In between last year’s Burger Bracket and this year’s Cupcake Cup, Washingtonian’s Best Bites Blog put together something they called the Pizza Pool. They pit thirty-two DC-area restaurants who serve up pizza as one of their main menu items against one another. The goal? Settle once and for all the question of who’s got the best slice (jumbo or otherwise) in Washington.
As you might expect, their brackets didn’t exactly put the question to bed. Like always in these online ballots, the establishments with the biggest email lists (usually the most corporate competitors) and the folks with the most rabid following tended to overshadow those who simply turn out quality pizza without the fanfare. And it’s a pretty safe bet that most people who voted didn’t bother to go out and sample every competitor before picking their winner.
But I digress. Regardless of who ultimately won the Pizza Pool (it was Flippin’ Pizza, by the way), questions of ultimate pizza mastery remain. And for those of us in Alexandria, they’re going to get a lot harder to answer in the next year.
After 27 years, Bugsy’s is about to get some real competition on King Street.By mid-summer you’ll be able to satisfy your cravings for a tasty, brick-oven pizza with just a few blocks’ walk no matter where you are on King Street. Chalk it up to another case of great minds thinking alike, but two of Washington’s more popular pizza concerns are planning to open new locations on Old Town’s main drag within the next few months.
Assuming everything goes to plan, the first of these new pie places will be opening sometime next month in the 900 block of King. RedRocks Pizza Napoletana, named for the classic Neapolitan-style pies they’ll be turning out, is gearing up for an April launch. They’ll be bringing their full menu of red and white pizzas ($8.95 to $12.95 each) with them from Columbia Heights, along with antipasti, salads, sandwiches and Italian plates. With a commitment to D.O.C. style pies (think 2 Amys), they definitely raise the bar for King Street pizza.
They’ll have about three months to establish themselves in the area before they get some heavy-hitting competition down toward the waterfront. Ruth Gresser will be bringing the third location of Pizzeria Paradiso to a space in the 100 block of King. She’s shooting for a July opening, and her new location will expand even further on the Birreria concept that has made the Georgetown and Dupont Circle locations big hits. We can almost taste the Bottarga pie already…
For now, however, we’re trying to expand our own pizza-eating horizons. We were lured by a coupon to check out zPizza, an option I had looked upon with some skepticism before. Maybe it was all of the claims about fresh and mostly organic ingredients, but something had my bullshit meter reading off the charts. This is pizza, after all…do we really need to be looking for single-origin heirloom Roma tomatoes to have a good time?
Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t. I’m just here to tell you that we ended up having a great time with the Napoli and the Casablanca, a basic red pizza made in the Margherita style and a white pie with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and feta. The tomato sauce and the crust were both certified as organic. Though I might not be able to pick out the organic ingredients from their generic counterparts, I was still taken by the depths of flavor that came from these relatively innocuous components. They also offer a gluten-free crust and a fully vegan pizza, both of which are rarities here in DC.
ZPizza is a bit pricey – more expensive than Dominos or Papa John’s – with $10 smalls and $21 large pizzas. Our nearest location is about a fifteen minute drive away, but it’s easier to have them deliver (if you can meet their pre-set spending limit). But if you’re lucky enough to be have a zPizza nearby, you’re able to check out the pizza just as it’s coming out of the oven. And there are few things in the world that are more addictive than pizza as it cools.