"Because the box is square." That was Joe's response when I asked him why the pizza is square. The Joe I'm referring to is Joe Edwardsen. The pizza I'm referring to is the pizza at Joe Squared on West North Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland.
Joe Squared has only been serving up the heavenly thin crust pies since 2005 but Joe Edwardsen, now 29, first made pizza while in high school in Rochester, New York. That pizza shop, like most, made round pies. While at Goucher College, where he earned his degree in Philosophy, Joe cooked in an Italian restaurant. Joe had planned to be a Philosophy professor. He later planned to open a French restaurant. Things changed and he ended making the right decision in opening Joe Squared but don't just take my word for it.
The Baltimore Sun said that Joe “…raises pizza and subs to the level of high art.” He has also received praise from: AOL City Guide; Baltimore Eats; Baltimore Magazine; City Paper; Spirit World; Urbanite; and many others. OK, so the Spirit World review didn't exactly rave about Joe's pizza, That article concentrated on some of Joe's beverages. Joe Squared offers over 45 types of rum. The reason - Joe likes rum.
This Joe is a big fan of the KISS [Keep It Simple Stupid] principle and apparently Joe is too. The stretched (never tossed) crust is made from a 200 year old sourdough starter. The sauce is simply uncooked crushed San Marzano tomatoes with fresh basil which is grown on the roof and is picked daily. The cheese is Mozzarella di Bufala (Water Buffalo) from Italy.
The cooking process is also quite simple and is done in Maryland’s only coal-fired pizza oven - a two-and-a-half ton stove with temperatures reaching as high as 2200°F.
On the day of our photoshoot we were joined by my friend Vincent De Paul, the film and television actor, who had just finished filming "The Sinatra Club" and was working on "Make a Wish." Vincent, a Baltimore native, was in town visiting family. Like me, he was amazed by Joe's pizza. During our meal, he joked to Joe [Edwardsen] that though he is a native Baltimorean, who gets back to The Charm City often, it took an outsider [me] to introduce him to the best pizza in Baltimore. On that day. our beverage of choice was Baltimore tap water which, living in Los Angeles, Vincent misses dearly. Baltimore water is good but on my next visit to Joe Squared, I'm having rum.
As eclectic and hip as the place might be, Joe Squared is a family business with Joe's mother and his brothers being quite involved. Joe Edwardsen and Joe Squared are not only special because of the pizza, rum, and family. As a proud pioneer in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District, Joe Squared also has live music daily. Various genres. No cover. Every three weeks there is a different art exhibit featured on the burgundy colored walls.
Like the Huey Lewis and the News song, it's hip to be square. If you're looking to be square, head on down to 133 West North Avenue and have a 10, 12, 14, or 16 inch square pizza.
NEXT WEEK - "J is for Joey"