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What's the deal with Ledo's pizza?

Living in south Florida with friends and family in MD, they all tell me the next time I come up I have got to try it. Is it really that good?

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    1. Ledo's is decent, dine-in or take out pizza. Theirs is a very thin crust, rectangular shaped pizza. The sauce is mildly sweet and I've had it with bacon. It's average in quality and certainly not as bad as masonuc would have you believe.

      3 Replies
      1. re: onocoffee

        I didn't say it was bad, I said it wasn't all that good. You seem to agree. It's decent pizza, I can name at least 3 places in DC that are better and that doesn't even include the places that actually have great pizza, like Two Amys.

        1. re: masonuc

          You really have to be craving Ledo's, or drunk, or both to truly enjoy it. I was sort of indifferent until I ordered one with EVERYTHING on it at the original store. My god! Big chunks of hand-torn breakfast sausage, thick chunks of vegetables, that chunky pepperoni. I disgraced myself. In an odd way it kinda reminded me of growing up and getting the old Shakey's pizza, when we'd order extra everything, just for the sheer satisfaction/horror of getting this massive Franken-pie.

          1. re: masonuc

            Sadly, you didn't say anything other than a measly "No." Way to give any level of insight to the OP. We don't agree because I actually offered something more than a "No."

        2. If you're a kid it's really good. If you're a grown-up it's meh.

          1. In defense of Ledo's, it's quite different than normal pizza. Some people love it, other's obviously don't. I really like it, but at the same time I don't try to compare it to regular pizza. The crust is very different, and I think that leads to very split opinions. I like the fact that they use provolone in their cheese blend. Now, I wouldn't go to far out of my way for their pizza, and they're probably even worse than Five Guys with major store to store consistency issues, but I assume you friends and family have a store they like. So no, it's not THAT good, but you're friends and family probably know your tastes, and feel that you're likely to like this different style of pizza.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Jason1

              Speaking of which... what are the "best" Five Guy branches? Ive had mixed luck too but Ive been to so many Ive forgotten where Ive been pleased and where it was just average.

              1. re: Insidious Rex

                I used to go to the 5G on King Street near Skyline. It was good.

                The one out on Gallows Road produces a VERY uninspired (to wit, tasteless) burger but normal and great 5G fries.

                Maybe the tastelessness was me and a bad tastebuds day. I'll try it again sometime.

              2. Go to the original Ledo's in Hyattsville.

                This board really should have a Ledo's FAQ. :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: 4X4

                  Agreed. Search this board on Ledo and Joe H and you'll get all the info you ever care to know about it - even how the franchise created the mess that is the Ledo's chain with all its variants.

                  Ed B - give the franchise oddness - you should also ask your friends and family WHICH Ledo location they're referring to.

                2. Ledo Pizza is really a local thing. The original Ledo near the campus of U of Md. has been a major college hang-out since it opened up in the '50s. There's a lot of sentimental attachment for the pizza among U of Md. alumni which drives the interest in the franchises in the mid-Atlantic region.

                  I like the pizza at the original Ledo and it's fairly safe to say that for many years it was unanimously recognized as the best pizza near U of Md--but only because there weren't a lot of other options. I still visit the original, Tommy the original owner is there on occasion overseeing things, it's always packed and the pizza and lasagna are still great, if a little bit on the sweet side.

                  AFAIK, every other location is a franchise and a different story--the owners of the original pretty much sold the Ledo name and are totally disconnected from the franchises. The rectangular shape of the pizza, thin crust and tiny square slices are about the only similarity. But the taste at the franchises is completely different from the original. Local nostalgia is more of a selling point for the franchise pizza than actual quality of the product--it's not horrible, but it's definitely not the same as the original.

                  I don't think you'll find Ledo--original or franchise--to be the greatest pizza you've ever eaten. Unfortunately, out-of-towners trying it usually wind up disappointed simply because it can't possibly live up to the word-of-mouth among sentimental locals.

                  1. Definitely an acquired taste. And definitely go to the original Ledo's or don't go at all. I've never had any luck with the franchises.

                    But that style isn't unique to just Ledo's. Rectangular pies with sweet sauce, crackery crust, provolone, and BIG THICK pepperoni can be had Italian Inn, Mario's/Marino's, and other locations. It is however unique to DC. Just don't try and compare it to NY slices or Chicago deep dish. It's a totally different animal.

                    1. I'm sure that your friends and family mean well and food is often an emotional subject. I've been going to Ledo's for over 30 years. (Since its early days near the University of Maryland.) In recent years, its grown into a small regional franchise. The food is good, but not remarkable. The prices are generally excellent. I eat there a couple of times a month.

                      To me, Ledo's is like the little sub shop or pizzeria that your family has been going to for decades. It's a state of mind, as much as anything.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Sean D

                        Agreed, Sean. I think Ledo's is a good bargain especially for families sharing a pie. The franchise near me in Bethesda is always full of kids. Their tomato sauce is very sweet and some don't like it. I like their pizza only with something salty like pepperoni to balance out the sweet sauce.

                        1. re: keithdcil

                          I agree with both you and Sean and it's something I forgot to mention.

                          The prices at Ledo are quite reasonable. $16 for a medium Deluxe which is plenty for two hungry adults and probably even three. The subs are fairly priced at about $6.00 and I think A-OK. The Italian Cold Cut sub is just that: mortadella, Italian ham, etc and it's pretty decent. Not great or stupendous. Decent.

                          And unlike many joints they post the menu prices on their web site.

                      2. Ledo's is unique. If you're seeking NY or New Haven pizza, it ain't here, just like there will never be BBQ in the DC Metro area to satisfy everyone who compares it to Memphis, NC, TX, etc.

                        You can come up with unique topping combos though. A friend turned me on to her fave of cooked bacon, pineapple, and jalapenos....

                        Some people get a nostalgia affection for Ledos because it reminds them of the Chef Boy-ar-Dee kits of their youth. It has its place.

