From Mexico to Dubai, all Flippin Pizza locations share at least one thing: every 18-inch pie starts as a carefully kneaded ball of dough that cooks hand-toss until it forms a perfectly thin, airy disc. Several specialty pizzas take their names from New York City boroughs to symbolize their traditional thin-crust approach, and they arrive topped with everything from meatballs and fresh garlic to buffalo chicken. Pesto or blue-cheese dressing replace red sauce on a selection of white pies, and hearty calzones and salads are, like a pi?ata at a nutritionist's birthday party, stuffed with colorful veggies.
Jos? Velasquez, the co-owner of Moroni & Brothers Pizza Restaurant, crafts the eatery?s dough himself. The mounds?blends of flour, yeast, honey, salt, and olive oil?then get hand-stretched into crusts that Washingtonian magazine laud as ?excellent canvases.? Upon those planes, custom combos of more than 25 toppings scatter, such as mussels and buffalo mozzarella, before baking in a brick oven. The result, raves the Washingtonian, is pizza with ?more finesse? and ?more soul? than its chain counterparts.
But pizza is only half the story at Moroni & Brothers. Rather than rounding out the menu with easily ignorable pizzeria eats or plastic food replicas, Velasquez includes zesty Salvadoran and Mexican specialties. On the Salvadoran side, the culinary team whips up tongue stew and saut?ed pork chops, as well as El Salvador's national dish: pupusas. On the Mexican side, cooks stuff quesadillas with spinach and fill tacos with grilled fajita beef to add a bit of zip to a common dish.
As a 12-year-old restaurant apprentice, central Italy native Domenico Cornacchia crafted his first pastas and authentic Italian specialties by hand. Since then, he has honed his culinary skills in Swiss, French, and American kitchens, finally opening Assaggi Mozzarella Bar in 2008. There, chef Cornacchia and his chef de cuisine, Michele Lisi, pair mozzarellas from Italy, California, and Virginia with toppings such as homemade green-tomato marmalade and grilled zucchini. Cornacchia—who is “a whiz with pasta,” according to the Washingtonian—also tosses and fills homemade noodles with produce sourced from Amish farms, seafood, veal, and beef. Homemade desserts such as ice creams and sorbets complement authentic Italian meals, which, like Julia Child's short-lived attempt to serve food by slingshot, unfold in a dining room with an open kitchen.
Blue 44 is the go-to spot for a moderately-priced, dependable meal in Washington’s Chevy Chase neighborhood. Already considered one of the area’s best restaurants despite its 2011 arrival date, the classic upscale American menu here is versatile without being huge. For appetizers, tackle a pierogi, claw through some lobster mac ‘n’ cheese or down duck confit eggrolls. For something light, there are several options for soup and salad, and sandwiches range from raved-about burgers to crab cakes to a Pittsburgh cheese steak, courtesy of the owner’s Western Pennsylvania heritage. The ample dining room is bathed in dark tones, with a textured tile ceiling and lots of tall, stiff-backed booths. Chandeliers light the main eating area dimly, while simple photographs and painted brick touches fill out the style. Sneak back to the small hooded bar for a drink; there are only a few seats, but the drinks are worth standing for.
Potomac Pizza?s chefs toss and stretch fluffy, nonfat, and cholesterol-free dough into pizzas lauded by the Washington Post for ?returning pizza to its good name? in a world of national chains. The DC-area pizzerias create each pie with freshly-made sauce and a selection of 24 toppings, such as grilled chicken, eggplant, feta cheese, and Canadian bacon. Potomac Pizza?s kitchens also whip up calzones, and other Italian specialties such as lasagna and veal parmesan, served in Potomac?s dining rooms or nestled into boxes for takeout and delivery orders.
Resting in the heart of Old Italy for more than 25 years, La Panetteria features white stucco walls, ceramic-tile floor, and hanging baskets that make it resemble an Old World eatery. Guests seated in the restaurant's indoor atrium enjoy a sunlit dining atmosphere as they savor the freshly baked bread and northern and southern Italian dishes placed before them atop checkered tablecloths. The subjects of the restaurant's period paintings look on enviously as diners dig into homemade pastas, milk-fed veal cutlets, and piping-hot pizzas. All of La Panetteria's entrees are carefully prepared to order, with any dishes not meeting patron's exact instructions taken to the street and thrown into a passing convertible.