The following restaurants were reviewed on the basis of quality of food available through their delivery services. Prices refer to the least and most expensive entrees available through delivery. Please note that days and hours in this section refer only to delivery service and may be different from the hours of the restaurants' other services. ALFREDO'S PIZZERIA

Delivery is not Alfredo's first order of business; I couldn't get a pizza at lunchtime for a couple of hours. And it wasn't worth the wait -- a dullard of a pizza it was. I also tried the daily specials, chicken cacciatore (which could well have been stewing for a week) and manicotti, which had a mild pleasant flavor but was so watery it required a spoon. So what was good? The spaghetti sauce, chunky and tangy and sparked with hot pepper. 1990 K St. NW. 659-9092. No credit cards. Delivery: $2.39-$4.99. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sun. $10 minimum; 10-block radius; no fee. ARMAND'S PIZZA EXPRESS

It's sheer luxury having someone show up at your door with an insulated red thermal pouch holding the pizza of your choice. And indeed, a medium spinach pizza for $10.32 or a half-sausage, half-mushroom pizza for $11.29, plus tip, is a luxury. Pizzas run $8.50 to $13, I was told; they have six thick hefty, weighty pieces. Cheese and pepperoni pizzas are kept warm on the truck, so they can be delivered within a half-hour. Other pizzas take an hour, says Armand's (though my order showed up in a half-hour, despite my specifying that nobody would be home for an hour). They are well packaged, in sturdy cardboard boxes, and they did arrive hot. Soggy, too, but that is the nature of Armand's pizza -- an inch-thick crust, which is crisp around the edges and generally damp on the bottom. The topping is a wash of chunky tomatoes and a decent amount of cheese, not particularly spicy. The sausage option adds plenty of pepper, though not much actual sausage taste. Spinach tastes healthy but not very Italian. Mushroom is the best of the lot, to my taste, for the mushrooms are fresh and fragrant, as well as plentiful. 5000 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 363-5500. No credit cards. Delivery: $7.85-$12. Sun-Thurs, 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Fri, Sat 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. $1 fee; 3-mile radius. CHIN'S

Clearly this is a restaurant geared to delivery. Service was so efficient when I called that they called back to tell me what my bill would be, and specified that the order would arrive between a half-hour and an hour, which it did. While it didn't include extras such as chopsticks and napkins, there were packets of soy sauce, the boxes were labeled, the portions were large and the food was very hot.

Of course much Chinese food has its best qualities wrecked in delivery. So the broccoli had gone limp and the shrimp had continued cooking to chewiness. Nor is this very sophisticated Chinese cooking; the punch is pulled in hot dishes so that Szechuan Bon Bon Chicken, which is designated "Hot" on the menu, is julienned chicken and broccoli in a mild brown sauce. Szechuan Vegetables were hot, though, and a rather good combination of tree ears, lily buds and other exotics among the more ordinary vegetables. Much of Chin's menu is Americanized Chinese -- chow mein, chop suey, egg foo yung, and even fried chicken and hamburgers. And the seasoning tastes as if the chef were afraid to offend. So what you get is plentiful, freshly cooked and moderately priced Chinese-style cooking brought efficiently to your door. 2614 Connecticut Ave. NW. 483-8400. AE, MC, V. Delivery: $4.75-$14.95. Daily 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. $7.50 minimum; no fee; 2-mile radius. FURIN'S

Food delivery is rare enough, but to get food delivered that is as good as you would hope to find in a restaurant, that is worth a celebration. So vive Furin's. I called in the morning -- anonymously -- and planned the menu with Furin himself. At the appointed time he showed up -- and with a lot of food for two for $42. First course was shrimp -- four jumbo ones per serving, perfectly cooked and bathed in garlic-parsley butter. We tried two main courses, one a nicely done chicken piccata with plenty of big moist chicken breast chunks, and a light wash of faintly sweet-tart lemon sauce. There was also stir-fried beef, the beef cut quite thin so it had turned a little dry, but the broccoli had some bite left and the soy-based sauce was pleasant. The stuffed baked potatoes were hefty and agreeable, and the salad, though mostly pale lettuce and romaine, was crunchy and had a classic vinaigrette. Furin's hadn't forgotten bread -- a crusty little French loaf -- or butter. And though the black forest cake was dry and uninteresting, the cre me caramel was spectacularly good, creamy and dense and pure of flavor. I don't know how Furin's can do it, but I hope it continues long to do so. 2805 M St. NW. 965-1000. No credit cards. Delivery: Call for details. HOWIE'S CHICK'N BUCKET

