50/50 Pizza

Rating: ★★★☆☆

IMG_9190.JPGLunchtime meets Vegas at 50-50 Pizza, a food truck where you can spin a wheel on an iPad to determine how much you’ll pay for your meal. You have a 50-50 shot of only paying 99 cents for a pie with one topping. If you “lose” (they like to say everyone is a winner) you pay $9.99. It’s a really cool concept that adds an (often much-needed) dose of fun in the middle of the work day. As for the pizza itself, there’s room for improvement. The crust is pretty good and IMG_9193it’s a good size, but the cheese to sauce ratio tends way too heavily towards the cheese. I love cheese, but the amount of cheese is almost overwhelming, overpowering the sauce.

Find 50/50 Pizza’s location on their Twitter.

 

Tempo Di Pasta

Rating: ★★★★☆


14699540_10154627026963011_1080532940_oTempo Di Pasta
is an Italian food truck. You can find their location on their website. They offer high-quality, sophisticated pasta dishes. I ordered the Ravioli Di Funghi (Ravioli filled with Wild Mushrooms in a Fontina Sauce topped with Mushroom Ragu and Parmigiano Cheese) which was delicious and arrived quickly, though it was a bit small for $10.

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A. Litteri

Rating: ★★★★★

14483378_10154584073938011_1163938808_nI confess I often overlook Italian places in favor of other cuisines that are less common. But once I found out about A. Litteri, I just had to go check it out. A. Litteri is an Italian market, butcher and sandwich shop located at 517 Morse street N.E., tucked in the warehouses occupied by wholesalers around Union Market. It’s the definition of an institution; it was founded in 1926 but moved to its current location in 1932. The current owner’s grandfather and great uncle (Antonio Litteri, hence the name) founded the place. The store is mostly a market selling Italian products such as Italian wines, balsamic vinegars, sauces, and pastas. Their collection of different types of olive oil is particularly impressive. I know olive oil tasting is a thing (when I went, there were a few out to 14483551_10154584073953011_975637175_ntaste), but I’ve never seen so many different kinds of olive oil in one place. I also can’t imagine that most customers are even remotely knowledgeable about olive oil to appreciate the selection (I’m certainly not). What this demonstrates to me is a commitment to excellence and a sense of pride in a carefully curated selection. There’s also a butcher in the back where you can order sandwiches like meatball heroes and, of course, Italian sandwiches. I ordered the Italian sandwich, which was delicious and very reasonably-priced at $5 for six inches (sure, the nearby Subway is cheaper but obviously the quality here is far better). The only drawback is there’s no place to sit and eat, and no particularly good spot for a few blocks around. This place is well-worth stopping in though- it’s truly one of a kind.

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Menomale

Rating: ★★★★★

14339321_10154554594008011_553142103_oMenomale is an Italian-style pizzeria located at 2711 12th St NE. “What do you mean by Italian-style pizzeria? I thought all pizza was Italian,” you ask. While it’s true that pizza has its roots in Italy, the New York pie and the Chicago deep dish are at least as American at this point as they are Italian. Menomale strives to take pizza back to its roots by crafting true Neapolitan-style pies with imported ingredients fro Italy’s Campania region. Apparently Neapolitan pies don’t traditionally come sliced, so your pizza arrives with a special pair of scissors to cut it. I ordered the Prosciutto Cotto pie, which was absolutely delicious and paired it with a very pleasant glass of red wine. As you might imagine, even though the prices are reasonable, the ambiance is great, especially if you sit outside. I went there for the first time on a date and it proved to be one of the best casual date spots I’ve been to in DC. Everyone who’s seen Lady and the Tramp knows nothing makes a more romantic date than some classic Italian food. So bring a special someone, pick a pleasant evening and head on over to Brookland!

