Love & Pizza

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I just had to get back to one of of my favorite Washington, DC area pizza places, We The Pizza.  The charm, the energy, the charisma, the positive energy, and most of all, the pizza has stuck with me since my inaugural visit to their Crystal City location back in November of 2015.  You can read about that surreal experience here.

I had said I would be back here sooner rather than later.  How does nearly 14 month sound? And how surreal again is it, one the eve of one of the biggest events in the area, and in our nation in a long time.   Life is funny that way.  It presents us scenarios.  It naturally plants us in situations where we either take it or throw it back to the universe for reorganizing.

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For many, a situation might be too much too handle and we withdrawal, we have reservations, and we overthink.  Heck what am I talking about?  I was footsteps away from where there was so much commotion, and the DC version of We The Pizza was in my sights.  Maybe that’s all there is too it.   Maybe.  I didn’t have any reservations.  Speaking of which, this is what they call, casual digs, no need to call ahead and reserve a table. I I suspect some of the folks in line might be paying a hefty tab for a dinner later on this weekend if you catch what I’m saying.

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The strip of bars, shoppes, and restaurants around Capitol Hill does have some charm to it. As much as DC has become so homogenized with bloated new apartment and condo units, it still has loads of charm.  You don’t have too look too hard to find it.  I forgot one of my new favorite pizzerias was nestled right in the heart of it.  It’s been here for  over six years. I don’t think I’ve been away that long.

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The vibe was much different than it’s Virginia Counterpart.  Yes there were plenty of “What Do You Do?” types mulling about.  But there seemed to be an overall intensity of joy all around.  The sun was out and you could almost get away without wearing a jacket.  It was that nice out.  That always helps.   On first glimpse, I didn’t sense as much as dining space as in Crystal City, but then I walked around and realized wow.  There’s outdoor seating, front seating, side seating, and more upstairs.  This is the combination of cozy and widespread.   I think this has always been the norm (if plausible) in restaurants within rowhomes, but I still like to point it out

To say there was a sense of community around is a statement.  Maybe you thought I would say understatement but now.  But not an overstatement either.  People seemed happy.  I saw people saying hi to one another.  There’s good everywhere and we don’t have to look hard to find it.  I bet sharing pizza has a lot do with that.  More on that shortly.  But speaking of which…

I wanted to keep it simple this time around.  But when you see their whole assortment of pies, it’s hard to just stick with cheese and pepperoni.   I’ll get to the meats in good time. But I did go with three slices, one was one of the magnificently crafted slices I’ve had.  You may see it hiding behind the other two, in the picture on the right above.  That overused artisanal word can be applied to that one.  The unveiling is coming.  I’ll get to that in pizza three.

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I went with with the White Pizza first.   I’m going with this one initially because this shocked me how disappointing this was.  White is usually hard to make poorly but something went awry here.  All the standards are there, but was it the fontina that gave this a strange taste?  Was is the ricotta?  How about the white sauce?  Maybe the whole not equalling the sum?  Maybe it was an off day. I’m really confused.  But look how beautiful this is?  Yet, I couldn’t finish it.

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I will say the crust on all the pies is tremendous, cooked to perfection, and with the perfect charring all over the place.

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Now we move on to simple cheese.  This was fantastic.  And the cheese is just like someone’s mom used to make, and hopefully still does.   It reminds me of pizza I had when I was a kid and still luckily find periodically.  I know in the past I’ve used that similarity before, but it applies here as well.  This was so damn good.  But the fresh oregano is the key ingredient that makes this magical.

That would have been enough to make it a 2 for 2 in visits.  But this just needed a little something else didn’t it?

I’m big on dramatics, even when it comes to something simple as pizza, but I noticed one pie on the counter that didn’t have an identifier.  I asked one of the pizza makers what this was and he asked me to look at the sign up ahead.  I keep making it so hard on myself. But it also makes it exciting no?  Well someone out there will agree with me.

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Anyways, what I thought looked like a dessert pie on first glimpse was actually the Roasted Butternut Squash.  I jumped like a little kid and said “me me, I want one!”   No that didn’t actually happen but my enthusiasm level went to a brand new level.  I’m building this thing up in anticipation of eating.  I deliberately saved this one for last and to call this a masterpiece would not be enough.   I just wish I noticed this sooner.  The squash by itself tasted fresh out of the garden. And as individual pieces they were perfect.  I pulled a few off for safe eating.

