The Absolute Best Pizza Shops in DC
From simple slice shops to artisan pies.
Sure, DC may not have a style of pizza to call its own, per se, but that just means we gets the best of everywhere else. And isn’t that the most democratic way to enjoy pizza anyway? What that also means is pizza lovers can afford to be picky when it comes to their preferred pie. Those in search of loaded toppings might be partial to Timber Pizza Company while those who just want something thin and crispy could opt for Menomale. But for James Beard-nominated chef Tony Conte of Inferno Pizzeria, it’s all about the dough.
Conte tells Thrillist that holy grail dough is something he and his team are always chasing, and he knows the mark has been hit when the crust turns out “light, airy, and with just a little bit of crisp.” It’s this daily pursuit of perfection that has Conte making every batch of dough himself, rolling out every dough ball.
When it comes to toppings, though, he’s somewhat of a minimalist—with reason. The argument? When you strip away the fancy meats and the truffle oil and the globs of ricotta, the true test of quality arrives. No longer able to hide behind niceties, the bare bones of the pizza are then revealed to the customer: dough, sauce, cheese, maybe a little basil here and there.
“If we’re going someplace and want to judge whether we believe they’re doing something at a high level, and want to taste the key ingredients, we’d usually get a marinara. It’s basically just what it’s supposed to be,” says Conte. “Show us who you are. The dough is going to tell me who you are, and if I get that and fall in love with it then that’s a home run.”
The other great thing about a simple, delicious pizza—it’s still going to taste pretty good even if you have to warm it back up. Indeed, Conte tells us that in spite of the pandemic, Inferno has somehow managed to thrive. Some might attribute it to consistency, and the fact that people turn to tried and true dishes like pizza when everything else around them seems a little mad.
So, whether you’re seeking your next at-home comfort pie or a classier date spot to split one, these are the best pizza joints throughout the DMV, ensuring your next great slice is never too far away.
The brainchild of two Tail Up Goat alums, Martha Dear quickly became one of DC’s favorite pie shops after it opened at the end of 2020. Together, the couple dish out a limited daily amount of Neapolitan-style sourdough pies from their basement-level location. Unique flavors are the name of the game at Martha Dear thanks to a sourdough crust and Mediterranean influences. The shop is named after the chef’s Greek mother, so it’s only appropriate that ingredients like braised squid and pork ‘nduja make regular appearances on the menu. If you plan on taking your pizza home, don’t dilly dally when it comes to placing that order. Martha Dear’s small operation means limited pies, and a pick-up time is required so order ahead online.
Motown Square Pizza
Inside culinary incubator Mess Hall, you’ll find a transportation device called Motown Square that will bring you straight to Detroit. Founded by Detroit native Paulos Belay, Motown Square came to life after Belay became frustrated that he wasn’t able to satisfy his cravings for the perfect slice in the District. Months spent attempting to recreate the flavors of his favorite pizza shop back home have culminated into what Motown Square is today: a reliable spot for Detroit-style pizzas with a flavorful Ethiopian twist. Belay adds the Ethiopian spice Berbere to his signature sauce, which provides a nod to the chef’s cultural heritage.
Italian-American eatery All-Purpose opened to amazing reviews and instantly bustling business in the spring of 2016. With pizza inspired by both Rome and New Jersey, it’s known for doughy crusts and delicious garlic knots. Other offerings include house-made charcuterie, a wide selection of hot and cold antipasti, and dessert from neighboring bakeshop, Buttercream.
Though it hardly needs an introduction, 2Amys is one of DC’s longest-standing favorites, and one of the founding members of the Neapolitan renaissance in the District. Come here for near-perfect, delicate pies with bubbly crusts, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil. The Margherita is the baseline against which all Neapolitan pies in DC are judged, but a wide range of other concoctions, arancini, and an impressive Italian wine list have helped 2Amys endure as a mainstay in the capital’s culinary conversation.
Comet Ping Pong
There are a few reasons to make a trip to Northwest DC’s Wakefield neighborhood—namely Politics & Prose, Little Red Fox, and Comet Ping Pong, all of which you can find on the same stretch of Connecticut Avenue. Comet once faced some drama thanks to the infamous Pizzagate scandal, but that doesn’t negate the fact that its pizza is delicious. So are the wings. Comet is a unique spot because you can actually play ping-pong, and there’s a regular cadence of bands performing in its warehouse-chic back room.
Il Canale serves up authenticity with its giant, Italian-made wood-burning oven, rotating fork dough mixer, and fresh Buffalo mozzarella—all of the hallmarks of a true Neapolitan pie. This is what has earned the Georgetown spot the distinction of being named one of DC’s VPN pizzerias (and one of less than 400 in the world). Il Canale boasts a full Italian menu as well, but if you’re after the pie, the Margherita is a little taste of Naples.
