Serving disappointment by the slice:The quest to find the the best D.C. pizza falls flat

When I began my mission to find good, accessible pizza in D.C., I knew it was no easy feat. I had never tasted a decent slice in the District for a reason: it’s as uncommon as a good veggie burger in Texas. But I took on the challenge knowing it would be far from a piece of cake – or pie, rather.

You might think that eating pizza every day would be a dream come true, but it wasn’t. Chewing on insipid crust and sour tomatoes for a week starts to mess with your head. I began to crave vegetables, and the scarce strands of basil hardly did the job. I never did find the perfect pie but many did have redeeming qualities.

Media Credit: Sierra Schwartz
Upper Crust

Upper Crust

  • 747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
  • 14-inch: $11.75 to $16.10

You can actually get a fairly decent pie at Upper Crust. The crust was well charred and crispy, maintaining its structural integrity to the slice’s point. The piping-hot pie also had a great sauce-to-cheese ratio. I just wish it had “upper sauce,” too, as the tomato sauce lacked the sweetness of good tomatoes. Nevertheless, it was one of the better venues, and it takes GWorld, which is an added bonus.

Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza

  • 901 F St., NW
  • 10-inch pie: $11 to $14
  • Media Credit: Sierra Schwartz
    Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza

I was confident I was going to have a great pizza at Ella’s, but what I had was far from delectable. Their margherita had a sloppy, thin coating of under-seasoned tomato liquid and about three small discs of mozzarella; a good pie should have lots o’ mozz’. The other pizza, which was mistakenly put on the specials menu when there was nothing special about it, had smoked mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, red onion, mushrooms and garlic. The smoked mozzarella was flavorful and I liked the chewy crust, but overall it lacked, well, taste.

Famous Luigi’s

Media Credit: Delaney Walsh
Famous Luigi’s
  • 1132 19th St., NW
  • Pie for two: $9 to $16

When I first saw the Luigi’s pizza, it looked like a DiGiorno frozen pie. But when I tried it, I realized it was tasty. The pizza was blanketed with savory cheese, the sauce underneath was sweet and the tomato slices on top were flavorful and fresh. The only problem was the thick ciabatta-like crust, which tasted like it came out of an Easy-Bake Oven. My friends and I were perfectly content scraping the cheese and sauce off the last slice.

Pizzeria Paradiso

Media Credit: Ashley Lucas
Pizzeria Paradiso
  • 3282 M St., NW
  • 12-inch pie: $15.50 to $18.95

Despite all the hoopla, Pizzeria Paradiso falls as flat as its crust. Although it comes out of the oven blistering hot, the watery tomato sauce made some of the pizza soggy, causing half of my slice to plunge downward, and leaving a puddle of pizza runoff on my plate. The crust was pleasantly soft and light, but it could have benefited from better charring in the oven.

Washington Deli

  • 1990 K St., NW
  • 18-inch pie: $18 to $20

Washington Deli is the closest I found to a New York-style pizza – the owners are from Long Island. I ordered a plain slice, which they removed from an antique pie in the display case. They slid the slice into the oven and pulled it out a few minutes later. Eat here if you like a good crust, thin and extra crispy from the double cooking. Unfortunately, tasting the sauce and cheese made me realize that, although the two owners are from New York, they’re still miles away.

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