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Everything that was incorporated brought all the other flavors and textures to life.  From the goat cheese, to the caramelized onions, the thyme, the balsamic glaze, and the bechamel?

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I would be lying if I just threw bechamel acting like I use that word regularly.  But after reading about it, I see that it has just as much importance to this pie as everything else.  And I will now be on the lookout for other meals and foods that use bechamel.  But I really know what it is, I swear!  How many times can I say that without looking like a complete goof. Bechamel bechamel bechamel! Yum!

I need more of that squash pie.   I should have just ordered one to go and did what I could to preserve it to enjoy over the next few days.  That just means I’ll need to come back.  And it won’t be another year plus for the next recap.  This place is too good not to be applauded for all their fantastic za.

All three slices came out to $12 and change.  For the location, that’s more than reasonable.   Cheese is $3 and most other slices are $4.

And for all the good they do too.  Here are some links on that, being in the community and helping the environment.

If you’ve never been or are traveling to the area this weekend or anytime, here is their contact information, locations, and news feed.

This is what I alluded to earlier.  Pizza, almost 100% of the time, makes people feel good, it brings people together.  At that moment you’re enjoying a marvelous pizza pie, with good friends, good family, or whatever awesome company you may have, and just loving life. This is the whole point of  why I write about pizza and why We The Pizza does what they do.

The “We” and the “Us” is paramount here.

The charming pictures on their restroom wall help too!

Like I said earlier, they have too many slices not do be revisited again.  So I hope WE do.

WE’ll do it again soon!

Ideen

 

 

 

Brick N Fire Fridays

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I had heard so much about BrickNFire Pizza out of Catonsville, MD, that I knew I was destined to try it.   How or where I would have my first encounter would be purely unplanned.

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As luck would have it, I was enjoying myself at a wine festival last Friday, and I was happy to see they were serving up their pies as part of the event.

In talking to people in the past, the great majority of them have sung the praises of their pizza.  They’ve said how great the crust tastes.  And that the overall flavor and presentation is distinct.   Their toppings are homegrown which is always a plus. And they make their own sauce.  Everything sounds amazing here. And in just the one year they’ve been operating, they have made a wonderful impression on a lot of pizza lovers.    Sounds like a recipe for success.

However, to my surprise, I did not have the best of experiences.  I can take what people tell me and use the information as a basis to form my own opinion. And maybe understand where they’re coming from. But in this instance something fell flat.

I do say this with a disclaimer, I got my pizza in the latter stages of the evening.  I ordered the Megan’s, which looked really good on paper.  I don’t think I’ve ever had squash on a pie, so I was really excited to try it.

To my disappointment, they were out of their Heirloom Tomatoes, as they told me this was the fastest selling pizza of the night.  I can understand that and willing to try something else.   The staff there suggested green peppers in place of that and I was ok with that.

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It just did not come together well.   I could see the tomatoes were a huge part of this one, and the flavor was missing.  But, there were a couple of other things wrong.   I didn’t taste much in the way of basil on half the pie.  The garlic oil and mozzarella seemed non-existent. It just tasted very plain to me.  However, the vegetables were great.   I really liked  the squash and the peppers were fresh but they did not fit in with this pizza at all.  And I will not give them demerit points for offering a new topping to replace the tomatoes.

But I will question the $15 for this pie.  I understand this being market price but I don’t see the justification in the cost, especially for not having all the ingredients as advertised.

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The dough was tasty and the burnt parts really added something.   A friend who was with me liked how certain parts were more charred than others, but agreed with me that the pie had been compromised. It was a serviceable yet mediocre creation.  I think the soul was missing from here. And that’s just as important as anything else.

I like Neapolitan-style pizza so this made me sad.

I know it was towards the end of the evening, but this was disappointing.   They also took a while to making my order by a few minutes longer than promised.  I understand they were backed up, but I feel as if I hadn’t come back to check on my food, they may have forgotten about me.  Heating it up at this temperature only takes a few minutes.

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With all this being said, I will definitely try one of their za’s again.  I have mainly heard positive things about their pies, so I was a bit surprised at my troubling experience.  Their wood-fired oven looks impressive and I have posted pictures of the massive work of art. I’m not big on first impressions, and I expect my next pie to be nothing short of stellar.

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For more on the wine festival I attended, where BricknFire was click here.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen