Right away, we wanted to tuck into the beautiful Germogli di Piselli -- a Neopolitan-style pizza piled high with pea shoots, culatello prosciutto, lemon, mozzarella and grana -- at the new Ghibellina on 14th Street NW. But first, it had to go under the knife.
Pizzas at Ghibellina are all presented uncut, with a serrated knife that allows patrons to slice their own pizza. It might be simpler for some of the other pizzas on the menu, but for the Germogli, which is topped with greens, it resulted in a sprinkling of pea shoots on the table as we sawed away. We wanted to eat the toppings, rather than decorate with them, so we admitted defeat and sent the pie back to the kitchen to be cut with a proper pizza cutter.
So why do so many Neapolitan-style pizzerias like Ghibellina leave you to your own devices when it comes to cutting the pizza?
"We send them out uncut because that's how they do it in Italy, and the owner spent 10 years in Italy," said Jonathan Copeland, Ghibellina's executive chef. And it's not just an aesthetic decision: "Just like cutting a piece of meat before it's rested too long, if you cut a pizza too early, the juices and the sauce and the olive oil run underneath the pizza and it gets too soggy."
2 Amys is another area pizzeria that respects this tradition. Once our pizza was returned to us in six slices, we savored every bite -- which we can only partially credit to its extended resting period.
"What provides the better pizza-eating experience is the crust we're trying to achieve, and how we're cooking them, rather than not cutting them," said Copeland.