                        1. I'ma transplant to the area, and I go to the Ledo's up Georgia in the District, close to Silver Spring (around Juniper St, maybe) - service has always been pretty excellent, actually. I like the pizza, my sister's not crazy about it. Their pepperoni and green peppers (my fave combo generally) are cubed, which I def think is cool. It's worth trying, if for no other reason than because it is such an odd pie.

                          Incidentally, people can rhapsodize about 2 Amy's and their ilk forever, and while it may be good, there's something to be said for inexpensive, greasy American pizzeria pies. I think this is the failing of DC pizza-wise. You can get great gourmet pizza and drop 20-some bucks on a pie, but good luck getting a good floppy piece delivered to your house. I live next door to Radius and Pete's is right up the street - both are good, but there should be a way to get a good pizza and two beers and not spend 35 bucks.

                          1. I grew up and have lived in DC Metro for more than half of the last 40 years. I've known Ledo Pizza since the 70's.

                            Yes, it's an oddity and not like a NY or even a Boston pizza. Others here have already described it well enough so I won't bother.

                            I happen to like Ledo pizza. I don't care that it's not NY or Philly or even Boston or Chicago pizza. It's Ledo pizza and so what. Like it or don't. Who cares. Have your pizzas Fedexed from NYC if you're so damned parochial and quite unable to eat anything else.

                            It's not like we're talking Pizza Hut or Dominos for God's sake.

                            If you want a standard Philly style pizza go to the Italian Store in Arlington.

                            Personally I like the subs and pizzas at both places, for different reasons and they of course both have different styles.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Geeyore

                              I love Ledo's, and when old friends stop back in town, Ledo's is always on their to-do list.

                              Ledo's is authentic Maryland suburban pizza.

                            2. I can honestly say that I find good frozen supermarket pizza better that Ledo's.

                              (and I don't like good frozen supermarket pizza!)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: BlueRidgePro

                                Another thread I know, but lately I've found an overly decent frozen store brand pie at SWAY!

                                1. re: BlueRidgePro

                                  Admitting to bias and hometown loyalty: Yes, I graduated from MD and yes, I've been going to the Adelphi restaurant since it opened in 1957 when my parents first took me. I've also spent quite a number of nights standing in line outside waiting to get in over the years. The original Ledo's IS DIFFERENT from at least a half dozen or more of the franchises that I have seen and, probably, different from all of them. The Ledo's franchisee in Reston has an oven where a conveyor belt carries the pie through it. I've seen the same belted oven in the others I've been in.

                                  The original Ledo's, at least until a couple of years ago, used a gas fired oven. Many of the pans that the pizzas were baked in dated 20 to 50 years old. I'm going to use the analogy here of a black cast iron skillet that is well seasoned and what fried food tastes like coming out of it versus a skillet that lacks this kind of "crust." I don't know what the differences are with the suppliers but at the original Ledo's 1. The crust is different-flakier, if you will yet still crisp. 2. The sauce tastes a bit thicker. 3. While I can't prove it I believe the oil that is used on the pie or squirted on is different from the franchise stores. Frankly, the pepperoni also tastes a bit different. The overall pie is, well, just better. I think much better. No, I have not had a franchised pie and the original side by side but I am convinced there is a difference. I think, a big difference.

                                  Yes, Ledo's for me has a hometown "taste." But the original still puts out a pie which my wife and I do annual pilgramages to have from Reston, about a 60 mile roundtrip drive, ignoring the franchisee a mile from our house. For myself given the choice between Two Amy's or the ORIGINAL Ledo's across the street from our house, I would pick the original Ledo's.

                                  1. re: Joe H

                                    I haven't eaten at the Adelphi Ledo's in many years, but I remember I liked their pizza. Much more recently, I have eaten at a couple of their branches and didn't much care for the pizza - it seems to me to have a sweetish taste, which I don't like. Either it's different at the branches from that at the original or my tastes have changed - the best I can recall, it's the former, so if you can't get the original, forget about it.

                                    1. re: foodcheck

                                      The bottom line on Ledo's:
                                      --The original on University in Adelphi has old-school character and all the sold-off branches are characterless, lower-taste Sysco joints.
                                      --The pie at Adelphi, pretty good with nice flaky crust, improves greatly overnight in the fridge or freezer,

                                2. There's one here in Reston. We got a large mushroom to go one night... and ate one slice each and threw the rest of it away. There's a safeway in the same shopping strip and it made me wonder why they don't buy fresh mushrooms instead of the canned that they use. Without the students from South Lakes HS they would be out of business, imo.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: lukeinva

                                    The Ledo's in Hunter's Woods is about a mile or so from our house. Out of convenience we'll go there once every several months or so. Still, once a year we drive from here to the original in Adelphi which I grew up with. The pizzas have little in common. I should note, though, that Ledo's has always used canned mushrooms.

                                    1. re: Joe H

                                      I've actually come to prefer the canned mushrooms. They seem to hold up better to the heat, whereas the thin sliced fresh musrooms just dessicate and turn into flavorless mushroom jerky. When they're not being reconstituted in pepperoni grease, that is.

                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        Agreed. I have long advocated canned mushrooms over fresh as a pizza toppings. Like everyone my age (48), the pizzas of my youth always had canned mushrooms. Then along came the yearning for fresh food, leading to fresh shrooms on pizza. At first I said, "Wow, fresh mushrooms, how nice," but quickly realized that, consisting mostly of water, mushrooms when dried out taste like nothing.

                                        Give me handfuls of sliced canned mushrooms, liberally strewn across my pizza, thank you very much.

                                        1. re: Bob W

                                          I can see both points of view on canned mushrooms. A lot of the great pizza in the area (including Mario's in Virginia) have long utilized them. But, I would offer that I don't think that one is a substitute for another. They each have their own personality.

                                          Canned mushrooms have an intense flavor in most cases and the al dente texture can be pleasing. But, the problem is the metallic flavor that is always there.

