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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?

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  1. 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...

    1. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: svt

        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.

      2. 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.

        1. I'll never go back . . . ever!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bonz

            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.

            1. 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.

              1. re: Bonz

                I wrote that about six weeks ago. I haven't been back since. The pizza margherita and the ice cream still justify a trip from Reston to northwest. Not Comet.

          2. 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.

            1. Pizza was pretty good. It was overpriced. I don't think I can justify going back when 2 Amy's is relatively nearby.

              1. Despite the warnings above I took the family and went this evening. The pizza actually struck me as much like homemade -- a better crust, but frankly, the small funny shaped pizza with strange sauced area to crust ratio was much like what we make at home.

                We had one plain cheese pie, one pepperoni, and one with ricotta and greens. The pies were definitely NOT new haven pizza, nor NY, nor neapolitan, nor were they yucky bready takeout pie. They were crusty chewy, misshapen, too small for the price, and tasted pretty good, but not knock your socks off, by a long shot.

                Ultimately my take is that its a good addition to the neighborhood, but really more as a place to go to play ping pong and get a pitcher of beer, with the small pizzas to split as an afterthought and not the main reason to go. It struck me as a very laid back place to go with friends to hang out and talk and not really a destination to go to for the food (though in this section of Northwest DC, its still better than average). Sadly, at $42 for three smaller-than dinner-plate sized pizzas, three sodas and a tiny glass of chianti, its not the kind of neighborhood joint that I'm really likely to got to regularly. I'm a little puzzled. I want to like it. I sort of liked it, but it wasn't close to being in the league of 2 Amy's or, for that matter, Vace.

                1. I have to admit that I find myself resenting the owners of Comet implying ANY association with New Haven. I almost believe they are trying to bring people in the door by mentioning a New Haven connection/inspiration/style. There are none of these. But we drove from Reston thinking that Wooster street had come to D. C. And, of course, it had not. If there had been no mention of "New Haven" we never would have tried it. Still, there are many people who will go there and think the amateurish, poorly stretched pie is suppose to be like this because of the "New Haven" association. Of course there is no connection; I only hope that those who wonder what "New Haven" pizza is all about will understand that Comet has prostituted what eighty + years have established in Connecticut. If you're going to claim that you were inspired or make something similar to the absolute best you have to deliver.

                  They haven't even loaded the car much less made the delivery.

                  1. You can tell it's not authentic New Haven pizza because it's misspelled. New Haven pizza is spelled "apizza" and pronounced "ah-beets!"

                    1. You couldn't pay me to go back to eat the garbage Comet calls pizza. Joe H described it well.

                      1. I just returned home from dinner at Comet, and I must say, I feel a lot like I did the first (and last) time I ate at Buck's -- hungry and irritated. We'd heard good things about the food and figured Comet must be a kid-friendly spot early in the evening, so we brought our kids along. But expecting Greenwood and co. to be family friendly (or, frankly, friendly to any customers at all) seems to have been expecting way too much. We should've seen the writing on the wall when, twenty minutes after placing our order, we had to ask if our salads could be brought out before the pizzas as we were really hungry, and still waited another fifteen minutes before the salads appeared. Hard to figure -- there are literally three items on the menu in addition to pizza -- two salads and a soup -- how hard could it possibly be to plate two salads and serve them when the customer has already had to ask for the food to be brought?! We then waited an eternity for the pizzas to arrive -- all told, I believe we waited about 55 minutes after ordering for the pizzas to be served. By the time they were served, we had asked the waiter repeatedly what was going on as we saw tables that were seated 20 minutes after us being served their pizzas. At one point, upon being told that we'd been waiting 45 minutes, the waiter's response was, "It happens." Nice ... So they started by offering $25 off of our meal and ended up comping the whole thing, but, frankly, who really cares about the free meal when the experience has been so unpleasant? We found the pizzas and salads to be quite tasty if tiny, the chocolate cake absolutely sublime, but none worth another night of agonizing slacker service. I do hope that Phyllis Richman (former Post food critic) enjoyed her meal, as her presence in the restaurant was the apparent excuse for the evening's service glitches.

                        1. No, I don't work at Comet.
                          No, I don't know anyone that does.
                          No, I don't have a piece of the pie (sorry, had to do it).

                          However, I don't understand all the bad press in these postings. I've been to Comet at least six or seven times since it opened and had nothing but good service, great pizza, and a good time.

