The Washington Post
Best pizza photo
( Pete's New Haven Style Apizza; Photo by Leah L. Jones)

Best pizza

The Washington Post Staff  |  Updated 04/17/2013

Although we don't have a homegrown style, we do have a stable of great chefs and pizzaiolos riffing on classic styles in restaurants and bars that fit any mood. Whether you're looking for pizza and a great beer, pizza with the game or just a place for pizza with the family, there's something in the area that's just right for you.


Comet Ping Pong

Washington, DC

One wouldn't expect a place boasting free ping-pong and rock-and-roll shows to be so solid in the pizza department, but Comet's thin, yeasty crusts and fresh, imaginative toppings are what bring the crowds to this Northwest restaurant. If you go before 8 p.m., expect to dine in the company of families. Comet's casual atmosphere and laid-back, friendly service make this a great place to bring the whole gang. Pizzas are individual-size; cooked in an igloo-shaped, wood-burning stove; and come with topping combinations such as the Yalie, with fresh clams, garlic, melted onions, thyme and Parmesan. (Offers gluten free. Best for families.)


Lost Dog Cafe

Arlington, VA

It may be as well known for its dazzlingly expansive sandwich menu and exceptional beer selection, but the Lost Dog Cafe also has been serving up pretty impressive pizzas in North Arlington's Westover neighborhood since 1985. Though you can expect a bit of a wait on weekends, let the crowds reassure you that you have made a good choice. Salty, somewhat bready crusts of medium thickness host generous portions of classic toppings. (Offers pizzas made with gluten-free dough. Best for families.)


Mia's Pizzas

Bethesda, MD

With its pleasant yellow-and-green color scheme and outdoor seating, Mia's is perhaps one of the most cheerful pizza parlors in the area, and it's quite popular with Bethesda families. Go for the generous antipasto platter and salads, the salsiccia pizza for its mix of sausage, pepperoni and portobello, and a mini Mia's pizza for your little one. (Best for families)


Pete's New Haven Style Apizza

Washington, DC

Want a single pizza that can easily feed and please the entire family? Pete's 18-inch pies are enough for a decent-size brood. A crust that is chewy on the inside with a nicely charred, crispy surface means that the pizzas are as delicious as they are large. A menu favorite celebrating the pizza's port-city roots dapples a white pizza with tender clams, pecorino Romano, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. The restaurant's three locations are all laid-back counter-service operations, an unfussy setting perfect for diners-in-training. (Offers pizzas made with gluten-free dough. Best for families.)


Pizzeria Orso

Falls Church, VA

Pizzeria Orso opened last year to instant excitement and acclaim. The suburban operation by the folks behind fine-dining destination 2941 had snared local pizza guru Edan MacQuaid to man its Italian-style wood-burning oven. Critics oohed and aahed over the perfect Neapolitan pies. But MacQuaid packed his bags earlier this year when management began abandoning the strict Neapolitan standards in favor of a more family-friendly concept. While the quality of the pies hasn't fully recovered from his departure, the Falls Church pizzeria has been transformed into a spot to take the kids for a slightly more sophisticated slice. (Best for families.)


Del Ray Pizzeria

Alexandria, VA

A little more than a year ago, Alexandria native Eric Reid, of the late Del Merei Grill, was hired to rescue this young and failing pizzeria/sports bar concept. First, Reid moved away from Chicago-style pan pizzas in favor of lighter, crispier pies topped with fresh, seasonal ingredients. He also began rotating in some of the hearty comfort food that he made his name with -- try the jambalaya pasta or patty melt and ask whether the fried pickles are available. On game nights, the restaurant's bar area fills up with fans of area sports teams, the Capitals and Redskins being the biggest draws. (Best for the game.)



