A “hot oil” bar pie at Colony Grill, opening in Clarendon. Photograph courtesy of Colony Grill
Sandwiches have been the unofficial food of the pandemic thus far, with a bounty of new options around DC. But pizza is catching up. Here are four new restaurants and pop-ups to check out.
2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington
Connecticut-style pizza brings New Haven to mind, but there’s another tradition that’s heading to Arlington: “hot-oil,” bar-style pies from Colony Grill. The Clarendon branch, which opens Wednesday, is the sixth location for the tavern chainlet—and first outside the Northeast. The flagship, more of an Irish-American pub that a pizza joint, opened 85 years ago in Stamford, CT.
So what’s a bar pizza like? “Super thin, sturdy crust, light cheese, light sauce—basically you can pick it up with one hand while having a drink in the other,” says chief operating officer Ken Martin. Colony’s claim to fame, besides their long standing, is a homemade chili-infused oil that adds extra zing to pizzas with classic toppings like peppers and De Yulio’s sausage. “We go through tanker trucks of hot oil,” says Martin.
That being said, if you’re adverse to oil—or gluten—Colony offers modern day touches like a celiac-friendly crust and a cheese-free “salad pie” topped with tomatoes and fresh greens.
Pizzas are all personal, 12-inch rounds that can comfortably fit on a bar top—though you can’t actually sit at the bar in Arlington due to Covid regulations. The old time-y, dark wood-paneled pub space will be open for indoor dining with custom glass dividers between booths. Capacity pre-Covid was for 170 people, and Martin expects to seat around 100 with six-foot distancing. There’s no delivery yet, but carryout is offered. Pro to-go tip:
“If you’re reheating it, set the oven at 475 degrees and put the pizza in a cast-iron pan until the cheese is bubbling,” says Martin.
Slice Joint at the Roost
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG)’s lofty “culinary clubhouse” (a.k.a. food hall) in Capitol Hill East has been steadily opening over the past few weeks. The newest debut: Slice Joint, a New York-style pizza spot from Rachael Marie, a four-year alum of famed Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn.
NRG first partnered with Marie in New York, where she opened the inaugural Slice Joint in the Lower East Side’s Market Line food hall (NRG debuted a beer concept there). Here in DC, she’ll continue to produce classic, thin-crust, over-size New York-style slices topped simply with pepperoni or cheeses. There’re also whole pies, and a thicker, “grandma-style” square pizza with crunchy edges. Guests can customize with their own toppings, which lean largely classic (sausage, peppers, mushrooms et al.) with a few frills like Calabrian chilies.
Guests can get their pizza-and-beer fix at Shelter, the Roost’s huge beer hall from resident NRG hops man Greg Engert (Churchkey, Bluejacket brewery). Scannable QR codes are available on the tables, or you can also order online for pickup (delivery coming soon).
Pan pizza Pop-Up at Grazie Grazie
85 District Sq., SW
Casey Patten is well versed in Italian subs between his founding venture, Taylor Gourmet, and new shop at the Wharf, Grazie Grazie. Now he’s jumping into the pan pizza game with an ongoing series of pop-ups from the Southwest Waterfront store. The first in October sold out in 90 minutes, so you may want to get your order in early when sales go online via Tock on October 19 (for pickup on October 20). A limited number of pies will be available. Offerings last time ranged from a simple “The Hut” with mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino to a gussied up “Hot Nancy” with pepperoni, candied jalapenos, and basil.
Side Door Pizza
909 New Jersey Ave., SE
There’s a new player in the popular Detroit-style pizza game: Brian Schram, an owner of Navy Yard’s Scarlet Oak, who’s running an aptly named pizza pop-up out of the side door of the restaurant. For the opening weeks the menu is limited to classic rectangular cheese or pepperoni pies—both made with Wisconsin “brick” cheese and stripes of tangy tomato sauce. Guests can pre-order the pizzas, which serve 2 to 3 people.