Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pizza, love, and happiness

I remember my mother telling me that I would outgrow my love of pizza, but I’m 27 now and it still hasn’t happened. On a day I had spent too much time walking around in the heat and wasn’t feeling well, a friend proposed going out for dinner. I didn’t know if the reason nothing she suggested sounded good was that I was feeling ill or if the things she suggested didn’t appeal to me. “What about pizza?” she asked. I shook my head and wrinkled my nose. “Okay, then something’s wrong with you. You always want pizza,” she told me. (I got very, very sick that night. Lesson learned: When it’s over 90 degrees even before you account for humidity, a walk from Dupont Circle to Georgetown to the Lincoln Memorial and back to Georgetown is a BAD idea, no matter how much water you drink.)


Instead of outgrowing my love of pizza, my taste in it just got more expensive. Back when we first started dating, The Husband and I would always go to Pizza My Heart on Pacific Avenue, where I would get a slice of the (thin crust) pepperoni pizza and a root beer. Now I make him take me out for a brick oven pie and wine. I think he wonders what happened to the cheap date he married.

Last weekend, after wandering around the Mall for the Kite Festival, we walked up to Kramerbooks so I could pick up a book I’ve been wanting. As we headed down the escalator into the Metro, I suddenly pointed out to The Husband that we were in the proximity of excellent pizza, and it was early enough yet that the wait for a table wouldn’t be horrible. At the bottom of the escalator we turned around and headed back up.

As I opened the door I realized that at 6 pm there was already something of a wait—40 minutes, unless we were willing to sit at the counter, the waiter said. The seats at the counter were completely empty. We weren’t going to argue with that.

We ordered the pizza and wine from the specials menu.We watched the folks behind the counter put together the pizzas—spreading tomatoes, sprinkling cheese, drizzling olive oil—while we sipped our wine. The cooks moved efficiently around the small work area, putting pizzas together, sliding them into the oven, pulling them out when they were ready, and quickly slicing them. We watched the fire burning in the oven and saw our pizza being pulled out. As we bit into our piping hot pie, I wondered why I didn’t eat an early pizza dinner at the counter every weekend. The pizza bianca, topped with mozzarella, fontina, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary was heavenly.

******

We (well, I) have carefully ranked our favorite pizza places in the Washington area, based on the quality of the pizza. I’m not going to be saying anything here that people who live in the area don’t already know, but I thought I’d put this out there:

The number one pizza place is 2 Amys. The pizza is absolutely fantastic—very much like the pizza we ate in Italy last spring. The crusts are perfect and the toppings are high quality and absolutely delicious. Once I chose a pizza from the specials menu, but for the most part I stick with the basic pizza margherita. I can’t argue with fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil. The only problem with 2 Amys is that it’s everyone else’s favorite pizza place, too, or so it seems. The first time we showed up, at 8 o’clock on a Friday night, we waited an hour and a half for a table. Now we only go for lunch or when we’ve put off doing anything about dinner until 10 pm on a weekend (which means we only wait twenty minutes to half an hour to be seated).

Second on our list is Pizzeria Paradiso, where we ended up on Saturday. I fell in love with this pizza before we moved to Washington, when we were here to attend graduate school open houses. It was one of the first times I’d had brick oven pizza, and I was absolutely starving, so I thought I had found the world’s most perfect food (well, after ice cream). The wait here is long, too, and after we discovered 2 Amys, I wondered why I was willing to wait so long. But I’ve been seated very quickly at lunchtime, at both the Dupont Circle and Georgetown locations. And, as it turns out, if you go early and sit at the counter, there’s no wait at all. Plus, I like the t-shirts worn by the staff: “Eat your pizza,” they say across the back.

We go to our third favorite pizza place more often than the other two. Faccia Luna has a couple of local branches, and we frequent the one in Old Town Alexandria. The pizza is consistently good, although I don’t think it’s quite as good as either 2 Amys or Paradiso. But we rarely have to wait for a table, especially not on weeknights. The big booths with high backs are a nice change from the little tables at our other pizza places, and they recently eliminated smoking in the bar area, which is awesome. An added bonus is that Faccia Luna has a lot of great pastas as well, so even if we don’t want pizza, we often end up here. Oh, and they have great root beer, if you’re not in the mood for wine.

13 comments:

Lauren said...

I am always surprised when I am reminded that the rest of the world hasn't banned smoking indoors. I'm in my happy little smoke free bubble.

Elizabeth said...

God bless that smoke-free bubble. I hate that when I go to a bar to watch a game I come home stinking like cigarettes. And in the winter I try to be careful to where a coat that isn't my every day coat when I'm going out to a bar with friends, so that I don't stink for the next week (or have to pay for the dry cleaning).

It was a shock to me when I moved here. Actually the shock came on the cross-country drive to get here when we stopped at a restaurant (I forget which state we were in) and the hostess asked, "Smoking or non?" I mean, WTF? Smoking? Indoors?

The District passed a ban on smoking in bars, but it doesn't go into effect until next January. And here in Virginia that will never happen, as far as I can tell.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Have you tried Coppi's on U Street between 14th and 15th Streets NW? If you have, what do you think? I've eaten there a couple of times and thought it wasn't bad, but maybe I haven't ventured out far enough into the pizza world.

Irina said...

2 Amys all the way. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Janet: I've never heard of Coppi's until now, but looking around at some reviews of it, I'm definitely going to give it a try.

Mary Tsao said...

I'm hungry.

matty said...

My family's resigned themselves to the fact that hamburgers are going to remain a favorite food of mine.

As for pizza, if you're ever in Long Beach, try Domenico's on 2nd Street. Delicious, thin crust pizzas.

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