Food

These Are the Best New Pizza Shops Around Washington

There’s Detroit, New York, neo-Neapolitan, and more.

“Where should we get a pie?” In the last year, the number of ways to answer that question has skyrocketed. Whether you’re craving Detroit, Neapolitan, New York, or even a DC-style slice, there’s a brand-new pizzeria for you.

Chicken mole pizza at Anafre, a new Mexican pizza pop-up. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Anafre

3704 14th St., NW

Mexico-born chef Alfredo Solis (also be­hind Mezcalero and El Sol) has added Mexican pizzas to the seafood-centric menu at this Columbia Heights dining room. Crispy crusts bolster delicious toppings including a blistered-poblano chile relleno with Chihuahua and Oaxacan cheeses; sweet shrimp with chorizo, avocado, and salsa; and a riff on the kitchen’s excellent chicken mole.

Badd Pizza

McLean, Falls Church, and South Riding

The only bad thing about this Buffalo-inspired chainlet is its name. Otherwise, owner Joel Salamone got it right. His pizzas remind us of late-night college-town pies: a little sloppy, a lot saucy and cheesy. Not thick but not thin, either. The square slices can bear a lot, so load up the pepperoni and mushrooms and olives. Plus throw in some chicken tenders and wings on the side.

A “hot oil” bar pie at Colony Grill. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Colony Grill

2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington

We mean this in the best possible way: If Celeste pizza were made at a restaurant, it would taste something like the pies at this pubby spinoff of an octogenarian Stamford, Connecticut, institution. They’re nicely crunchy—almost brittle—and paved with thin layers of sauce and cheese, which goes right up to the crustless edges. (Order your pie well done.) Its finishing signature is a splash of peppery oil—and, if you’re into it, the whole serranos they call stingers. Good thing the pizza is so tasty: It’s the only item on the menu.

Ema Rossi Pizzeria Napoletana

5556 Norbeck Rd., Rockville

The burbs could use more places like this quaint pizza shop (which takes over a space formerly inhabited by Pizza Hut). Not just because of its super-thin Neapolitan pies—both red and white versions are very good—but because of its long list of top-notch snacks: meatballs, prosciutto croquettes, an orange-and-olive salad, and deviled eggs bearing a hint of curry.

Happy Gyro

1509 17th St., NW

Chef Johnny Monis has been tinkering with dough recipes since his teenage years, when he worked at his parents’ Alexandria pizzeria. It’s no surprise then that the pies shine at this Greek American diner pop-up he’s running out of his closed Dupont tasting room, Komi. Thin-crust, wheel-size rounds nod to New York (as does the Jersey mozz), though accessories such as fennel-pollen-cured guanciale and Roman pecorino call to mind Monis’s finer-dining roots. And of course, the dough isn’t just dough: It’s naturally leavened sourdough from a decade-plus-old starter—and it gives a beautiful chew.

Ivy & Coney

1537 Seventh St., NW

This divey Shaw bar for Midwestern sports fans has always been a go-to for cheap beer and Chicago dogs. Now its Detroit contingent is getting some love with the addition of pan pizzas. Don’t expect anything too fancy (this is a place known for Malort shots, after all)—toppings include pepperoni or Italian beef with giardiniera. Order your pie via DC To-GoGo, a delivery platform started by the bar’s owners as a worker- and local-business-friendly alternative to GrubHub and DoorDash.

Red Light’s Detroit pies are now available through Little Beast at Ghostline.

Little Beast at Ghostline

2340 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Michigan native Naomi Gallego made her name as a pastry chef at high-end DC restaurants. Turns out she’s also an ace pizza-maker, as evidenced by the Detroit pie that revitalized the 14th Street bar Red Light. Now the creations are also available out of sister restaurant Little Beast at Ghostline, Glover Park’s takeout-focused mini–food hall. The pizzas aren’t huge, but a slice—topped with gobs of brightsauce and plenty of cheese—goes a long way. If you’re looking for a more conventional pizza, go for the deck-oven-baked rounds.

Little Prince Pizza

2505 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 465 K St., NW

Restaurateur/chef Michael Schlow is behind a diverse mix of DC restaurants, including the Latin Tico, the American Glover Park Grill, and the Japanese Nama. His latest venture offers Italian subs gilded with duck rillettes and pizza topped with short rib. We keep it classic with the cheese-free tomato pie or a simple pepperoni-dotted round. Tasty as the pizza is, the wings—both Buffalo and Korean-style—may be even better.

Working the oven at Martha Dear in Mount Pleasant. Photograph by Farrah Skeiky.

Martha Dear

3110 Mount Pleasant St., NW

Ordering from this white-hot, teeny-tiny Mount Pleasant pizzeria feels like the 2021 version of the line to get into Rose’s Luxury. You have to be online at noon—sharp—to order, and even then, the limited number of pies might sell out before you enter in a credit card. This is pizza that’s more cheffy than sloppy, courtesy of Tail Up Goat alums Demetri Mechelis and Tara Smith. The sturdy, faintly sour crust is what’s most memorable about it—get it with sausage, peppers, and a slathering of spicy n’duja. (And whatever salad’s on the menu that day, grab that, too.)

