Sunday, December 14, 2008

Matchbox-- Barrack's Row / Capitol Hill

The long-awaited Matchbox opened last week on 8th Street in Barrack's Row. Gary and I tried to go there the night it opened, but the wait was an hour and a half (?!?) so we went somewhere else. Gary was out of town this weekend, and I was REALLY craving some pizza, so I decided to check it out myself.

We previously reviewed Matchbox in Chinatown about a year ago, and I thought the pizza was a-ight... not my favorite. One thing I do like about Matchbox pizza, though, is the spicy tomato sauce. Tonight I ordered a tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza, and the sauce did not disappoint. Although the pizza was a little cold when I got it-- I think they are still working out some service kinks-- overall I thought this pizza was better than the one I had in Chinatown. The crust was nice and crispy, and the toppings were tasty.

I'm looking forward to going back soon with Gary.

Liza's rating: 3.0 stars

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama's Favorite Pizza?


So what is the favorite pizza of DC's newest resident?
The Ritz in Washington D.C. is paying to fly the pizzeria's owners to the nation's capitol for the inauguration expo to be held there next week to serve their pizza there. A month before the election, owner Patti Harris-Tubbs got a phone call from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., asking if she would be willing to come to the nation's capital to make her pizza if Obama won. She thought it was a joke, Harris-Tubbs when Obama won, the hotel e-mailed back, offering to fly her and her husband out to serve their pizza next week at the Presidential Inauguration Expo, which is an event designed to preview the food that will be served at inauguration time in January.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Capitol Lounge-- Capitol Hill

Another Sunday, another Lions loss.

Today started as a nice, lazy Sunday... since the Redskins play on Monday Night Football, we were able to sleep in (extra hour for daylight savings-- woot woot!), go out for breakfast, and generally hang out all day. I was listening to the Lions on the radio online, and at halftime, the Lions were actually WINNING! So we thought-- hey, let's go watch the rest of the game!

We ventured out to Capitol Lounge on the Hill and staked out a seat at the bar. Not surprisingly, the Lions weren't on any TVs, but the nice bartender lady switched the game on for us. Also not surprisingly, the Lions had one of their usual epic 4th quarter collapses. Sigh.

But, on to more important matters. If we're watching football, we gotta get some beer and pizza. We ordered a pie with mushrooms and onions, and Gary got a Capitol Amber beer.

This pizza was huge-- eight large slices, and we only ate half and were stuffed. The crust was a little floppy, which is a pet peeve of Gary's. The cheese was a tad on the rubbery side. And there was a good helping of grease on the pizza, making napkins a necessity after every bite. The toppings were pretty tasty, though.

As for the Amber... Gary says, "it was okay... it was beer." Not something to write home about, apparently.

As a football watching venue, Capitol Lounge was a little... strange. There were a lot of TVs, but several of them were teeny tiny. For some reason they attracted the most uninspired fans I have ever seen. We sat next to two Titans fans who were watching the thrilling ending of their game against the Packers, and all these guys could muster was, "Hmmm, well, they really need to get into position so Bironas can kick a field goal." And after the winning field goal was kicked? "Cool man, we're 8 and 0." Come on people, where's the passion?!?! I was getting more fired up about my 0-8 team, geeeeeeeeeez!

Liza and Gary's rating: 1.5 stars

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Uno's at Union Station-- Capitol Hill

The economy's tanking, folks, so Liza and Gary's weekly date night is getting scaled down. This means that this week, we went for dinner and a movie at Union Station. At least we didn't get take out pizza at the food court-- we went upstairs to Uno for a sit-down meal. But, we did forgo the alcohol. You know that these are tough economic times when I pass up a chance for a nice adult beverage with a pizza pie!

I used to adore Uno's, and I was all excited last year when Top Chef did a "create a deep dish pizza" challenge at the restaurant. But, the pizza there is getting more and more disappointing. We split a deep dish pie, and it was okay, but pretty much flavorless. It made me wish I was back in Maui at BJ's. (Well, there's lots of reasons I'd rather be in Maui, but that's just one of them.)

Uno's is phoning it in.

Liza and Gary's rating: 2.0 stars

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coppi's Organic Restaurant -- U Street

We finally made our way back to Coppi's, located in the U Street area in Washington, D.C.

Now as soon as you walk into Coppi's, you are assaulted with photos of bicycles and bike races, as well as racing jerseys, all over the wall. Forgive our ignorance, Italians! Both Liza and I were perplexed on this. What's up?

Now I knew that the Italians were big on cycling, thanks to one of my all-time favorite movies--a true classic!--"Breaking Away" directed by Peter Yates in 1979. The main character, played by Dennis Christopher, idolized the Italian race team.