                                          Fresh mushrooms can dry up, or often times they are just so pithy and dry that they have no flavor. But, in the best of cases, they can be delicious.

                                          The best experience I've had are marinated mushrooms. Usually plump, delicious, and very pretty to look at. But, this is definitely uncommon and usually expensive.

                                          Then again, we should all remember that pizza is like sex. When its good, its great...and when its bad, it's still pretty darned good!

                                          1. re: Sean D

                                            I haven't had much problem with canned mushrooms tasting metallic. You can also get jarred mushrooms. But for me, the compromise is to pre-cook the mushrooms before I add them to the pizza. A light saute in olive oil and a little salt keeps them moist, so they don't burn and dry out like the fresh mushrooms. This makes a big difference if I'm doing a neapolitan pie at 500+ degrees. And they don't have the occasionally metallic flavor of canned mushrooms.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              That's what I do when I make pizza. I saute the mushrooms with a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme.

                                            2. re: Sean D

                                              There's a recipe for marinaded mushrooms in an old Luchow's Cookbook. Great on pizzas. I gave these out as xmas gifts in jars and everyone loved them, either as an appetizer, salad addition, or topping. Ridiculously easy: saute some garlic and onions and herbs in olive oil, add some white wine and water, dump clean button mushrooms in, cook for 15 minutes, let cool, jar. The wine gives it a pleasant acidity to offset the cheese and complement the sweetness of the sauce.

                                    2. Ledo pizza is unremarkable, but I love the chicken and artichoke brushetta - creamy, cheesy, with lumps of chicken and artichokes.

                                      It's listed as an appetizer, but makes a great meal.

                                      1. Wow, Ledo's pizza. I remember going there in the 60's with my GF. Back then it had this mythical aura for being the best pizza around, but I think that might have just been with the high schoolers. I would go there in a heartbeat just for the memories...

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: bnemes3343

                                          They must be doing something right. Lots of new stores opening. Surely not as good as the otriginal in CP. Waiting on the one here in Pikesville, MD (Where the dumpy Salsaritas Mexican place was). Hmmm, wonder how soon when it will open?? :)

                                          1. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                            was at the giant last night and apparently ledos is open. didnt stop in though,...

                                            1. re: jes

                                              OH OK. Didn't C It Say So on Their Web Site. Yippy!! Thanx Jesus :)

                                        2. There's a new Ledo's right across the street from Security Mall, in the same plaza as Panera Bread, Five Guys, and Rita's. My other half is into Ledo's, but it's not my thing. I do very much like their fries, however. (The "regular" shoestring fries, not the waffle fries.)

                                          Ledo's Pizza
                                          7175 Security Blvd, Windsor Mill, MD 21244

                                          1. Fellow Washingtonians, I'm truly disgusted! Recently, D.C. television station WRC (the NBC flagship affiliate - Channel 4) conducted an opinion poll on the best pizza in D.C. The only choices they offered? Ledos & Armands. This is a travesty!

                                            Not only do these two places serve two very different kinds of pizza, but they are two dissimilar businesses. Armands has about 10 local stores. Ledos is a growing chain of 60+ stores (in several states). I've found that quality control can vary from franchise-to-franchise at both places. Also, there is nothing particularly local or regional about either business's products. (Chicago-style pizza? Or, Ledo's flat, square pizza?)

                                            The results of the survey put Ledos as the favorite, but this seems really stupid to me. If WRC wanted to find the best pizza in Washington, they should have opened it up to the smaller, mom & pop type places. (i.e., Vace, 2 Amys, Il Forno, etc.) Even if their intent was to find the best mass produced pizza, they should have included the large chains (i.e., Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa Johns.).

                                            Am I the only person who thinks this poll was a sham??

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Sean D

                                              They've done this before. Just a few months ago they did a burger one. They at least included 5 Guys, but that was the only partially responsible option. The others were Wendy's, Burger King, etc. I watched with jaw agape as they took four dudes around to each place in a row.

                                              How can they seriously give the fast food joints a "critics review"? I was just - stunned.

                                              1. re: Dennis S

                                                Reality is that they need to appeal to the masses living throughout a huge viewing area, and mom-and-pops with one location aren't readily accessible to most of their audience. But most of their viewing area is within 10 minutes of a Ledo or Armand's.

                                                That's just the way it is. Washingtonian Magazine's "Best Of" lists are far more realistic for those willing to travel an hour or more for a really good mom-and-pop pizza or burger.

                                                1. re: tubman

                                                  I don't know about Washingtonian's "Best of" lists, but their "Cheap Eats" lists are fairly worthless: the same dozen or so places keep appearing long after they've ceased to be worth going to. Burrito Brothers? Lauriol Plaza? Whatever. Ben's Chili Bowl stopped being cheap when their halfsmoke hit $6. It's like Washingtonians interns are suddenly discovering this cool new place called Jaleo where they serve food on small plates.

                                            2. They opened a Ledo's in Fairfax about 15 mins from me. I thought I would try it, and failed the first time - their web page said they were open until 11 on a Friday night, when I got there at 10, the place was locked up/closed. The 2nd time, I tried the one in Chantilly. I had somewhere to be, and was in a rush, so I thought I would get one of the pizzas you can bake at home. The guy in front of me ordered a large pizza to go, and the girl said it would be 30 minutes. When I ordered my large pizza (unbaked) I was told it would be 45 mins to an hour wait time. Huh? I asked how come my (unbaked) pizza would take almost twice as long to make as one that was going to baked. All I got was attitude and nastiness from the counter girl about how busy they were and that I would just "have to sit down and wait." NOT. So, my answer to the OP is, I haven't got a clue, but I know I won't be going back to try anything Ledo.

                                              1. I like Ledo's. I went with people from work who raved about it. It's different than any other type of pizza I've had. I'm from NY and NY pizza will always be my fave, but I also love deep dish Chicago style and Ledo's.

