The Bob Ganoosh team would like to apologize for the lack of recent posts. The current writer (me, Gary) has been spending a lot of time being involved with his Community Association... perhaps Bob Ganoosh needs to expand its operations! As such, we took the lazy route and visited somewhere at the suggestion of the Food Network's Diners, Dives, and Drive-thrus... or whatever the show is called. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like every time I turned on the Food Network I saw them visiting somewhere from Baltimore But something specific caught our eye - this delicious looking "rice ball" topped with marinara sauce. So we decided, we must visit wherever it is that they sell these.
DiPasquale's Gourmet Deli, the home of this unique dish, has been in business since the early 20th century (I want to say, it was 1914). The shop is a little corner rowhouse right smack dab in the middle of Highlandtown, and offers pretty much everything Italian, from fresh baked bread to imported aged cheese to rabbit & octopus meat. It is reminiscent of a little corner deli you'd find in NYC - a rare find in Baltimore - and represents one of the reasons I'd take a neighborhood like Highlandtown over one like Federal Hill any day.
So, Shawn and I drove over there one night (I believe it was Mardi Gras, actually) for dinner, and well we weren't impressed. Of course, that's because we couldn't get in the door - they close at 6PM Monday - Saturday (and are closed on Sunday). If we were really as lazy as I implied above, the article would have ended here. But, as the saying goes, if you don't succeed, try try again. So we planned to go back on a Saturday for lunch.
So this past weekend, we (accompanied by our friend Mark) took a drive down to "Hollantown" for lunch, right before the Maryland game. It was a few hours after lunch time when we got there, but the place was packed regardless. They have a decent sized menu, which includes various subs & salads, as well as classics like homemade lasagna. And of course, the Rice Ball! I ordered a meatball sub; Shawn got a cold cut sub and some mozzarella salad. I can't remember what Mark got off hand. And of course, Shawn and I eat got a rice ball.
Now we started out with our rice balls. These basically consisted of some seasoned beef and mozzarella cheese, battered with a thick layer of some rice mixture, and fried. It comes out a little bigger than a softball. They cut it in half and drizzle some marinara sauce over top. Let me tell you, it was great! Honestly, the flavor was more mild than I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And it pretty much filled me up, for about $5.
I barely had any room for the meatball sub, of which I took the majority home with me. This unbelievable sandwich consisted of plump homemade meatballs and marinara sauce, stuffed inside of a half loaf of their homemade break. A HALF LOAF! The bread really sealed the deal, but everything about the sandwich was outstanding. At this gigantic extremely filling (I barely finished it in the 2nd attempt) sub was only $7.95.
Shawn's sub was not as huge as mine, but still respectably sized. After the rice ball, he too had little room for his hoagie and took most of it home. Plus, he had some mozzarella salad (which he shared a bit with me). The Mozzarella was unbelievable - it was so creamy that you could eat it without teeth if you so desired. It was top-notch.
If you need, they also sell wine and liquor to take with you - I imagine this would be a good place to buy Lemocello!
So, in short, we had a great meal (well 2 meals) with what we got at DiPasquale's. We ended up spending a a little more than average, for a deli, but it was worth every penny. The portions are great and the quality is outstanding. The joint has been owned by the same family since it opened, and it is obvious from our experience that they take everything they make very seriously. If I lived in that neighborhood, I'd be a regular to this establishment.
Hmm... maybe I should move to Highlandtown. I wonder if the rowhouse across the street with the purple-painted formstone, is for sale!
DiPasqale's Gourmet Deli
3700 Gough Street
Baltimore, MD 21224