Take the name seriously, for the best thing at Howie's is the chicken. Crisply fried, juicy and somehow arriving too hot to eat immediately, it was terrific, good, old-fashioned, plain fried chicken. The ribs were pretty good, too, free of fat, large and very meaty, in a standard sweet-tangy thick barbecue sauce. Howie's also makes sandwiches and burgers, but the Italian Original tasted of bland American cold cuts and mayonnaise and squishy roll. There are also fried seafoods and "Real Italiano" pizzas. As for the pizzas, they have no better texture or flavor than standard supermarket- freezer varieties. Howie's is friendly on the phone and prompt in the delivery; I wouldn't challenge them too seriously on the food, but just order what they do best. 3514 Connecticut Ave. NW. 966-2740. No credit cards. Delivery: $3.50-$6. Daily 11 a.m.-midnight. $5 minimum; $1.50 fee; 4-mile radius. HUNAN GALLERY RESTAURANT

My order showed up on the very minute I asked that it be delivered, hot and fresh and hardly suffering from its trip. That's a rare feat for Chinese food, which depends on crispness for its success. There were other signs of thoughtful- ness, too: plenty of condiments and fortune cookies and large portions with extra rice. Furthermore, this was good food, a generous and pleasant meal for about $7 a person. The orange beef was not the most succulent meat, but it retained the crunchiness of its coating and was a lovely fragrant blend of orange-peel sweetness, red-pepper heat and dark-tangy caramel glaze. Shrimp Hunan Gallery was large, tender shrimp immersed in a white sea with straw mushrooms and crisp green vegetables. Several other dishes were soupy, particularly the bean curd, but moo shi pork came crunchy, smoky flavored and delicious, with pancakes that hadn't gone too stale in the process. 3308 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 362-6645. AE, D, MC, V. Delivery: $4.50-$19.70. Daily 5 p.m.-9 p.m. $10 minimum; $1-$2.75 fee; 4-mile radius. LISTRANI

Maybe more important than the food itself with a delivery service is the service. Or maybe it's that there isn't enough good food delivered that you dare to be picky. But Listrani does the job in such a nice way that even if its pizza weren't so good, I'd call the place again one evening when I was feeling lazy and homebound. The pizza is made of puffy yeasty dough with a well-seasoned tomato sauce and plenty of toppings; the choice of pizzas includes one vegetarian combo with eggplant, olives, spinach et al., and there is a vegetarian submarine sandwich that sounds awfully similar. The sandwich is mostly bread, and the filling doesn't fight its way out in terms of flavor. The Italian sub I ordered was mostly boiled ham with a little salami and melted cheese, lettuce and tomato on the side. I liked better a platter of tuna tossed with oil, vinegar and onions and white beans, highly vinegared marinated zucchini, olives and other salad greens. Listrani mixed up my order a bit, but the pizza alone was good enough to make me call again and to make me curious about the other cooked foods. 5100 MacArthur Blvd. NW. 363-0619. AE, C, MC, V. Delivery: $5.95-$12.95. Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri, Sat 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $8 minimum; no fee; 3-mile radius. MAGGIE'S

It's just pizza -- not good pizza, not bad pizza, just a big flat okay pizza. But it is pizza that is delivered, which makes it a whole lot more appealing. At the appointed time a pleasant young man shows up with your order, and it is at least warm and packed in a sturdy box. It is also pretty expensive -- a large pizza with half mushrooms and half sausage was nearly $13, and not as much food as Armand's. The mushrooms are fresh but not all that tasty, nor is the sausage. The sauce resembles tomato paste, there is plenty of cheese, and the crust is crusty -- though not yeasty or chewy as the Italians would have it. Nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about, a decent No. 2 to its neighborhood competition, Armand's. 4606 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 966-1520. AE, D, MC, V. Delivery: $2.95-$13.29. Daily 11 a.m.-1 a.m. $2 fee; 3-mile radius. MR. GATTI'S

Bold as Mr. Gatti's is, it boasts "The Best Pizza in Town. Honest!" All I could honestly say along those lines is that it is not the worst pizza in town. But it doesn't rise above the middle. Twice-risen dough, it promises; mine was hard, tough and gummy. Special sauce blended with nine herbs and spices, it claims; to me its sauce was acid and pallid, with a peculiar taste I don't associate with pizza. In all, this was a pizza that looked tidy and well constructed but tasted no better than factory fare. 802 Hungerford Dr., Rockville. 251-5816. No credit cards. Delivery: $3.14-$13.59. Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m..; Fri, Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m. $4 minimum; no fee; 6-mile radius. ORIENT EXPRESS

