One of the first things Spike Mendelsohn did after getting booted from Top Chef was to open the burger joint Good Stuff Eatery. Although his television manner isn’t all that appealing, we continue to be won over by his creatively topped patties (try the one with chili and sour cream), Old Bay– and Sriracha-accented mayos, and extra-thick milkshakes. This summer, Mendelsohn opened his second place, We, the Pizza, and it’s another hit—we think it’s one of the top 25 new restaurants in town.
There are more good pies from the French owners of Montmartre, who went Italian with their next-door property, Seventh Hill, a sunny, pint-size pizza shop that opened last fall. Pizzaiolo Anthony Pilla theatrically tosses dough in the air before crisping it to a thin but sturdy consistency in a wood-burning oven. The pies, named after local landmarks, come with such toppings as smoky Toulouse sausage, which dominates the excellent Navy Yard pie, or a bevy of vegetables (artichoke hearts, zucchini, and portobellos) on the Lincoln Park.
Philadelphia natives Casey Patten and David Mazza also turned to streets and parks when naming sandwiches at their industrial-chic Taylor Gourmet. Born from a longing for Philly’s overstuffed specialty, the sandwiches are built on sesame-seed-dotted Sarcone’s bread trucked in daily from the owners’ hometown. The 9th Street Italian—our favorite—is a layering of Italian meats and creamy provolone; the Callowhill Street, overflowing with spicy meatballs, is made with a recipe from Patten’s grandmother. Also good are fried, cheese-filled arancini, dusted with salt and dried herbs.
Nearby is Dangerously Delicious Pies (1339 H St., NE; 202-398-7437). A decade ago, Rodney Henry made the unlikely transition from playing in a rock band to opening a Baltimore pie bakery, and in April he opened this location in Northeast DC. The selection of chess, fruit, and savory pies and quiches changes by the day, but look for crusts holding creamy Key lime, pecan, steak and Gruyère, and hot chili. Henry is doing his best to keep some rock-and-roll edge: The logo features a pie with crossbones.
This article first appeared in the October 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.