327 7th St. SE, (202) 544-1911
There’s an interesting pizza rivalry that’s under the radar for most D.C. diners, and it’s between two young Italian men. Sorriso’s Stefano Polies, who mans the ovens at his family-owned Cleveland Park restaurant, creates northern Italian–style pies with standard flour, a graze of toppings, and a longer bake time. “The northern style is more popular in Italy,” he says. From the Neapolitan camp comes Anthony Pilla, who worked for Polies and now runs Seventh Hill near Eastern Market. The younger Pilla, who’s more of a showman than Polies, uses only “00” flour and churns out pies from his 600-degree oven within three to five minutes. You’d think that’s what everyone does, but many restaurants don’t run the oven that hot (though they say they do) nor do they have the manpower to pull out pies as often as the hotter oven requires. It’s tough to choose between the two—they’re both wonderful. And if you’ve ever eavesdropped on an exchange between Polies and his father Pietro and witnessed an “I’m so proud of my son,” it pulls on the heartstrings. That said, sometimes Polies has a pizzamaker stand in, while over at the tiny Seventh Hill, Pilla’s usually working the oven—and the crowd. His blisteringly hot pies are perfectly charred, and the toppings are creative to boot. Just remember: When placing an order, don’t hesitate to suggest restraint in toppings—or just go with the Margherita for a truly beautiful pizza.