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Non authentic pizza in dc

So I just moved back to DC with my girlfriend, who is from Vermont. She is looking for a pizza place that has the kind of pizza she liked back there, namely non authentic, american as hell, puffy crust, drenched in cheese goodness. And you know what? I'm starting to agree with her. To hell with this authentic margherita DOC approved pizza. I want some American pizza. Where in DC has some good pizza with puffy (not thick chicago or sicilian style) crust? None of this coal or wood fired charred crust pizza. I want massive amounts of shredded mozzerella and grease everywhere. Dominos and papa john's won't cut it. I tried ordering her angelicos and pizza movers. Both times she said not enough crust, not enough cheese.

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  1. Why can't you find that at Sbarro's? Ask for extra cheese or well done if the regular version doesn't provide enough of what you're looking for. Plus adding salt will give you that true greasy/salty/cheese-gum drippy quality you are looking for.

    Also, you can get some Penzy's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle to add to any pizza at home for that spicy/cheesy/ salty kick.

    In Clarendon, there is a former Little Tavern called Goody's with a nice NY corner-slice pizza, but you still might have to ask for extra cheese.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      The fact that Sbarro and Jerry's are made with hobo piss notwithstanding, neither of them deliver. I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm looking for something of decent quality, just not fancy italian style. I'm not looking for bad pizza, just not authentic pizza. Review sites don't really help because everything that gets good ratings is 2amys/red rocks/pizza paradiso style, which is awesome, just not what I'm looking for.

      Goody's sounds promising, but I'm in Columbia Heights, so it's a little far for a friday night carryout.

      1. re: TenleyExpat

        "hobo piss"

        I'm gonna steal that phrase FYI.

        1. re: TenleyExpat

          Goody's won't give you that. It's thin like NYC slice. What you're going for can be found at Famous Luigi's on 19th Street NW. Delicious and thick, but not pan or Chicago.

        1. Before I decided that eating pizza wasn't very good for me, I had settled on Vocelli's as the best of the Papa John's/Domino's kind of pie. You might give one a try.

          Also, what your friend describes sounds a good big like what Valentino's (between Annandale and Landmark in Alexandria) makes. You'd probably want to ask for extra cheese. I occasionally sneak in there for a slice when I'm feeling naughty or too healthy. ;)

          9 Replies
          1. re: MikeR

            Valentino's is more NY style than what it sounds like the OP wants.

            1. re: sweth

              Oh, not that old argument again. Someone recently described New Jersey style and it sounded to me a lot like Valentino's, which calls their pizza New York style. The's no pizza, barbecue, chili, mexican food, or even Chinese food here that's just like why you think you remember from some other city. Not gonna happen.

              "Grease everywhere" suggests sausage, though mozarella makes for an oily surface, but it's different from the boutique Neopolitan-crase pizzas that use a cheese that weeps more milky than oily. And there's puffy-at-the-edges (I think this is what he wants) which is different from puffy-everywhere Chicago style.

              There's good pizza to be had around here. We can make a good try at sending TenlyExpat off to try some pizzas that aren't what he says he isn't looking for and maybe he'll find something that appeals.

              1. re: MikeR

                ?? Not sure what your knickers are getting in a twist over, or what old argument you're referring to. Nor do I know what New Jersey pizza has to do with this discussion (or even what it is), or what a "puffy-everywhere Chicago style" would be (in my experience, Chicago-style usually means more biscuit-like than puffy).

                Regardless, to clarify my statement: the OP specifically asked for a puffy and not-charred crust, and complained that the ones they had tried had not enough crust; it sounds like what he's looking for is the soft-but-not-thick style of crust that places like Papa John's have, only with good quality rather than fast-food quality. And if that's the case, then I stand by my original statement: Valentino's crust tends to be more NY-style--relatively thin, a little charred on the bottom, and firm enough that you can fold a slice in half and the bottom of the crust will crack a little--and thus probably not exactly what he's looking for; he'd be better off finding a place that cooks the pizzas on pans/sheets rather than directly on the oven shelf as Valentino's does, as that's the key to that soft-all-over crust.