He signed up for a cycle race at Indiana University, and he recruited his three friends, played by a very young Dennis Quaid, a very young Daniel Stern and, of course, Jackie Earle Haley who was best known as Kelly Leak from the 1970s "Bad News Bears" movies.

They were called the Cutters, because they cut school apparently, and they showed those rich, arrogant college jerks a thing or two about guts, grit and heart. *Pounds Chest* This is a 4 star movie, folks.

Back to Coppi's--the restaurant. As soon as we got home, I googled Coppi and discovered Fausto Coppi was a legendary Italian cyclist from the 1940s and 50s. He twice won the Tour de France. He won the Giro d'Italia five times.

So Coppi's is essentially a shrine to good 'ol Fausto. Bonus points to Coppi's for uniqueness. The restaurant has a very Italian feel, an authentic feel. It's a little dark, but that adds to a warm atmosphere. We like.

We sat down and ordered an obligatory glass of wine. We each ordered a salad and decided to split the Melanzane, which includes roasted eggplant, cremini mushroom, and red pepper, with smoked mozzarella and baby artichoke.

Now sometimes when you eat eggplant, it can taste somewhat bland. For example, when I eat eggplant parmigiana, I usually pour on the gravy (that's what the Italians call red sauce) because eggplant doesn't always have a distinct flavor.

The lack of flavor was noticeable in Coppi's Melanzane. There wasn't any sauce, so regrettably this pizza wasn't very tasty. Couldn't taste the 'shrooms or the red peppers. The smoked mozzarella was the only discernable flavor.

Crust was fine, but the pizza was a little droopy as well.

Maybe the chef was having an off-night. Both Liza and I have been to Coppi's before, in the pre-Blog era, and found their pizza to be high quality.

Coppi's gets bonus points for going organic with its food. They offer only the freshest "in season" ingredients in their food, which is good. Their food is inspired from the Ligurian Riviera in Northern Italy. I shrug. "Never heard of it," Liza says. Forgive our ignorance, Italians!

We'd go back to Coppi 's for the atmosphere and authenticity, but in terms of taste, Coppi's Melanzane pizza was lacking on this day.

Gary's Rating: 2.5 stars
Liza's Rating: 2 stars

Arrivederci!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

$2500 Pizza?!?

Yes, a family was charged $2500 for a pizza at none other than Pizza Hut. Admittedly, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Pizza Hut's greasy disgusting deliciousness... but still. 2 Gs? I think not.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why I Love Carolyn Hax

From today's chat on the WaPo:

washingtonpost.com: Passing along a request from our Food Section friends
-- Do you love food but your significant other doesn't? Or vice versa? Does it
cause frustration/arguments when one of you wants to eat in a fancy restauarant
or cook a monumental dinner and the other would be just as happy with a pizza?
The Food section is working on a story and is looking for D.C.-area locals who
face this problem. If interested, please email your story, name and contact to food@washpost.com.

Carolyn Hax: Why fight when there's a clear compromise? A monumental
pizza.

Sequoia-- Georgetown Waterfront

I can't tell you how much I love the last two weeks of August in DC. Congress goes on vacation and the city clears out. You can get a table at any restaurant in the city. You can find a seat on the Metro. And yes, dear readers, you can even find street parking in Georgetown. We're talking, multiple spaces, people!

And the last week in August also brings another special occasion-- my birthday. Imagine my chagrin when I looked at the Redskins schedule and saw that they had a boring, meaningless, stupid preseason game scheduled on my birthday. This, of course, means that Gary had to work. BOOOO. But-- a light in the darkness! My friend Nicole chose that day to have a party for her own 30th birthday. So, I took advantage of this small window of parking opportunity to drive down to Sequoia to help her celebrate.

I'd never been to this restaurant, but I have to say it's one of the prettiest I've seen in DC. The large windows facing the waterfront and the Kennedy Center make it a beautiful place for a party. And, it was basically empty. (Did I mention I love this time of year??)

After perusing the menu, I came upon... pizza. They do a grilled variety, which I have already sung the praises of in this blog. Nicole ordered a margherita pizza, and I had to try a piece... strictly for blogging purposes, of course.

It had an oblong shape, evoking a New Haven-style pie. It had nice smoky grill marks on the bottom of the crust. But the pizza tasted... okay. Nothing to get excited about. Nicole said that it tasted like "one of those pizza kits you get at the grocery store for $4.99." That's not exactly what I would call a rousing endorsement.

My advice: go to Sequoia for the view, not for the pizza.

Liza's rating: 1.5 stars

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mexican Pizza!


