It’s no secret that The Washingtonian digs Pete’s Apizza—it’s landed on both our Cheap Eats and 100 Best Restaurants lists twice, and the tasty pepperoni pizza graces the cover of our June 2012 “Cheap Eats” issue.
And it’s for good reason. The artisan pizzeria only serves all-natural food and drinks, sources its meat and produce from tri-state-area farms, and grates all of its Wisconsin cheese on site. But does all that result in healthy cooking?
Our expert, Randi Weissberger, RD, LDN, says she eats at Pete’s occasionally. “Pizza in general is more of a treat—I wouldn’t make a habit of eating it every day, but a few times a month is acceptable,” she says. “I’d have [clients] choose the healthier pies.”
In no particular order, here are her picks for the five healthiest pies at Pete’s Apizza—and the one you should probably skip.
Plain Tomato Pie
Weissberger says to eat as the Italians do, as they love their tomato pies and tend to eat a little healthier than we do. This simple vegetarian pizza, which consists of all-natural tomato sauce, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, and a “good sprinkling” of Pecorino Romano cheese, is the healthiest pie on the menu.
Just add mozzarella and basil to Pete’s plain tomato pie and you’ve got the margherita. “Saying, ‘Light on the cheese, please,’ would make this pie healthier,” our expert advises.
This verdant pie boasts sautéed spinach, slow-roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, and antioxidant-rich artichoke hearts. “Olives have unsaturated fats, and you’re also getting great protein and fiber from the other toppings,” Weissberger says.
Kyra’s Favorite: 12-inch Gluten-Free Pizza
With the community of wheat- or gluten-intolerant eaters growing, this pizza is a great option, says Weissberger. Pete’s original gluten-free crust is made from all-natural tapioca starch, chickpea and rice flours, water, salt, and yeast. Weissberger recommends adding the healthier vegetable toppings—roasted red peppers, hot cherry peppers, artichoke hearts, slow-roasted tomatoes, shaved red onion, and minced garlic—and maybe some grilled chicken.
It’s the only white pizza on Weissberger’s list—probably for its flavorful vegetable toppings, marinated tomatoes, red onions, and arugula salad. “It’s similar to the tomato pie,” she says.
“It’s like a heart attack waiting to happen,” our expert says of this meat lover’s specialty. Loaded with pepperoni, hot sausage, prosciutto, and soppressata, it’s simply irredeemable. “They’re all very fatty, processed meats. Pick one meat—like chicken or shrimp, which are very lean proteins—instead of four.”
Weissberger recommends keeping the cheese light—although it packs calcium and protein, it also adds saturated fat, especially when it covers the whole pie. “If you can get buffalo mozzarella slices or chunks of cheese instead of shredded, it’s better, because the pizza won’t be slathered in it,” she advises.
She also encourages you to pile on fiber-packed veggie toppings; in her words, fiber means full. Finally, watch your portion sizes. Pete’s standard pie size is 18 inches (although the restaurant recently introduced 14-inch pies due to customer demand).
“One or two slices of an 18-inch is appropriate, because if you have four or five slices, your calories and everything else gets elevated,” explains Weissberger. If you’re not sure you can stop at two, she recommends sharing with five or six friends or having a salad first to take the edge off your appetite.
Randi Weissberger is based in Bethesda and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.