                (Tenley, if I'm misunderstanding what you're looking for, please clarify.)

                1. re: sweth

                  I've went to Valentino's for the first time recently. It's traditional NY/NJ pizza, and I think very good. I don't know "Vermont pizza" but I do know Boston suburbs Greek pizza, and this stands up very well to all of the above.

                  It also reminded me of Italian Store pizza of 2 or more years ago (which has been on a pizza nosedive recently). Valentino's also compares for taste but not substance (i.e., it's heavier than) Tony's New York Pizza in Fairfax, which is also good.

                  So all in all and not to be too snooty, Valentino's is a welcome alternative to the pompous and faddish DC Neopolitan, margherita, fresh moz, wood fired, and charred crust "pizza" that seems sophisticated here but is just plain weird to the rest of the world.

                  Italian Store
                  3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                  New York Pizza
                  1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

                  1. re: Geeyore

                    Just to add insult to injury, not only is the Italian Store pizza not quite as good as it used to be, it is also smaller now.
                    But back to the original posters question, maybe the original Ledo's. It isn't properly a pizza, it seems like it is more a sauce and cheese pie with sausage and that might just fit the prescription needed. But is the original still open? The other locations just don't measure up.

                    Italian Store
                    3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                    Ledo Restaurant
                    4509 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

                    1. re: Ziv

                      The original Ledo's is moving from Langley to College Park, but I dont' think it fits the OP's description. Ledo's is a thin, crackery crust. Not chewy or puffy at all, although they're generous with the toppings. Maybe Bugsy's in Old Town? They serve mostly deep dish but they also have a thick, puffy crust and an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, but that cheese coagulates pretty quick.

                      Ledo Restaurant
                      4509 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

                  2. re: sweth

                    Nope, that's exactly what I am looking for, I wanted to put it in pretty much the exact same words but I knew the charlatans would just say HUR HUR THEN GO TO PAPA JOHNS!

                    1. re: TenleyExpat

                      The replies (including mine) suggest that you won't find everything you want in any one pizza that people have experienced around here. I stand by my suggestion that you keep trying places that you haven't tried that exhibit some of the characteristics you're looking for and see if you can come up with one that you consistently like.

                      People's range and definition of parameters such as puffy, charred, thin, crisp vary a lot. Nor are there measurable standards for NY Pizza or any other regional style. I can remember pre-Internet when Armand's brought "Chicago" pizza to the area (followed shortly by Uno), other places that made just plain ol' pizza started making thick, buttery crust pizzas, mostly in square pans, that were similar in concept, taste, and feel to the Chicago pizzas making the rounds, and calling it "Neapolitan style" which, we've recently been taught is something completely different.

                      Hope you find a pizza you like. If not, look forward to one on a trip home.

              2. re: MikeR

                Love Valentino's -- best slice anywhere in DC metro - but I don't think that's what Ex-Pat's looking for.

              3. I really laughed when I read this as I lived in VT for several years before I moved here and I thought the "Greek pizza" found everywhere there was godawful. The one pizza place I found in VT that I adored was Wicked Good Pizza in Ludlow, but I digress.

                I hated PIzza Autentica here (on L St.) -- very greasy and drippy. I'm thinking she might really like it. I'm recommending it too because I have a friend here who thinks it's wonderful. It might be worth trying.

                2 Replies
                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                  Well if you have spent any time in Burlington, Big Daddy's there is what she is trying to emulate. I have never heard of Vermont Greek pizza, but when I lived there I pretty much stayed in Burlington. I had no idea Vermont even had its own style.

                  1. re: TenleyExpat

                    I never had pizza in Burlington; I lived four hours from there. I think of "Vermont PIzza" and "Greek pizza" as synonymous. I would go to a pizza place and think "this is horrible", then go to another and think "this is also horrible, and similar to the last one" etc. etc. etc. When I asked, I was told that everyone sold "Greek pizza". Mystery solved. Eventually I gave up on pizza until I discovered Wicked Good in Ludlow - I drove an hour plus for it when I had a strong pizza craving.