                                                As for Five Guys, I do not get the appeal at all. Their burgers are nothing special.

                                                Sue me!

                                                1. Not a fan. It kind of reminds me of St Louis style pizza (which we called "crackers and cheese"), minus the provel cheese. One thing I will say for it is that it's cheap and if you're just in the mood for some cheese, carbs, and beer, you'll be satisfied.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: marzapane

                                                    "if you're just in the mood for some cheese, carbs, and beer, you'll be satisfied."

                                                    This is why the original Adelphi Ledo's holds such a special place in the hearts of University of Maryland graduates.

                                                    1. re: marzapane

                                                      Respectfully, but Ledo's has absolutely nothing in common with Imo's. For a start the differences in the crust are almost night and day. I doubt if many reading this have ever had provel cheese to know what a difference this makes. I like Imo's, but this is a unique pie, something of a "hometown taste" that one grows up with. Honestly, this can be said about the original Ledo's, too. (And, Dayton, OH, Old Forge, PA and a lot of other places...) But Ledo's is a totally different pie. And, for me, a far superior pizza.

                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                        I'm from Missouri, so I have to respectfully take the opposing viewpoint that Imo's edges out Ledo's. However - I agree that they're night and day. Imo's is unlike any other type of pizza except for imitators.

                                                        I worked at one for a while, too. The funny thing is that I've hardly met anyone who could take it or leave it. There are either die-hard fans or people absolutely hate it.

                                                        To keep on topic, though, they definitely managed the franchise thing about a 1000 times better than Ledo's. Heck - you can mail order to get all the ingredients and baking it in your oven is 99% of the real thing!

                                                        I've had "Missouri" days doing this (and other gastronomic Show-Me treats) - usually for a big game of MO b-ball. Should've had one today in fact (tourney - v Marquette) but I didn't get my act together quick enough.

                                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                                          "There are either die-hard fans or people absolutely hate it."

                                                          Sounds like you're describing Ledo's.

                                                          1. re: Mister Big

                                                            I found it relevant to the Ledo's discussion - a lot of parallels between the two - just not the actual pies.

                                                          2. re: Dennis S

                                                            But the same issues apply to Imo's and the differences between locations. I've ordered from a number of them while in the area and can get quite a difference in toppings/sauce level available from the different stores. The only thing consistent is the Provel, the thinness of the crust and the cut of the pie.

                                                      2. I don't think I have ever had Ledo's Pizza, but if you are ever in Arlington, there are 2 places you should stop in for pizza. One is Bricks Pizza, off of Arlington Blvd, same strip with Outback Steakhouse. Better than any of the franchise pizza around. The other is at the Italian Store, on Lee Hwy, same strip with Giant, and the 24 hour CVS. Now that is some great pizza. Get ready to wait in line. It is carry out only. A favorite spot of Sandra Bullock when she is in town.

                                                        1. Yes.

                                                          If we would journey from the eastern panhandle of WV to the original at Adelphi Plaza a couple times a year - minimum 2 hours one way, we obviously adore it. The sausage. The crust. The house salad dressing - so tart and spicy it would practically turn your mouth inside out. We'd get a large pie and eat until we practically puked, and order a "half baked" to bring home to eat the next day.

                                                          The franchises can be hit or miss. The first one in Frederick, MD, that opened up was awful. However, the one on Rt. 7 in Winchester, VA, and the one in Charles Town, WV, are both acceptable, reasonable facsimiles of the original.

                                                          The sausage is excellent - very "fennel-y".

                                                          Hmmm. I believe a pie is in order for Monday.

                                                          1. I will offer one bit of opinion that can bridge many opposing opinions. If your opinion about good pizza extends back to your college days, then chances are that you'll fondly remember the place(s) that you frequented back then...and even consider them the best. I know that this is the case for me.

                                                            As a near-penniless undergrad student going to school at a small-town state college in central NY, getting a hot pizza on a freezing winter night was a truly special thing. I remember with fondness the the places in town that we'd order from. (Mr. T's, Pizzaland, & G.J.'s) I even remember buying the leftover slices wrapped in plastic for 25 cents, at the end of the day at the campus snackbar. To a poor, starving, homesick, stressed-out college kid living in a concrete dorm there was something magical and reassuring about this crudest of comfort foods.

                                                            When you look at the history of the biggest pizza chains, you learn that there was always some early linkage to starving college students.

                                                            Therefore, I think we can all cut each other a bit of slack on the opinions of best pizza. Even though I'm a Maryland native, I never went to U of MD in College Park (like my brother did). I never had that away-from-home dependence on Ledo's in Adelphi. As I've written in past postings, I've never thought Ledo's was great pizza. But, this may have been different if it had been a link to home, back in college.

                                                            19 Replies
                                                            1. re: Sean D

                                                              Good primordial warm-food insight. Didn't go to UM, but a 3/4 cooked overnighting in the refrigerator really is nice the next day, when the phyllo dough picks up the sauce ingredients. Adelphi only--the franchise locations are Syscoland.

                                                              1. re: chowsearch

                                                                I don't think there is any prepared food item that can be judged less objectively than pizza, given that everyone seems to have sentiment for the pies of their past. The Ledo franchises, Syscoized as they are, will always do well because of the sentimental UM alumni in their market in spite of the inferiority of their product to the Adelphi original..

                                                                Everyone insists the pizza from their past was the best ever. My wife was part of the Dewey summer group-house crowd for years and still insists on Grotto Pizza whenever we're at the beach; I wasn't part of that crowd and find it decent, but nothing special. But it does hold up well sitting on a counter unrefrigerated overnight.

                                                                It is difficult if not impossible to find an ex-pat NYer or Chicagoan who will admit that a pie from anywhere else could be as satisfying. Don't even try to convince them there's a good pizza to be found locally or you'll get an earful.

