Birthdays for the young Michael Friedman of New Jersey typically found his father taking him to dinner, where dad would inevitably order clams casino for an appetizer followed by clams with linguine.
“Anytime I cook clams, I think of my father,” says Friedman, the chef-owner of the new All-Purpose Pizzeria on the Capitol Riverfront, a spinoff of the same-named Italian-American restaurant in Shaw. Among the pies making their debut at the fresh face is the Rockaway, its crust decked out with smoked bacon, shaved cheese, lemon and New Jersey clams — a deck-oven-baked tribute to his late father.
The second branch has about the same inside seating capacity as the original — my No. 1 favorite restaurant in the 2016 fall dining guide — but it feels bigger thanks to 16-foot ceilings and water-facing front windows that pull in yards of light. There’s more space between the wooden tables, too, an improvement over the tight, watch-your-wineglass seating at No. 1. By midsummer, All-Purpose, outfitted with a garden patio, should feature a rooftop bar as well.
While fans of the original’s lemony Caesar salad and eggplant Parmesan can find those signatures here, Friedman says he didn’t want to simply reproduce the Shaw menu across town. The decision explains the ultra-creamy hummus made with cannellini beans, lemon juice and the same superlative tahini used by Zahav, the wildly successful Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia. (The featured ingredient: white humera seeds from Ethiopia.)
“I love frying vegetables,” says Friedman. In another new idea, cauliflower is cooked so the inside steams and the outside caramelizes, after which it’s hit with Sicilian hot sauce (think Fresno chiles, ginger and raw garlic), lightened with fresh mint and arranged on caper-ignited yogurt. The fresh pizza selections include an “Apollo” that finds thinly sliced porchetta, toasted sesame seeds and caciocavallo — imagine provolone, only more complex — scattered on the brand’s trademark crisp-chewy crust. Shredded onions sharpen the eating.
Friedman and company have made a habit of enhancing their neighborhoods with appealing places to eat, beginning five years ago with Red Hen in Bloomingdale. The second All-Purpose has the advantage of built-in clientele, thanks to the nearby Nationals Park.
“We wanted a good neighbor,” says the chef, whose latest attraction is returning the favor near the Navy Yard.
79 Potomac Ave. SE. 202-629-1894 allpurposedc.com/locations/capitol-riverfront/. Pizzas, $16 to $19.