I’m skeptical of new, hyped pizza places, which almost always disappoint me. But Flippin’ Pizza turns out to be actually really good. We went to the Bethesda (Old Georgetown) location but there is also one in Silver Spring, on Colesville, and others elsewhere.
Fantastic crust, so thin you can’t believe it can bear the weight of toppings, but it is so crisp and solid that it does. Good sauce-crust-cheese ratio, and the cheese in particular is richly flavorful with a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel — maybe a surprise because I have grown used to substandard cheese on pizza. Toppings are fine, but it’s really the crust that makes it.
Limited menu, with above-average salad (cannelini beans a nice touch), good pepperoni bites (more of that great dough). Garlic twists had nice flavor but the dough seemed different, more chewy and less flavor, maybe a bad batch or maybe I just imagined it. Didn’t try a calzone. Overall very good, not sure I prefer it over Ella’s or Paradiso but Flippin’ is in the flippin’ ballpark. Then again, my most recent visit to Ella’s was sub-par, so Flippin’ is lookin’ even better.
Started as a food truck, now brick-and-mortar District of Pi has been open at 9th and F for a couple of months now, and is the opposite of a food truck: it is cavernous. Looks stylish but small from the street, but goes (Chris Bermanesque) back-back-back-back-back, and opens wider and ceilings get higher the further you go. Through the looking glass. Just as stylish inside as outside, though all the open space and exposed brick and iron make conversation nearly impossible without yelling.
Oh, and there’s pizza, both deep-dish and thin crust. I was prepared to be underwhelmed but I thought the pizza was decent, though the deep-dish ratio is weighted much too heavily toward tomatoes. Cornmeal crust has decent flavor but could be flakier, or crisper, or something. Meatball topping is very good if occasionally undercooked. I didn’t actually try the thin crust but my dining companion said it was pretty good. Looked like substandard Neopolitan style to me, not nearly singed enough around the edges, but since I didn’t taste it I’ll stop there.
Prices seem high at π until you discover that the smaller size is enough for two people, unless one of the people is incredibly hungry. So it’s actually a decent deal if you’re willing to share. The vast army of servers is friendly, but it takes a long time to get your food — they warn you up front that the deep-dish will take more than a half hour, so it’s fair, but still makes a business lunch difficult unless you are the kind of person who has no trouble taking a long business lunch. That aside, the Pi folks are a likeable bunch, into community involvement and ecological sustainability and social media and whatnot, so it’s nice that the food is at least decent.
WaPo’s GOGblog is soliciting ideas for best dishes from DC-area mom’n’pop places (thanks for the catch, Mrs. Me!). One of their examples is the pupusas at Irene’s III, which are indeed good, though I think not as good as the ones at Antipuqueño. Lots of good pupusas in Wheaton, maybe we will do a top five list someday. Anyway — send your Wheatony votes to the GOGgers!
In non-‘burbs news, today’s Food section includes a brief Sietsema review of the new District of Pi, where he seems to like just about everything except the actual pizza. So far citizen reviewers seem to like it better; I’m a bit put off by the prices, which are higher than Ella’s, which is great and only a half-block away. Totally different styles though. I will at some point try the Pi. I just wish they had a happy hour special personal pizza for $3.14…
Has Mia’s (4926 Cordell, Bethesda) really been open since 2007? It seems like a smaller 2Amys to me, with similarly tasty pizza, better (less harried) service, well-decorated space, and equally too-loud, partly because tables are too close together. I understand they’re just trying to make a profit, but the space is extremely small and there is nothing to dampen the sound. It’s a good problem for them to have, since the reason it got so loud is that the place was packed, with several groups waiting to get in when we finished.
Positives: service was excellent, from hostess to (especially) servers. Nice little beverage list, including Tupper’s Hop Pocket on tap, which I got and enjoyed. Good variety of pies, though Mrs. Me and I stayed in our usual pepperoni rut: it was very good, a fine crust-sauce-cheese-meat balance, though the crust could be a bit more charred and it wasn’t quite as flavorful as, say, Ella’s downtown. Still, a big winner by Bethesda standards.
Less good: aside from too loud and no elbow room, we just weren’t wowed by the food, though it was fine; for example, arugula/pear salad was…fine. Maybe fine is all an arugula/pear salad needs to be? Mac’n’cheese was a nice portion for $4.95 and appropriately gooey, but kind of bland.
Overall we enjoyed dinner, and if we lived in Bethesda and especially if we had Mini-Us (also like 2Amys, Mia’s is a kid-friendly restaurant), we would go more often — but on the early side, before the place gets packed and the decibels explode.
Had to try the Hot-N-Ready® pepperoni pizza from Wheaton’s new Little Caesars outpost at Ennalls/Viers Mill. It has been at least 20 years since I last ate an LC pizza. I love the HNR® concept: no pre-order, just walk in and walk right out with a pizza, quick and easy. And at the Wheaton LC it worked exactly as advertised, by far the most efficient entire-pizza (as opposed to by the slice) transaction I’ve ever had. So, props to their customer service and the assembly line.
Too bad the crust is still as bad as it was 20+ years ago. Cheese, sauce, and pepperoni are all adequate, no better or worse than other national chains. But the crust is spongy, floppy, devoid of taste or interest. At the current rate of $5 for a large, the Hot-N-Ready® is a fair deal if you don’t mind awful crust, but I’m guessing someday the price will go up.
I am now addicted to the ® symbol.
Today’s big news (h/t WaPo) is that the General Store is out of business. Landlord trouble? YouTube trouble? Chicken shortage? Who knows for sure. Gillian and Robin didn’t do themselves too many PR favors, but I will miss their food.
Meanwhile, Patch has the story of Little Caesars’ invasion of greater DC including Wheaton, but it is a pretty generic writeup; the author avoids discussing what actually happened when he visited LC on the ides. Perhaps he is of the “if you can’t say something nice…” school. Et tu, Rob Ciesielski? I say Romani ite domum.
UPDATE: On reflection, I think I was unfair; I have no beef with Li’l C and haven’t eaten there for years. So I resolve to put my mouth where my blog is and actuaaly try the pizza from their Wheaton location, and then write about it. This post was really just a product of my reflexive anti-national-chain bias, and the irresistable urge to link to Monty Python.
We have wished in the past for better pizza options in Wheaton. Little Caesars was not what we had in mind, but it’s what we got, either just opened or about to open at 2567 Ennalls, at Viers Mill across from CVS. Their “hot-n-ready” concept does not exactly scream “quality” does it? Not sure LC is a better option, but it is an option, and I bet they’ll do decent business.
Meanwhile, the Limerick Pub is crying wolf (or maybe crying Guiness, hard to tell from here) again, with its grand opening now set for March 7 (a Monday). Sounds like it is for realz this time. Can’t wait!