                                                                My own personal sentiment-over-taste-buds gulity pleasure: the Ellio's frozen pizza rectangles that were a staple in MoCo public schools in the '70s.

                                                                1. re: tubman

                                                                  Tubman, thanks for the Ellio's fess-up. The fact is that, every now and then (usually when I've got a weekend to myself), I'll buy a couple of generic frozen pizzas. They remind me of my childhood and I enjoy them thoroughly.

                                                                  1. re: tubman

                                                                    Well, there's an interesting point here. Even though the Ledo franchises pale next to the original I believe there is a different reason for their apparent success: look at the competition. Domino's? Pizza Hut? Vocelli's? So many people today are growing up with a kind of generic, tasteless "vanilla" pie that even a decent pizza attracts a neighborhood following. This is all the more remarkable since Ledo's doesn't deliver. Grotto Pizza or Dough Roller or Nicola are decent, too. Compared to Domino's or Pizza Hut they taste like coal oven pie!

                                                                    For years and years neighbors of ours' have had a friday night tradition of Domino's. At some point this gave way to going out to Pizza Hut. Now, religiously, one drives to the nearby Ledo's and brings home a pie. He and his wife wouldn't be caught dead eating what they ate for 10+ years earlier.

                                                                    Now, if I could only talk them into driving to Adelphi one Friday night...

                                                                    By the way, my wife prefers Ledo's to Two Amy's and she grew up in Arlington with Pizza Pantry. To be honest while I "respect" Two Amy's pie and know that it is a better pizza, given the choice between having the original Ledo's or Two Amy's across the street from our house I would, without hesitation, choose the Adelphi Ledo's. Carol would take Pizza Pantry.

                                                                    Both are actually the ultimate "comfort" food.

                                                                    1. re: Joe H

                                                                      Take it from me. You DON'T want to be in the Adelphi Ledo's on a Friday/Saturday night. Between the college crowds and the fire station ordering 15+ pizzas, the waits are ridiculously long. I put in a carryout order last weekend; the alleged 25 minute wait became an hour-long wait. There are few pizzas I would wait an hour for. The original Ledo's is one. Although, in future, I may just order carryout from The Italian Inn: similar style and flavor, minus the almost mythic proportions (and weekend crowd) of the Adelphi Ledo's.

                                                                      But the taste cacophany of their "Everything" pizza really should be experienced: salami, thick pepperoni, and hand-torn sausage clash with black olives, mushrooms, and almost raw onion. Somewhat comparable to Italian Inn's "Godfather" pizza of salami, meatball, pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, and ricotta.

                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                        If you have a long wait, you can sit at the bar, have some drinks and chat with the locals while you wait. That's what I usually do.

                                                                  2. re: chowsearch

                                                                    The thing that struck me about the original Ledo's isn't the sauce or the crust, but the pepperoni. It's unlike any I've had on pizzas before: it's pretty large (not as large as the lunchmeat size pepperoni, but still larger than 90% of what you get from a chain pizza place) and thick. It has a completely different mouth feel from regular pepperoni. In a way, it reminds me of another unique pepperoni I had growing up. I forget what pizza place it was (Shakeys? Godfathers?), but the pepperoni was dark, and the circumference of your thumb. It had a casing so that when it was cooked, the casing shrunk, forming a little cup. All the grease formed a pool in the cup so when you bit the pizza, you'd get a hot shot of searing pepperoni grease in each mouthful. It's a powerful taste memory, like Good Humor icecream on a boiling August evening or spitballs.

                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                      Monkeyrotica: Ive been there regarding the pepperoni grease dimple cups. I also get childhood flashbacks (complete with smell!) just thinking about them. And yes it was Shakey’s. I have some viscerally fond food association memories of 6th, 7th, maybe 8th birthdays at that place (along with Raffles Ice Cream) and am still convinced the pizza they served was heavenly. I remember standing at the counter on my tip toes watching them throw it and dress it and cook it in lew of playing asteroids with the cool kids. When did they actually fall of the earth? Were they bought by another company or just closed entirely? I think I lost track of them by late high school and then when I thought about it later in life discovered they were all gone…

                                                                      1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                        That brought back memories for me, too! Used to go to Shakey's when I was little, but that was in California (and before asteroids), a weekly social thing with other families with little kids. Monkey's description evoked a real sense memory for me I didn't realize I had -- and explains why pepperoni pizza never satisfies me now.... Maybe I do need to try the original Ledo's.

                                                                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                          "Shakey's has gone from 325 stores throughout the United States when Hunt International bought the company in 1974 to 63 stores as of 2008, 55 of them in California. There are two stores east of the Mississippi River: Warner Robins, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama. The West Allis, Wisconsin store closed on June 30, 2008. Only three Shakey's stores exist in the West outside California: Nogales, Arizona and two in suburban Seattle."


                                                                        2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                          You also get the little grease cups with the pepperoni on Dough Roller pizza in Ocean City which, incidentally, for me, falls perfectly into the category of pizza that isn't terriffic, but I absolutely LOVE because of the memories involved.

                                                                        3. re: chowsearch

                                                                          i happen to know that Ledos pizza shops get theri foos supplies from US Foods. What is your pre-occupation with blaming Sysco if you don't care for Ledos pizza??????

                                                                          1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                                                            I agree with this, MDicecreamguy. Lots of people seem to pile onto the Sysco thing without knowing anything about restaurant supply. To me, its annoying because frankly everyone uses these large suppliers and if they didn't there would not be many alternatives that amount to a big difference. I used to be a restaurant manager and I know that few restaurants go hunting for fresh products every morning.

