The dish: Deep-fried pizza.
The place: Little Coco’s.
The reason: There’s more to Neapolitan pizza than thin, blistered crusts.
At Little Coco’s (3907 14th St., NW; 202-853-9889), the funky Petworth Italian joint from Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks —the pair behind El Chucho and Slash Run—you’ll find an especially unusual style of pie among the offbeat pizza offerings. Chef Adam Harvey’s “pizza frito” is a riff on a classic Neapolitan street snack, deep-fried stuffed pockets of dough. Here, the crescents are filled with a mix of fior di latte mozzarella, marinara, and basil. “I make all these crazy pizzas, but I’m like Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone: I just want a cheese pizza!” says Harvey. “The preparation is what makes it special.”
➜ The dough gets its character from two types of flour—“00” and semolina—mixed with Salad Days Saison from Virginia’s Pale Fire Brewing Co., which amps up the yeast and richness. A touch of sweetness comes from Maryland-made clover honey.
➜ The tangy marinara sauce—partly inspired by Harvey’s Italian in-laws, who add chili flakes to everything—goes against the notion that unadorned San Marzano tomatoes make the best pizza sauce. The kitchen also throws in red wine and plenty of basil. The sauce is both inside the dough and served on the side for dunking.
➜ Harvey, a former pastry chef at Volt in Frederick, experimented with several shapes—half moons, wedges—before settling on one that’s similar to a croissant. It allows the melty cheese and sauce to reach both ends.
Deep-fried pizza calls for an equally fun drink, and the bar offers lots of options, both highbrow (vintage amaro) and low (pitchers of beer). Says co-owner Banks: “Just because you do a cheffy pizza doesn’t mean you have to abandon a college tradition.”
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Washingtonian.