Admittedly, I am a bit of a pizza snob. Don't get me wrong - I believe there is a time and a place for every type of pizza - from high-brow gourmet pies to a 3am heap of melted, cheesy goodness from Jumbo Slice in AdMo. I sometimes like a cold slice of Papa John's for breakfast. And, disgustingly enough, I have been known to polish off an entire Kavanagh's pizza in one afternoon, but let's not go there. All-time low.
In DC, gourmet pizza shops are a dime a dozen. People rave about 2 Amy's, but I've always been a bit underwhelmed. Their sauce is too thick and not quite zesty enough for me, and I think the crust is undercooked. I am always happy with Matchbox and Pizzeria Paradiso, both excellent choices in my book for a quality pie with premium toppings. However, when I really want pizza, there's only one failsafe place in my book - Il Canale.
Il Canale is a charming pizza restaurant that I stumbled upon last summer completely by mistake (another failure that ended up okay). I was actually searching for another pizza restaurant, Fratelli La Bufala. Unbeknownst to me, FLB was only in DC for a hot minute. When I walked up to the shuttered door on 31st Street, a notice taped to the door revealed that they had moved out due to a lease dispute, and were apparently not planning on returning to the city. An additional notice said that another restaurant, Il Canale, was to move in soon, and a few weeks later I checked it out. The Georgetown establishment (I refuse to call it a "pizza joint") boasts my favorite type of 'za - the high-quality Neopolitan variety, complete with a D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) qualification. Tim Cameron, I apologize for the blatant elitism in that statement, but just work with me on this one - D.O.C. pizza is one of a kind.
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there are only two places you can find a D.O.C-certified pizza in the District - Il Canale and 2 Amy's. The certification essentially means that the Italian government deems the preparation and ingredients "authentic" and respectful of the art of Neapolitan pizza making. Similar certifications are common with wine, cured meats, and fine cheeses, and are not unique to Italy. For D.O.C. pizza napoletana, the pie must be tossed by hand, prepared with authentic Italian ingredients (for example, San Marzano tomatoes and bufala mozzarella), and cooked in a wood-burning oven. In fact, it takes less than 2 minutes to cook a pizza this way!
I had the pleasure of dining last night at Il Canale when Whit's parents were in town. Every time I go there, I'm reminded of why I love it. First, it's never full. This must be the best kept secret in DC! I arrived a bit earlier than my fellow diners and was chatting with the pizzaiolo and watching him assemble one pizza after another. That's the other thing about this place - the staff is so friendly. I think they only have about three waiters on staff because I usually always get the same server, Ben. The meal itself is 100% Italian from beginning to end. Your dinner starts with complimentary bread served with a delicious olive oil that has whole roasted garlic cloves swirling around. Your server may or may not be interested in taking your order, so you might have to flag him down. Very Italian. Best of all, food aside, is that this place has the most legitimate rooftop seating in Georgetown. You could easily fit twenty of your closest friends on the upstairs terrace on a warm summer's night.
The restaurant has a ton of vegetarian options, and any of the pizzas are customizable (you can ask them to hold the meat, if desired). I've ordered almost every pizza on the menu and they are all delicious. Whitney loves the Regina. I am obsessed with the Ortolana and the Margherita, but last night I ordered the Capricciosa (sans ham) and it was also delicious. My favorite salad is the Ciliegina, but Whitney's mom ordered the Mediterranea and raved about it. You also can't go wrong with a create-your-own antipasti platter. Also, because everybody loves a good happy hour special, Weekdays from 5-7pm - $10 for a Margherita pizza and a glass of house wine or a beer!! That can't be beat. You must check out Il Canale!
I forgot my trusty point-and-shoot, so these are from the Il Canale page on yelp. Head to the website or facebook page to check out more pics!