Washington, DC

Let's be clear, we're not suggesting that you settle in at this veteran Penn Quarter favorite to actually watch the game over one of the restaurant's thin-crust 10- or 14-inch pizzas. Rather, the local chain's Chinatown original is one of our favorite places to fuel up before walking two blocks to catch the Capitals or Wizards at Verizon Center. It's best to stick with such classics as pepperoni or sausage and onions, which also happen to be the pies that Matchbox does best. (Best for the game.)


Stained Glass Pub

Silver Spring, MD

This neighborhood institution is the kind of place where the Little League team goes after games, groups get together for karaoke and friends gather on Sundays to catch the game on TV. Since it opened in 1973, the screens have gotten bigger, but the pizza is still cracker-thin, greasy and rectangular. And really, no pizza goes better with domestic pitchers, good friends and that hollow feeling that follows yet another pathetic Redskins showing. (Best for the game.)


Fiorella Pizzeria e Caffe

National Harbor, MD

The olive-topped vegan muffaletta pizza, made with soy cheese, makes sense somehow on a menu packed with unusual offerings, including a pizza topped with fried zucchini and for seafood eaters, another with blue crab. (National Harbor's Fiorella is run by the same group that operates Bond 45.) Vegans don't have to settle for just the muffaletta, however; tweak any veggie pizza to suit vegan tastes by asking your server to sub soy cheese for an extra charge.


District of Pi

Washington, DC

Let's get one thing out of the way: This delicious deep-dish pizza -- its cornmeal crust covered with cheese, veggies and a variety of sausage and house-made Italian meatballs -- is not a Chicago-style pie: It's a St. Louis-style pizza. That's where Pi hails from, and why you'll see a plethora of draft beers from the city's award-winning Schlafly Brewery. (The brewery's special Winter Ale, with a kiss of orange and spice, is a must-try.) There are two dozen taps; a dozen pizzas; a huge, light-filled space; and a happy hour with $4 snacks and drinks. (Best for beer)


Mellow Mushroom

Washington, DC

The Georgia-based pizza chain's first foray into the Washington area is a funky Adams Morgan joint with a rooftop deck, a cool mezzanine level and circus characters painted on the wall. The esoteric pizzas might use pesto or olive oil as a base instead of red sauce, but they uniformly groan under the weight of toppings. Wash 'em down with beers from 21 taps, where rotating seasonal taps from the likes of Bell's and Lagunitas sit next to strong choices from 21st Amendment, Dogfish Head and Victory. (Offers pizzas made with gluten-free dough. Best for beer.)


Pizza Paradiso

+ Multiple Locations

Pizzeria Paradiso got its start as a pizza parlor two decades ago, but it became one of the area's best beer bars when the Georgetown branch turned its basement into a taphouse called Birreria Paradiso in 2006. Now all three pizzerias are destinations for drink as well as food, and perhaps even more. What to eat while you sip? Besides the house pizzas -- like the fiery Atomica, with spicy salami and hot pepper flakes -- check out the beer menu for the "special" pizza with seasonal veggies and meats, plus a recommended draft beer to pair with it. (Offers pizzas made with gluten-free dough. Best for beer.)



Washington, DC

You can practically feel the heat from the brick oven when you enter the converted Federal-style Columbia Heights rowhouse, and the speed with which the lightly char-crusted individual pizzas hit your table is a testament to the inferno used to score each pie. The bubbly cheese melts into the chewy interior, which retains its hand-tossed pliability after cooking, giving each bite a blast of salty, savory, molten goodness. The neighborhood favorite has a second location in Old Town Alexandria. (Best for beer.)



Arlington, VA

Whether at the original Alexandria location or the newer Ballston branch, there are dozens of craft beer taps and hundreds more in bottles to go along with a wood-fired oven turning out oblong, flatbread-ish pies. The well-trained staff always has a beer suggestion to go with your pizza: a rich porter to accompany the seasonal pumpkin pizza, topped with prosciutto, wild boar Bolognese sauce, caramelized onions and goat cheese? Don't mind if I do. (Offers pizzas made with gluten-free dough. Best for beer.)


