With three Italian restaurants opening on 14th Street within the past three weeks, the stretch of sidewalk between the neighborhoods of Logan Circle and U Street is earning the nickname "Little Italy." This means there are now at least seven places to get pizza along 14th between Florida Avenue and P Street, whether you want to eat upscale slices in a window seat, or get a greasy hangover-preventing slice after a night of hard drinking. How do they rate?
Convenience: it's a new restaurant on 14th Street, so yeah, you're going to have to wait (though, on my visit, seats at the bar opened up within five minutes).
Creativity: It's probably going to have either salami or anchovy on it, since those are the restaurant's two specialties. But cauliflower, pine nuts, capers, leeks and egg make an appearance on the pizza section of Etto's menu.
Crust: Superior taste. It might come from the fact that the flour is milled in-house, and cooked in an oak-fired oven.
Cost: Pricey. Most six-slice pizzas cost $17. One daily special last week -- a porcini, spring garlic and leek pizza with Mangalitsa ham -- cost $23.
Convenience: Given the new restaurant's popularity, there will be a wait. When it comes to the actual convenience of eating the pizza, you're going to have to work a little harder, too. The pizzas are presented uncut, the way it's done in Italy -- but you may find yourself sawing away at them with a serrated knife.
Creativity: Besides your standard mozzarella, you'll find rapini, fennel seeds, pea shoots, wood-roasted onions and anchovy among the toppings on Ghibellina's pizzas.
Crust: If it's difficult to cut, that's because it's pleasantly crispy, with a bubbly, browned crust.
Cost: Pizzas with toppings range from $13-$18. One pizza is only topped with olive oil -- it's intended to be eaten with the charcuterie -- that costs $6.
Homemade Pizza Co.
Convenience: Easier than tossing and topping your own pie, though much less rewarding. Requires an oven.
Creativity: Medium-High. You decide what goes on your pie out of more than 40 toppings.
Crust: Uncooked! But available in deep dish, regular and whole wheat.
Cost: Up to $21.95 (or even more with more toppings). Too high for something you could still burn, drop or otherwise ruin.
Convenience: Medium. The barely-opened restaurant is crowded, but plenty of bar seating makes a walk-in far from impossible.
Creativity: High. More than 50 different pizza combinations, with toppings such as smoked salmon and Brazilian cheese.
Crust: Thin, crisp and lightly charred, but slightly bland.
Cost: $9.50 to $15.50 for a 12-inch pie.
Convenience: This restaurant seats 260, but it always seems full.
Creativity: There are 14 choices on the regular menu, ranging from the delicate (prosciutto and black mission fig) to the heavy (pepperoni, sausage, bacon and mozzarella). The Fire and Smoke is probably the spiciest pizza you can get on 14th Street.
Crust: Matchbox set the pace for the District's thin-crust pizza renaissance, and while others may have caught up, it remains a solid, smoke-singed thin crust option.
Cost: $12-$14 for a 10-inch, $20-$22 for a 14-inch
Convenience: Since it's one of the older restaurants by 14th Street standards, seats were plentiful when we stopped by for happy hour.
Creativity: Ham and mushrooms are the stars of Posto's pizza menu, but a vegetarian pizza offers up zucchini, eggplant and red peppers. For an extra $3, you can add truffle oil to a pizza with spinach, ricotta and egg.
Crust: Wood-fired within view, but not to excessive crispiness.
Cost: $13-$15, but you can get them for $6 at happy hour from 5-7 p.m.
Manny & Olga's
Convenience: High. Walk in and out with a slice in under 3 minutes.
Creativity: Low. Nothing out of the ordinary from a delivery joint, but exactly what you're looking for after last call.
Crust: Pallid, flavorless carbs. (But after a night of bar-hopping? Highly, highly edible!)
Cost: $3.50 per slice to $18.99 for a large, deluxe pie.