Friday, July 30, 2010

We, the Pizza

Fans of all things Spike Mendelsohn have no reason to ever leave the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue SE between 3rd and 4th streets. Just this week, Chef Spike and his team opened up We, the Pizza right next to his popular Good Stuff Eatery. As a pizza lover and Good Stuff fan (see our thoughts here), I've been eagerly anticipating opening day for months.

Since we know that every single restaurant is going to have its ups and downs in the beginning, we'll overlook the hot and smoky interior, the lack of gelato (I was crushed when I learned I couldn't try the Nutella Smores gelato due to a broken machine), and the fact that the upstairs area was closed for a private event leading to a serious lack of seating options. From what we sampled, We, the Pizza is definitely We, the Potential.

To start, the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Slices are $3 for the cheese and $4 for the other 9 specialty pies. Given the fact that We, The Pizza uses fresh, local, and top-notch ingredients (not to mention the celebrity chef buzz to drive demand), I don't think you'll find a better pizza value in town. The uber-thick Flintstones-style cast iron slices are only $5. Ridiculous. The made-to-order sodas are $3 with an extra shot of syrup setting you back only 25 cents. After the first sip, B called his Jupina Pineapple Soda "pretty much the most awesomenest thing ever." While my Don't Forget Your Ginger Roots Soda didn't change my life, I look forward to working my way through the unique soda menu.

If olde timey soda isn't your thing, you are lame. Just kidding. If olde timey soda isn't your thing, they also offer beer to wash down your pizza. If pizza isn't your thing, they have salads, pasta, subs, and wings (but you also may be lame).

As for the pizza, we ordered (clockwise, starting at the top-left) the Sicilian cast iron pie (chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil), the simple cheese pie (tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano), the buffalo chicken pie (spicy boneless chicken wings, creamy blue cheese, mozzarella, miguel's hot sauce), and the forest shroomin pie (wild forest mushrooms, truffles, mozzarella, fresh thyme).

As we sat outside, I looked over at the Good Stuff tables and after staring longingly at the milkshakes, I realized I feel the same way about We, the Pizza that I do about Good Stuff. For me, it isn't the very best burger or slice of pizza in town, but when you put it all together in a complete package, I like it better than other places. Adding in the fries and shakes at Good Stuff or the sodas and gelato (someday) at We, the Pizza equals a total package that isn't easily matched. With their adjacent locations, you could create some pretty amazing (and calorically terrible) combos. Pizza and a Milky Way shake anyone?

Second Thoughts from B

We, the Work in Progress is exactly what any Good Stuff fan would expect. As J said, no single element is superior to other options in DC. But assuming some of the hiccups are resolved, I can't imagine that we don't make We, the Pizza a frequent stop.

In order to sample several of the offerings, we ordered pizza by the slice. Would our opinions change if we received a piping hot pie fresh out of the oven? Perhaps. However, even after a couple of the pieces had been sitting out for a short while, they were delicious. The crust was flavorful and perfectly cooked. The extra thick version on the Sicilian was crisp on the outside and just doughy enough on the inside, while the thin crust had the perfect amount of crunch on the bottom of each slice. All the dough was noticeably more salty than the average pizza crust which made eating it plain more of a pleasure than a chore. However, keep in mind that this is coming from someone who craves salt like Spencer Pratt craves attention...

The buffalo chicken pizza was extremely well done but it just didn't feel right to me. Maybe I'm too closed minded or maybe I just don't love buffalo wings enough (if you do, I'd recommend trying a slice). The Forest shroomin was a tutorial in umami, and I loved it. Like the crust, it was heavy on the salt but the earthiness of the mushrooms sold me. The Sicilian cast iron pie was massive and wonderful. I applaud Chef Spike for creating something that big without making the size the selling point. Not only could eating this mammoth help build your biceps, it was also a great festival of flavors and textures in your mouth. Still, I think it could be used as a weapon, so beware. I even hear that Clue is considering adding it to their game. "I propose that it was Chef Spike, in the kitchen, with the Sicilian crust..." Finally, the plain New York style pizza may be the piece I'll order the most in the future. Nothing fancy, just cheese, sauce, and dough (plus salt) that work well together and flood your mind with memories of walking across the Brooklyn bridge with an oily slice of New York's finest.
We, the Pizza on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you are so harsh on it. We the Pizza has the best white pizza I have ever had, hands down. Awesome service, and the dough is not salty. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how the above review was harsh....i haven't been but based on it will try to get there