                          Are my standards too low? I don't think so. I agree that the pizzas are small for the price. I guess if you want a large pizza for $10 you should order Domino's or Pizza Hut. That's their market. Pizza isn't cheap at any of the good pizza joints in the DC area.

                          I've never been to New Haven Conn. So I don't know what New Haven pizza is supposed to be like. However, I've spent time in Italy and I do know what pizza is supposed to be like. Comet does too.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chevychasemdguy

                            Seems like your opinion is in a distinct minority here.

                            Fascinating thread though. Why is this place trying to sell a distinct commodity (New Haven pies) that nobody seems to think is in any way authentically New Haven? It's like the M'Haute Dawg place peddling Chicago (and even halfsmoke) dogs when they just don't seem to have a clue as to what they're doing (cooking technique or toppings-wise). You can make the case that Acadiana isn't authentic cajun/creole, but it's not trying to be. They're "reinterpreting" a known quantity for a local audience. Comet just seems to be throwing some slop together, putting a big pricetag on it, and saying "support us because we're good for the neighborhood."

                            1. re: chevychasemdguy

                              "Are my standards too low? I don't think so.

                              I've never been to New Haven Conn. So I don't know what New Haven pizza is supposed to be like."

                              Perhaps you should go to New Haven and educate yourself. The pizza really is worth the 7-hour drive (each way.) Then maybe you'd appreciate that, no matter what you might think, your standards probably *are* too low.

                              I do have to say, I've been enjoying Patsy's in East Harlem a lot more than I enjoy Wooster Square pizza, because there's something really awesome about walking in, placing your order and getting your pie THREE minutes later, at which point you can stand at the window and eat, or eat in your car. Anything else would be an insult to the pie--including ordering at their restaurant, where some lazy waitron might let your pizza stand around and spoil in the five minutes when you should be eating it.

                              If you haven't been to New Haven for pizza, or if you haven't checked out Totonno's in Coney Island or Patsy's in East Harlem, then you really need to go, so you can understand why someone might get truly upset that the good name and reputation of New Haven pizza is being maligned.

                            2. I went there tonight for the first time and I will say that the pizza was excellent, the service was friendly and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

                              We sat at the bar and enjoyed wings (the meat was falling off of the bones) which was good, but they are coated in a dry rub which was nice and spicy, but I was craving the typical red buffalo style hot sauce. The quality of the chicken though made up for the difference in sauce,

                              For the pizzas, the crust was thin and crisp, and the sauce very wet, I love my pizza with alot of sauce, and these pies did the trick.

                              There are alot of bad reviews of Comet Ping Pong on here from late 2006 when it first opened, I did not go before, and was hesitant to go because of the reviews, but I took a shot and made a go of it. I am happy to report that I was very pleased by the quality of the pizza. And yes, I have been to 2 Amys, Paradiso, RedRocks, Ellas, and Matchbox, and I can say that these pizza now hang with the likes of 2Amys and Paradiso.

                              I will certainly be returning to Comet Ping Pong when I get the pizza craving, and I encourage those of you who have been before to give it another shot, and those of you that have never been, should certainly try it, for something new.

                              1. Comet Ping Pong is really a hate or love place. Personally I hate it. The decor is fun and the ping pong tables are fantastic (best part of the meal). I don't like my pizza served on flavorless crackers though. Worth trying once. Some people love it. The toppings are great -- soft shell crab is fantastic. But overall I'd prefer anyplace else from Two Amys to Papa Johns.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: masonuc

                                  I think this place got a really bad rep when it first opened b/c of the perception/expectation people had about the pizza. Maybe it was the owners trying to bring people in by saying New Haven style pizzas inspired them, or maybe it was the hype from the all the food blogs. But I'm glad they survived the heavy criticism and took in all the positive from it, b/c this place has turned into a nice neighborhood joint with quality pizza (hate it or love it, you have to try it before you judge it) and nice place to have fun.

