WASHINGTON, DC — Pizza varies from state to state, from the thin, cripsy crust popular with many diners to the casserole style pie popular in Chicago. Whatever your preference, we take our pizza seriously. With all the creative chefs in the Washington, D.C., region it’s no surprise that a national standout with fresh ingredients is earning raves for a District spot. No Virginia eateries made the cut, but two Maryland pizzerias with unique pizza offerings are on the list — a bacon and clam pizza in Baltimore and a roasted potatoes and onions pie winning praise in Montgomery County.
The restaurants are being recognized nationally by the fine dining website The Daily Meal, which recently ranked the 101 Best Pizzas In America for 2018.
"Every year the pizzas just get better and better," writes The Daily Meal. "It’s a fantastic time for pizza in this country. The classic Neapolitan style is now widespread, while Roman al taglio pizza has landed and is quickly proliferating. There’s more fascination with pizza than ever, and diners are increasingly seeking out America’s own regional styles."
Here’s what the website says of the fantastic pizza places in Washington, D.C., and not too far of a drive in Maryland:
No. 92, Pretty in Pepperoni, Timber Pizza Company in Washington, D.C.: "The nation’s capital, long a pizza wasteland characterized by over-the-top jumbo slices, has been bootstrapping itself into pie relevance in recent years. … These are artisanal-looking pizzas with the kind of gray and ashy, crispy corniciones you don’t see on the ever-popular Neapolitan pizzas still sweeping across America. Look for red, white, and green pizzas at Timber. Their most famous pie may perhaps be the Green Monster, topped with pesto, fresh mozzarella, feta, zucchini, and kale. But you can’t go wrong with the essentials, and it’s hard to be more beautiful than Pretty in Pepperoni, their take on a classic, with tomato sauce, a provolone-and-mozz blend, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and basil," according to The Daily Meal.No. 95, Bacon and Clam, Joe Squared (Baltimore): "No one in Maryland, you can argue, serves a better pizza. Owner Joe Edwardsen introduced locals to his square, sourdough-crust, nearly matzo-thin pies in 2006, a style that bucks the typical connotations this shape suggests. They’re not pan, grandma pizza, or Detroit-style pies, but thin-crust pizzas that are just square and cooked in a coal-fired 800° oven for a minute. Why square? Joe has explained that he likes pizza with edges and that pizza boxes are square, which seems both logical and hard to argue with."No. 99, Wood Oven Roasted Potatoes and Onion, Inferno Pizzeria (Darnestown): "Though it flew under the radar for a few years, Inferno’s secret is largely out. … The centerpiece of the casual restaurant is a custom-tiled wood-burning oven, which turns out a roster of pies that changes seasonally based on what’s fresh and local. If you want to hug the baseline, stick with the classic D.O.C. Margherita, simply topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte, olive oil, and basil, but be sure to order at least one other pie: the pizza with ember-roasted potatoes, roasted onions, and smoked mozzarella. Inferno is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and stays open on other nights only until the kitchen runs out of dough."
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The Daily Meal said it assembles the best pizza rankings by building a list that was approached "methodically and comprehensively and brings a great deal of pizza expertise to bear."
Indeed, the lead writer, Arthur Bovino, is the founding editor of The Daily Meal’s annual list of the 101 Best Pizzas in America. He has written about pizza for The New York Times, Bon Appétit, TimeOut, First We Feast, Food52, and Tasting Table, and been consulted for his pizza expertise by The Wall Street Journal and Phaidon’s guide to Where to Eat Pizza.
"We believe the following qualities are basic to the platonic pie: a nuanced sauce, neither too sweet nor salty (assuming that it has sauce); good-quality, well-distributed cheese (assuming that it has cheese); good-quality and sensibly combined toppings; a flavorful, savory crust; and, perhaps most important aside from the overall quality of the ingredients, a judicious, well-balanced, and pleasing ratio of sauce, cheese, toppings, and crust that maintains a structural integrity no matter the style," according to The Daily Meal.
In order to assemble the rankings, The Daily Meal started by building a survey of great pizzas from around the country, and then adding to it each year. Nearly 1,000 pizzas were considered in total this year.
"We then called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and just plain pizza authorities — asking them to vote only for places where they’ve actually eaten," according to the publication. "All told, 59 qualified experts weighed in this year."
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