October is National Pizza Month. It’s a pointless designation for a food we eat more than any other. Every month is National Pizza Month. Anyway, we haven’t published a Best Pizza in DC feature since 2015. The slice scene has changed.
Now eat some pizza. It’s National Pizza Month so you have an excuse.
Best Authentic Thin Slice: Vace Italian Delicatessen
A lot of people I know swear by Vace’s in Cleveland Park. I’m not one of those people, but in a city devoid of simple thin slices you’d find in places that start with New and end with City, Vace’s is hard to beat. Vace offers complexity through simplicity, with each crispy thin slice slathered in homemade tomato sauce. In fact, the tomato sauce is so good that the play is usually to order extra. Few places in the city retain such an authentic aura, which makes sense since Vace’s has been doing this since 1976. As unassuming as Vace’s is, there pizza is assuredly not. -Ruben Gzirian
Best Chain Pizza Not in DC: Jet’s Pizza
Listen, there’s a strong case to be made for Detroit style as the best pizza varietal in the game. Thick, but not over the top like the Chicago-style casseroles; crispy, but not borderline flimsy messmakers like the big greasy boys of NYC. They’re square works of art, offering up a perfect ratio of crust to topping, a fluffy, no bullshit pizza that’s perfect for late night drunk feasts and low-key movie nights at home alike.
Enter Jet’s, a mid-sized chain of Detroit-style pizza joints that got it’s start in Sterling Heights, MI, a Motor City suburb, opening its first location forty years ago. Since then, they’ve opened over 300 locations across 20+ states, the majority of which stretches across the Rust Belt of the Midwest and East coast. The capstone of their small, relatively gimmick-free menu is the 8-corner pizza, two square pies cut into four slices apiece, slid into a big rectangular box. With Jet’s, every piece is a corner piece and it just absolutely rules. There aren’t a lot of specialty pies or novelty preparations, just big, crispy slices of perfectly prepped pizza.
Sure the closest Jet’s to DC is a three plus hour drive South to Virginia Beach, but consider this an official appeal to all those looking for a franchise opportunity in the DC area: Jet’s is good. Very good. Their pizza is good and inexpensive and doesn’t rely on over-the-top marketing stunts or meme-baiting stunt pies. It’s just good pizza, you guys, and it’s time to bring the Jet’s movement to our nation’s capital. -Matt Byrne
Best Egyptian Pizza: Astor Mediterranean
I did not have Egyptian pizza until I tried Astor. I haven’t seen it on any menus since. It’s the thing that keeps me going back to the Adams Morgan Mediterranean casual restaurant.
Astor is not known for their pizzas. They don’t mention their pizzas on the front page of their site. Most people go for the falafel or Baba Ghanooj or lamb kabob. I do too. But the pizza is what sets the place apart.
The Egyptian pizza features eggplant, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and feta on their square-cut crust. It’s the middle ground between basic staples and flash in the pan gimmicks. The pizza is well balanced and enough for multiple meals. Slices aren’t offered so you’re going home with a lot of food.
If you want a standard pizza, don’t go to Astor. If you want pizza that may not be what you’re thinking as pizza, go to Astor. And you have to go. They don’t deliver. -Brandon Wetherbee
Best Happy Hour Pizza: Ghibellina
Lets face it, D.C. is an expensive place to exist in. Just this past week, I stopped by for a casual dinner at a restaurant that bills itself as “a neighborhood hang-out” and 2 glasses of wine, 2 entrees and a small appetizer later it was a hundred dollar bill that stared us down the face. So, to go to a quality establishment, eat quality food, drink quality drinks and make it out with less than $25 a person AT ANY POINT IN TIME is a win these days, in this city. Ghibellina’s happy hour starts at 4pm Monday – Thursday, and 3pm Friday – Sunday, and includes reasonably priced quality beverages (beers are 3 for a half pint, 6 for a pint, wines are 6, which are essentially the two things one consumes alongside pizza) and $10 pizzas, which are decently sized enough to share. The pizzas are not only priced in the realm of Domino’s, but are of the blistered crust, quality red sauce, super thin Neapolitan quality that one used to have to venture out to 2Amy’s for. They are around $20 during non happy hour times which is still ok for a pizza you DEFINITELY CANNOT make at home, but at happy hour it is a deal of the century (in D.C. speak). I recommend going with a classic- the Margherita with beautiful fresh basil and mozzarella di buffala, or the Salsiccia e Cippola which comes loaded with sausage, roasted onions, provoleone, peperoncinos and grana padanos. Or, you know, get both. -Svetlana Legetic
Best Modern Pizza: Timber Pizza Co.
