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June 16, 2010

Michael's of Monkton

Pizza girlIn this week's Shallow Thought Wednesday post, John Lindner discovers there's decent pizza in Monkton. He lets us in on another, even more shocking, discovery at the end of this post. Make sure you read all the way through. Here's John. LV

It was Sunday around four in the afternoon. We hadn’t eaten since seven a.m. Hadn’t found a worthy looking restaurant on the back roads we were exploring. While our standards lowered with each curve and hilltop, all we saw were more curves and hilltops.

We had entertained blasts of rain and what felt like hail but probably wasn’t because it didn’t bounce. All day an annoyingly shifty wind battered us. And as we headed into Monkton down from PA the temp dropped and iced our bright new sunburns for about five shaded miles. So yeah, we’d been sitting all day, but we were sitting at fifty to sixty miles and hour and that can work a strain voodoo on you, especially if you’re just coming out of your winter cocoon.

I was pretty sure there was a deli at the confluence of 137, York Road and 138. I was kind of wrong. It’s a pizza place. Michael’s Pizza, 16952 York Road (couldn’t find a web site), is wedged into a brief strip mall grandly named Hereford Plaza Shopping Center (there must be a lot of money in nail places: I see them everywhere). We ordered a large pepperoni and sausage.

After placing the order we went back out to the parking lot to check on a headlight. My friend rode over a nasty bump on Route 1 that popped him out of the saddle (It was funny. I laughed. He didn’t hear me. Perhaps loud pipes do save lives … and friendships) and, mysteriously, knocked out his headlight. It wasn’t dark out. But headlights help you get seen and besides, like all good ideas, Mother Maryland mandates motorcycle headlight use 24/7, rain or shine and dark of night. What would we do without that law?
We popped back into Michael's a few minutes later and the young woman behind the counter apologized for not alerting us that the pie had been waiting for us. By my calculations, our pizza went from ordered to boxed in seven minutes. Uh oh.
Even adjusting for the acute hunger and complete indifference to quality I was experiencing, I’d have to rate Michael’s pizza well above average. Or better yet, in a class, not by itself, but among a rare, perhaps dying type. The only way I can think to explain it is as a cult movie. What it lacked (deliberately, I’m guessing) in subtlety, it made up for in character. It’s like Michael made a pizza suited to his taste and dared the rest of the world to get down with it. The sausage’s piquant notes led the, by comparison, less boisterous pepperoni. And while it looked a bit like the cooking process might have been convection thermo nuclear that united the cheese and sauce at the molecular level to create a third unique element (chauce or seese?) it tasted great, nicely supporting the meaty leads on a crust somewhere between the-ingredients-slide-off limp and cut-yer-gums crisp.
Yes, I neglected to get a picture. But maybe I’ll take a camera when I go back.
We spent maybe 45 minutes at Michael's. While there – late afternoon, well after lunch but, well, before dinner – we watched a thin but steady stream of customers come in for carry-outs. And there were two, maybe three cars (if Jeeps count as cars – no offense Jeep guy) with Michael's delivery signs coming and going. A big sign inside – where there’s seating for maybe six-seven depending on one’s mood and flexibility – tucked behind a glittering forest of baseball trophies, announced Michael’s 15th year serving Monkton. I got the sense that the place is a pizza institution in Monkton. And I think Michael knows his market.
By the way, Michael’s menu sports about every damn thing, from burgers and wings to sandwiches and, if memory serves, pasta. I curse myself for not thinking to look for crabcakes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the kids behind the counter serve those, too.
So there you have it. I think Michael’s is the place to go after a day on the NCR trail or rafting the adjacent Gunpowder River. Or if you happen to be dying of starvation and wondering what possessed you to take up motorcycling, check the place out. It’ll renew your faith in stubborn resistance to conformity.
There’s just no smooth seque from Michaels to my discovery this Monday that they make Nair for men. But there it is. I’m still in shock.

A young pizza fan who was not -- full disclosure -- dining with John Lindner, nor out out riding a motorcycle with him. (I considered going with generic motorcycle art, but figured I'd pick the wrong bike. So there you have it.) Sun photo by Doug Kapustin

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 1:09 PM | | Comments (19)


there must be a lot of money in nail places: I see them everywhere

I'm sure most women would have immediately thought mani-pedi, but all that came to my mind was a pound of 3/16" stainless steel flat heads.

That intersection is in Hereford, although the mailing address is Monkton.

chauce or seese


good post jl!

Well, wherever that intersection is, describing it as a confluence of three roads just made me melt. Beautiful description, jl.

The only difference between "Nair" and "Nair for Men" is the color of the plastic bottle.

"Nair" (Pink)
"Nair for Men" (Brown/Black/OliveDrab/Cammo?)

It's all a matter of the in a lot of things.

So, jl, do you dare wear short shorts?

With the Nair tidbit, I would say you succeeded with your "smooth seque."

Nice story, jl. Glad to know you're still out on your bike.

Glad you enjoyed your time in my neck of the woods.

A big sign inside ... announced Michael’s 15th year serving Monkton

When I lived walking distance from there back in my hippie days, it was definitely considered Hereford. I wonder if Monkton has more cachet, and the real estate agents are enlarging it like they are Canton.

It's in Hereford. Right between the Hereford Library and Hereford Baptist Church, my two favorite places.

If you get caught without WD-40, Nair works almost as well. Nair for Men might work even better.

Just wanted to give my opinion, having grown up in the Hereford area. Hereford is an unincorporated community, and as such has no legally defined boundaries. However, most people from the Hereford Zone would say that "Hereford" is the area around the intersection of York Road and Mt Carmel Road. The boundaries would be loosely (stress: loosely) defined as the area bounded by Graul's supermarket, Hereford High School, and the volunteer fire department (even though all of these places have either Parkton or Monkton zip codes). The strip mall where Michael's is located certainly falls within "Hereford". Being south of Mt Carmel Road and east of I-83, it is commonly assumed to be part of the Monkton zip code, even though I believe that strip mall technically has a Parkton address. Short story long, everyone is right.

Wonder if, conversely, WD-40 can be substituted for Nair....

I grew up near Monkton and Michaels was pretty much the only place that would deliver... it's always been uniquely delicious and I miss it! (It's kind of a hike from the city)

No BankStreet, but duct tape CAN do the job Nair does (ouch).


indeed ... specially on those naughty bits

My first thought when I saw the Nair for men was ... well maybe the second or third ... but will it make me go deaf?

John, you aren't necessarily misremembering a deli at that location. Back in the 1980's when I lived there, Menzner's (sp?) sub shop was at that location (there wasn't any strip shopping center there at that time). There was also an auto parts place there or a few addresses to the south that would sell me brake shoes and trust me to bring back the old ones without charging me a deposit.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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