                2. angelos. a bunch of locations around nw dc

                  1. You want Juliano's off Route 1 south of the Beltway. No-frills basic carryout pie with a solid, chewy crust. Sauce is just right: not sickly sweet like Papa John's or revolting like Domino's. They make a white pizza with garlic sauce and ricotta that's pretty much Death by Cheese.



                    I really like Valentino's as well, but that's more like a classic thin and floppy NY slice.

                    1. I signed up for a chowhound account simply to answer this question because you've articulated a dilemma of my own that ive recently solved. try toscana near union station http://www.toscanacateringdc.com/menu.... order the ny style sausage pizza. it fits the description of what you want perfectly,

                      1. Screw "proper" pizza. You're looking for pizza that tastes good and is greasy as hell. Go for UNO in Union Station for greasy thick crust. If you want local, Generous Georges on Duke Street (thin crust, but awesome sauce), or Armand's on Capitol Hill (for their lunch buffet).

                        Generous George's
                        3006 Duke St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: justaddwater

                          Generous George is no more in Alexandria. They are in Herndon and are now trying to turn it into a franchise. From the website, there is one other location in Johnson City, TN. Personally, I don't think it could hold a candle to Magic Mushroom, which is a very successful franchise in the South.

                          Generous George's
                          3006 Duke St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                          1. re: Steve

                            one word..Anthony's in Falls Church.its good but heavy and greasy in the good sense,,also Slice n' Dice in Crystal City, although the crust isn't puffy, the sauce is fresh and zesty and they use a shredded Mozz and provolone mix that drips cheesy "goodness"..its great boardwalk style pizza

                            1. re: TomA

                              Second the pizza at Anthony's. A hearty dense pie. Also, if you're looking to kill yourself with pasta and cheese, they have a dish called something like the "Italian Special," which is basically meatballs, noodles, stuffed shells and ravioli covered in sauce, smothered in mozzarella, and baked.

                          2. re: justaddwater

                            I was going to recommend Armand's also - they say they serve Chicago-style deep dish, but fear not, this is not at all what they have. What they have, if you order the deep dish, is like what a Pizza Hut pan pizza would be in a world without undue concern for profit margins. Win.

                            Also, I haven't been, but Pete's New Haven style Apizza is in your neighborhood, and it's certainly not the Neopolitan style that you're trying to avoid.

                          3. Stromboli in Bethesda (2-3 blocks from the metro on South on Wisconsin Ave.) has what you're looking for. Decent, puffy crust, and nothing fancy. I also like Victors, which is also in Bethesda, but on Cordell Ave, which is more like 4 blocks North from the metro.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HilkaryIC

                              I used to love getting the frozen stromboli's for pinch-hit nights at home, etc. I think I used to like the pie but can't remember the details (it's been 6 or more years).

                            2. I think the others have pointed you in the right direction. I'd add Washington Deli, downtown, L and 19th I believe. Good pie, not sure if they're open evenings/weekends, but my office used to order it and it was consistently good. Puffy crust, floppy slices, three slices and you aren't hungry for the rest of the day.

                              I would like to echo your frustration with "fancy pizza." On a recent trip to the place at Eastern Market, 7th Hill Pizza (wood oven, clever t-shirted staff, $8 bottles of beer), the pizza-jockey actually interrupted my conversation with my wife repeatedly to either demonstrate his prowess at throwing dough in the air or to request affirmation that his pizza was exceptional.

                              Two people eating pizza, one of them having a glass of wine, should not a $50 date be, authentic or not.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: fisherdm

                                So how was the pizza? Can I assume it wasn't worth the $50 pricetag? Because I was considering trying the place, but then I looked at the prices and had a hard time justifying going there. I think my biggest problem is the sizes: a small is 8" and a large is 12". A local place I used to frequent did a similar downsizing; their "large" went from 15" down to 12". So now I go to Valentino's where a large is still 20" and their crust and sauce tastes far superior to any "fancy pizza" I've yet to try.

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  OK, I cranked up the ol' abacus and calculated, assuming that they're really round, that the area of an 8" pizza is two square inches less than 1/6 (a Valentino's slice) of a 20" pizza. No wonder one Valentino's slice is enough of a lunch for me. An 8-incher would be about right (though a slice at Valentino's is 5 bucks or less). Q 10" Pie-Tanza lunch special is about a lunch and a half, and a Pupatella is a lunch and a dinner.

