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Who Has the Best Pizza in the DC Area?


ksfquilts
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:confused: I should have anticipated this.  Anything but deep dish.  I find most of it tastes like cardboard around here, no matter what style the restaurant may think they are making.  Thanks.

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I'd be interested to hear which pizzas you have tried in DC other than the national chains.  Have you tried Two Amys or Pizzeria Paradiso? Armand's thin crust (not actually thin)?  I have an affinity for Armand's because I grew up with it- especially the bready deep dish - but I do not kid myself into thinking it a paragon of pizza perfection.  Tried Listrani's?   I used to like the old Maggie's pizza quite a bit, and Alfio's (next to Rodman's on Wisconsin - now still in Friednship Heights) but that quality seems to have deteriorated a bit too.

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Armand's used to rule when I first moved to D.C. (1986), but by the time I left (1990) it had gone totally downhill.  Maggie's seemed to improve in that same time, and I found myself favoring it.

Of course, twelve years is an eon in the food business.  But these places were my first exposure to deep dish pizza (Pizzaria Uno was around then, I guess... but I'm not sure I'd tried it), and at least for that they retain a place in my memory.

Has the Coal oven craze which has taken over NY pizza invaded D.C. yet?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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In college and just after I ate Armands from 1978 or so until just about 1986.  It was easy to take an even 30's bus up Wisconsin Ave and they served pitchers of beer. I never said I liked it.  After a long dry spell we now occasionally get an Armands deep dish as an absolute last resort if you twist my arm and it is merely culinarily acceptable, no more, no less.

When I was in college I much preferred Gepetto's to Armand's (unsure of actual spelling--might have been Geppetto's) on M Street below Wisconsin Ave. toward the old Biograph.  This is for historical purposes only and was, of course, before Georgetown imploded upon itself and became the social and culinary wasteland it currently is.

Damian--you mentioned my nod for best pizza--Pizzeria Paradiso.  It was excellent when it opened and has stood the test of time.  I have not been to Two Amy's yet, since I live in Virginia and we Virginians venture across the bridges only when absolutely necessary.  I will make it soon, as we have a new friend who lives on Wisconsin near the Cathedral.  Have you been?  Just in second is Faccia Luna--but only in the Glover Park/Wisconsin Ave. location.  Of course neither of these rivals the best of the coal-fired NY Style pizzas in Brooklyn and Manhattan--though you never seem to get the DC food and restaurant critics to say so.  Shame on them.  Our best pizza is not as good as NY pizza.  It's not a secret.

We actually go to Bertucci's more often than all of these combined, for a variety of factors, and find their pizza more than acceptable for our area.

I posted this elsewhere, but my favorite of the local "NY Style" pizzas--not the coal-fired type with great thin crisp black crusts--but the typical NY Style big flat slice--is at Luciano's in Tysons--upper level near Lord & Taylor.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I concur with Armand's being objectively barely acceptable, but my liking for it is more a product of having it as a staple for so many years that it is a familiar piece of home which I actually creave from time to time.  I have not yet had Two Amys although reports from friends in the neighborhood give it high marks.  I had forgotten Geppetto's, or however it was spelled, another of my favorites in Washington.  Is it still around?  I have virtually no contact with commercial Georgetown anymore.  I also left out Faccia Luna which I haven't had in years (Rocklands is too tempting when I get to Glover Park).  I was going to add Bertucci's, and it is passable, but I consider it a national (or at least regional) chain, and thus left it out.  There's another pizza place in McLean that my wife's family always uses - I don't think they deliver - it's called Rocco's, maybe?  Had some decent pies from there too, but they tended to get soggy with the addition of a few ingredients.  

DC is no one's pizza heaven.  Then again, getting good pizza in New York (Manhattan at least) is not as easy as one would think.  My woes with delivery pies here are well-documented in the NY thread.

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I ate at Two Amys not too long ago. Very good stuff. The sauce is a little too runny for my tastes...it's the hand-crushed tomato kind, like you get at Lombardi's in NYC, and like Lombardi's it's too watery. But other than that it kicks butt. We got one with black olives, anchovies, and a few other things on it...don't remember exactly...and one with cockles. The anchovies were the really good silvery kind, and I was jealously possessive of the two cockles deemed my share. The dough is appropriately salty/chewy/blistery and the cheese is top quality. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

I second (third?) Pizzeria Paradiso. And Bertucci's isn't so terrible either, to me at least.