We had dinner at Steph and the Chef's last night, and they made Mexican pizza. It sounds kinda strange... but this stuff was awesome. This was an Emeril recipe and it was fantastic!
This also gives us an opportunity to plug our new blog: Guinea Pig Dinners. Our friends and I will try out new recipes on each other, and blog about the results. The first dinner had a Mexican theme. Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pizza-Making Fun!

Liza's brother and his family are visiting from Detroit this week. In between visits to the Capitol, White House, Air and Space Museum, etc, they came over to our house for dinner tonight. On the menu... well, PIZZA, of course! Our niece Erin became an expert pizza maker. Her explanation is here:

video

Our pizzas turned out beautifully!


This time, we made the dough from scratch using the snazzy Kitchenaid stand mixer we got as a wedding gift. This is the recipe we used, and it worked well! If you don't have a stand mixer, just knead by hand.

KitchenAid Crusty Pizza Dough
Source: KitchenAid Mixers Recipe Book
Yield: one 14-inch pizza

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 F to 115 F)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour
cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl. Add salt, olive oil and 2 1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes.

Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, fee from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down.

Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil; sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan forming a collar around edge to hold filling. Top with desired fillings. Bake at 450 F for 15-20 minutes depending on oven.

NOTE: We divided the dough to make three small pizzas. We baked it at 500 F on a pizza stone for 7 minutes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chef Geoff-- Downtown

Ahhh, I love the summer. It's the time of the year for the beach, barbecues, and basically doing all those things that I'm not able to do during the school year. For me, this means being a Lady Who Lunches. So, Steph and I decided to put on some cute Ladies Lunching outfits, grab our sassiest purses, and head out to Chef Geoff's for a weekday meal and a nice glass of wine.

And while it may not be a Lady Who Lunches thing to do, I decided I would partake in one of their pizza pies.

Actually I thought the pizza tasted okay. But I have to say, the presentation left something to be desired. It was a good sized pizza, but it looked like the cheese and veggies had just been slopped on there as an afterthought. This was offensive to my pizza loving sensibilities. If you're going to put it on the menu, then you have to RESPECT THE PIE.

Liza's rating: 2.0 stars

Sunday, August 3, 2008

BJ's Chicago Pizzeria-- Maui, Hawaii

Well, we're back from our honeymoon and frankly, we wish we were still there. Maui and Kauai were both incredible. But, we had to come back to DC sometime, because our beloved blog was being sorely neglected.

But you wouldn't expect us to spend a whole vacation without trying at least one new pizza place, would you? Of course not.

So, one night when we were in Maui, we ventured out to Lahaina town for dinner. We were told that the best pizza there was at a place called BJ's. Don't have to tell us twice-- we were all over it.

Bj's has Chicago style, deep dish pizza. Now, I absolutely LOVE a good deep dish pie. Gary is not as much of a fan, but he was game.



This is kind of a blurry picture (but you can see Gary's wedding ring glinting in the background... awwwwww) but it shows how this pizza has stewed tomatoes on the top-- yummy. The crust was fabulous and it was hot and gooey, just like a good deep dish pizza should be.

I was a huge fan. Gary liked it, but Chicago style is not really his thing. But, we'd both recommend this pizza place if you are lucky enough to find yourself in west Maui!

Liza's rating: 4.0 stars
Gary's rating: 3.0 stars

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Your favorite bloggers are gettin' HITCHED!

That's right kids, your favorite pizza bloggers are off to get married! I'm heading out to Detroit tomorrow, and Gary will be flying there on Tuesday... and then next weekend... we're tying the knot! So, the blog will be on hiatus while we're getting ready for the wedding and going to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We'll have lots of pizza adventures to share when we return, I'm sure... till then, have a great summer and keep eating PIZZA!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Grilled Pizza-- Verdict = Yummmmmmmmmmmm


This week we found out that our friends Steph and the Chef were making some pizza on the grill, so naturally we invited ourselves over to partake in the taste-testing. Turns out that grilled pizza is delicioso! Check out this pie: mushrooms, artichokes, red pepper, and mozzarella cheese. It tasted as good as it looks!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer's here... time for grilled pizza!

Gary and I just went to our first BBQ of the summer on Memorial Day, and we're looking forward to more food on the grill throughout the summer. We might need to try out some grilled pizza... check out this great article in this morning's Washington Post.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jumbo Slice-- Adams Morgan


Is there anything better at 2:00 AM than a Jumbo Slice? I think not.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pete's Apizza-- Columbia Heights

I'll start off this blog entry by saying that we know it's not really fair to review a restaurant the first week it's open. But we couldn't wait to try out Pete's Apizza, a new place serving New Haven style pizza. Gary and I have previously reviewed Comet Ping Pong, another local place that features New Haven pies... could Pete's measure up? Your bloggers were ready to find out!

