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Best Pizza in Idaho is the best in the World?

August 14, 2016

During our trip through New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago we were in some of the best locations in the world for pizza. Being pizza lovers, we decided to do some research and sample pizza from highly rated restaurants at each of these stops. A “world pizza tour” if you will. We were definitely not disappointed, but quite surprised at the results.

The first stop was the best rated pizza joint in New York, Juliana’s, which was located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn. This pizza set the bar high for the rest of the trip. We ordered a traditional margarita pizza and paired it with a glass of wine (Lacey) and a local beer (Mat). The crust was thin, so of course we folded it, New York style. The basil on the pizza was extremely fresh and flavorful, with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. We easily ate the entire pie.  Juliana’s blend of Italian style with New York style is delicious while the authentic feel of their restaurant beneath the Brooklyn Bridge completes the experience.

The next stop on our pizza tour was Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Gusta Pizza is famous for making pizzas in the shape of a heart. These pizzas were just as delicious as they were adorable. This Italian pizza had amazing fresh mozzarella piled on and thin, flaky crust. The basil didn’t taste as fresh or flavorful as Juliana’s, but something about drinking wine out of a paper cup made the entire experience feel authentic.  We were both pleasantly surprised with the quality ingredients and flavor of Gusta’s pizza and charmed by the adolescent “date night” feel of the restaurant.  Who wouldn’t want to share a heart shaped pizza with a love interest? #adorbs

The third stop on our world pizza tour was at Ir-Rokna’s Restaurant on the Mediterranean island of Malta.  Ir-Rokna’s was established in 1975 and is officially the oldest pizza joint on the island.  Trip Advisor awarded this place with a certificate of excellence so our expectations were set pretty high even before walking in.  Their wood burned pizza did not disappoint.  Similarly to Juliana’s in Brooklyn, Ir-Rokna’s pizza is a blend of NY style with Italian style.  The fresh ingredients, most noticeably being the basil, accompanied with the family recipe sauce make each bite more flavorful than the one before.  The owners and staff were fantastic to us the entire night, especially being that we arrived late and were the last patrons in the restaurant by the end of the night.  We never felt pressured to leave or do anything other than enjoy their delicious food and local wines.

Our final stop was one that we were both looking forward to the most; Gino’s East in Chicago, IL.  For 50 years, Gino’s has been serving up their legendary, deep dish, Chicago style pizza from their Superior Avenue location in the windy city.  This old school, graffiti filled, restaurant was where we visited the last day of our trip.  Being veterans of Gino’s (been there once before), we knew that two people have absolutely no chance of finishing a large pizza.  Gino’s pizza is the definition of “deep dish”.  It is about 3 inches thick and has a very dense crust that is unlike any pizza we’ve ever had.  That being said, we ordered a medium this time and still didn’t finish it.  If you’re unfamiliar with authentic Chicago style pizza, the cheese makes up the first layer above the crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese.  It looks kind of funky if you’re used to seeing a regular American style pizza.  Gino’s pizzas require over an hour to bake due to the thickness.  Their sauce is amazing and there is a lot of it on each slice.  It perfectly balances the thickness of the crust and layer of cheese to make sure each bite is juicy and full of flavor.  The original Gino’s East location is full of memorabilia from all of the celebrities that have visited this location over the years.  It makes the experience even cooler knowing that past presidents, hall of fame athletes, and world renown musicians have dined in the very spot you may be sitting in.  We love Gino’s!

After our “World Pizza Tour” wrapped up and we were back home in Idaho, we started reminiscing about all of the wonderful pizza experiences we had during the previous 15 days.  The basil of Juliana’s in Brooklyn, the heart shaped and heart warming Gusta Pizza in Florence, the family recipe pizza in Malta, and the legendary thick crust of Gino’s in Chicago.  It’s hard not to get hungry just typing that sentence.  Anyways, which one did we like best? After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that Julianna’s was our favorite.  Surprising right? Didn’t you think we would pick Gino’s East? So did I.  What was even more surprising to us after our choice was our answer to the following question; “Would you rather have Juliana’s pizza or Idaho’s own, Chicago Connection pizza?”  Without hesitating, we both answered “Chicago Connection”.  Does this mean the best pizza in Idaho (our opinion) is also the best pizza in the world?  You be the judge.

As always, please check out Venture Meridian Magazine and show them some love for supporting us by letting us have our monthly column!

Best Pizza in Idaho

Chicago Connection Pizza in Downtown Boise, ID

Best Pizza in Idaho

Best Pizza in Idaho

Gino's East, Chicago | DitchingNormal

The original Gino’s East in Chicago.

Gino's East Celebrity Wall | DitchingNormal

Gino's East Chicago Style Pizza | DitchingNormal

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana’s in Brooklyn, NY

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Ir Rokna Pizza Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza in Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza Malta

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Venture Meridian

Time for a Free Summer Vacation

July 6, 2016

Summer is definitely a time for exploration-whether trying out a new hobby, sampling a new cuisine, or checking out a new part of town, the long days allow for more time to dedicate to exploring.