You can't expect great Chinese food to be delivered to your home; but even fair Chinese food is a pleasure when it shows up at your door on a blustery evening. And not only is Orient Express' food more than fair, its prices are reasonable and its portions large. Furthermore, the staff is pleasant on the phone and at your door. The problem is that you have to live in Georgetown or thereabouts to have it delivered. The menu is pretty narrow -- shrimp being the only seafood, and the choices leaning heavily to standards such as sweet-and-sour pork and shrimp with lobster sauce. There are appetizers such as soups or fat, dry egg rolls that taste just short of vegetarian, and spareribs that are meaty but haven't much seasoning. The best of the main dishes I tried was Chao San Shin -- big tender pieces of chicken breast with shrimp and pork plus vegetables in a dark and savory sauce. Pork with Garlic Sauce was also particularly good, though far too mild for a Szechuan dish and too sweet for my taste. Moo Shi Vegetables also had a nice crunch and pleasant smoky taste, but the pancakes were verging on stiff; lo mein had also suffered from its trip, turning soft and soggy. Kung Pao Shrimp was the greatest disappointment, being mostly diced vegetables and short on both shrimp and flavor. Still, I'd call Orient Express again the next lazy, chilly evening when I wanted to feed four people and have plenty of leftovers for less than $40. 1659 35th St. NW. 338-8200. No credit cards. Delivery: $4.50-$7.95. Mon-Fri noon-midnight; Sat, Sun 3 p.m.-midnight. $1 fee for orders less than $10; 4-mile radius. PIZZA TRANSIT AUTHORITY

It is well equipped for delivery, with sturdy boxes and insulated bags, and the pizza shows promise. The crust is yeasty and chewy and would be fine if it had been cooked a little longer so that it wasn't soggy under the sauce. The sauce tasted like mere tomato paste, and was sweet though also zippy with pepper; the cheese was nothing special. What was a standout was the sausage, spicy, herbed and fresh tasting. 1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 342-6411. No credit cards. (Other location: 3524 12th St. NE. 529-9400.) STROMBOLI

It was touch-and-go whether, even with the $15 minimum, it would deliver to my street, for this is a small family operation, not a big chain with rigid delivery areas. The pizza, too, shows individual attention. It is awfully good, the crust with a thin crisp surface that comes from proper baking of a good yeast dough. The sauce is rough-textured and light, tasting of tomato and herbs. The cheese is fine and the sausage is fennel-flavored and zesty (only the bland canned mushrooms were a disappointment). Stromboli also makes a terrific spinach-cheese calzone, enveloped in a thin crisp pizza crust and a cloud of garlic. There are also the namesakes, strombolis, filled with meat, tomato and such. In all, the fillings are very filling, prices are reasonable and service is both rapid and pleasant. The only thing I would order differently is a hot submarine rather than a cold one, since the bread was crusty and high quality, but the cold cuts were not a cut above the ordinary. 7023 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda. 986-1980. No credit cards. Delivery: $3-$15. Mon-Sat 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sun 2 p.m.-9 p.m. $15 minimum; $1.50 fee; 3-mile radius. THRIFTY

The single compliment I can find for my pizza from Thrifty was that it had plenty of cheese. Otherwise, the sauce was pasty and bland, the toppings were ordinary and the crust was dreadful; it tasted like a cross between a cracker and the pizza box. In another era we would have been glad for even such a pizza to be delivered. But competition is keener now, from deliveries and from the supermarket freezer section, so Thrifty hardly seems to live up to its name. 2916 Georgia Ave. NW. 332-4430; 332-3354. No credit cards. Delivery: $5-$6.75. Daily 10 a.m.-4 a.m.. Fees vary; delivery in District only. TRIO

While you can't take seriously the menu's claim of Best Pizza in Town, Trio's pizza is pretty good, given the typical level of delivery pizza around here. It's big, it's crunchy, and it's topped with a generous amount of whatever toppings you request. Along with pizzas you can order subs -- steak and cheese, burgers, meat ball and cold cut. But they've been mostly lettuce and spongy rolls, the meat so dreary that you don't even mind if it is insufficient. The hamburger in particular was in the running for the worst I've had on this continent. Then there are french fries -- once good but soggy by the time they arrive -- and stolid apple pie or carrot cake. Don't stray from the pizza. 1624 Q St. NW. 232-5611. No credit cards. Delivery: $2-$14. Sun-Thurs noon-3 p.m.; 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri, Sat noon-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-3 a.m. $1 fee; one-mile radius. VALENTINO'S PIZZA AND SUBS

If you aren't in Valentino's small delivery radius, you might consider moving, at least if you dream of real pizza crust that is puffy and chewy and yeasty. On top of it is authentic rough-textured tomato sauce, and the cheese is both plentiful and has some true mozzarella taste. What was even more impressive was to see minced fresh herbs on the pizza. It would have been a great pizza except for the toppings. The sausage tasted old and tired, the mushrooms had no flavor. I'd certainly try Valentino's whenever I got a pizza hankering, but I'd be more cautious about the toppings, and perhaps order something zippier such as pepperoni, onions, green peppers. Or nag Valentino's to try harder in this department. The delivery is efficient, the packaging is fine, and the basic pizza is among the handful a Washingtonian could offer a New Yorker without shame. 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW. 466-3558. No credit cards. Delivery: $3.25-$24. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sun. $6 minimum; 1/2-mile radius.