We ventured out to Columbia Heights last Wednesday night. Even though it was only the third night it was open, Pete's was packed. All the tables were filled, people were standing around, and staff was running around frantically. We stood awkwardly at the door for a while until I finally asked another patron what the deal was. She said we needed to go up to the counter to order.

There's a large board with the menu above the counter, but unfortunately it was too small to read. Luckily there were takeout menus available, though. We decided that the prices for a full pie were a little steep ($20ish for an 18 inch), so we each got some cheese slices and a salad.

We got a number and found a seat, and runners came around with the pizza. The whole situation was pretty chaotic. Gary tried to get another slice at one point, but "5 minutes" for a New Haven pizza (white pizza with clams) to come out of the oven turned into 20... we finally left.

But these types of glitches are probably to be expected the first week. Unfortunately, the quality of the pizza suffered as a result. Our slices were cold and frankly, not very good at all. New Haven pizza is known for its crispy crust, but this crust was bland and undercooked. The sauce had a weird aftertaste. To me, this pizza was not at all reminiscent of New Haven pizza (and I lived there for two years, so I know what I'm talkin' 'bout!).

Hopefully Pete's can get some of its issues worked out in the coming months. Until then, Liza and Gary's rating is: Incomplete.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Capitol City Brewing Company-- Capitol Hill

Liza's middle school holds an annual Faculty and Board vs. 8th Grade basketball game every spring. So on April 18, she joined her spirited co-workers at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C. for the pivotal matchup.

Now the Faculty team consisted of fully grown men and women, including one gentleman who had to be 6-5 and 220 pounds. The 8th Graders were challenged in size, but they had speed and a few sharp-shooters. It's the classic matchup of size vs. speed!

It was the 8th Graders who rushed out to a 21-6 lead, nailing down three pointers to the delight of the parents in attendance. Finally, the Faculty figured out that if they walked the ball down the court and passed it to the big dude underneath the basket, this would be "Cupcake City, Baby!" (Dick Vitale homage.) The Faculty settled down and came back to take a 53-48 lead late in the fourth quarter.

But in the last few minutes, the Faculty collapsed and the 8th Graders scored the final nine points to win 57-53. Students and parents rushed the court in celebration! "Unbelievable, Baby!"

Ah, but this was all in good fun. After the game, Liza and I, plus three members of the Faculty, headed to nearby Capitol City Brewing Company on Capitol Hill, right across from Union Station, for a beer and a bite.

In terms of beer, we ordered as per our heritage. I had a Dark Irish Stout, while Liza ordered a Hefeweizen, a fine German beer.

Pizza was on the menu, and we decided to split a 12-incher. They only had three options for pizza, and we opted for the Vegetarian with 'shrooms, tomatoes, cooked onions and cheese.

I had low expectations for this pizza, as I figured it would be typical bar food.

I was right. This was sub-par pizza.

First of all, they had cut the round pizza into four big slices--which I hate. No matter the size, I like my pizzas to have more than four slices. Eight is normal, six is fine. But four? I feel ripped off, somehow.

In terms of quality, let's start with the crust. It was terrible. It was tasteless. This was an extra thin crust reminiscent of crust in store-bought pizza. (Elio's, anyone?)

I picked up my first big slice and the whole thing drooped, with the pizza toppings falling off. Arrrrgggghhhh!

The pizza had a good tangy taste courtesy of the tomatoes. But the carmelized onions didn't really add any flavor, strangely enough. And I could barely taste the 'shrooms. All in all, it was a very bland pizza topping on a terrible crust.

Liza agrees that "the crust of the pizza was horrible."

"It was like eating pizza on a tortilla," she said.

'Nuff said. Go to Capitol City Brewing Company for beer, not pizza.

Gary's Rating: 1.5 stars
Liza's Rating: 1.5 stars

Mia's Pizza -- Bethesda

A few weeks ago, Gary and I ventured up to Montgomery County to visit a financial planner as we get ready to join our money-- and lives!-- together. (Wedding in 70 days... wowza!) Since I've wanted to go there for a while, we took this as a great opportunity to head to Mia's for dinner.

I'd just like to note that traffic in Bethesda at rush hour is a nightmare. Okay, now that that's out of the way, on to pizza...

We got some salads, and split a margherita pizza (my favorite). We sat right next to the big wood burning oven, and the pizza came to us hot, topped with a little drizzle of olive oil around the crust right before serving. It was cut into four giant slices.

I enjoyed the pizza from Mia's. It had a nice crispy crust and good flavor.

Gary would like to note that Mia's had the nicest smelling restrooms he has ever encountered.

But what about the pizza? Gary feels that it was not that memorable. It was a nice pie, but didn't have anything "wow" about it.

All in all, we would go to Mia's again if we were up in Bethesda. Would we fight traffic to get there? Probably not.