Bada Bing

Rating: ★★★★★

14055771_10154505931298011_1730564763_nBada Bing is a food truck serving spiedies, salt potatoes and cheesesteaks. You can find their location on their Website. When most people think of New York food, they think of pizza, bagels and pastrami. But that’s Downstate New York food. Upstate New York, which comprises the vast majority of the state by area, has its own food specialties. One of the most popular is the spiedie, a chicken or pork kebab sandwich that originated in Binghamton (hence the name Bada Bing) as a variation on the Sicilian spiedini, or skewered meat. I first had spiedies at a family friend’s house near Ithaca, New York and absolutely loved this simple but delicious food. I wasn’t familiar with salt potatoes, but Bada Bing’s friendly owner (who is from Upstate New York) explained to me that they are from Syracuse. They are delicious boiled potatoes with lots of salt and drenched in butter.

14159215_10154505931268011_2028194294_nBada Bing offers five different varieties of spiedie sandwiches and you can choose between chicken and pork. I split my food with a friend, so I tried both the #1 “The Bing” (mozzarella, tomatoes and basil) with chicken and the #4 “Joey’s Special” (BBQ glazed spiedies, cheddar cheese, bacon bits and caramelized onions) with pork. I enjoyed the #1, but the #4 was especially satisfying (probably because it is so unhealthy). This truck seems to always pop up somewhere in Arlington, which is inconvenient for those who work in Downtown DC (like myself). But the trip from McPherson Square to Rosslyn is only 6 minutes on the metro, so those spiedies may be way closer than you think! I was able to walk from my office to the metro, ride to Rosslyn, pick up spiedies, and return to my office in 40 minutes, leaving 20 minutes of my lunch hour to gorge myself up Upstate NY goodness. It was well worth it.

DC Slices

Rating: 

13224261_10154216933613011_736783150_oDC Slices is a food truck serving pizza. You can find their location on their Twitter. DC Slices is popular with some of my colleagues and I was craving some good pizza the day I tried it. Sadly, the pizza just wasn’t very good. The crust was flimsy and soggy and it was far too greasy. They also asked if I wanted fresh basil, and the little shriveled shreds of basil that I got were an insult to the meaning of fresh basil.  Plus, it wasn’t even priced well- $4 per slice is far too expensive when I can get a jumbo slice for $5 13223430_10154216933623011_946484740_oelsewhere. Jumbo slices may not be the world’s best pizza, but a jumbo slice from Duccini’s or Pizza Boli’s sure beats this. For good pizza from a food truck, head to Killer Tomato instead. For other good pizza in DC, check out Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza (delicious, $2 slices after 9 pm on weekends) or Wiseguy’s New York Pizza. Give DC Slices a miss.

Killer Tomato

Rating: 

13241529_10154216913893011_924312990_oKiller Tomato is a food truck serving wood-fired pizza. You can find their location on their website. They make solid pizza with that delicious wood-fired flavor that is very difficult to find outside of New York. They use fresh mozzarella, an ample helping of basil, and a perfectly sweet, fresh tomato sauce to make a pizza that’s at least reminiscent of the pizza made by Pasty Grimaldi and his relatives in New York. It’s not quite on that level- the crust is a little flimsy – but it is from a food truck and is prepared to order, while you wait. I ordered a Margherita pizza and they gave me a discount ($10 instead of $12) because they were out of buffalo mozzarella and had to use regular mozzarella. It was still totally delicious and I appreciate that they lowered the price accordingly. The service is friendly, but they could streamline things a bit by bringing on a third person and having people order out of the front window of the truck. When I went, there were only two people working, one of whom was both taking orders and assisting with making the pies. They were remarkably efficient, all things considered, though. This place earns five stars despite it’s (minor) flaws because it serves some of the best pizza in DC to hungry office workers from a food truck. If you’re trying to choose between Killer Tomato and DC SlicesKiller Tomato is the winner and it’s not even a contest.