How to book: Make a reservation via website or order pickup and delivery via website
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana
Inferno has once been described as “destination pizza,” and we can’t agree more. Each pizza dough is lovingly stretched and shaped by chef Tony Conte, a Jean-Georges alum, before getting charred to perfection. Ingredients are sourced locally and their small menu is always rotating depending on what’s fresh and in season, so pizza lovers can check back regularly to see what’s new.
How to book: Walk in or call 301-963-0115 for takeout
Menomalé Pizza Napoletana
Menomale is a hidden gem with two locations in Brookland and Noma, serving one of the best pies in town. Every bite of every pie tastes fresh and flavorful to the highest order. The dough is fired to the perfect state of a thin crisp shell with a mouthwateringly moist and chewy interior. The Margherita is impeccable, and the Chef’s Special is not only an optimal balance of flavors and textures with its layered arugula, prosciutto, and Grana Padano—it’s also one of the prettiest pies you’re likely to ever eat.
Pete's New Haven Style Pizza
Those homesick for New England-style pizza can find themselves at home at Pete’s. New Haven-style pies have been slowly gaining ground in DC, and Pete’s is the frontrunner: producing the large, thin, crisp crusts with a healthy char of its regional namesake. Of course, Pete’s couldn’t claim its New Haven pedigree without the requisite white clam pie: fresh clams, garlic, olive oil, and Romano.
The tiny neighborhood of Bloomingdale has gotten some serious love lately, probably due to its surprisingly vast array of culinary options, bars, and parks. Bacio perfectly exemplifies the charm of the neighborhood with its rustic-modern feel, dog-friendly patio, and make-your-own pizza options.
How to order: Dine in on the sweet front patio or take advantage of their takeaway specials.
Even though Pi is known for their cornmeal deep-dish pizza, they also have unique specialty pies that feature items such as the Cubano with slow-cooked pork shoulder, country ham, kosher pickle, swiss, and yellow mustard. The St. Louis-based chain first gained notoriety after Barack Obama supposedly claimed Pi as his favorite pizza place. The ingredients are sourced locally, and they claim to have built their brand upon the promise of minimizing its carbon footprint through sustainable purchases and practices.
Since &pizza opened its DC flagship location on H Street in 2012, Washingtonians haven’t been able to get enough of the speedy, rectangular, customizable pies. One location that continues to stay absolutely packed through the day and night, especially on weekends, is the shop on U Street. With hits like the meat-packed Maverick, the vegetarian Moonstruck (covered in mushroom truffle sauce and goat cheese), and even a hot honey drizzled pie called the American Honey, there’s something for everyone.
How to order: Walk in or check the website for online ordering at your nearest location
Pizzeria Paradiso has been around for more than two decades and has expanded to five locations. Its success is due to a couple of factors. The first being its quality Neapolitan-style pies, like the ever-popular Atomica with spicy salami, pepper flakes, and sweet pickled olives crafting a potent mix of sweet and heat. The second is that Paradiso is also a killer beer bar, with dozens of crafts from around the world to choose from. Delicious pizza. Delicious beer. Name a better combo.
Sonny’s Pizza is all about the vibe—with benches reclaimed from bowling alleys and tables made out of repurposed bleachers. Munch on slices or a whole pie of their granny-style pizza out in the back “pizza garden” and make sure to check out some of its other offerings, including chicken and eggplant parm, meatballs, Caesar salads, and garlic knots. For real devotees, check out the spot’s Wine and Pizza Club—a tiered monthly membership that includes bottles of wine, pizzas, and other fun perks.
Stellina Pizzeria is the brainchild of longtime friends and native Italians Antonio Matarazzo and chef Matteo Venini. Besides their pies, the simple menu nods to the street food of the southern Italian coast with a selection of fried seafood and veggies served in paper cones called cuoppo.
Timber Pizza Company
Since Timber hit the Petworth scene in 2016, it has been making quite the splash, and for good reason. You may also recognize the owners from hit bagel spot, Call Your Mother, but the duo’s first iteration has a casual atmosphere complete with communal tables and growlers of local beer, making Timber a go-to local spot. Here, you can order your pizza “half-and-half,” so you’ll never again have to decide between your two favorites. People go crazy for the Green Monster pie, teeming with fresh mozzarella, zucchini, and kale.
Who says it’s impossible to get a good NY slice in DC? Wiseguy is proving that you don’t have to travel up 95 for that perfect cheesy slice. Here, slices are handmade from scratch, sizable, thin, crispy, and topped with a multitude of fresh ingredients.