Young and Hungry

First Look: Spike Mendelsohn’s We, The Pizza on Capitol Hill

DSCN5080_opt

Spike Mendelsohn finally opened We, The Pizza yesterday on Capitol Hill, and from what I heard the place was packed. By the time, I got there in the mid-afternoon, the crowd had thinned, if mostly because Spike and Co. weren't allowing anyone inside the place.

A paper sign was affixed to the entrance that read: This Week Only Closed from 3 to 6. The door was locked, and I was among the unfortunate souls who were locked out. The strange thing was, it was only 2:35 p.m.

If there's one thing that Capitol Hill residents understand, it's rules. This is where rules are made (and broken, but never mind that) so they have an acute sense of injustice when someone's not following their own self-imposed rules. Patrons outside We, The Pizza demanded an explanation, and they knocked on the door, looking for one.

Chef Spike himself answered the bell and solved the problem before it developed into a wonky kerfuffle. He allowed us all inside.

Here's what we saw. (Photos after the jump, including the Early Closing Controversy!)

DSCN5082_opt

The sign that caused all the angst at 2:35 p.m.

DSCN5083_opt

Chef Spike personally responds to the mini-mob and allows us inside before things get wonky — and somebody writes a letter to the editor or a blog post or something.

DSCN5089_opt

The interior is decorated with lots of oversized black-and-white photos and poster sloganeering. It makes for an attractive space, although for some reason the overall effect reminds me of Russian Revolution poster art.

DSCN5092_opt

We, The Pizza has a line of house-made sodas with names you won't necessarily want to speak aloud: "Love You Long Time Lemon Lime," "I've Gotta Orange Crush on You," and "Heard It Through the Grape Soda."

DSCN5093_opt

The pick-up counter. The wait was a little long on opening day, but that's to be expected.

DSCN5095_opt

I dig these little wooden pedestals on which Mendelsohn's pizzas rest, the better for you to inspect what kind of pie you want. The full menu is here.

DSCN5097_opt(2)

The stairs to the second floor: you'll feel be-trayed.

DSCN5098_opt

One of two upstairs rooms, this one featuring a long black banquette.

DSCN5102_opt

I ordered white pie (ricotta, fontina, roasted garlic, Parmesan, mozzarella, sea salt, olive oil, parsley) and the pepperoni pie (tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, oregano). Both were cooked well in a deck oven. The crust was raised and crispy, more New Haven than Neapolitan style, with an excellent airy crumb. Its flavor was salty and bready. The cheese was fresh and creamy on the white pie, although applied with a heavy hand. It  would have benefited from some of the promised olive oil to balance its flavors.

DSCN5103_opt

The "Don't Forget Your Ginger Roots Soda" is a sweet, bracing blast, complete with pieces of ginger sunk at the bottom of the cup.

DSCN5107_opt

A view into the other upstairs room. The designers have done a nice job of modernizing the space while maintaining the integrity of the original brick structure.

DSCN5109_opt

They may want to re-think this wiring solution.

DSCN5111_opt

The upstairs communal table, with access to yet another flatscreen TV.

  • Pingback: Korean Barbecue Burns Bright; Domino's New Recipe Pays Off - Multi-City Restaurant Buzz - Zagat

  • Dan O.

    All in all, We, the Pizza is good. The strength is its crust, which manages to find the perfect balance between doughy and crispy, unlike the cardboard that is all too common around DC.

    The toppings are quite good too. Just don't try to add more of your favorites.

    I know that sounds odd, since virtually every pizza place, from large chains to the trendy gourmet spots, will not only have their specials (Meat Lovers, Vegetarian, what have you) but will allow you to add/subtract various toppings and charge accordingly.

    Not We, the Pizza.

    On Friday, when I asked to add mushrooms to the pepperoni pizza, I was nonchalantly rebuffed as if I asked if they had asked if I could add pickled anchovies. When I asked why I couldn’t add mushrooms, since another pizza is the Forest Shroom Pie and clearly mushrooms abound, I was informed that I “couldn’t interfere with the recipe.”

    After some careful sleuthing (i.e. looking over the counter to where the pizzas were being assembled), I was able to determine that the recipe was: lay down dough, add sauce, then cheese, then whatever toppings are required.

    Could such a formula be tainted by adding some additional toppings? Maybe, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

...