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.
With a name that means the literal state of being pizza, Pizzaness isn't about to pull any punches with its bubbling, golden-brown pies. Oven-baked creations range from the traditional meat-topped pizzas to greek and barbecue chicken, and include a creation dressed in salami, ground beef, feta, and green peppers dubbed the "uniqueness." In addition, kitchen staff also prepare hearty cheese steaks and Italian cold-cut subs, as well as slabs of rich lasagna. Buckets of grilled chicken wings and customizable calzones, meanwhile, make the ideal meals for the one party that even the College Dean wouldn't shut down.
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.
Growing up in Rome, Savino Recine became accustomed to a weekly tradition among his family and close friends. Every Sunday, relatives would gather and leave the city for a meal at one of the countryside restaurants alla fine del mondo—"at the end of the world" in Italian. The memories of these rustic Italian meals stuck with Recine after he became a chef. He founded a restaurant, built a menu of hearty Old-World recipes, and named the eatery Finemondo in honor of his attempt to re-create the flavors of the Italian countryside a world away. By and large, the Zagat-rated eatery’s menu sticks to faithful re-creations of iconic staples. The chefs make everything from spaghettini and cavatelli pastas to meatballs and mozzarella in-house, lending homestyle flavors to the entrees and antipasti. They occasionally use those flavors in innovative ways and design new dishes. Calamari meatballs are flavored with their own ink, and the caprese hamburger can arrive with an intensely spicy blend of calabrian hot peppers, eggplant, and porcini mushrooms. Flagstone walls, vaulted ceilings, and massive still-life paintings of artichokes, onions, and cured meats all lend Old-World charm to a dining room that already has plenty. The restaurant's wooden accents include a latticework that divides the rooms and walnut furniture imported from Italy via giant slingshot.
After visiting Ella's Wood Fired Pizza, a reviewer from the Washington City Paper went over the moon for its signature crust. Baked in the eatery's namesake oven, Ella's Neapolitan-style thin crusts are "perfectly crisp with a hint of smoke," while touches of olive oil and sea salt lend "tremendous flavor." Of course, the fixings atop that flavorful foundation are equally swoon-worthy. Ella's cooks handcraft nearly 20 specialty pies, from the di mare's pairing of pesto and shrimp to the bosco's medley of roasted tomatoes and roasted-garlic puree. The culinary team also yields decisions to diners, who can customize pizzas with 40-plus ingredients?including fingerling potatoes and vegan soy cheese?along with the option for a gluten-free crust.
Alongside pizzas, the kitchen staff specializes in traditional and creative Italian dishes, from mushroom ravioli with roasted red pepper sauce to risotto balls filled with gooey mozzarella. Plentiful beer and wine options complement meals, which unfold in a cozy interior with rustic Italian touches such as stone columns and a corner reserved for napping gondoliers.
Primi Piatti's executive chef, Savino Recine, is more than a culinary mastermind. When he's not in the kitchen, he’s often roaming the dining room floor, pouring champagne into a glass that appears suspended in midair, or performing other sleight of hand tricks—he's a trained magician, after all. As guests take in the magic or bite into grilled veal chop and saffron gnocchi with shrimp, an imported Italian wood-fired grill browns the crispy crusts of golden pizzas. Upon entering the high-ceilinged dining room, guests notice that the eatery values presentation and performance as much as flavor and aroma. Elegant sconces and pendant lights cast their glow over tables swathed in white linen. Green-striped columns hug the corners of the soaring space, which is made to look even larger by the massive mirrors that cling to its walls.