Liza's rating: 3.0 stars
Gary's rating: 2.5 stars

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Great Pizza Cookoff!


This entry will be a departure for the blog... we're going to rate some homemade pizza! Gary and Liza were all jazzed about getting this shower gift: an All-Clad Pizza Stone. So, we decided to invite our bocce team over for a pizza cookoff... The Pizza Olympics, if you will. With 5 pizzas to sample, we felt like we had completed a pentathalon by the end of the night.

Each of the eight participants scored all pizzas (except his/her own)on a 5 point scale in the categories of flavor, creativity, and presentation with a possible total of 15 points.
Each team used the same dough, purchased from A. Litteri.

So without further ado, here are the challengers, their pizzas, and the average scores for each:

Liza and Gary's Butternut Squash Pizza

First up was our pizza. The pizza stone cooked the crust perfectly, if we do say so ourselves. It was crisp on the bottom and a little chewy on the side. We started by roasting some butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, yellow onions, and rosemary with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. We then put the cooked mixture on the pizza, added some pecorino and parmesan cheese, and baked for about 10 minutes. A little cornmeal helped slide the pizza on and off the stone.

Some of the comments:

"I didn't think I'd like it because I'm a picky eater... liked it more than I thought"

"Squash surprisingly delicious"

Average point total: 12.06

Shannon and Justin's Girl Pizza

Justin calls this a "girl pizza" because it doesn't have any meat on it. But it has lots of veggie goodness. Shannon started by precooking the crust for 5 minutes after sprinkling it with a little Italian seasoning. The pizza had a base of alfredo sauce. Next came a layer of spinach, lots o' cheese, onion, artichokes, and Roma tomato slices.
Comments ranged from "A lot of cheese! (too much for me)" to "YAY Cheese!" Liza thinks the spinach made this pizza.

Average point total: 11.66

Chef and Steph's Thin Crust Pizza

You may remember Neil (aka Chef) and Steph from a previous blog entry at Cafe Pizzaiolo in Arlington. They arrived and quickly got to work on crafting their pizza, a thin crust offering that was perfect
considering most pizzas were more on the bready side. Their pizza included roasted red peppers, tomato sauce, salami, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.
This was some fine 'za. First, it got consistently strong marks on presentation, including two 5s! The sauce had a tangy flavor that was accentuated wih the roasted red peppers and maybe even the salami.

Some of the comments:

"Good taste, but not enough cheese."

"Too salty."

Gary enjoyed this pizza a lot, so he wants to add that he liked this pizza better than the one at Cafe Pizzaolo!

Average Point Total: 11.66

"The Beast": Warren's Enchilada Pizza



As soon as Warren arrived, he quietly began work on his pizza concoction. Other competitors kept a wary eye as Warren laid on a base of enchilada sauce. Then he added some munster cheese, chicken, orange pepper...(woah, this pizza is getting wild and crazy)...red onion, green chiles and cheddar cheese.

He used the pizza stone to cook it in the oven. After 10 minutes, he pulled his concoction out and added fresh cilantro and dashes of sour cream. It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting...

Liza admitted she was a little scared of Warren's "Beast" before she took a bite. To her surprise, she liked it!

Warren's pizza drew big-time points for creativity. He earned a whopping six 5's for creativity, but also a 1. Like Liza, Gary was also pleasantly surprised at the pizza and definitely detected a Mexican flavor, which was the point. (Someone take this recipe to Banana Cafe!) Unfortunately, it appears Warren lost points for presentation after a mishap trying to get the dough on the pizza stone. However, the pizza stone was useful in another category-- the crust was excellent, and he earned solid marks for flavor... and that's what really matters.
Comments:

"How can something so hideous taste so good?"

"Loved the cilantro taste. It made the pizza."

Average Point Total: 11.24

Kate's Goat Cheese Pizza

By the time Kate's pizza came around, we were all pretty stuffed. Unfortunately, I think her scores suffered a bit as a consequence. However, she still had a pretty fierce pizza. It was a thin crust pizza with a base of tomato sauce and topped with red pepper, red onion, goat cheese, and parmesan. (A plan to add bacon was aborted at the last minute when it seemed that it didn't travel too well.) The goat cheese gave this pizza a nice tangy zip.

As one judge stated, "Goat cheese is the perfect dessert."

Average Point Total: 11.08





So overall, the pizza cookoff was a smashing success. Not a dud in the bunch! So, faithful readers, are there any pizzas here you might try at home? Do you have a favorite pizza that you like to make?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Adventures in Pizza Bloggerville

Hi faithful blog readers... we've been busy with all manner of wedding stuff, so we've been a bit neglectful of the blog. However, we have not been stopping our pizza travels! A couple of highlights (and lowlights):

On March 7, we traveled up to Gaithersburg to go to our Engaged Encounter weekend. Engaged Encounter is a program run by the Catholic Church where you go with your fiance and talk about your feelings and get all ready for marriage and stuff. Actually we thought the program was good, but even a lovey dovey couple like us have a limit to how much touchy-feely talk we can take.