I used to grab a slice at Chef Paulo's (not sure that's the exact name) in International Square, 19th and K, during lunch breaks periodically. It's a lot like the cheap/crappy NY folders, salty and crisp and greasy.

DC isn't a pizza town, but you don't have to totally go without just 'cause you live here.

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Damian, no, Geppetto's is long gone, for some time now.

And my entirely personal opinion of "chains" is that I evaluate them independently, based on what is on the plate.  Some chains are taking steps in the right direction, admirable directions, even.  Individual Bertucci's may do a fine job and operate under caring management with attentive service; some may not.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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There is a Gepetto's in the Wildwood Shopping Center on Old Georgetown Rd., but I don't know if it's the same business.  They specialize in piling their toppings really high on the pie - does that sound like the old place (I never made it to that one)?

Another old favorite of mine was Luigi's.  They are still on 19th St., NW, but a recent visit proved that it just isn't the same.  I remember when they had a place in Bethesda (this was the '70s) and it was my very favorite pizza.  

Sadly, I live in suburban pizza hell (Rockville), and don't seem to think of pizza when heading in to D.C.  I've GOT to try 2 Amy's and Faccia Luna to see if they'll make me happy!

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Welcome Terrie--I hope you share more about Rockville and whether there is anything worth eating there.  As a result of this thread, we went to Two Amy's the other night.  Very interesting place amidst a weird scene--a shitty liquour store, hair salon, florist, bad coffee bar, very elderly ladies walking the streets, resident DINKS and yuppies, babies, college students, teens, tourists (from the cathedral) boy that Macomb block has changed since I moved out to Virginia from Glover Park a few years ago.  It is now a pocket of dining. Of course the underwhelming Cactus Cantina was still packed by people who have obviously never been to Rio Grande or who can't tell the vast difference between the two.  There's a FlatTop Grill across the street which took over a few buildings (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, I've only been to the Arlington location which is excellent and perhaps the best option in our area for mixed groups I'm aware of--vegetarians and omnivores) Cafe Deluxe around the corner and Two Amy's.

Lots of young people trying to look fashionably above the scene with their rayon shirts and cocktails.

Pizza was certified authentic (D.O.C.) in a certain narrow Italian style of impossibly thin crust with nicely textured, interesting thicker crust edges which Slow Food would undoubtedly approve of.  Very skimpy undercooked toppings, little cheese.  Lots of servers and runners, all very young, all enjoying the company of each other and somehow managing to pay pretty good attention to the diners.

Lots of cheap Italian wine as if cheap Italian wine were good--or a value.  I ordered a Moretti and wished I ordered a Pilsner Urquell.

Fantastic dessert--and I never say this about desserts in DC--a very clean, very simple panna cotta of cream with berries. An appropriately jiggly demisphere surrounded by macerated berries on an oval white plate. I'm surprised.

I liked the deep fried codfish balls (three per serving) much better than the deep fried rice/cheese balls (five per serving) though our droll, diffident waiter said the meatballs were the best app.

I'd go back, it is just more expensive enough than it should be to keep the riff raff out.  Go early--before 6:45PM on a weekday. Next time I'll sit out on the back patio or in the golden back dining room with the irritating dangly lights.  More ambience than the main black and white tiled bathroom of a front dining room.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I agree that Pizza Paradiso has the best pizza in DC.  Being an impatient sort, I get annoyed with the usual wait to get in.  That's my only complaint, though :smile:

When I lived in the suburbs, 3 Brothers at the Beltway Plaza in Greenbelt was my favorite pizza place.  I don't get back there much anymore.  I don't know if they're still as good as they were before they began expanding to other locations.  They also opened a more full service restaurant on Kenilworth Ave., near the District line.  That also had an Italian market attached to it.  Again, I haven't been there in ages. Maybe someone else can give an update on 3 Brothers?

Luigis I remember being good in the early 1980s.

And, thanks for the review of Two Amys.  I'd been hearing about it but haven't been there.  It sounds worth the trip.

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Oh, I forgot about 3 Brothers.  Back in the 80s they had some of the best pizza that was close to that really thin NY style.  That was when they had the one spot near U of M.  Now that they have expanded, they've lost it somewhat.  I've only eaten at the one in Rockville lately, so I don't know if the original is still its old self, but I know the Rockville location isn't the same.

It's still better than any of the delivery places, Olga's, and the franchise locations of Ledo's (yes, different style, and the original location still tastes good), etc.

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Welcome to eGullet, Terrie.