Italian Store

Arlington, VA

This small North Arlington market and deli has been serving Italian American heroes and New York-style pizzas since 1980. The pizzas and hoagies provide a one-two punch that keeps the place packed, with sandwiches buoying the lunch rush and pizzas serving as a dinnertime stalwart. On a busy Friday night the Italian Store will make as many as 500 pizzas, and that's without delivery. The draw? A chewy, snappy, thin crust 20-inch pizza that comes close to the New York ideal. (Local classic.)


Ledo Restaurant

College Park, MD

The most noteworthy element of a Ledo's pizza? The crust, but not for the reason you may think. Yes, it's square (they don't cut corners, you know) but the real identifying characteristic is the buttery crust that's almost reminiscent of pastry. A slice of the pie takes on an almost Chicagoan level of density despite being only a fraction of the size of a deep-dish slice. Pies are served in 8-, 14- and 18-inch long rectangular pans. (Local classic.)


Vace Italian Delicatessen

Bethesda, MD

There's an irresistible lightness to the pizza at Vace. Whether by the pie or by the slice, the olive oil-kissed crust is flaky and tender, almost brittle, without yielding to the thin layer of mozzarella that sits between it and the crushed tomato sauce smeared on top. Yes, Vace's delicately balanced pizza comes with the sauce on top, which looks odd at first, but after trying a slice, you won't want it any other way. (Local classic.)


2 Amys

Washington, DC

If you wanted to find the exact turning point for D.C. pizza quality, you might look back 10 years to the opening of this Cleveland Park pizzeria. Peter Pastan was an early importer of authentic Italian cuisine when he opened Obelisk in the late '80s, and he was ahead of the curve again when he opened 2 Amys in 2001. The airy, uncomplicated and delicious pies were a revelation then, and they still stand out in today's crowded field. Some of the best items are the frequently rotated Italian appetizers and desserts, including the killer potato and prosciutto croquettes and the dreamy, sweet cannoli. (A taste of Italy.)


Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria

Silver Spring, MD

Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella -- the holy trinity of Neapolitan pizza components -- are all on hand at this Silver Spring pizzeria. Crisp 12-inch crusts, leopard-spotted with bits of char courtesy of the restaurant's imported Italian wood-burning stove, are available in nearly 20 styles. Save room for dessert. One signature item is the Nutelloco, a dessert pizza smothered in Nutella and spotted with fresh strawberries. (A taste of Italy.)



Arlington , VA

In May 2010, partners Anastasiya Laufenberg and Enzo Algarme moved their tiny pizza cart outside the Ballston Metro station into a nondescript strip mall. There, Naples-born and -trained pizzaiolo Algarme began producing Neapolitan pies in a wood-fired oven. One bite of his margherita pizza and you'll know you're in serious pizza country. A slightly chewy, well-salted crust supports a lightly applied layer of tomato sauce, ribbons of fresh basil and molten pools of tangy buffalo mozzarella. This is classic stuff in a fun and funky dining room. (A taste of Italy.)


Seventh Hill Pizza

Washington, DC

Anthony Pilla is almost as big a draw as his thin, puffy-lipped pizzas. As he spreads, flips and whips his dough, the pizzaiolo's enthusiasm is infectious. Many of the Neapolitan-style pies are named after local landmarks. Try the Navy Yard for fresh tomato and Toulouse sausage, or the meatless Eastern Market, with its goat cheese, tapenade and fresh mushrooms. (A taste of Italy.)



Washington, DC

Getting a bit tired of the puffy-crusted, soggy-centered Neapolitan style? Cleveland Park's Sorriso presents a different side of Italian pizza-making, as father-and-son team Pietro and Stefano Polles bake their pies in the Northern style. That means a 13-inch pizza with a slightly longer bake time and a flatter, sturdier crust. Stefano, who honed his skills in Italy at the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli in Venice, mans the restaurant's wood-fired stove, with which he imparts a nice char on his well-salted dough. (A taste of Italy.)


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