After watching “The Grand Budapest Hotel” at the refurbished and stylish main theater at “The Senator“, we were ready for dinner but also looking for something else other than the obvious choices across the street at Belvedere Square. We decided to try “Toss”, a casual and contemporary feel gourmet pizzeria, which is just 1/3 of a mile south of “The Senator”. There’s a diverse mix of art on the wall that’s for sale (much of it at quite reasonable prices in the $30-$100 range)
The menu at Toss offers 4 starters ($5 – $8 including phyllo triangles stuffed with feta and sauteed spinach and Hummus served on warm pita), several salads ($5 – $9 varying on size; you can add grilled chicken or portabella mushrooms for an additional $3), Wings ($8.50 for ten with your choice of Buffalo, BBQ, Garlic or Old Bay/Olive Oil sauces and your choice of Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing to go with ’em). Toss also offers 14 sandwiches (all are a comparative bargain at $7.50, come on fresh focaccia baked daily and include Mediterranean fries.
Toss offers a couple of special bargains worth knowing about. You can order one of these sandwiches for “eat in” (but not take out!) for just $5 – the “gotcha” is that this special offer is only good up until 4 pm. You can also buy a large 14″ pizza with one topping for $10 for carry-out/to-go.
When it comes to pizza, you can choose from a dozen featured combinations ($12.50 for a 10″ or $19 for a large 14″ version). Alternatively, You can make up your own pie and topping combo – a basic 10″ is $7.50 and 14″ is $10.50. There’s long list of toppings and “premium” toppings which cost $1.50/$2.00 per topping for the 10″ and $2.50/$3.00 per topping for the 14″. There’s also some limited pasta options ($7-$12). Toss offers only bottled soft drinks (i.e., no refills!) with 20 oz standard sodas for $2, 16 oz Honest Tea for $2.50 and juices for $3.50. A nice touch was that a side counter with napkins and utensils also included large real-glass glasses along with a bucket of ice and pitchers of water for customers who just wanted tap water.
We decided to start with an order of wings with the buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing. (we liked the idea that the wings here are baked and not fried eliminating some extra fat that our bodies can do without! <Wink>) At first glance, I was dubious because I expected more obvious sauce on the wings. That trepidation evaporated quicklly after sampling the first wing. There may not have been a lot of excess sauce but the “buffalo” heat was there (far more so than some wings I’ve had dripping in sauce!) and left a pleasant buzz in my mouth. The wings were meaty and a good size. All in all, very nice!
All three of us were in mood for pizza. I opted for a 10″ combo – Stein’s Spinach & Artichoke. (Nope I have no idea who “Stein” is but who ever he/she is knows how to top a pizza!!!) I am an artichoke fan and I was pleased to see that there was no skimping with that topping – but please to find feta cheese crumbs, fresh tomato, caramelized onion and bits of baby spinach and garlic herb sauce all intertwined with a wonderfully generous amount of melted mozzarella! Yup! One of my first bites ended up with a string of mozzarella dangling from my mouth! Definitely, a “Thumbs Up!” Pizza!
My buddy Tom decided to go the custom pizza route – he started with a 10″ basic with two $1.50 toppings: garlic herb sauce with spinach and one premium $2 topping: prosciutto (ending up costing a total of $12.50). The pizza proved to be very salty and he wondered if the prosciutto or the sauce contributed to that. He’d be curious to see how much that salt there would be with a non- prosciutto pie as a fair comparator. Tom felt that the pie was also a bit stingy on the spinach (there should be perhaps more spinach than one leaf if you’re going to charge $1.50 for it – as you can see in the photo below, there’s not a lot of spinach evident.
Our friend Paul went the custom route too with a 10″ pizza adding traditional tomato sauce with one $1.50 topping: Pepperoni. Paul seemed to enjoy his pizza but confessed that the sauce was a tad sweet for his druthers even after dusting it with some red pepper.
Tom and I commented to each other that we liked the crusts which had a chewy puffy edge but were firm enough to support the toppings that they were carrying. All three of us ended up taking half a pizza home with us in the sturdy boxes quickly provided when we requested them.
Our experience with the wings and the pizzas left us feeling that both were pretty good and that we would eat here again if we were in the neighborhood.
FACTS: Toss (A Gourmet Pizzeria); Govans; 5716 York Rd; 410-433-8677; www.tossthepizza.com ; Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; no alcohol; Parking on street plus limited parking at the rear of the restaurant.