Travel

Joe Squared

Of its 14 regularly listed cocktails, eight showcase rum’s versatility through traditional tropical flavor profiles.

Is there anything more beautiful than a decadent, bubbling-hot cheese pizza sat on a stained wood bar? What about if there’s a cocktail in the picture, too? Or what if that pizza was covered in spicy avocado, tomato braised chicken thighs, black beans, corn, pickled onions, mozzarella, cheddar, cilantro and lime… Or perhaps what I like to call “the clams casino pie,” with roasted garlic cream, clams, maple smoked bacon, sweet onion, fresh mozzarella, romano, asiago and oregano…

Impossible? Nope. Not at Joe Squared. In fact, you can split these two deliciously unique creations into ONE PIZZA.

Joe Squared, a family-owned bar and music venue in the heart of Baltimore’s Station North arts district, is locally famous for its signature square shaped pizzas, overwhelming number of unique risottos, and casual community vibes — not to mention its killer Italian-American appetizers and fun with rum.

 

First: the food.

Joe Squared sticks pretty close to its pizza and pasta roots by offering both unique house specialties and build-your-own options in addition to standard (but well-done) bar fare like wings, fried mozzarella, and potato skins. Some of the more unique finds include the Irish pizza (roasted garlic cream with corned beef and caramelized onion), one with cumin-braised lamb (roasted garlic cream, onions, eggplant), and The Flag, which is divided into thirds with three different sauces/creams/cheese combinations and resembles the Italian flag when all is said and done.

 

And now: the drinks.

Equipped with two bars (one in the modest upstairs dining area and the other in the downstairs music and performance space), Joe Squared boasts an accomplished draft and bottles list — spanning local, “local-ish,” domestic, and foreign brews — but really shines with its rum-based concoctions.

Of its 14 regularly listed cocktails (priced $9-$12), eight showcase rum’s versatility through traditional tropical flavor profiles and less typical ginger or coffee-based combinations. Meanwhile, two of the eight go the extra mile: They’re made with house rum. One, the Baltimore Punch ($9) mixes a house spiced rum with triple sec, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine, while the other, the Ginger Basil Mojito ($12), blends a house-made, ginger-infused rum with muddled basil, lime juice, evaporated cane juice, and a bubbly base of soda water.

 

You’re always welcome.

But it doesn’t matter if you’ve claimed a seat at the bar or around one of its small, square tables, the 11-year-old business owned by Joe Edwardsen welcomes you. A Station North community staple surrounded by a crowd of arts and performance venues, the walls of the dining room are lined with for-sale eclectic paintings and prints straight out of the thriving Baltimore arts scene, which really shows you just how connected the business has always been to its patrons and neighborhood. And that apparent love has been mutual.

An attempted second location in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor couldn’t last, but in 2015, when building issues and disagreements with the original Station North location’s landlady forced the business to move elsewhere (luckily, just a block away from its previous home), 359 GoFundMe donations helped make the transition possible.

Almost two years after the move, locals rave that the new space has only added to the bar’s thriving nightlife and music scenes, and with one appearance on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” under its belt, who knows what the future holds for this community staple.

 

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