Our Food Critic’s 19 Favorite Pizzas Right Now

Just in time for National Pizza Day.

Pizza at Stellina. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

National Pizza Day, one of the most popular faux food holidays, is Friday, February 9. There are a few specials around town—Pizzeria Paradiso, for example, will donate one pizza for everything three sold to Bread for the City—but if you’re just looking for a guaranteed great pie, here are a bunch of my recent favorites.


Cacio e Pepe at Stellina

399 Morse St., NE; 508 K St.,  NW; 2800 S. Randolph St., Arlington

Stellina’s cacio e pepe pizza. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The peppery, buttery Roman pasta in pizza form, made with Pecorino and sheep’s milk Cacio de Roma cheese. It’s fantastic.


Vongole 1.0 at 2Amys

3715 Macomb St., NW

Photograph by Scott Suchman .

This salty, briny pie has been one of my top-five pizzas for over two decades. The Cathedral Heights mainstay tops its wonderfully blistered Neapolitan-style crust with cockles in their shells, plus capers, garlic, hot peppers, and Grana Padano cheese.


Macha ‘Roni at Boogy and Peel

1 Dupont Cir., NW

Photograph courtesy of Boogy and Peel.

Streaks of honey and spoonfuls of salsa macha—fiery, oily, and studded with peanuts and sesame seeds—amp up this Dupont pizzeria’s pepperoni pie. My runner-up favorite: the pizza inspired by an Italian sub. Wednesdays between 4:30 and 6:30, pies are half-off alongside the place’s usual happy hour drink deals.


Pretty in Pepperoni at Timber Pizza

809 Upshur St., NW

Timber Pizza’s “Pretty in Pepperoni” pie. Photograph by Jeff Elkins .

Is it the most exciting pie on this snug Neo-Neapolitan spot’s menu? No, but it’s my favorite. It’s simple: little coins of pepperoni, basil, and a mix of provolone and mozzarella. Too plain? Go for the Green Monster, a pesto pie with fresh mozz’, feta, zucchini, and kale. Special shout-out to sister spot Call Your Mother’s pizza bagels.


Staven at Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza

4940 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Pete’s was once a major player on the pizza scene. Now, the lone remaining location, in Friendship Heights, still puts out good slices and pies. My longtime favorite: the spicy Staven, with pepperoni, sausage, cherry peppers, and whole cloves of sweet roasted garlic.


Ca-Lamb-ity J’s at Comet Ping Pong

5037 Connecticut Ave., NW

Housemade lamb sausage is the star of this wood-fired pizza, which also comes topped with tzatziki, whipped feta, and pickled onions. There’s the option of adding red sauce, but it’s way better without it.


Chile Relleno at Anafre

3704 14th St., NW

This Columbia Heights Mexican dining room launched a pizza pop-up during the pandemic, and it’s stuck around.The best of the creative renditions—a pizza version of chile rellenos, with poblanos, chile de arbol, sour cream, and Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheeses.


White Clam at Frank Pepe

7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda; 3231 Duke St., Alexandria

Frank Pepe’s coal-fired oven cooks its pizza in under 10 minutes. Photograph courtesy of Frank Pepe’s.

I’ve lined up outside this century-old New Haven institution for its coal-fired sheet-pan pizza countless times. And now there is one at Westfield Montgomery Mall! And in Old Town! This particular pie—one of their most famous—is thin, crispy, garlicky as hell, and loaded with fresh clams. 


Stracci Bianca at Stracci Pizza

106 Hume Ave, Alexandria

This Del Ray gem makes its own stracciatella cheese—hand-pulled mozzarella soaked in cream—and it’s best shown off on this Roman-style white pizza, simply accented with olive oil and flakes of Maldon salt.


Hot Mess at Frankly…Pizza!

10417 Armory Ave., Kensington

The Hot Mess at Frankly Pizza. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

There are three kinds of cheese—gruyere, romano, and mozzarella—on this wood-fired white pie arrayed with pickled jalapeños and chunks of bacon (made in house!). 


Cheese Slice at Vace

3315 Connecticut Ave., NW; 4705 Miller Ave., Bethesda

My earliest food memory is eating a slice of this sauce-on-top, cheese-on-the-bottom pizza in the back of my mom’s station wagon. It still happens to be the perfect car slice—thin, but not floppy, and since the cheese gets baked into the crust, it’s not oily or gooey.


Buona at All-Purpose

1250 Ninth St., NW; 79 Potomac Ave., SE

Pepperoni pizza with honey at All-Purpose Pizzeria. All photographs by Scott Suchman.
Pepperoni pizza with honey at All-Purpose Pizzeria. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Everybody is doing pepperoni with hot honey these days, but few do it as well as these Shaw and Navy Yard restaurants, which turn out flavorful crusts with dough fermented for three days. Grab some feta-ranch for crust-dipping.


Margherita at Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana

12207 Darnestown Rd., Darnestown

Former fine-dining chef Tony Conte is behind this tiny, no-reservations Neapolitan pizza place, which is absolutely worth the trek and wait. There are no bad choices, but his simple Margherita, with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, and fior de latte cheese, is the star. 


Detroit at Della Barba 

1382 E. Capitol St., NE

Attorney-turned-pizza-whiz Joey Barber opened his long-awaited Capitol Hill pizza place just over a year ago. He sets himself apart by doing several styles well—Chicago, New York, grandma, and, my favorite, Detroit. The focaccia-like dough is pressed into steel pans and sprinkled with cheddar-like brick cheese, which gets crispy at the edges. The sauce, ladled atop the cheese in two big stripes, is bright and assertive, a great foil to its counterparts. 


Vodka at Emmy Squared

1924 Eighth St., NW; 1300 Fourth St., SE; 124 King St., Alexandria

The thick, soft, Detroit-style pizzas from this Brooklyn transfer can be a little…extra. This version is relatively straightforward—just sweet, creamy vodka sauce, basil, and pecorino. The sauce is also good on the Big Ang, which adds ricotta, Italian sausage, and banana peppers to the party.


The OG Pepperoni at Red Light

1401 R St., NW

Naomi Gallego’s fanciful Detroit pies at Red Light. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Another Detroit-style standout, with a dough recipe from longtime pastry chef Naomi Gallego. These rectangle pies might look small, but they are super-decadent. 


Pesky Mario at Sonny’s Pizza

3120 Georgia Ave., NW

Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The Park View hangout specializes in pillowy Sicilian-style squares, served by the slice or pie. I like this assembly of mushrooms, rapini, and Calabrian chilies.


Tavern Pizza at Colony Grill

2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 11325 Seven Locks Rd., Potomac

A bar pie at Colony Grill, opening in Clarendon. Photograph courtesy of Colony Grill.

This Connecticut transplant in Clarendon and Cabin John serves one thing, and one thing only: thin, crunchy tavern pizza. If you like heat, order your pie with stingers (aka serrano chilies), or just go for sausage and peppers.


Deluxe at Badd Pizza

6263 Old Dominion Dr., McLean; 346 W. Broad St., Falls Church

I like to call this drunk college pizza (not that you have to be drunk to enjoy it)—it’s saucy and cheesy with a midweight crust—but apparently it’s Buffalo-style. Try this rendition with pepperoni, mushrooms, banana peppers, and onion (I add black olives). A nice feature: pizzas come in whole, half, and personal sizes.

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.