This month I decided to try something a bit different. The Insatiable domain contains many great options for everyone’s favorite cheesy Italian entree, pizza. While I didn’t have the space or resources to review each and every one of them, I’ve compiled a pretty solid guide to the highlights.
I’m starting with the eastern-most option, based on location and style. Pidzza, a Turkish pizzeria that has just opened in Ivy City, is owned by veteran DC restaurateur Koray Bozkurt. Though a little delayed by the DC bureaucracy (Bozkurt and manager Nick Acker said the original goal was to open this location by August of last year with a Chinatown location opening around now), Pidzza has already made a splash in the neighborhood.
Pidzza (pronounced piid-tsah) employs the Turkish pide (pii-day) style of pizza, in addition to traditional Turkish flavor combinations. While customers are free to build their own pizzas, the first three suggestions on the menu will always be in the pide style – a blended mixture of meat and vegetables creating a thick paste that is spread on a thin crust and baked without sauce or cheese. All pidzzas are in an oblong shape and just the right amount of food. Because of the thinness of the crust, too much sauce can alter the meal’s experience, so Bozkurt recommends the restaurant’s suggested combinations such as the pidzza roll, the pide-style LMC, or the artichoke (inspired by a popular spinach-artichoke dip at a bar Bozkurt owns).
Pidzza’s other unique aspect is a wall of pizza boxes that are paid for in a traditionally Turkish pay-it-forward style. Each customer has the opportunity to donate some money to the cause. Once they do, they write their name or a brief message on the pizza box, and once that box is paid off, any customer can have that pizza free of charge.
Pidzza is at 2000 Hecht Ave. NE and www.pidzza.com. Expect to spend around $10 per Pidzza.
Just off Florida Avenue in Bloomingdale is a DC-themed joint called Bacio Pizzeria. Each pizza is named after a local neighborhood or landmark, from the wildly popular Bloomingdale (prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil) to the No. 81, named after Bacio’s street address (two cheeses, roasted garlic, and parsley), to the Common Good, named for the city farm (green peppers, caramelized onions, and more vegetables). Featuring a small dining room with rustic charm, it’s a nice place for a family dinner, a date, or just a quick meal on your own. The thin, slightly crunchy crust, shaped by hand into a traditional round, supports tasty toppings and a zesty sauce. Unlike many other thin-crust pizzas, Bacio’s are well constructed and the cheese stays on the crust until the very last bite.
You can really taste the freshness of the ingredients, making the prices ($14 for a personal size, exactly the right amount for one meal, and $19 for a large) worth it. Bacio also offers calzones and an extensive beer list that includes local options.
Bacio is at 81 Seaton Place NW and www.baciopizzeria.com.
Head on down to the U Street Metro Station for U&pizza, one of 19(!) locations of the popular restaurant in the DMV (No. 20 is coming soon to New York City). I was excited to review this longtime personal favorite. Visit during any mealtime (or on a weekend night during U Street bars’ busiest times) and you’ll see its popularity. The pizzas have an oblong shape similar to Pidzza’s, though the crust is thicker. While they do offer suggested pizzas, the real treat is building your own. With no limit on ingredients and an eclectic variety of cheeses, sauces, veggies, and proteins, you’re free to “treat yo’self” to your weirdest taste preferences with (almost) no confused looks from those nearby.
Take me, for example. My go-to choice at &pizza involves pesto, fresh mozzarella, artichokes, broccoli, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and more. Don’t judge me. And at under $10, &pizza is a great option for lunch, dinner, or post-alcohol food. Once you choose your sauce, cheese, veggies, and protein(s), your pizza goes through an oven while you watch, and you’re able to choose from several finishes (like my olives and feta). You receive your pizza in a distinctive rectangular box and can eat at the communal tables. Though the line is often long, it moves pretty quickly, and the shape and size of the box allows you to eat and walk if you so choose.
Visit U&pizza at 1250 U St. NW, next to the U Street Metro entrance, www.andpizza.com, and other neighborhoods including Chinatown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Columbia Heights.
Continue down U Street and turn right up 14th. There, just past the intersection with W, you’ll find Piola, a traditional Italian restaurant featuring almost too many pizza options (40) to handle. After asking for a recommendation, I went with the Rimini, which features delicious smoked salmon and dollops of ricotta cheese. The crust is soft and nearly melts in your mouth, and the pizza is large enough to serve as two meals. Many of the options are vegetarian-friendly, such as the Ortomisto: eggplant, spinach, roasted sweet peppers, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. But Piola also caters to the meat lover with, for example, the Carne & Compagnia, featuring ham, sausage, spicy salami, and pulled chicken. Also try their delicious pasta and choose from an expansive appetizers list.
Prices range from $10 to $16. Find Piola at 2208 14th St. NW and www.piola.it.
A little further out, at the intersection of Florida and 18th Street, is Duccini’s, often lumped as one of DC’s many greasy-floppy-jumbo-slice places. While they do offer jumbo slices, their pizza is actually quite delicious. The secret is in the dough, which is incredibly buttery, and in the perfectly spiced sauce.
I like to think of Duccini’s as a better-tasting alternative to chains like Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. The crust is just as thick and the pizzas are similarly priced, and they offer free delivery. While Duccini’s does have a Meatster (sausage, beef, pepperoni, ham, Canadian bacon, and salami), a Vegelicious (mushrooms, onions, green pepper, green and black olives, hot peppers, and tomatoes), and more, you can just as affordably create your own. A four-topping medium is $15.60. The large runs $18.99, and an extra-large costs $19.99. A medium is definitely enough for two people, but you will want leftovers.
Duccini’s is located at 1778 U St. NW and www.duccinis.com.
Finally, we’ll head back to 14th Street for an American-style restaurant that features many options and locations, such as Chinatown and Eastern Market, including a diverse pizza menu. The thinner, crunchy crust of Matchbox’s pizzas means that each small pizza (despite looking pretty large) is about the right size for a full meal. For the eater unafraid of spiciness, go with the Fire+Smoke of fire-roasted red peppers, chipotle tomato sauce, and smoked gouda. Make sure you have a full water glass. Another unique option is the prosciutto with black mission fig, which is topped with black pepper honey to combine for a sweet, delicious – if unusual – flavor. Personal pizzas range from $12 to $15, and the larges are $21-$23. I recommend selecting from the pre-chosen options.
Matchbox is at 1901 14th St. NW and other locations throughout the DMV and www.matchboxrestaurants.com.
If I missed anywhere particularly remarkable, please let me know! I’m always interested in trying new pizza places.
Max Moline is a communications specialist living in DC. He frequents Nationals Park and enjoys writing about food as much as he does eating it. He’s always looking for new places to try. Rooftops and cigar lounges are a plus! Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @MaxMoline425.