By Dario DiBattista
The new Pretzel and Pizza Creations, just opened up in December in Hagerstown, is already a well-patronized spot, owing most likely to its sterling and widespread reputation emanating from its original and popular Frederick location. I know it’s busy because I work as a creative writing teacher on the 4th Floor of the Grand, and walk by the location in the same building many times a day.
As a recently expatriated native Baltimorean, and outsider to the western Maryland dining scene, I was looking forward to my first visit. One student stoked this excitement by saying, “I’m really jealous of you. I wish I could relive my first experience there.” I found my experience to be a mixed one: Pleasant and bitter; sweet and subpar.
Upon entering I noticed the interior: contemporary and somewhat reminiscent of the Hagerstown area with very high ceilings, a plethora of open space, bench seats, and brick walls.
The focal point of the interior was a large bar that was overshadowed by impressively towering shelves held up by welded piping. Very cool, but, some of the decor was straight Wal-Mart home section tacky, as exemplified by “I drink coffee for your protection” knick-knacks and “Go ahead and wine a little” signs. Ugh. The copper wrapping around the draft pours, though, was straight up cool — and then Creed came on over the speakers. Womp wah. My sacrifice.
Service was helpful, but bordered on annoyingly — I was checked on a lot but not offered any perspective or knowledge regarding the menu.
My first two courses – parmesan and spices soft-baked pretzel ($2.59) and chocolate chip and bacon signature stuffed pretzel ($4.09) — arrived in a mostly timely manner. Probably owing up to the place being a new operation, though, myself and the guests beside me didn’t have the correct accompaniments brought out.
The bacon chocolate pretzel tasted okay with an interesting contrast of salty and sweet, but the pretzel itself was dry and chewy. I wish I’d added the free butter topping, but dishes should be able to stand on their own. The parmesan and spices pretzel was even more dry and chewy, and, fairly, closer to room temperature than warm. I dipped it in the watery marinara and was happy to put it away when my rushed second course arrived. I craved Auntie Anne’s suddenly. I shouldn’t be thinking about any other pretzel place.
The five meat combo ($9.99 / $15.33 – who comes up with these prices?) stood as the highlight to my meal, with a crispy soft crust enclosing a nice layering of pepperoni, ham, turkey, roast beef, and corned beef. The very tender corned beef stood out as the most prominent flavor underneath the parmesan garlic butter crust and lazed under some gooey provolone. Nice.
(Menu dessert items were not available at the time of my visit, but will be coming soon.)
So that’s my appraisal. But you certainly don’t have to listen to me. I’m only slightly better than your average Yelp! Reviewer.
Rating: Two and a Half Stars
Where: 20 West Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD
Contact: 301-694-9299, pizzaandpretzelcreations.com
Open: Mondays through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m; Fridays and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$7; other courses, entrees $8-$36
Noise/TVs: Mildly noisy. Bar features TVs.
Service: Attentive, and engaged.
Parking: Street and nearby garages.
Dario DiBattista is a creative writing teacher at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. He also moonlights as a restaurateur in Baltimore, recently helping to open up the city’s top-rated Latin restaurant, Alma Latina Cocina.