                                2. I'm as much a pizza purist as anyone posting here (NY native, been to DeFara, places in Connecticut, Trenton etc.) but I have to say that Comet Ping Pong put across some superfine pies for us this past weekend. Dough was chewy, to be sure, but it had plenty of thin-crust flex, not cracker-like in my estimation. Had it with onions, pepperoni & anchovies. Yum. Not as good as 2 Amys on a great night (I haven't been there in awhile), but CPP is a worthwhile destination in our quality pizza-starved metropolis. (Getting better, as Sietsema noted over the weekend, but still much room for improvement.)
                                  The thing I realized is that at a truly excellent place (i.e. DeFara's or DiLorenzo's), the pie itself is so good you really don't need toppings. In fact, you could argue that toppings distract from the pie's overall appeal. At pizza places the next level down, toppings make all the difference in the world . . . they take a decent pizza and make it a home run. I'd rank CPP in the second category, but that's still pretty solid, worth a return trip.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: dan f.

                                    Thanks, Dan. We'll return. It's been awhile since our first visit and we need to give it another chance. Appreciate your post.

                                  2. i love Comet (don't hold it against me). i think the pizza's great, as is the ping pong. the minestrone is out of this world. yes it's on the expensive side, but 2 amy's and pizza paradiso aren't cheap either.

                                    1. I went right after the review in post and have to admit that the service was pretty abysmal. I have no doubt that they were not prepared for the spike in customers after such a positive review, but they did little to make up for the fact that they were understaffed, especially after having to wait like 45 minutes for 2 small pizzas. Of the 2 pizza's we ate, one we creatd outselves and the other was the eggplant potato pizza. The one we created ourselves was more expensive and pretty unexciting. but the eggplant potato one was a total hit. we downed the whole thing and I have been trying to recreate it at home ever since (with no luck sadly). The curst was veryt hin (just how I like it) not too much sauce or cheese and perfectly salty with thinly sliced crispy flavorful toppings. PLUS i loved the ping pong. Was a great, fun, casual date place, despite the service.

                                      1. Finally got to Comet Ping Pong last night. Got only plain tomato pies but on one substituted smoked mozzarella for regular which produced a $2.50 charge. Wasn't worth it. Regular pie is $7.50. Also had a chickpea/green bean salad for $6.50 which was super delicious.

                                        I was surprised by the pizza. It is the cheesy/oily/salty variety that is produced by many places on the Jersey shore. That's a good thing to have around here, and I enjoy that kind of pizza, but in no way do I think it's anything special.

                                        Next time I'll have to go for one of their specialty pizzas. I see from another post that the the potato and eggplant is recommended. Any others?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Steve

                                          I recommend the white pizza with onion, garlic and clams. A bit steep at $17 for a one person pie, but on my return trip there last night thought it was very tasty. I've mellowed on the place -- its not what I initially hoped or expected it would be, but I think the pizza has improved from when they first opened. Hittting it on a week night when its not a zoo is also a good idea.

                                          1. re: OssoBuco

                                            Had the white pizza today -- the Yalie -- and it was OK. I wish there had been more clams, and I was not crazy about the crust -- far too thin for my taste. The caramelized onions on the pie were delicious, and my son really liked his chicken wings. I think that we will go back, for the ping pong and juke box in back were great fun. But for pizza I will stick with Two Amys.

                                        2. The pizza is very good, but the wings are the real draw. The best I've ever had. Anyone have any idea how they make them?

                                          1. I've been a few times. While I liked the atmosphere, which is good for kids and groups, I really didn't enjoy the pizza either time. The first time, the dough seemed under-cooked and thick and the sauce wasn't especially tasty, and the second time, it was just too well done. Both times the service was nonchalant. Considering the price, I prefer to go to 2 Amys or Pizzeria Paradiso where I consistently enjoy the pizza and usually get good service (in my experience, the best service I've had is at Pizzeria Paradiso-Dupont). I also enjoy the appetizers at 2 Amys.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Gigi007

                                              I finally went last month. It was just ok. First of all t hey were out of two of their signature pizzas: clams and meatballs. How could you be out of pizza toppings if you're a pizza joint, and these are your specialy pizzas? Crust was decent but they only had a few shreds of topping on each one. I could barely tell that the sausage and mushroom had either. Plus the space is cold and uninviting. Tables for two were cramped. Vasly prefer 2 Amys, or Bucks Fishing and Camping for that matter..

                                            2. I am missing something by not checking this place out? We had such a bad experience with Ms. Greenwood at Buck's that I find it difficult to give her another $ of dining budget. She basically ruined a very special evening for us. I would much rather patronize establishments that do not look down on me. Just my humble opinion.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: DCNatFan

                                                ^^No you're not. The pizza is just okay. It's no 2Amys, I"ll say that much. Go and spend your money there. Way better pie and no attitude.