Before we arrived at the lovely hotel, we stopped at a little place called Sam's Pizza and had some 'za. It was... eh. Your basic takeout pizza. Lotsa cheese and bland sauce.

It seems unfair to criticize this little hole-in-the-wall joint (which has plenty of other fare on the menu)...but...hey, if you serve pizza, you better be prepared to serve the best.

I (Liza) had the pleasure of going to Michigan for my spring break last week... my family threw me a really lovely shower. The best part: VEGGIE PIZZA was on the menu!

And not just any pizza, but Detroit style pizza. If you've never had a Detroit square, you absolutely must have one before you die. It's deep dish, but not Chicago style... it's better. Trust me on this. Look at this picture of pizza deliciousness!!


While I was in the Big D, I also stopped at Buddy's Pizza for lunch. This pizza ranks as one of my favorites of all time... if you ever find yourself in the Detroit area, stop in!

Back locally, Gary and I had a pizza from Bistro Italiano, in Capitol Hill near Union Station, a couple weeks ago. I was all jazzed to find a cute little Italian place in the neighborhood. We went there for dinner and saw about a million people come in for takeout pizza. I was optimistic--have we found our new neighborhood pizza place?

So we got takeout a few days later, and alas... not so good. In fact, it was kinda bad. It was a good-sized pizza, but the sauce had no flavor. The crust was floppy. We were bummed.

Sam's pizza: 1.5 star
Bistro Italiano: 1.0 star
Buddy's Pizza (Detroit): 4.0 stars

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sette Osteria -- Dupont Circle

Last Wednesday night, we ventured out to Dupont Circle... or as Gary likes to call it, "The Pont". Gary insists that all the cool people in NW DC call it "The Pont" (or maybe it's "Da 'pont", I'm not sure). If there is anyone in DC who actually refers to Dupont Circle as "The Pont" in normal conversation (or in any conversation for that matter), kindly raise your hand now.

Mmmmmkay, didn't think so. Anyway, we had been to Sette Osteria for pizza in our pre-blog days and thought it was excellent, so we figured it was time for another visit to see if it was still living up to its previous standards.

Gary ordered a melanzane (eggplant, roasted red peppers, onions) pizza-- he's a big eggplant fan-- and I got a pizza called La Regina. Okay, here's my quibble with Sette Osteria. They have a "margherita" pizza that has mozzerella, tomato sauce, and basil. The La Regina pizza has buffalo mozzerella, tomato sauce, and basil. Peeps, a margherita pizza is supposed to have buffalo mozzerella! I am just saying.

Inaccurate naming aside, the La Regina was excellent. The cheese was fabulous, it had just the right amount of sauce, and it was flavorful and sweet. The crust was nice and crispy-- almost a little too crispy in my opinion. I like when there's a little chewiness to the crust. It was good for reheating, though.

Gary was served some mushroom pizza. We knew it was a mushroom pizza because the waitress said, "Mushroom pizza" before putting it in front of him (well, actually in front of me first... it was all quite confusing). Gary said, "I had the melanzane" and the waitress said, "Yes, that's the melanzane." Gary, being a dude, just shrugged and dug in. (It's food, right?) As he was about to take a bite, one of the runners swooped in and took the pizza and gave him the right one. I'm not sure what happened to the 'shroom pizza, but I think it got served to the lady next to us. At least Gary didn't put a big ol' bite into it!

Gary's review of the melanzane pizza: "I thought the pizza tasted excellent. Mine had a strong red pepper flavor that I liked, even though it kind of dominated the eggplant. But eggplant doesn't really have a strong flavor anyway. The quality of the pizza was top notch."

Gary goes on: "I liked the crust a lot. It was crispy, and not overdone. I also liked that the menu had a 'history of pizza' section. Who doesn't need a little reminder of the history of pizza? I know I do."

Gary's rating: 4 stars
Liza's rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Busboys and Poets-- U Street

We wanted to go to Coppi on U Street for some afternoon 'za on a chilly Sunday, but it turns out that it doesn't open until 5 p.m. on Sundays. Who can wait? Not us.

Just down the street is Busboys and Poets, a place Liza and I have been to before for peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Yes, you read that right. Liza is a devotee of PBBs, and while the combination seems a bit odd, I can testify that it's a pretty okay sanny.

So we walk in to Busboys and Poets.