                                  All this talk about pi is making me hungry.

                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                    Monkey - It was fine. Just fine. For this genre, not as good as either Matchbox, 2 Amy's or Paradiso, however.

                                  2. re: fisherdm

                                    Amen! But as long as people continue to patronize these places, the problem will continue. It's outrageous.

                                    1. re: KevinS

                                      Except for Vace, which is carry-out only, there is no decent alternative to the Napolitan places. All these other joints, Valentino's, Anthony's,Washington Deli, whatever, are serving stuff I can't bring myself to eat. I'd rather stay home and heat up a toaster tart. People patronize the Napolitan places (I haven't been to 7th Hill) because they make some of the best food in the world: a simple Napolitan pie. They are willing to shell out the money for bufalo mozzarella which is a fantastic but expensive ingredient. Still, if you compare a meal out in a restaurant to getting a $14 pie from a place like Pizzeria Orso, it is still less expensive to go to the pizzeria.

                                      It is possible to make very good American-style pizza but everything else I've heard about or tried in this area is nothing more than a diversion from good food.

                                      3315 Connecticut Avenue NW, DC 20008

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        I'd hardly characterize the burnt soupy pizza "pie" at 2 Amys as "the best food in the world." Best burnt pizza soup pie, maybe. Although the authentically deafening nursery atmosphere does tend to distract from its soupiness.

                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                          If you don't like that kind of pizza, that's your choice. I just had another great pizza at 2 Amys last week. I'm just explaining why a good Napolitan pie, even at its priciest, is not a bad value for many folks out there compared to going out for a restaurant meal, especially in DC.

                                          Personally, I like a good Jersey shore pie, I loved the old Armand's on Wisconsin before they expanded, Gepetto's in Georgetown before they moved, and a few obscure ones that are no longer with us, from Bills of Beverly Hills (Georgetown) to the old Mario's on River Rd. in Bethesda - no relation to the Arlington place. I am open to all kinds of deliciousness. Unfortunately the ones being touted on this board are intensely lame.

                                          A freshly baked Vace pie with olives and onions is the only great alternative to 2 Amys, Red Rocks, Pupatella, Orso, Pie Tanza, and the like.

                                          5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

                                          1. re: Steve

                                            And if you don't like local non-neapolitan pizzas, that's your choice. I see nothing "lame" about Valentino's or Anthony's or Famous Luigi's or Washington Deli. They're not trying to be "fancy" pies, just decent pizzas with fresh ingredients. And as for mozzarella di bufalo, purists insist that it should be eaten within days, even hours, after being made. Like bread, the stuff doesn't travel well. So that who-knows-how-old cheese the fancy pie places peddle isn't really that more flavorful that a decent, locally made cheese. It's just more expensive, which is what the OP and others are railing against.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              I am not intimately familiar with the practices of Pupatella, 2 Amys, Orso, et al. If you know for a fact that the bufalo mozzarella is past its prime, then come out and say so. Judging from the flavor, I would say they have excellent quality control. At Pupatella, I have ordered the regular and the bufalo side by side with a group, and I can taste a big difference.

                                              5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

                                              1. re: Steve

                                                If the mozzarella di buffalo is more than 48 hours old, then it's past its prime. Like a baguette, it's best eaten fresh from the oven. Both are still edible later, but both have a completely different flavor profile.

                                            2. re: Steve

                                              Sorry, this is really bugging me. I think you mean "Neapolitan" and not "Napolitan".

                                              1. re: reiflame

                                                You're right, that is the English word. But I had an Italian friend in elementary school whose name was Napolitan (from naples), and I guess it stuck.

                                    2. Vince and Dominic's in Bethesda. It's behind Montgomery Mall, in the same little strip mall as Five Guys. Last time I ate there, the pizza was good, but not "authentic". It was very cheesy, and the crust was kind of bready. It was a satisfying pizza, but remember to order it with extra cheese.