Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria for a May 2010 First Bite column.

Much of what you need to know about Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria unfolds right inside the door. That's where chef Rosario Granieri and crew transform soft balls of dough into crisp 12-inch crusts based on that holy trinity of (pizza) building blocks: Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. Credit for the char on the pies, available in nearly 20 variations, goes to a red-tiled, oak-fueled oven that heats up to 870 degrees.

Most of the short menu involves bread, in the form of bruschetta, panini or the obvious. The exceptions include salads, which are generous enough to share. Mixed greens brightened with glossy red and yellow peppers are more appealing than arugula tossed with lemony, and unfortunately chewy, octopus. Diners who prefer their pizza on the assertive side should consider the Napoli. Anchovies and black olives lend their weight to a crust that's also topped with fresh basil, mozzarella and a tangy tomato sauce. (Note to the chef: Don't be afraid of using salt.)

Granieri comes to Pacci's from Oro Pomodoro in Rockville. But he grew up in Naples, where four of his nine family members went into the pizza business. Home is where Granieri also learned to make tronchetti, which are basically wraps made with briefly baked pizza dough. My order, stuffed with ham, arugula and cheese, would have benefited from more time in the oven. The filling was still cool.

By day, Pacci's owner Spiro Gioldasis can be found at Mrs. K's Toll House, also in Silver Spring, where he is the general manager and wine director. In the afternoon and evening, he turns his focus to the long and narrow, trim and tidy pizzeria he opened last month. Somehow, the restaurateur found time to design and decorate the light-filled Pacci's himself. Kudos to him for maximizing the space with skinny ledges and stools hugging the front window and for offering the option of alfresco dining. Brick and yellow-colored walls, set off with wine displays and gold-framed mirrors, lend a dash of style to the space.

When you've got a single new restaurant and two sons, you have to be careful about what you name the business. Gioldasis, the father of Pavlos, 9, and Ciccis, 3 1/2 , finessed the issue of sibling rivalry by combining parts of their names. Go, Dad!