                                                                            1. re: Sean D

                                                                              One of the reasons people dislike Sysco is they bought many small food purveyors that gave small restaurants product and vendor choice and a marketplace with competitive pricing. Then, after acquiring competition, Sysco destructively raised the delivery minimum order. So a small mom and pop place that could have a couple hundred dollars of goods delivered no longer could have any delivery at all if they didn't have the money, traffic or storage space to place the larger orders Sysco required. They would have to go to Restaurant Depot or maybe Sysco's outlet store, usually personally, maybe with cash. Increasing econcomic pressures and these time and choice pressures contributed to a homogenization of our dining choices and a burden on the small places Chowhounders love. It's possibly only a matter of time before Sysco defeats more small supply houses, local farmers, artisan bakers, produce, dairy and cheese vendors who are also under pressure. So we get foodstuffs from factories in New Jersey and overseas, because they can be handled cheaply and in bulk. These actions were intentional and deliberate, with predictable results, all for the bottom line. Since Sysco did this knowingly, to me, this is the definition of evil. We need to support alternatives.

                                                                              1. re: chowsearch

                                                                                I can appreciate the sentiment behind this, Chowsearch. However, the animus toward companies like Sysco is pointless and often unintentionally hypocritical. The fact is that few people really have any control over the supply chain. You can never know who is ultimately providing the product you buy - large or small, foreign or domestic. Also, the mom and pop type businesses are already endangered, as a natural state of the normal business environment. The alternatives that you refer to may or may not be any more noble in intent, than Sysco, or any of the larger suppliers. This is essentially the same dilemma that dominates the retail market. In the end, which is nobler? WalMart, or the mom and pop dollar store that sources everything it sells from China?

                                                                                In the end, no one has control over the sourcing from the global supply chain. It may be comforting to ascribe black hats and white hats to the large and small businesses, but it is equally as pointless. In the end, people will buy the best food they can find, at the cheapest prices they can find. In the end, price will always be prevalent.

                                                                                1. re: Sean D

                                                                                  I agree it might not do anything, but I was trying to explain the reason for the anti-Sysco feeling. I saw up close the pain Sysco caused to a friend's small restaurant losing two $200 minimum-delivery suppliers when Sysco bought them and raised the minimum to $450, then $500, then $550. Instead of a choice of goods, wherever they were made, he had one, then as the rate and size of the required order was raised past a practical limit, essentially none. Without time to drive to Sysco and RDepot, he was pretty screwed. Something similar happened when Whole Foods bought two competitors--farmers and health-food suppliers who could compare bids from three buyers had one who dictated price. I know Walmart does this too. It's not right. If we have a choice to support small Greek places like Samos buying delivered feta and olives from Prima Foods, or places shopping at the farmers market, we should. In Baltimore, I've seen Spike of Woodberry and Tony of Charleston/Petit Louis at the Waverly Saturday market, buying asparagus and tomatoes in big volumes, and know the Dogwood guy buys from some of the same farmers. I see Nora buying at the Sunday Dupont market. I'll patronize them.

                                                                                  1. re: chowsearch

                                                                                    I guess this should spin off to it's own thread.....but I feel the need to respond to to some of the mis-information being diseminated here.
                                                                                    First of all Sysco does not go around buying up smaller companies. As a matter of fact, probably their biggest competitor US Foodservice HAS grown by buying up smaller companies ( i.e. JP Foodservice, Mazo-Lerch, Sexton, Continental Foods) Why did US Foodservice try to grow this way?????....because they saw a very successful sompany ( Sysco ) and wanted to be just like them.
                                                                                    Also, you may be surprised to know that Sysco doesn't manufacture ANY of theri products. THey are simply a distributor, representing not only large manufacturers but also some VERY small artisan companies through its CHef EX program.....allowing some of the same small companies to bring their products to a LOT MORE customers via Sysco's extensive distribution system.
                                                                                    You may also be surprised to learn than Sysco has organic and natural products and that the cleaning supplies they sell are the most environmentally friendly in the industry.
                                                                                    Also Chowsearch....I happen to know for a FACT that Sysco does not have a $400 ( or $550 minimum order) as you stated.

                                                                                    Chowsearch.....next time I suggest you do your research.

                                                                                    1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                                                                      As you suggested, I checked the facts again with the former tiny restaurant owner and he says he gave up with Sysco when the minimum delivery rate went over $500 about five years ago, plus fuel surcharges. He did mention the salesmen felt sorry for him and were nice enough to drop items off when they could or try to arrange common delivery pickup points. It sounds like you know the inner workings of Sysco pretty well, so let's just welcome an important part of the DC-Baltimore restaurant industry and see if we can have some discussions that could benefit both Chowhounders and smalltime chefs without getting into the merits of restaurants using pre-made foods that Sysco sells so much of instead of cooking ingredients. What additional will Sysco do to help small operators? Will they arrange closer regional pickup points? Will they ship small orders by UPS? Will they certify fish like grouper with DNA testing to protect operators from fraud charges? We might agree that in addition to carrying many brands, across many categories, Sysco sells its own private-label brand, so I think your defense of them in this is a good place to start. Are they as good as the name brands, say, in cookies? Are we eating them thinking the restaurant baked them but just warmed them up? Can Sysco help small operators learn how to bake their own? Would Sysco develop a program to demonstrate to small oeprators how to cook the food of their country or specialty cost-effectively from scratch on-site using Sysco ingredients instead of per-made components? Would they do this at the workplace between lunch and dinner so the cooks wouldn't have to leave? I think all of us Chowhounders could agree that diversity and supporting small family-owned restaurants and small foodstuff supply companies, including Sysco's competitors, is a good way to have a fair and balanced marketplace with restaurant owner choices so we can all get something tasty to eat that isn't just warmed up food pre-made far away.

                                                                                      1. re: chowsearch

                                                                                        I can sympathize with all involved here. But, I'll reiterate that no one can truly control the supply chain, or the overall economic risk of the food service business. The restaurant field is the most risky small business category. Restaurants fail at nearly twice the rate as any other small business. Regardless of size, any entrepreneur who enters food service assumes this risk.