Once served out of a food truck at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market, Timber Pizza finally got a brick and mortar establishment in Petworth in 2016. It’s since been turning out some of the best pizzas in DC, and for good reason: those early farmer’s market days instilled in the owners a sense of the now-ubiquitous hyper-local, hyper-seasonal ethos, meaning your pies could be topped with whatever ingredients look good that week to the chefs. That could mean roasted sweet potatoes and local ricotta; cured chorizo and spicy honey; or slow-roasted pork, cilantro, and pineapple. Even better, you can order a ‘half-and-half,’ perfect for trying more of the menu. But please, please get at least a half of Timber’s famous Green Monster, topped with pesto, fresh mozzarella, salty feta, zucchini, and kale. Even I, a red sauce purist, can admit this is one of the best pizzas in the city. -Logan Hollers
Best Neopolitan-style Pizza: Menomale
A true Neapolitan pizza should never come sliced. Some scissors, sure, but pre-cut? Nah. Menomale knows this…though it’ll slice a pizza for you if you ask nicely. This Brookland neighborhood spot uses ingredients specifically sourced from the Campania region of Italy and are DOP certified (DOP is short for “Protected Designation of Origin,” and serves as a guarantee that the food was made by local farmers and artisans, using traditional methods). In keeping with tradition, Menomale’s classic-style pizzas use only 00 flour, artisan Italian cheeses, San Marzano tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil. Go for the Di Ettore (the Chef’s Special, obvs): fior di latte mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula, prosciutto di parma, grana padano, and extra virgin olive oil…as Italian as it gets. -Logan Hollers
Best Pizza Condiment: Hot Sauce
Yep, hot sauce. It might seem obvious, and it is, but not every story is an underdog story. Sorry, ranch. Hot sauce wins for simplicity and versatility. No matter what your tolerance level is, there’s probably a hot sauce for you.
And I’m not going to be one of those pain olympics dudes from YouTube that knows the names of hot peppers like they’re Pokemon that condescends to a Sriracha user. There’s a lot of varieties because, you know what? There’s a lot of different people out there. We all have different tastes. We’re all just working our way through our lives at a job we know is beneath us to come home to a cramped apartment. We don’t need our hot sauce hurt us.
Pick your own. I’m going with Crystal because it’s the sauce of the people, but you do whatever.
Honorable Mention: Garlic Powder (If your pizza place doesn’t have garlic powder in a little shaker, call your congressperson) -Joe McAdam
Best Pizza for Beer Lovers: Pizzeria Paradiso
There are good restaurants with great beer, and there are great restaurants with good beer. This is the natural order of things. It is one or it is the other. If someone speaks of a great restaurant with great beer, they are likely in possession of questionable taste or spinning tall tales.
But if there is an exception to this rule, it is Pizzeria Paradiso – a living, breathing minotaur, conveniently located in four (and soon-to-be-five) locations.
Founded by Ruth Gresser in 1991, Pizzeria Paradiso is a DC-area institution. First and foremost, of course, was the pizza: Neapolitan style, rustic, crusty, with a light char. The beer program followed in full force some fifteen years later, when Gresser entrusted Thor Cheston to turn the basement of the Georgetown location into Birreria Paraidso, his tribute to Monk’s Café and one of the city’s most influential beer bars.
The subterranean spot is now a brightly colored, hip game room, but the idea of Birreria Paraidso – an accessible, unpretentious, homey environment for amazing beer – has been carried on by subsequent beverage directors and integrated into the entirety of restaurant group. Now under the watch of the ceaselessly enthusiastic Drew McCormick, Pizzeria Paradiso’s beer program remains an elite option for both trendy brews, like new-school IPAs and fruited sours, and classic, less-heralded styles from home and abroad.
The pizza is still the pizza, and it has fueled the expansion of this modest empire. The options aren’t overwhelming in scope or design: just 13 or so 9-inch treatises on the importance of good ingredients. If you must know, the Genovese (pesto, potato, Grana Padano) and Macellaio (house tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, red onions) are personal favorites, but you’re more likely to find me rolling the dice on the rotating pizza of the week.
Naturally, with a beer in hand. -Phil Runco
Best Pizza in DC: 2Amys
Long hailed (rightfully, and with good reason) as one of the best Neapolitan pies in DC, pizza lovers were understandably devastated when 2Amys had a pipe burst in July, flooding the basement and shutting down the Cleveland Park mainstay for months. Good news, y’all: 2Amys has been back open for the last few weeks, and has proven better than ever. Of course you’re there to test out the list of daily specials, featuring home style, yet innovative, Italian snacks like fried anchovy bones, bottarga, or charcuterie; and of course you’re going to try out the new dry-aged steaks, cut from the whole dairy cow that 2Amys gets every month from a Mennonite farmer in Pennsylvania. But the real draw, the true reason pizza fans are jacked the doors are open once again, are the blistered, wood-fired pizzas coming out of the renovated oven. A perfect crust, leopard spots and all; the brightest, freshest tomato sauce in DC; and a tight, concise list of perfectly-matched toppings – those are the reasons that 2Amys maintains its hold on the title of best pizza in DC. -Logan Hollers
Best Pizza Place That Deserves Better Google Search Results: Comet Ping Pong
Comet has something for everyone, and for a place that caters to the DIY and punk music sets as well as it does to families, that’s good enough for me. The Chevy Chase restaurant and music venue has a wide range of pies on the menu, from your classic Margherita to some pesto-based creations that look like a garden on a plate, and it’s all better than decent. It’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had, by any means, but Comet makes it easy for the whole group to find something they’ll enjoy. You can down some decent quality brews, maybe squeeze in some ping pong, and then melt your face off with live rock and roll – all before midnight. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
Best Pizza with a Shot & Beer: Bacio Pizza
As a standalone pizza, Bacio’s on Seaton Place in NW is already a top-contender. Despite being slightly overpriced (what isn’t in DC?), Bacio’s pizza is hand-tossed into near perfection with a list of curated toppings that make sense. While Bacio does not deliver, they do make an exception if you order one of their pies from the nearby Showtime Bar. I don’t know how this agreement came to be but I thank the gods every time I have a hot Bacio Bloomingdale pizza (prosciutto, cherry tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato sauce) delivered to me right before I dive heavy into a night of whiskey shots and Genesee Cream Ale.
