Cheap Eats 2011: Pizzeria Orso

This Neapolitan pizzeria–backed by the team behind the Falls Church destination restaurant 2941–produces some of the best pies to come out of a 900-degree oven in Washington. Despite the loss this year of star pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid, the crusts are still deliciously sourdough-like and the toppings incredibly fresh.

Even basic pizzas, such as the Margherita, with buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil, and the Diavola, with spicy pepperoni, are rewarding, with their slightly charred, puffy rims and thin but not soggy base. Too many toppings can weigh down the delicate crusts, so simpler options–often seasonal specials such as a spring pie with ramps and garlic–are the best bets.

The antipasti aren’t on a par with the pizzas. They’re occasionally good (a seafood soup with a fennel-and-tomato base) but often mediocre (pasta arrabbiata). Save room instead for the wonderful pistachio cannoli.

Also good: Crudo pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and basil; Torino pie with fontina, ham, and mushrooms; soft lemon doughnuts with Nutella cream.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.