I live close by the original Ledo in College Park. I eat there occasionally. It's the home of the whitest-trashiest pina colada I ever consumed. Once I went with a friend when we felt angsty and we ordered a pizza with extra garlic and green olives since neither of us planned to kiss anybody that night. It was greasy, the crust was biscuity, and we were happy.

My partner has made me swear I will never bring home a Ledo pizza for our dinner again, but I suspect I will do it once he's out of town without me for some reason. It's convenient and it's not "authentic" but dammit, I like it!

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Too bad some guilty pleasures are just awful.  Those sheetpan pizzas are to pizza what Hershey's chocolate is to chocolate.  If I had a dollar for every time some local said about Ledo's "but you have to go to the original" I'd be a richer man.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I've never eaten at another Ledo's. I happen to be geographically most convenient to the original. Is there really any difference? Yes, they still serve on cafeteria trays.

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  • 4 weeks later...

How long ago did you live nearby? I lived in Dupont for about three years in the late 90s. I was so angry when Blue Plate closed. They weren't trying to do anything fancy, but they consistently turned out top-notch versions of classic dishes. I like Johnny's Half Shell, which now occupies that space, but I miss Blue Plate a lot.

Hm, this has nothing to do with pizza. I like pizza! :rolleyes:

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  • 3 weeks later...

For those of you longing for a good slice of New York-style pizza, head to The Italian Store in Arlington at the intersection of Kirkwood and Rt. 29. This place has fantastic, thin-crust pizza with the taste and consistency of a slice you'd get in a hole-in-the-wall in NY (no to mention their incredible Italian meats, cheeses and imported dry good). Check it out!

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What's The Italian Store like, anyway? How does it compare to the Cleveland Park location of Vace? (In terms of pizza and in terms of overall product selection and quality, I mean.) And how's the pizza at the other Italian deli/stores in the area? I live right near Santucci's in the Four Corners part of Silver Spring, but have never checked it out. There's also a couple places in Wheaton I've spied but not visited.

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What's The Italian Store like, anyway? How does it compare to the Cleveland Park location of Vace? (In terms of pizza and in terms of overall product selection and quality, I mean.)

I have not been to the Italian Store in Arlington but have been to Vace. I find the prices to be quite higher than the other specialty stores in Washington. For example, the Sun of Italy brands, for example, are found in even a local Giant food store now- in comparison the prices at Vace are much higher. The buffalo milk mozarella from Campania that Vace carries can be found at Sutton Place Gourmet and is cheaper there. The San Pellegrino drinks (Limonata, for eg.) can be found at Trader Joe's for a lower price as well.

The fresh pasta at Vace is good I must say.

I went to Two Amy's pizzeria last night and will not be returning there again. The pizza at Pizza Paradiso is much better. We first ordered a vesuvio which was supposed to be prosecco with grapefruit juice. Seemed to be the appropriate drink for a humid Washingon evening. We sat outside, which was the only redeeming feature of the place. The interior had black and white bathroom style tiles....When the drinks arrived, much to the disappointment of my Mediterranean friends, the grapefruit juice was not fresh, but straight out of a can. In addition, the effervescence from the prosecco was non existent. When the pizza arrived the edges were too "puffy", the crust a bit too thin and soggy and the toppings were scattered sparsely. It did not seem to have the same chewiness that the pizza at Pizza Paradiso has. The best part of the meal was the escarole salad!! I wish they still had the panna cotta on the menu, unfortunately they didn't.

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  • 1 month later...

I go to The Italian Store all the time. Pizza is not their strong suit. Sandwiches are what most patrons are there for. Italian cold cuts on hard or soft rolls (they'll also make just about any other kind of sandwich you want, but why bother?)

You can also buy italian kitchen goods, like pasta and cookies and wine, etc. But like I said, it's the sandwiches.

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Re Geppetto:

The Geppetto in Wildwood Shopping Center (Bethesda) is owned by the same guy who owned Geppetto in Georgetown - same recipes. I managed the Bethesda location many years ago and fondly remember the pizza, especially the white pizza, really good. Last I heard you could call in orders for delivery pizza to the old Georgetown location, which is now Mendocino Grille. Georgetown only does delivery, no carry out, no eat in. I've never had Geppetto pizza out of the Mendocino kitchen, so I don't know if it tastes the same. Another option, or it was at Bethesda, is to order a half-cooked pizza and finish the baking in a really hot oven at home, nice and fresh.

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