                                                                                        With all due respect, Sysco is simply doing what any food service business (supplier or retailer) would/should do - increase the scope and scale of their business. The concept of them buying up small businesses is essentially a big "nothing burger". Even if it is true (which it does not appear to be), these smaller businesses are not public trusts that exist for some altruistic reason. The owners have the right (and often the incentive) to sell them for a profit. As a business man and entrepreneur, my objective is to build the value of my business so it is worth something to someone. Whether I choose to collect via retail, or through sale of the business is my choice - as it should be.

                                                                                        As far as the minimum order issue goes, frankly $500 per delivery doesn't seem too far off-base. Nor, do fuel-surcharges. Remember that the basic delivery model for restaurant commodities hasn't changed in decades. The same can not be said for the costs associated with providing that service.

                                                                                        Don't mistake my feelings for indifference to small business owners - of which I am one. We all have it hard. But, to be an entrepreneur you have to submit yourself to the cost of doing business. In food service, those costs can be riskier than most others. I also know that, in the end, my customers don't really care about anything but the end product and the price. (Not necessarily in that order.)

                                                                                        One last thing: No business (and certainly no restaurant) will survive off of the mere sympathy of it's clientele. To survive and grow, it must offer its market a compellingly good product at a compellingly good price. Somewhere in between the product and price is the value they add. If a small business wants to survive, they need to create that value in innovative ways that will bury their competition, regardless of its size. That's how small businesses grow into large businesses.

                                                                      2. In all my (long long LONG) days this is the first time I've seen a description, or even a reference to, "St. Louis Style pizza." Everybody's heard of "Chicago style" and "New Yorrk style" ... I didn't know the cracker-thin-crust was anybody's "style".

                                                                        Finally I see what I've been looking for!

                                                                        The debate on whether this or that style is wonderful - or terrible - reminds me of arguments over the several regional and widely varying types of barbecue. But, similarly, they all have their fans and they're all good in their individual ways!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: wayne keyser

                                                                          It does indeed exist. One key is the provel, which I believe Mr. Imo invented. It's a mix of cheddar, swiss and provolone. The other key is the ultra thin crust. If the crust were any thinner, the sauce would be on the plate. The crusts are actually made centrally and shipped fully formed to each store.

                                                                          Maybe I'll order some anyway and have a chow lunch at my house.

                                                                          1. re: wayne keyser

                                                                            There are threads on CH that talk about Dayton style (Cassano's, Marion's), Old Forge (Arcaro and Gemelli's), Scranton (Victory Pig) even Racine (Wells Bros.) and MIlwaukee (Zaffiro's). Before it opened an outpost in Ashburn (!) American Flatbread had a cult following in Vermont. Ledo's fits in very nicely with these eccentric local styles. Still, Imo's is perhaps even thinner than a "cracker thin crust." Totally unique taste that I absolutely love. Of course Arcaro and Gemelli's white pizza is special, too as is....

                                                                          2. Ledos sauce on everything - from the pizza to the spaghetti - is sweet. Depends on how you like your tomato sauce - some people prefer "old world" acidic tomatoes... others prefer tomatoes + sugar which equals Ledos!

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: samciti

                                                                              The trick with the sweet sauce on Ledos pizzas is to offset it with something salty. Lots of meat, extra cheese, or even anchovies if that's how you roll. I don't think I could stomach a plain Ledos pie. Too sweet, bordering on Papa Johns candy-sweet sauce.

                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                Seems like the Adelphi Ledo crust is kind of layered and phyllo-like, making it a perfect grease and taste collector. Is this unique?

                                                                                1. re: chowsearch

                                                                                  I've found the chain Ledos crust to be more cracker-like than phyllo-like. Either it doesn't rise proper, or they're using some Sysco pre-made dough product.

                                                                                  I've noticed that Pillsbury's Thin Crust Pizza (not the Regular Crust) that comes in a tube in the refrigerated section (next to their biscuits) tastes a lot like chain Ledos crust: thin, crackery, buttery, somewhat sweet.

                                                                            2. I grew up eating at Ledo's Pizza in College Park. THE one and only at that time. My family loved it including some cousins that seemed to be flying in from out of state for the pizza as opposed to seeing us :-) I wasn't Ledo’s biggest fan, but it was good AND different; thin crusty crust, nice sauce -- just plain nice. I thought about it years later (today) and looked them up online.

                                                                              *If* the original Ledo's Pizza in College Park is now franchised, I just lost whatever hint of craving that I had. The site -- ledopizza.com -- looks like a fast food chain which I suppose it is. I saw another post -- Ledo's pizza? Vocelli's? -- which made me gag and chuckle simultaneously. Vocelli is not pizza, it's a card board box with sauce. There would be no comparison to the original Ledo's Pizza.

                                                                              The original Ledo's Pizza in College Park was good about 25+ years or so ago. If it is now, all the power to 'em, but I cannot imagine it being cooked up as fast food or in a franchise. I think it was In-And-Out Burger from San Francisco that went against the franchise game and maintained a great following as a result.

                                                                              Sounds like the almighty dollar prevailed for Ledo’s though...

                                                                              REVENUE 1 -- QUALITY 0 (a.k.a. REVENUE vs. LOST INTEREST)

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: chowmd123

                                                                                In-n-Out Burger and possibly, Chipotle, are the only franchises I am aware of that maintain the quality of the original. Ledo's in the Adelphi Shopping Center is as good today as it was in 1957 when I first tasted it.

                                                                                1. re: Joe H

                                                                                  Agreed. I had my first Ledo's from Adelphi in 1985, and I ordered two two weeks ago from the same store. Just as good today as it was then.

                                                                                  I've been to two of the chain Ledos. I will never set foot in one again.

                                                                                2. re: chowmd123

                                                                                  I'm pretty sure the franchise agreement between the Original Ledos and the chains didn't stipulate any adherence to recipes. A company essentially offered them some money to license the name and that's it. A Ledo's chain pizza has as much in common with the Original Ledos as a Dominos New York Crust Pizza has with something you'd buy in an authentic New York City pizzeria.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                    My understanding of it, coming from an employee who worked there during the licensing fight and eventual agreement, is that Ledo Restaurant (the good one) did not sell the entire, accurate recipe to Ledo Pizza.

