Food & Drink

Meet the Local Artist Behind Baltoz Bakery in Towson

MICA alum Vlado Petrovski dishes on his artful approach to pizza-making.
—Photography by Scott Suchman

As a first-year college student, Vlado Petrovski, co-owner of Baltoz Bakery in the Towson neighborhood of Anneslie, was studying art and architecture in Rome when he fell in love with the local pizza.

“Pizza has been part of my life since I can remember,” says Petrovski. “I always made it at home, but when I went to Rome and had it there, it was next-level pizza—it blew my mind. They make a pizza rosa there that’s just a little tomato and bread and olive oil and little else. I remember eating that for a month and a half every day and went home and started making it myself.”

In 2012, the Macedonian-born artist traveled to America to study at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, where his grandparents lived. While still a student, he staged for the high-profile restaurant group Cameron Mitchell. In 2016, he came to Baltimore for graduate school to study painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, all the while working in his other favorite medium—the art of pizza-making.

While Petrovski has continued to pursue painting at his studio in Station North, he opened Baltoz in February, along with his life and business partner, Redeat Assefa.

“Opening my own place was partly impulsive, partly organized,” says Petrovski, “but it all came together like a crescendo.”

Is there a connection between painting and pizza-making?
When I started improvising and making the dough, I would get different results, and that still happens, depending on the conditions. If something isn’t working the way I want it to, I work until I get the results I want, which is a lot like painting. I can work on a surface sometimes for a month—or even years. Suddenly, you get this moment of, “Oh, that’s what I needed.” Sometimes it’s a simple mark, other times it’s like a whole picture is wiped out. You do it until you bring it to a natural conclusion.

What sets your pizza apart?
I want to use the best possible ingredients that are easy on the stomach and super digestible. Most of the things we make have two or three ingredients maximum. I want to share with people what I like to eat at home—that was one of the strong intentions that we had when we first opened the store, and we will never stop doing that.

What’s your favorite pizza on the menu?
I love spicy food, which is why there’s a spicy margherita pizza on the menu. I grew up vegan—I was never introduced to dairy until I was in college—so my favorite pizza is a tomato pie. The first time I ever tried cheese was on cheese pizza in New York City, which is how I fell in love with New York pizza. We don’t have a tomato pie, but you can order the margherita without the cheese.

What’s the story behind the name of your business?
The name Baltoz came from a book called Balto—Disney made a movie out of it. I added the “z” because I liked the way it sounded. It’s about a dog that delivered medicine [to save children with diphtheria] for an expedition across Alaska. It stuck with me. Balto is this underdog—and that’s how my journey started with this bakery.