Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this story said We, the Pizza was located at 305 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The correct address is 305 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The error has been corrected below.

First Bite: We, the Pizza

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 2010; 4:47 PM

The latest contender in Washington's pizza wars posts its all-inclusive philosophy on the wall, giving dozens of lunchtime customers something to read while they're standing in line for their chance to order.

"â??'We' is powerful," the proclamation begins. "â??'We' is community," it declares.

We, the Pizza is also awfully loud, I think to myself as I hold up a sound meter that registers a steady 80 decibels, the aural equivalent of a freight train. Blame the clamor on the loud music, the pressed-tin ceiling, the buzz of the crowd, the tug of celebrity: Spike Mendelsohn, a "Top Chef" star from Season 4, is behind the joint, which opened next to his popular Capitol Hill burger place, Good Stuff Eatery, late last month.

Unlike most among the recent crop of pizzerias in the region, this one isn't Neapolitan and doesn't employ servers. We, the Pizza instead bakes thicker pies, which it displays on round butcher blocks, and doles out pagers that light up when the pizzas are ready. The best of the bunch are the sturdy, nicely browned crusts decked out with three kinds of melting bell peppers and thin-sliced sausage; a dark forest of mushrooms tweaked with thyme; spinach and artichoke hearts; and snowy ricotta with pungent garlic.

Don't bother with the Caesar salad, dusted with powdered Parmesan cheese. Sandwiches show more thought. (Try the submarine packed with sliced pork and boosted with mustard-spiked fennel slaw.) D.C. Central Kitchen, one of the eatery's charitable interests, makes the tomato sauce and salad dressings.

Near the entrance of the newly minted hot spot are a slender counter and some red faux-leather stools; for more comfort, head to the second-floor dining room to eat your meal. Its black banquette, walls in red or white (brick) and flat-screen TVs add up to a slick setting.

Beverages are taken semi-seriously. A staff of "fizzicians" (ha!) whips up sodas in such delightful flavors as sarsaparilla, sour cherry, egg creme and ginger ignited with the actual root.

I opt for a pineapple soda, restrained in its sweetness and finished with a pinch of cilantro. "Sounds weird," says the woman making the drink. "But it's good."


305 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202-544-4008. Single slice of pizza, $3-$4; six-slice pizza, $16; eight-slice pizza, $18.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company