In an instant, we are smothered in urban hipness. Those who know me understand that I am not the hippest of people, but I try hard. Let me tell you, my hipness quotient improved dramatically just being in Busboys and Poets.

This place is way cool--a combination bookstore and cafe and bar and restaurant. If I were 20 years younger, I'd be hanging out here every day drinking four cups of coffee and shots of Bailey's Irish Cream. There are comfy sofas scattered throughout the main area, a spacious back room with more tables, free Internet, a steady rhythmic musical beat and racy art on walls. Oddly enough, the movie comedy "Captain Ron" (not a classic) was playing on the one flat-screen TV above the bar...Now one might think this movie starring Kurt Russell and Martin Short is not very hip, but in retrospect, it's perfectly eclectic.

Busboys and Poets is more than its offerings, though.

It's the people. These are urban hipsters, a mix of all races and identities. These are young pros focused intently on their laptops, typing up reports that will almost certainly change the world (or at least provide us with better cell phone service). Pretty much the only type of people you wouldn't find in Busboys and Poets are Republicans.

It's about 2:30 p.m. on a Sunday, and Busboys & Poets is packed. There's a 30-minute wait for a table! As mentioned previously, this place is spacious, so to see it packed at the time of day was surprising--and a tribute to the hipsters of the world.

Liza, who is hip already, guided me through a maze of people to the bar. We sat down and perused the eclectic menu. Listed last: Pizza.

We were all over it.

Liza and I spent time on Saturday on a Virginia wine-tasting tour, so neither of us were in the mood for alcohol. I ordered a Sprite and Liza ordered a Diet Coke. Not very hip, I know.

Our friendly bartender took our order: Poet Pizza. As a literary devotee, I like the sound of that. It had portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes and garlic sauce.

One bite, and thoughts of the world's great poets raced through my mind: Yeats! Frost! Baudelaire!

Seriously, this was surprisingly good pizza. Lots of mushrooms and peppers piled on top, with the tomato and garlic sauce giving it a good tangy taste. I wasn't really that hungry when I walked into the restaurant, but I couldn't stop eating this pizza. Good stuff.

The pizza was a little greasy--one time a slice fell apart after one bite, and there were grease blotches all over the bar. Amazingly, none got on my clothes. Also, there was more crust than usual.

I can overlook these flaws, though.

Liza: "I liked the flavorful sauce, but I wasn't a big fan of the crust. It wasn't crispy enough. I liked that we were able to pay--including tax and tip--less than $25 for the entire meal."

Liza and Gary's rating: 3.5 stars

Super Cool!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cafe Pizzaiolo-- Crystal City

We have been bad bloggers and have neglected updating our beloved pizza blog recently. A couple weeks ago (has it been that long?!?) we went to Cafe Pizzaiolo in Crystal City, which came highly recommended from our friends Steph and Neil, who accompanied us.

We got there at noon on a Sunday, which was right when they opened. Ours were the first pies out of the oven. We ordered a margherita pizza and a pesto pizza.

Both pizzas were excellent, with a crispy crust and tasty ingredients. The margherita did not have buffalo mozzerela, just regular ol' mozzerella, so that was a drawback in my opinion. The pesto was very flavorful.

Steph mentioned that the crust did not seem as crispy as it usually did-- she speculated that it was because it was the first pizza of the day... kind of like how the first grilled cheese or first pancakes out of the pan are never as good.

We followed up with some wonderful gelato, and then headed off to see a movie at Potomac Yards.

All in all, a very solid pizza.

Liza, Gary, and Neil's rating: 3 stars

Steph's rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Turkish Pizza!?! Cafe 8 -- Capitol Hill / Barrack's Row

Gary and I had one of our first dates at Ellington's on Eighth (awwww), so we were a little sad to see it go. In its place popped up Cafe 8, a Turkish / Mediterranean place. We'd heard some good things about it from friends, so on Friday night (aka "date night") we decided to give it a try.

I loved the decor of the place-- it is actually much more inviting than Ellington's was, with warm colors and candles everywhere. We had a cozy table by the fireplace.

So, how does a Mediterranean restaurant make it into the pizza blog, you ask? Because Cafe 8, we found to our delight, has Turkish pizza! They are called pides (pronounced PEE-days) and they are kind of a cross between a pizza and a calzone. The pizza dough is spread out, the toppings are put inside, and the edges are folded over so it has an oblong shape, kind of like a little canoe, or an calzone with an opening. Another thing that makes it different than a traditional pizza is that it doesn't have sauce, but many of the varieties have tomato in it.

We had a pide with eggplant, olives, and a traditional Turkish cheese in it. I thought it was excellent. The crust/bread was soft and buttery, and the cheese was mild but flavorful.

Gary's thoughts: "It was good... but a little too bready... although the bread was good."

