The pillowy pizza crust with char-blistered air bubbles at Sugo Cicchetti snaps back when you bite it—exactly what chef Dimitri Moshovitis wants in his Neapolitan-style pies. Some customers prefer a thinner, cracklier crust, but that doesn’t worry him: “I know what I love, and I’ve learned that some people like this style of pizza, some people don’t.”
Moshovitis, whose partners are his childhood friends Ike Grigoropoulos and Ted Xenohristos, has lured a loyal following to the trio’s Greek small-plates spots Cava Mezze—in Rockville, Clarendon, and Capitol Hill—and its fast-casual offshoot, Cava Mezze Grill in Bethesda and Tysons Corner (with additional locations opening soon in Columbia Heights and Tenleytown), turning out food that’s better than you’d expect at such low-lit, sexy spaces.
The food at Sugo is straightforward but more playful. There’s a cute sampler of gelato cones and a cloud of cherry spun sugar among the desserts—the latter because Moshovitis loves watching adults eat cotton candy. Sugo Balls—brawny meatballs made from chicken, veal, or spicy pork—could have come from a good strip-mall joint around Philly or Jersey. In fact, a lot here brings to mind sandwich-and-slice places: a soundtrack heavy on Journey and Poison, tufted booths the color of Chianti, mismatched silverware in buckets on the tables.
As at Cava, however, the chef sources and preps ingredients carefully. A salad of fennel, mint, arugula, and orange is lightly dressed and seasoned, as is another of watermelon, mozzarella, and mint—more oil and acid would perk them up a bit. Briny eggplant caponata with pine nuts is livelier—it comes with crostini but is best on rosemary flatbread from the pizza oven. Along with his mozzarella, Moshovitis makes the pastas in-house—try them with the silky duck ragu.
Then there’s that pizza crust, which Moshovitis achieves by fermenting the dough for a few days, then blasting it in a gas-and-wood-powered oven. It makes a great base for the Onion Love—in which caramelized onions contrast nicely with shallots, olives, and goat cheese—and a Margherita with punchy tomato sauce. For fans of the charred and the bubbly, a trip to Potomac may be in order.
This article appears in the August 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.