Going for the pizza and finding it excellent

TAKEOUT

Matthew's Pizza is on DeSantis' menu, among other dishes

October 09, 2002|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My ears perked up recently when I heard sports talk show king "Nasty" Nestor Aparacio touting a place in Perry Hall that sells Matthew's Pizza. Yep, the Matthew's Pizza in Highlandtown, which is, in my book, easily the best in Baltimore.

So I grabbed the troops and ventured way out Belair Road and found DeSantis' Pizza Grill & Bar. It turns out the owner of DeSantis' used to own Matthew's and somehow managed to hold on to the right to sell the same variety of pizza. Now that's a franchise idea I like.

DeSantis', which sits next to a swim school in the small Northview Shopping Center, bears little resemblance to Matthew's, a storefront on Eastern Avenue. It does pay homage to Matthew's with a painting of the familiar facade in the entranceway. But the Perry Hall eatery is an entirely different kind of place -- with keno, plenty of televisions and all the charm of an airport bar.

It also serves an extensive menu of seafood, meat and pasta, which we mostly skipped over. Our trip was all about the pizza.

I'm happy to say that DeSantis' produces a respectable version of the original pizza. I agreed with the four tasters I brought in (my sons and two friends) that DeSantis' pizza ($6.50 for a large plain known as a "popular") was slightly thinner and lacked some of the distinctive spices used down in Highlandtown. The pepperoni ($1.25 extra) also seemed thinner and less robust. But we weren't complaining. All in all, the pizza was excellent.

We did try a couple of other dishes, which were also good. The antipasto ($4.95) featured a healthy serving of rolled-up meats -- salami and ham among them -- mozzarella chunks, shredded carrot and pepperoncini. The lasagna ($9.95) was a comforting, basic dish. It featured ground beef and ricotta cheese and seemed to have been made with care.

For dessert, DeSantis' offers such Italian goodies as cannoli, tiramisu and tartufo as well as cheesecake. None is made in the restaurant. I opted for the cheesecake ($2.75), which turned out to be stale and bland.

DeSantis' Pizza Grill & Bar

Food: ***

Service: ***1/2

Waiting area: ** 1/2

Parking: ***1/2

Where: 9638 Belair Road, Perry Hall

Phone: 410-256-2770

Food served: noon to 10 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday

Prices: Pizza from $4.50 to $10.95; salads, pasta and meat and seafood entrees from $4.25 to $19.95; credit cards accepted

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