                                                                                    Hence, only the one in Adelphi is worth a darn. The one at Bailey's Crossroads (next to Trader Joe's) is just okay. The Adelphi one is worth a long taxi ride or taking the bus.

                                                                                    1. re: redviper

                                                                                      I would have to question the wisdom of such an approach. One would think that if you're going to the trouble to franchise your product, you'd want some measure of control over that final product. Otherwise, you risk diluting your brand, which is what we're seeing now with the Ledo's chain stores.

                                                                                  2. re: chowmd123

                                                                                    The original Ledo is actually in Adelphi, although it's invariably described as being in College Park or Hyattsville. The word "Pizza" taken from the signage as resolution of a contract dispute with the franchisees, the official name is now Tommy Marcos' Ledo Restaurant. There is no connection between the original and the franchises, other than occasional wrangling by lawyers years after the original agreement from which the franchise organization was born.

                                                                                    Last week, I happened onto a franchise pie at a friend's house, knowing I'd be going to the original a few days later for my annual visit and with this thread in mind. So I made a few mental notes.

                                                                                    After visiting the original, I think the biggest difference is the crust--both are fairly thin, but at the original it has a pastry-like consistency and holds up far better to the toppings, at the franchise it's more like a thin sponge soaking up the sauce and grease. The sauce--slightly sweeter at the original, and more of it on top. Cheese was fairly similar. The pepperoni at the original (mentioned by another poster) is sliced fairly thickly and doesn't curl up, and must be leaner as there is just a drop of grease in the center of each slice. A great pizza, certainly better than the franchise version, which really isn't all that bad on its own merits.

                                                                                    In addition to the pizza, nothing else has changed...the numerous photos of local sports teams through the years hanging on the wall, the mature career serving staff, the dark paneling, the bathrooms with the original 1950s fixtures all add to the atmosphere.

                                                                                    I think it's fair to say that the success of the franchises is based on a customer base who remember the original Ledo as an institution and the shape of the product, if not the exact taste of the pie 20 years out of college. But even if the franchise pie is only half as good as the original--and it is, in my book--I still find it to be an acceptable product.

                                                                                  3. Yeah, my ex boyfriend took me to a Ledo's franchise. His parents were UMD grads they love it, he grew up with it. I hated it.

                                                                                    I actually grew up in a small town in Western Maryland that had few pizza options, but across the border in Davis, WV there was this great pizza place (thank God for Italian West Virginians) that is still there. Needless to say it isn't my fiance's favorite either, but he was born in NJ and raised in VA and GA.

                                                                                    As it has been agreed here, it is all relative.

                                                                                    1. Not surprised this is a controversial topic. I grew up in Maryland in the 70s and 80s and used to go to Ledo's after Maryland basketball games and any other time I was passing through College Park. At the time there was only the original, and I remember it like it was yesterday - the long wait on the sidewalk out front, the booths with dingy yellow vinyl upholstery, the double doors in back that constantly had waiters rushing in and out, the room with the bar and more booths on the right side, and the pizza finally arriving on two school cafeteria-type trays.

                                                                                      I loved the pizza then, and it was unique - the crust had a soft, flaky texture, the sauce had some sun-dried tomato and rosemary flavors - even the cheese was different.

                                                                                      I haven't lived in the area since the late 80's, and I was excited when I heard that Ledo's was opening branches all over the area. Back in the old days I always wondered why they didn't do that - they could have made a mint.

                                                                                      Tasting the pizza again after all those years (at one of the branches in Westminster, MD), I was a little puzzled. The pizza seemed different...or had my tastes changed over the years? The basic idea was clearly the same, but the sauce seemed too sweet. My wife, who had been hearing me extol the place for years, wondered what the big deal was. I still like it, and I still go there when I'm back in the area - but I want to go back to the original. Maybe that's why they never expanded for all those years.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: rpastro

                                                                                        Being a MD native and growing up in PG County I remember places like the Pizza Wheel in Lanham, Ledo's in Hyattsville all seemed to gravitate towards the thin flour crust with greasy toppings, it was ok growing up but when we moved to Columbia Md in the late 70's I had a chance to taste Pizza in the mall in Columbia that was made by real Italian family and I never looked back. Ledo's is popular because they had a large following at the University of Md, and then opened in the suburbs and I guess everyone became victims of the areas first novelty pizza and convenient locations. But I will never understand the reasoning behind these stupid Washingtonian polls and TV polls they are bogus and not done objectively. Armand's vs Ledo's what a joke!
                                                                                        I guess if people view pizza as fast food like McDonalds then you might consider Ledo's as a viable option for Pizza but not me, I'll take a family run Italian pizza joint any day!

                                                                                        1. re: keithlb1

                                                                                          One would think an Italian-family run pizza joint would make great pizza. Yet I've tried dozens and only a handful have been memorable. Most are competent, some middling, many indifferent. And so many Italian diner-style restaurants are actually run by Greeks for some reason. Some make some great Italian standards; some have pretty decent pies (often with gyro or souvlaki meat). But are they better than Ledos? Are apples better than oranges?

                                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                            I love the folks who declare that their tastes are "binding", like we should all share their opinions.

                                                                                            I love Ledo's original, and am quite okay with the spin-offs. I still have out-of-town friends who make it a point of visiting Ledo's when they're back in town.

                                                                                      2. I personally have never had a pizza at Ledo's that made me want to crave it again. That has happened to me with Pizzeria Paradiso and Mia's in Bethesda, so far!

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: DeprivedinDC

                                                                                          To beat Joe to the question - have you had the original Ledo's? For me I'm just curious.

                                                                                          1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                            I have, in fact thats where I had my first couple experiences!!
                                                                                            Been to the ones in Tysons and Fairfax as well!!