passing and wanted to try out. There was always music coming from inside, the people looked happy, and the atmosphere just looked cool. Many of the places in Fell’s Point have a similar vibe, which is what makes it so hip I think. It’s kind of retro and hipster in one.

The shops are also really cute too. The ones I went into were pretty small but more like boutiques and independent shops rather than chain stores. It This gives the area a more homey and cozy feel, at least to me. There were furniture stores, clothing boutiques, record shops, and so many other places to stop by and peek into. The coffee shops were made for taking cute pictures sipping delicious coffees and lattes, and the aesthetics of the buildings will please your eyes every time you look around.

My favorite part of Fell’s Point is the weekend flea market (for lack of a better term). On summer/ fall weekends, people put up tents and tables and sell all kinds of cool items. I happened along one Saturday and came out of it with five records for $15. The guy selling them had so many and was very knowledgable about each one. Most of the record were legit as well. He said he’d had most of them since the 70s. I got some albums from ABBA, Boston, and others of that variety. My mom also gifted me a gorgeous heavy silver with turquoise ring that we had seen in the tent of a woman selling a bunch of silver jewelry. It was all so exquisite and real. One thing about this market is that everything is all real and legitimate. They sell things like records and jewelry, as well as vintage signs, comics, and clothing among other things.

Everything in Fell’s Point is within a short walking distance, so there’s not really any trouble getting from one place to the other. At night, it becomes the place to be with many young people going out and enjoying the night. Because of that, there is an air of activity about it and you can just feel the good times in the air.

Ciao for now!

Eating your way through Baltimore Harbor

Eating your way through Baltimore Harbor

If you’re like me you will probably eat almost anything! That means I’m always open to trying new restaurants and eateries wherever I am. When I was in Baltimore, there were so many cool places to eat that I simply did not have the time to try them all… although I wished I could. I did come across a few, however, that I thought I’d share with you all. These restaurants had some fantastic food and they are all of different varieties, so if you have varying tastes check them out! And if you’re more picky, this will give you a bunch of options the next time you visit the Harbor!

If you’re interested in price, my range will go from $ (least expensive- around $10-$15) to $$$ (most expensive- $70+)

The Oceanaire ($$$)

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Seafood lovers rejoice! The Oceanaire has all your seafood needs, although it is on the pricier side of things. I went with my aunt for a little bonding dinner before we went to the airport to pick up my mom. Because it was a slow summer evening (I believe it was a Tuesday) we were offered the couples special. This meant we would each get an appetizer, a main course, a dessert, and a bottle of wine to share (although I did not indulge) for $70. Overall, I think it was a pretty good deal for the amount of food we received. I will say though, that it is very pricey if you simply order off of the regular menu. But it’s what you’d expect from a nicer seafood restaurant.

I ordered the Caesar salad as an appetizer, the jumbo shrimp scampi as a main, and strawberry sorbet for dessert. My aunt got the escargot (which we shared), the salmon fillet, and bread pudding to finish the night off. Everything came in a timely manner, and the waitstaff was polite and attentive. What I liked most about the atmosphere was that it was more formal than many seafood places. The waiters were in white coats and nice clothing. This is definitely a place to go if you’re looking for a nice date night location or a celebratory dinner.

The Rusty Scupper ($$)

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I have written in detail about The Rusty Scupper in a previous post (check it out here), so I’ll just give an overview. If you’re looking for the perfect Sunday brunch place, this is the restaurant to go to. It’s right on the water and overlooks the entire harbor area. The atmosphere is fun with a live jazz band playing throughout the brunch. There are two times to choose from, one from 10am-12pm and another from 12:30-2:30.

You pay a flat rate of $45 per person (less for children) and receive an all included brunch with drinks. There’s tons of seafood along with the usual foods like eggs, bacon, meat, etc. Plus there’s lots of dessert options and food enough to stuff yourself silly. This was probably my favorite experience while visiting Baltimore, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is near the Harbor.

M&S Grill ($) 

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If you want a great Happy Hour spot, M&S Grill is the best. Their menu is full of great options, including seafood, and the waitstaff are wonderful. I went with my mom one evening around 6pm and we were seated outside right by the flowers and looking out at the water. The historic ship Constellation was about 30 feet away and the umbrellas shaded us from the harsh summer sun. Altogether, it was a perfect atmosphere to enjoy our early evening treats.

We ordered two oyster shooters and a shrimp cocktail, and my mom had a specialty mojito that she says was quite delicious and refreshing. This was my first time trying an oyster shooter and I have to say it was pretty fun! Not only did it taste great, but having it in shooter form made it slide so easily down my throat. The shrimp was fantastic (but if I’m being honest, anytime I have shrimp I love it), and I enjoyed sipping a lemon water to wash it all down. Great place: great atmosphere, great staff, great food!

Lebanese Taverna ($)

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I had never really had Lebanese food before, but my mom took me to this restaurant for lunch on her last day visiting me. The restaurant itself was full of light and relatively quiet, which was nice since I wanted to be able to have a conversation. The waitstaff was attentive yet kept their distance which I liked. We decided to order a couple of different platters so that I would have the opportunity to try a bunch of different types of food.

While we were waiting for our meal to come out, we were given a basket of fresh pita bread and a bowl of hummus. It was so good that I almost filled up on bread! Luckily, I controlled myself and was able to enjoy all the different options when they arrived. There was more but different types of hummus, some tabouli, a mini salad, different types of meat, some rice, and other little foods. It was honestly amazing and deceptively filling.

Definitely worth going to Lebanese Taverna if you’re ever around the Harbor. You also get a view of all the boats docked in the harbor and it’s only a couple of steps from the giant Under Armour store if you’re interested in that.

The Hard Rock Cafe ($-$$)

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Almost everyone knows what the Hard Rock offers, so I only add it because I had such a fun time there. It’s a classic restaurant that offers great burgers and a variety of different and exciting combinations of food. It is also on the water (although it’s more of a little straight than an actual waterway), and because of that there are two different seating areas. You can either eat outside in a more cabana-y type of place or sit inside in the more “normal” Hard Rock setting. Both are good option, I just chose the inside because I like to see the music videos. Outside, I believe, there is live music however.

My favorite drink to order there is the strawberry lemonade because it comes with real strawberries and is really satisfying on a hot day. There are a bunch of options to choose from, so if you have picky eaters with you there is something for everyone. The atmosphere is cool too because there are records, and outfits, and instruments from classic rockers and bands hanging all around the place. The TVs play old (and sometimes new) music videos so you can jam out while you eat.

 

There are so many more restaurants around the Baltimore Harbor that even if you don’t want to go to any of these places, simply walking around them will find you in a location with tons of different options. Wherever you choose, I hope you enjoy Baltimore as much as I did!

Ciao for now!

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Finding Federal Hill

Finding Federal Hill

If you’re one for hikes and history then try visiting Federal Hill in Baltimore. It’s not really a “hike” in the full sense, but you do have to make it up a hill. Luckily there are multiple entry points, and the back way is more accessible for people who have either difficulty walking or don’t want stairs. What I loved most about Federal Hill, though, was that it gives you a gorgeous view of the entire Harbor area from the top.

As for the history part of this little adventure, there are signs and posts around the top of the hill describing why Federal Hill is significant and what part it played in both the history of Baltimore and the history of the U.S. One interesting fact I found was that it was a kind of temporary camp for Union soldiers to pitch tents on during the nineteenth century.

There is also a little park in the middle if you want to bring your kids or if you are a kid at heart!

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Ciao for now!