It is one of my goals to try every restaurant near our house. I haven't scientifically defined the parameters of this quest, but I consider "near" to be within 3 blocks or so. Pizza Autentica recently opened on L Street and because it fell within the zone of my silly goal, I knew we'd be making a trip there. We had to pay a visit to our dry cleaner and this place was close by, so we decided to check it out for lunch.
The most accurate description I can provide is that Pizza Autentica is basically a Sbarro's Pizza sans the mall food court location. It's order-at-the-counter pizza that is pre-baked and popped into the oven for a quick reheat once you order it. I've put away quite a few slices of Sbarro's cheese pizza in my day so the Sbarro's reference is no knock against it. I just don't want you to be disappointed if you're expecting table service or fancy pies here.
To get the full experience, we (with assistance of the recommendations from the woman behind the counter) created our own tasting menu of different things. We started with the stuffed pizza (pepperoni and sausage) and the cheese pizza. The cheese was pretty standard and not particularly memorable. Well, on second thought, I can still remember it burning the roof of my mouth... Other than that, not so special. The stuffed pizza was memorable for its soft chewy crust and the fact that it was bursting at the seams with meat and cheese. This kind of food isn't going to be listed in any diet plan but if you're having a "I need some greasy pizza" day, this slice is for you.
The next segment of our "I hope we have Tums at home" lunch was the spinach and cheese stromboli and garlic knots. We'd probably come back here just for the stromboli. It had a great garlic-spinach flavor and wasn't dripping with grease. Kind of like a Hot Pocket if Hot Pockets tasted good and weren't packed with crazy preservatives.
The garlic knots were pretty disappointing. I was hoping they'd be like the incredibly addicting garlic knots at C&O's in Venice, CA but alas, they were just bland balls of carbs. As we like to say: not worth the calories. But they were fun to look at.
Entering Pizza Autentica you'll notice the gelato case. I don't know about you, but to me, gelato is kind of a tease. It sits in its shiny glass case, in this fancy little mound, topped with oreos or fruit or candy bars and begs you to have some "just this once." Then, you greedily dig your tiny little spoon into the gelato and it shouts "I got you again! I'm really not as good as ice cream but I tricked you into buying me!" Ok, ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but since I've never been to Italy to sample the gelato everyone raves about, I just don't really get the hype. However, since I burned my mouth on the cheese pizza and we really wanted to give our readers the full scoop on Pizza Autentica, we decided to share a small Oreo gelato.
While still not as good as ice cream, this was pretty tasty gelato. They were generous with the oreo chunks and it had a smooth texture.
Don't drop what you're doing to run to Pizza Autentica, but if you're visiting your friendly neighborhood dry cleaner or happen to be wandering down L street, stop on in for a stromboli or stuffed pizza. Oh, and they are open from 7am to 11pm most days. In this kind of neighborhood, those hours are very ambitious. We'll see how it goes. Maybe there is a big market for breakfast strombolis? Only time will tell.
Second Thoughts from B
What's the upside to having mall-quality pizza? Answer: Food court prices! Quick and convenient (for us anyway), Pizza Autentica isn't going to win any awards but it is a more than serviceable lunchtime choice for those who work in the area. Just one block from K St., the clean and welcoming storefront (including a very nice patio) must be quite a hit on weekdays. Will it be a hit with B and J on weekends? Not likely, but at least we can check it off J's list...