Anyone been to Comet Ping Pong?
Yes, this is really the name of the new woodfired pizza place a few doors down from Buck's Fishing & Camping, and next door to Marvelous Market, on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase DC.
They have the neon sign up from the old Comet liquors in Adams Morgan. Anyone been and able to report?
Alternately, anyone know why Chef Greenwood seems to want to name all her restaurants after sporting pursuits not normally associated with DC (Fishing, Camping, Ping-Pong)? Perhaps we could look forward to Jai Alai Thai or Pole Vaulting Pierogies sometime in Greenwood's future?
I haven't been myself, but some close friends have and are friends with the team that did the interior space concept. They said the pizza is very good, and the ping pong tables in the back are lots of fun. Been meaning to make it over myself some time soon...
So far, this place seems to be a 'your mileage may vary' experience. I've been once and wasn't that excited about the pizza that I had, which was pretty puny (for the price) and not, in my opinion, better than the local champ, 2 Amys. Others have complained about the pitiful salads and the generally anti-customer feeling. On the other hand, this style of pizza is different than what is normally found locally, and a friend of mine raved about it (which is why I tried it).
Still, it might be too early to judge, and I'll probably try it one more time before I write it off.
Very expensive, meager portions, doughy pizza. I was offended by the lack of pricing information anywhere. What's up with that? Apparently if you have to ask, then you shouldn't go there. Don't worry, I won't go there again. Disappointing for people like me in the neighborhood who were looking forward to a new walking-distance venue.
If you search on here there has been some talk of it, plus Tom mentioned it today in the WP chat- I've heard fair to poor things about it.
This is not going to be the post/comment/review that I had expected to make; especially since I first heard about Comet's planned opening a year ago and their intention to make a "New Haven" style pizza. I love New Haven pizza. Over the years I have twice driven round trip from D. C. to CT just to eat pizza, returning the same day feeling the 800 mile roundtrip investment was more than worth it. Even when we had to stand in line on Wooster street for 60 or more minutes to get in. Over the last twenty plus years I have been to Pepe's, Sally's, The Spot and Modern at least thirty to forty times. I've even been to the "new" Pepe's in Fairfield, CT where they somehow found a way to open a "new" coal oven! I've also eaten coal oven pizza from the North End to north Jersey and to Philly while also eating pizza at da Michele, Trianon, Il Pizzaiola, La Pergola and De Lorenzo's, Old Forge, Dayton, Phoenix, Racine, East Ohio street and hundreds of other places obsessively searching for great tomato pie by that or a similar name.
My wife and I went to Comet tonight for the first time. This has absolutely nothing in common with any pizza in New Haven that I am aware of. It actually was more similar to a kind of irregularly shaped, moderately thin crusted focaccia than it was pizza. It had tomato puree squirted on it from a plastic condiment container and was baked in a wood burning oven (as opposed to a coal oven where lumps of coal burn alongside the pie as they do in the three Wooster street pizzarias in New Haven). The result is an overall thicker crust that suffers from a lack of sufficient kneading and stretching although it is correctly charred. The interior of the pie is delicious. But 60-70% of it outside of this interior is so thick crusted that it detracts from the overall pleasure of the pie. At Pepe's and the other coal oven pizzarias in New Haven (Modern is a wood burning oven) we eat the charred edge of the crust. At Comet we left almost half of the pizza on the table. All of it from around the edge.
At Sally's the pizza maker spreads the chunks of fresh, overly ripe tomatoes with the open palm of his hand, picking out the tough spots that he feels. At Pepe's they use the back of a metal ladle where the pizza man "feels" the chunks as the ladle "bumps" over them; when he finds them he picks them out. The Spot is similar. At Comet they literally squirt tomato puree on from a plastic container. Just like ketchup. For me it is a real loss that several thousand pounds of tomatoes have been purchased and "put up" from Pennsylvania. The puree that is squirted on at Comet does not allow anyone to appreciate the taste or texture of these. In New Haven it is easy to taste the tomato and the flecks of fresh basil which Comet doesn't have either. Nor does Comet use anywhere near the amount of oil that the New Haven pizzarias do. I watched the baker at Sally's squirt olive oil on a pie for almost 10 seconds without stopping from a similar plastic bottle. At Comet I noted a few seconds, a "sprinkling."
Fresh mozz is a big deal in New Haven. It may be, too, at Comet. But the taste doesn't come through as it does in Connecticut. I remember arguments from "old timers" standing in line at Pepe's for why a particular pie wasn't quite "right." Both of them agreed the mozzarella wasn't quite as flavorful, quite the same as what they typically expected. For a New Haven pizzaria the mozz that goes on a pie is roughly similar to the mozz that we would search for to put on Heirloom or fresh in-season tomatoes with fresh basil. They expect to use similar quality on their pizza.
I didn't taste it on Comet's.
I'm sorry. Comet has a great atmosphere, a great personality-it felt like a room that would have the pizza of my dreams. But we left feeling that they were showing disrespect to New Haven pizza (yes, disrespect!)with an irregularly shaped, thicker crusted small pie that spoke more of Connecticut Avenue and less of New Haven. We also wondered how many would go there and think that New Haven pies were typically like this, that this "style" would explain the unusual almost foccacia like pie.
On a Saturday night at 7:30 with the restaurant half full we left hungry. The pies are small. Very small if you don't eat the half inch thick edges of the crust.
There are no prices listed anywhere-although the metal framed blackboard used to list the pizza options is copied from Pepe's. A carafe of decent Chianti was a surprising $26.00. We also wondered why they didn't open earlier than 6:15, not at the announced 6:00PM. Perhaps they should have a sign outside-any sign to let someone driving, even walking by know what this place is. They might also answer their phone with the name of the restaurant rather than just "hello-" when they decide to answer which is not very often in the daytime. Of course when they don't answer there is no recording. Frankly, it almost seems like an affectation of sorts to me that this restaurant has no sign, opens later than announced, rarely answers their phone in off hours (while regular hours are shorter) and doesn't list their prices anywhere.) On Tom's Chat today this was noted:
What's your prediction for this place? Will people put up with this nonsense? Will they clean up their act and be a wild success? Or will they flop?
Tom Sietsema: The neighborhood desperately wants Comet to succeed. So far, I'm not getting great feedback about either the food or the service. When you're just doing one thing, though, you really ought to do it well, right?
For myself this is the least user friendly restaurant that I know of in the entire D. C. area. Apparantly I am not alone in feeling this. A shame, though, since the pizza has potential. They make a very good pie for whatever it's source is. But it is not New Haven. It is Connecticut avenue. A long way from New Haven. Or Napoli. And in need of management/ownership that cares what their customers think.
re: Joe H
I live in the neighborhood and went by to support it, Joe, but my dim conclusion stands despite my neighborly view towards supporting a new eatery. The tiny pies are just not very good, the salads are the same, and the price you must pay for what you get (including the indifferent wine selection) is unconscionable.
Also, I can't agree that Comet has a great atmosphere or great personality. Friends of a different ethnic persuasion were ignored and treated very shabbily until I showed up. That's unforgivable.
I sat at the bar and got really good service -- or at least some free wine refills and sincere apologies for how long the food was taking.
The pizza was ... fine. Nothing special at all.