This summer, we were fortunate enough to experience several new cities, attend multiple sporting events and enjoy cuisine from other countries, all while saving several thousand dollars! Thanks to credit card points, we took a 15 day time-out from our regular day to day and visited New York, Florence, Rome, Malta, Comino, Gozo and Chicago.

Our trip started with two days in New York staying at the Waldorf Astoria (for free, but more on that later) on Park Avenue. We spent our weekend eating delicious pizza in Brooklyn, attending a Yankees vs Red Sox game, visiting Wall Street and staring in awe and remembrance at the Freedom Tower. (full NY post)

From New York we flew into Florence, Italy and enjoyed riding bikes and scooters with friends, eating delicious heart-shaped pizza (you will see there is a pizza theme coming), visiting mind-blowing museums, gazing at the city from the Plaza de Michelangelo and walking up to the top of the Duomo. (full Florence post)

We took the train from Florence to Rome where we – surprise! – ate more pizza and explored museums and churches. The main reason for visiting Rome was to attend our first ever international sporting event-the Italian Open! This was such an amazing experience-from the lucky blue skies after a day of pouring rain, to nail biting tie breaker to complete the semi-finals match between Djokovic and Nishikori. (full Rome post)

From Rome we hopped a quick flight to the islands of Malta to meet up with friends and explore what this small country south of Sicily had to offer. Malta was quite possibly the most naturally beautiful place we have seen in person. One of the islands that make up Malta, named Comino, was surrounded by water so blue and so clear that it didn’t look real; it appeared man-made, as if someone had placed a teal colored dye in the water. Unbelievable. In Malta we visited the capital city of Valletta, the Blue Lagoon on Comino, the Azure Window on Gozo, cliff jumped at the local watering hole just outside of Marsaxlokk, saw the oldest known megalithic temples in the world, and tried octopus in the silent city of Mdina. Oh yeah, we also ate delicious pizza. (full Malta post)

To break up the trip home, we stopped for two days in Chicago and were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather! In our short time in Chicago we were able to squeeze in Millennium Park and take photos by Cloud Gate, aka the “bean”, go to the top of Willis Tower and eat traditional Chicago style pizza at Gino’s East. (complete details coming soon!)

This trip would not have been possible for us if we had to pay full price for it out of pocket. In total, by using credit card rewards points, we saved over $10,000 on this trip. We booked our flights to and from Europe for free. We stayed at luxurious properties like the Waldorf Astoria, Palmer House, and Hilton Malta for free. By utilizing credit card reward offers from American Airlines and Hilton, we were fortunate enough to have the 15 day (international) experience of a lifetime. Most anyone can do exactly what we do to earn free travel and everyone should at least take a look at how it all works.

As always, please check out Venture Meridian Magazine and show them some love for supporting us by letting us have our monthly column!

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

Brooklyn Sign

piazzale michelangelo florence

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

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Venture Meridian

Venture Meridian Magazine – May Issue

May 15, 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine has just released their May issue!  Our second ever column is included and we are more than excited for you to give it a read.  Each issue of Venture Meridian Magazine focuses on a specific key word in which all of the included content relates to.  May’s issue revolves around the word “future”.  We put our own spin on this topic and wrote an article describing how to go about making sure your future is a happy one.  The tips we give in our column will help you to keep looking forward to your future while still enjoying your present.  Check out our column and the rest of this month’s issue and let us know if you have any additional tips or ideas for ensuring a happy future!

2016 Game Plan

 
Venture Meridian

Teaming up with Venture Meridian Magazine!

April 1, 2016

Following a recent photo shoot we did with the good folks at Venture Meridian, we were lucky enough to be offered a monthly column in their magazine!  We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity and are hopeful that we’ll be able to consistently provide helpful tips and stories to their readers.  Spoiler alert! Our columns will focus on downsizing, traveling, and having a fun budget-friendly lifestyle.

The April issue of Venture Meridian magazine was released earlier today.  You can find our first column on page 38!  Check out this magazine and show them your support as they are busting their butts to provide an awesome magazine for Idaho!

(The featured image used on our homepage linking you to this post, along with numerous others in the Venture Meridian Magazine are compliments of Ali Smith Photography)

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

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Venture Meridian

Couples Workout with Venture Meridian Magazine

March 3, 2016

We are so excited to be a part of this month’s issue of Venture Meridian Magazine! This article is right up our alley focusing on a fun couples workout routine! We have been gym partners for years and love to motivate each other while of course, making exercising fun. We were fortunate enough to get to work with the amazing Ali Smith from Ali Smith Photography. We have worked with her in the past and her photography never disappoints; she is so great to work with!

Check out the March issue here and let us know what you think!

 

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

Couples Workout

All photos in this post are copyright of Ali Smith Photography.

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