Best Pizza Worth Traveling To Not in Chicago or New York City: Basile’s Pizza
Every true pizza lover has one: that magical slice that they count as the best they’ve ever had. The one you tell your friends about, even years later, and the one against which all subsequent slices are judged. For me, Basile’s Pizza in Hoboken, NJ is that elusive perfect slice. You won’t find it on any “Best Of” lists for New York City, and you’re unlikely to hear about it from the learned pizza scribes. But I’m here to tell you – this slice will change your world. Directly across the Hudson River from Greenwich Village (and conveniently located a few short blocks from the Hoboken PATH station), Basile’s is a corner shop that puts out some of the best pizzas in the NYC metro area. An ideal ratio of salty cheese to a subtly sweet, acidic tomato sauce; fresh basil sprinkled over the top; and a genius dusting of fine bread crumbs on the bottom of the crust, this slice still haunts my memory, and has colored every slice I’ve had since. If you find yourself in New York City (or if you just want to take a quick trip from DC up north for some great pizza), Basile’s is more than worth the stop. -Logan Hollers
Best Vegan Pizza: District of Pi
District of Pi has been my favorite pizzeria for several years now, which explains why my favorite vegan pizza is also served by this St. Louis pizza joint. While District of Pi offers both deep dish and thin crusts pizzas, it is their deep dish versions that rule supreme. For those who do not like deep dish pizza I say you are not a true pizza lover because pizza is about carbs and deep dish has the most carbs of all. Of their pizzas, the Berkeley pizza makes for the best vegan pizza. It comes with melted daiya cheese, and a host a of flavorful toppings like meaty mushrooms, sweet red peppers, garlic, onions, and zucchini. It’s heavy and chewy and smells intoxicatingly good. My friend and I had an experiment where we got a Berkeley pizza half vegan and half with regular cheese and we could not tell the difference. That my friends is the sign of a good vegan pizza. -Priya Konings
Best Vegetarian Pizza: Inferno
I know it’s a schlep, but the best vegetarian pizza is actually in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Chef and owner Tony Comte opened up Inferno about two years ago; it’s a modest, 39 seat pizzeria with a wood fire oven and damn good pizza. His D.O.C. margherita may be the best, a shining example of how simplicity is the key to success. The doughy pizza comes piping hot from te oven, smothered in sweet tomato sauce, puddles of melted cheese and fragrant basil leaves. You can get it to go, but I would enjoy it there with a glass of red wine and freshly baked cookies for dessert. -Priya Konings
Best Way to Make Frozen Pizza Better: That Silver Packet of Liquid Cheese
OK, pigs, strap in. You’re already eating frozen pizza so, out of the gate I’m going to ask that no one judge one another here (except that part where I called you all pigs). I’m sure you all have your favorite brands, maybe you’re a Vito & Nick’s II customer, heck, you might think you’re classing it up with a California Pizza Kitchen pie. But if we’re getting real here, we’re not always going to be treated to our favorites. Sometimes, it’s Jack’s, and you’re gonna eat with a grimace on your face.
Well, you’re already down in the filth, why not wallow in it? Here’s what you do if you want to have a the most satisfyingly depressing pizza night: When you’re out buying your pizza, go ahead and also pick up one of those Velveeta Shells and Cheese boxes. You can make the shells or not, that’s really none of my business, but what is my business is that after you take the pizza out of the oven you keep that silver packet of liquid cheese by your plate and squirt some onto each bite of your pizza. It’s unnecessarily indulgent, it’s shameful, and it’s delicious.
If you’re a pro, you’ll leave the packet on the stove top to warm up before “dinner.” This pairs well with Diet Rite and watching one of those true crime shows about a kid that was killed. -Joe McAdam
Best Worst Pizza: Duccini’s Pizza
Sometimes, usually between the hours of “I’ve had too much to drink” and “why am I still drinking,” all you want is pizza. And when all you want is dough, cheese, and maybe toppings, Duccini’s on 18th is the place. All you really need to know about Duccini’s is (a) they also serve kabobs, falafels, and chicken wings, and (b) you can order individual cans of Coca-Cola as part of your order. This place is no-thrills unless you get your thrills from pizza that cares about impressing you as much as you care about where you end up eating it at 2 a.m. on a Friday. With that being said, Duccini’s is consistent and their pizza is actually pretty damn good; nothing feels rushed, nothing feels like an afterthought, and every bite satiates the part of you that only warm delicious pizza can. -Ruben Gzirian