Personally, I loved Cafe 8. From the little appetizers (falafel, stuffed grape leaves, hummus) to the salad (feta, cucumbers, and tomatoes), to the baklava for dessert, everything was tasty. And as an added bonus, the prices were quite reasonable, which is hard to find in this town. Gary liked it too, but was a little less effusive in his praise. He didn't think the pides were very "pizza-y".

Cafe 8 does have a woodburning oven, and they actually have regular pizza on the menu, too. So perhaps we'll have to visit again and try the traditional pies.

Our scores for the Turkish pizza:

Liza: 3.5 stars
Gary: 3.0 stars

UPDATE: I had a "regular" pizza at Cafe 8, and it was pretty... eh. 1.5 stars. Stick with the pides!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Matchbox - Chinatown

Saturday, January 19th was an important day for us. This is because 1-19-08 was designated "Liza and Gary's DAY OF FUN!!" (two exclamation points). Yes, it was going to be a day all about US. So of course, it included pizza! But we'll get to that in a minute.

The morning started out at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond in Chinatown. How is this fun, you ask? Well, because we were registering for gifts, that's why! This is why weddings rule-- you can actually go to the store, pick out stuff that you want, and then people go buy it for you. What the heck?!? This is the best thing since trick-or-treating, if you ask me. So we went around the store and Gary got to use this nifty little scanning gun to put all the stuff on the registry. (I think this was created specifically to get men into the store.) It was sa-weet... but I must tell you, even though it's awesome, even the greediest among us get a little gifted out after an hour or so of picking and scanning.

Seeing my enthusiasm starting to sag, Gary suggested we go around the corner to Matchbox to get some lunch. Pizza? I'm always in!

When I'm hungry I get a little grouchy, so the lunch did not start well when we had to wait for 20 minutes for a table-- not because there were no tables available, mind you, but because the hostess forgot about us. This is the kind of thing that burns me up, but Gary just laughed at me. Whatevs. (PS-- Gary said we didn't wait 20 minutes. Well... it FELT like 20 minutes, I'm just saying.)

But on to the pizza. We each got a (very yummy) salad and split a veggie pizza (are you sensing a veggie theme here?).

I thought the best thing about the pizza was the sauce. It was sweet but had a little bit of spicy zing to it. The vegetables had a nice roasted flavor. The crust, however-- I was not a fan. It was floppy and seemed rather undercooked, even though the edges were burnt. The crust didn't seem to rise at all. And-- the ultimate good crust test-- it did not reheat that well.

Gary described the crust as "rubbery and soft." He felt the sauce was a little too spicy. He did, however, like that the pizza was not too filling and left him ready to take on the rest of the DAY OF FUN!!.

So, feeling re-energized after our lunch at Matchbox, we went on to E Street Cinema to see Juno (two thumbs up), finish up our registry at BBB (we registered for a Dyson... YAY), head home for some movie watching (The Terminal with Tom Hanks... I give it an "eh"), and then out for drinks with friends that evening at a local pub.

All and all, a pretty damn good DAY OF FUN!!

But not the best pizza we ever had.

Gary's rating: 2.5 stars
Liza's rating: 2.5 stars

Armand's, Capitol Hill (Jan. 12)

Ahhh, football season is almost over. Five grueling months come to an end. What better way to celebrate than to watch the AFC and NFC Divisional playoffs...(Playoffs? We're talking..Playoffs? Playoffs?)...with pizza and beer!

So I huddled in for an evening of football and fun at Liza's lovely abode. We phoned in an order for Armand's, known for its Chicago-style deep dish pizza. And we drank Dock Street, an excellent Philadelphia beer not easy to find in these parts. Good stuff, I'm tellin' ya'...

For Armand's, we ordered a medium vegetarian pizza, which included onions, 'shrooms and green peppers. The pizza delivery dude arrived fairly quick, so kudos.

On to the pizza...I'm an east coast boy, so I've never been a big fan of deep dish 'za. This was the first time I had Armand's and it was quality. It had just the right amount of sauce, with good, sweet flavor, and toppings. Very tasty. I ate two slices and I was stuffed.

Liza, your thoughts? "I liked that the sauce was a little bit sweet. I like the deep dish pizza. It has a substantial crust, which makes it good for re-heating."

True to word, Liza ate the rest of the pizza the following day, and commented that it "re-heats well."

For takeout, Armand's proved to be a fine choice.

One last comment from Gary: A few hours after eating the pizza, I did not feel too well. I had to lay down (which was fine, because football was on). My tummy was gurgling. Could have been the beer, but I doubt it. Liza felt fine, though, so we'll give Armand's the benefit of the doubt.

Gary rating: 3 stars
Liza's rating: 3 stars