Pizza at Mercy Me. Photograph by Raisa Aziz.

Mercy Me

1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW

This cafe from the owners of Timber Pizza bills itself as “sorta South American,” while chef Johanna Hellrigl has Italian roots. You’ll find hints of both cuisines in the grilled pizza. Hellrigl uses a long-fermented Roman-style dough but embraces Argentinean ingredients. Think epazote-pepita pesto or, our favorite, chorizo with habanero honey.

Motown Square Pizza

703 Edgewood St., NE (Mess Hall)

Yes, this is Detroit pizza. But it’s Detroit pizza from Paulos Belay, a Motown native with roots in Ethiopia and Mississippi. So in addition to his more traditional squares loaded with brick cheese and crushed tomato, you’ll find options such as a pizza laden with Ethiopian beef tibs, red onions, chilies, and herbs.

Mozzeria’s Italian-sausage pizza with fennel and creamy garlic sauce. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Mozzeria DC

1300 H St., NE

Gallaudet alums Melody and Russ Stein are behind this deaf-owned and -operated pizzeria, which turns out certified Neapolitan pizzas with tasty topping combos like Italian sausage with fennel, marinated onions, and creamy garlic sauce. Take the restaurant’s advice and blitz takeout pies in an über-hot home oven, and don’t forget a side of pomodoro sauce for dunking.

Oyster Oyster’s dough is fermented for two days. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Oyster Oyster

1440 Eighth St., NW

When the pandemic hit, chef Rob Rubba paused plans for a four-course, vegetable-focused menu and began making bagels and bialys. That was the starting point for a 48-hour-fermented dough, made with flour from a small Pennsylvania mill, that’s now the base for Rubba’s pizzas. He embraces the regional bounty; one standout pie comes with cheddar, roasted cabbage, and shaved Virginia—yes, Virginia—truffle. “You don’t have to ship something from France or Italy to get this luxury,” Rubba says.

Piece Out

2419 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

The family behind Alexandria’s Cafe Pizzaiolo draws from their upstate New York roots at this summer addition to Del Ray. While they’ve also expanded their repertoire to include Detroitslices, their signature is still a crisp, thin pie, which we recommend topped with pork ragu and housemade mozzarella. The menu offers other Italian American staples—try the fritto misto, a mix of fried calamari, olives, and more.

Best Pizza DC Arlington Pupatella Pizza
Pupatella’s chorizo-and-pepper pizza. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Pupatella

Dupont Circle, Arlington, and Reston

There’s a reason pizza lovers freak every time Naples native Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg open a branch of their Arlington-based shop (DC and Reston locations debuted last year). The pies, topped with indulgences such as burrata or chorizo, are still some of the best around, while crispy frittura platters make you feel like you’re in Algarme’s hometown.

Side Door Pizza

909 New Jersey Ave., SE

At the start of the pandemic, Scarlet Oak co-owner Brian Schram got stuck in Los Angeles. That’s where, of all places, he first tried Detroit pizza. Upon returning to DC, Schram was inspired to start his own pizza pop-up out of the side door of his Navy Yard restaurant. His pan pies have a focaccia-like fluffiness and sport rotating toppings like housemade meatballs. Sides include pupusas made by a Salvadoran cook. “We don’t make any money off them—she gets a percentage of the sales,” Schram says.

Slice Joint at the Roost

1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Beer and pizza are a perfect team, so it’s fitting that the hopheads at Neighborhood Restaurant Group (behind such beer destinations as Bluejacket, ChurchKey, and Shelter) joined up with a New York pizza queen for their Capitol Hill food hall. Rachael Marie, an alum of Roberta’s in Brooklyn, turns out oversize slices that pair well with a quick beer-garden pint. Or go for Sicilian squares with zesty tomato sauce and a side of ranch for dunking.

Coming Soon

Della Barba

1382 E. Capitol St., NE

Multiple styles of pizza—Chicago, New York, Detroit among them—will come out of this cafe on the rim of Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Park.

A Detroit slice at Emmy Squared.

Emmy Squared

124 King St., Alexandria

The Brooklyn-based Detroit-pizza restaurant already has a location in Shaw. This spring, it’ll bring its ranch-streaked pies, hefty salads, and giant burgers to the Old Town space that used to house Pizzeria Paradiso.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda

The New Haven–based chain will bring its sheet pans of thin, coal-fired pizza (including the justly famous clam pie) to Westfield Montgomery mall later this year.

Stellina

508 K St., NW; 2800 S. Randolph St., Arlington

This terrific fast-casual pizza/pasta joint near Union Market was always primed for expansion. A Shirlington shop opened in mid-February, and soon you’ll be able to pick up a cacio e pepe pie in downtown DC, too.

Food editor Anna Spiegel’s brother-in-law is restaurateur Aaron Gordon. She was not involved in anything regarding his restaurants in this package.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

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 Logan Circle.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.