I had been greatly anticipating the opportunity to write about &pizza, but only if the circumstance and proper location presented itself. I know not every week can nor should be an existential piece on why we love pizza, and why it brings such joy to our lives. But it certainly makes for a fun discussion, and more importantly, what’s the point if there can’t be enjoyment.
That’s why I find great satisfaction in finally finding the proper instance to talk about my experience with this charming and fascinating pizza paradise.
This is not my first rodeo with &pizza. But previous visits didn’t feel right to elaborate on. I’m hoping that makes sense. There should be a little story behind the neighborhood, the time of day it was, the mood, the ambiance, and all those other quirks that can make the pizza experience all the more memorable, or in some instances forgettable but fun to make fun of.
My visit to the historic Barracks Row location, checks off many of those boxes and brought a little something more to the table than I expected. How I ended up here is just one of those meant to be scenarios. But in my traditional curious sense, I needed to see what was nearby, in terms of shopping, food, and of course the za.
It’s funny because I used to spend a lot more time here in what feels like a lifetime ago, but I didn’t recognize it at first. Some of the bars and restaurants look the same but other than that, like most major cities, more stuff and more stuff is has come and is coming. That means a few more chains but hopefully more local business as well.
&pizza is a local chain that is only going to continue to grow. With stores in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, and soon to be in New York, you know it’s only going to get bigger.
But it originated in DC first (here is my history of DC area pizza), so that’s where I’m going to begin.
What I loved instantly about this location is the warm welcome from the two team members working the counter. It was a little bit after lunch hours so maybe the chaos of people had subsided, and they could be a bit more personable, but this was from the heart. And I sensed these folks would be like this no matter how many customers were waiting and how high the stress level may be.
That kind of kindness is usually going to make your food taste better. I truly believe that. There was a personable aura that is always appreciated. And this is in Washington, DC, which isn’t the most welcoming and people tend to be in a rush around-the-clock.
I wanted it simple, so I went with the Gnarlic. Yes that’s exactly how it’s spelled. I wanted a white pizza with some veggies and on whole grain bread. Yes you have your choice of white or ancient grains. I wanted to pretend I was eating healthier. Maybe I was.
This is over-the-counter style, so everything is made and heated in front of you, and ready to serve in five minutes. Because I was one of the few people at the time, that wait time felt even shorter. Maybe time just stood still.
While I was waiting, I noticed the craft soda machine. I guess I never noticed that before. I usually never order a beverage in a quick place like this. It’s usually water. But for the sake of the experience and trying something new I went with the Pear + Fig Elixir. This was something special. I highly recommend this. What’s funny is while I thought it tasted amazing, I had forgotten that it was pear and fig that it was tasting. It was a fruit punch that was a punch to the heart and soul, but in a good way.
So my pizza came out and boy does that look beautiful right?
This was a thankfully light and crisp pizza. Like I stated I’d been here before but never found it memorable, until now. The garlic and onions were the stand outs. It was just like eating a simple flat bread or pita bread like I’ve done many times before. I wasn’t in the mood for thick and doughy crust this time. And since the weather was nicer this encouraged a lighter fare. What did surprise me is I didn’t taste much of the pesto that was drizzled on beautifully. Maybe it was meant to taste light? But that part wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.
The cheese also tasted lighter, which I definitely welcomed. I just adored the shape of this pizza pie. I adored so much of it. And the charm and the ambiance of the place certainly helped. As did seemingly having the whole place to myself for a bit.
The sun was shining, house music was playing inside, and I had a beautiful view of DC and a mix of locals and tourists strolling along enjoying the view. Is this DC or another dimension? How about a little bit of both. And &pizza is a big a part of that. There’s a feel good vibe that should be the norm but still might be the exception.
This is only the beginning of my recaps of their pizzas. They have a bunch of locations and a bunch of pizzas to try. When I go them again will be up to the universe and some complete random series of events. Or I just walk into a location, haha. I feel like this set the bar very high and will be hard to match. I welcome the challenge.
Stay gnarlic, oops I mean gnarley, or something.