Pizza Boli’s

Rating: 

12874344_10154051516018011_1777144261_oPizza Boli’s is a regional chain, but this review is for the location at 2455 18th St NW in Adams Morgan, which is one of several locations in the area where you can order the famous DC Jumbo Slice, which is a supersized pizza slice of sometimes marginal quality. Yes, I know, writing about jumbo slices is pretty much sacrilege for a food blogger, but sometimes a huge slice of pizza can hit the spot, and not only when drunk. There are may jumbo slice places, especially in Adams Morgan, and most of them 12674795_10154051516118011_847302275_oclaim to be the original jumbo slice joint. Pizza Boli’s is no different in this regard, except that jumbo slices were apparently invented at nearby Pizza Mart. I do think, however, that the jumbo slices at Pizza Boli’s are better than most of their competitors. The sauce to cheese ratio is spot on, and the crust is good and not soggy. By contrast, I find the crust at Jumbo Slice soggy and the crust at Pizza Mart seems almost pre-made. The pizza at Jumbo Pizza on U Street is best consumed while drunk. Plus, you save $0.50 by going to Pizza Boli’s since their jumbo slice is only $5 instead of $5.50. I wouldn’t trek out of my way to go here (unless you’re looking to show an out of town visitor one of DC’s most infamous traditions) but I live in the area, so it actually makes for a satisfying and cheap dinner option when I don’t feel like cooking.

Wiseguy NY Pizza

Rating: 

12722420_10154028927628011_683089961_oWiseguy NY Pizza has locations at 1735 North Lynn St in Rosslyn and 300 Massachusetts Ave NW. This review is for the Rosslyn location. As a native of Long Island, I have high standards for pizza. We also have this wonderful creation called garlic knots, that somehow haven’t caught on in the rest of the country. This baffles me since garlic knots are so much better than regular garlic bread- they’re difficult to describe but are basically little knots of greasy, doughy, garlicky goodness. They were an indispensable part of my childhood, so I was thrilled that Wiseguy NY Pizza has them. The pizza itself is pretty solid and the ambiance is complemented by a classic Rat Pack playlist. The owner’s name is even Tony. This place makes me feel at home and I would totally recommend it.

Marx Cafe

Rating: ★★★★★

12695217_10153928759293011_570032040_o.jpgMarx Cafe is a small restaurant and bar located at 3203 Mount Pleasant St. NW that describes itself as having “revolutionary cuisine” (yes, it is named after Karl Marx) and “Mediterranean food.”

<rant> I absolutely hate the term  “Mediterranean food” since “Mediterranean food” encompasses several different cuisines including Spanish, Moroccan, Italian, Provençal, Lebanese, Greek, and Turkish, which are all distinct. What Americans usually think of as Mediterranean food comes at places that serve a vague blend of foods meant to resemble some combination of Lebanese, Turkish, and Greek food, and it’s all pretty substandard. But I digress. </rant>

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The saganaki up in flames. This, at least, is pretty revolutionary.

Fortunately, this substandard fare is not what’s on offer at Marx Cafeat least if you know what to order. The menu is a mix of Greek, Italian and New American fare, but I went with a group who recommended a few of the Greek small plate items on the menu, which were excellent (it helps that one of those in our party was Greek). I’ve been told that a number of the other menu items are not nearly as good. We started with saganaki, which is Greek kasseri cheese flambéed with metaxa (a type of Greek brandy). It’s conceptually similar to grilled halloumi, except it tastes a bit different, and instead of being grilled it is lit up by a huge conflagration of burning metaxa table side while the waiter yells “OPA!” like in “My Big

 

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Delicious saganaki ready to be eaten.

Fat Greek Wedding.” It’s a pretty awesome sight to behold (who doesn’t love fire?). Also great were the warm dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with ground beef and rice and seasoned with lemon), which were so much better than the cold, crappy “grape leaves” served at most “Mediterranean restaurants.” The tarama (red caviar whipped with olive oil, lemon juice and spices) was great as well. We paired our meal with Mavrodafni, a delicious sweet Greek wine (sweet in a Port way, not a Manischewitz way) that reminded me a lot of the famous Cypriot wine, Commandaria.

 

 

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Mavrodafni wine- delicious! (If you like Port)

The decor was cozy though fairly pub-like; it is also a bar and open late. The people were also very friendly (I’m an absent-minded idiot and left my backpack there, but they kept it safe for me and I returned later in the evening to pick it up). Basically, if you go and order exactly what we ordered, you will have a great meal, and could bring a date there for sure. Our Greek companion also recommended their calamari, tzatziki and spanakopita. Otherwise, you’re on your own, but we had a great experience.