How far are you willing to journey for good pizza? Amazing pizza? Out of this world fantastic pizza? A delegation of Halftime/Voice staffers and friends decided they were willing to withstand 1.5 hours of walking and metro transfers for it. What kind of pizza is this? you may be asking yourself, or are these people just mad?
I tell you, we are not mad. Our lively and enthusiastic group patronized U&pizza, one of a handful of “&pizza” stores around DC. &pizza’s business plan is not much unlike Sweetgreen or Chipotle, but the difference is, you may have guessed it, pizza. When you walk in, you funnel into the ordering line. Friendly staffers guide you through the “make your own” process, first asking you what kind of dough you want, then sauce, then cheese, then toppings. There are two types of dough, several types of sauces (my favorite is the basil pesto, but others got white sauce or normal pizza sauce or even garlic sauce), and three types of cheese, including homemade mozzarella. For something like $6.50 this could be your pizza. But it doesn’t end there…
For a flat rate of $9.75 including tax, you have the option of picking from dozens and dozens of delectable toppings. You start with your protein, where they have everything from prosciutto to vegetarian fake ground beef to two fried eggs. Next come vegetables, where you can get broccoli or artichokes or a host of other delicious things. Following this step, your pizza is shuffled onto a high-heat conveyor belt, and in about a minute your pizza comes out on the other side cooked to golden brown perfection! Another friendly staffer on the other side puts on the cold toppings of your choice, like basil or balsamic vinaigrette or fresh tomatoes. And there you have it: thinly-crusted happiness in a fancy oblong pizza box.
U&pizza is located directly off of the U street metro stop, and I mean directly off. As we rode the escalator to the top at the 13th street exit, we saw the beautiful ampersand greeting us in neon white, signalling that we had made it. The ordering line was long, but the efficient staff kept it moving quickly. After ordering our group of 8 people somehow managed to find seats together in the crowded seating area at the long wooden table in the center.
The pizzas that covered our table were as diverse our personalities. I had constructed a vegetarian’s paradise of a pizza, full of veggie goodness and pesto and falafel bits. To my left there was a white pizza, fitting a more conservative friend. On the right we had a garlic and oil pizza with eggplant and other adventurous things. Across from me was a pizza decked out flavorfully in meat and sun-dried tomatoes. On one diagonal you had one that was “just way too spicy,” and on the other diagonal a pizza covered daringly with an egg.
Generally, the reviews were rather satisfactory. One Halftime staffer claimed “If you have a [sub-par] experience at &pizza, you basically brought it upon yourself because everything they’re doing is amazing. 10/10 would recommend”. Another raves “&pizza is great, because you get to make your pizza exactly how you want to. And I’m pretty much a genius, so my pizza was pretty much outta this world” [Full disclosure, this is a quote from Daniel Varghese, who’s literally editing this article right now].
It must be said, not all of the reviews were so stellar as these. A guest in town for the long weekend thought the pizza was good, but that “it was not worth the time and money spent to get there.” But, the good news is that &pizza is a new and expanding business, with stores already on H street (H&pizza), E street (E&pizza), and K street (K&pizza), along with multiple locations in Maryland and Virginia and more franchises to be opened. It’s only a matter of time before our dear old Georgetown gets its own &pizza, and I personally am waiting patiently for that day.
But until then, I will take the pilgrimage over to &pizza, with good spirits and friends in tow. I will spend the money and time to get there. Because if good food and good company aren’t worth traveling for, I don’t know what is.
Photo: Katherine Landau/The Georgetown Voice