Whether it’s Neapolitan or New York/Trenton style, good pizza is all about good bread. All of the best pies begin with a great crust – a crust you would want to eat even if the toppings were absent. Right now, we are seeing a welcomed boom in new, high-end Neapolitan pizza joints. We visited 2Amys in Washington DC to sample their version of Neapolitan pie.
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On 2Amys’ website, they tell us that “In 1998 the Italian government formally recognized Neapolitan pizza as a traditional food worthy of preservation and granted it D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status, which specifies the legally permitted ingredients and methods of preparation necessary to produce authentic Neapolitan Pizza. Only soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt may be used for the dough, and only Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil or dried oregano may be used for the toppings. Fresh garlic may only be used on the Pizza Marinara. All Neapolitan pizzas must be cooked in a wood-burning oven.”
Beyond the DOC pies and other variants, 2Amys has a brilliant list of sides and salads. Our large group ordered several as appetizers, including items like oven-roasted olives, deviled eggs with green sauce, bruschetta with tomato fondutta, or potato and prosciutto croquettes. We could see the non-pizza part of the kitchen from our seats, and I was fascinated by the rack of cured meats hanging on the wall.
This popular eatery was pretty full on a Sunday night, but the helpful staff pushed together several round tables in a rear bar-like for our large group. Other web reviews note that the experience there is often ruined by the presence of crying children, poorly supervised by self-involved parents. Even late on a Sunday night, there was some cacophony from the under-5 set, clearly more in need of a nap than pizze puttanesca. Take those kids to Chuckie Cheese or Pizza Hut, please.
|Waiting for pies......|
Our group ordered a wide variety of pies that shared little in common other than the Neapolitan crust – light, puffy, with lots of charred blistering. Our orders included varieties of personal-size pies such as:
- Margherita Tomato, mozzarella di bufala, basil
- Margherita Extra Tomato, mozzarella di bufala, cherry tomatoes
- Vongole Garlic, capers, parsley, hot pepper, cockles, grana
- Norcia Tomato, salami, grilled peppers, fresh mozzarella, grana padano
- Ripieno Extra Ricotta, grana, salami, prosciutto, pancetta, tomato
I usually want some cured meat on my pie, but this time I chose the Margherita. I let our server know that I hoped it would not be wet in the middle, and she indicated that it would be cooked “well done” to minimize the amount of water that seeps from the fresh mozz into the crust.
Each pie arrived looking like a work of art. In true Neapolitan style, the pies came unsliced. The steak knife provided was barely adequate to divvy up my pie into manageable slices, but I got the job done. First, despite the generous amount of bufala mozz, the pie was not wet. The toppings were a little too heavy to permit one to lift the slice for the first bite, but after that the Neapolitan crust proved sturdy enough that we could put down the knife and fork. The crust was sublime. It had all the earthy goodness I’ve come to expect in the flavor of a Neapolitan pie, but this crust also had the ideal balance of puffy softness and dense chewiness. Al dente perfection for the texture; it was just more substantial than other Neapolitan crusts I’ve had.
|Margherita extra (w cherry tomatoes)|
The crust was so good that I barely noticed the individual quality of the sauce and cheese, but the toppings blended seamlessly with that superb crust. This is not the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, but it’s among the best Neapolitan pizzas on my list. I rank it right alongside Manhattan’s Motorino and Brooklyn’s spectacular Forcella. It is better than Philly’s star Neapolitan pie at Osteria, or the revered Pizzeria Bianca in Phoenix. 2Amy’s nailed it.
|"Santa Brigida" with arugula|
My only complaint is that the sauce and cheese floated on the crust; in the perfect Trenton pie, the ingredients meld into a singular blissful blend of flavors and texture. But this is a tiny issue and it did not diminish the experience. The only solution might be to reduce the amount of sauce and cheese, thereby reducing the moisture that allows the ingredients to slide around on the crust.
I had a chance to sample the Vongole, curiously served with the cockles in their shells on top. It was a fun novelty, but it also tasted great. Wish I had a slice of Frank Pepe’s clam pie nearby to compare.
DiFara and DeLorenzo’s are the perfect 10 for pizza crust. 2Amy’s is about the best you can do with a Neapolitan crust; it earns a 9.75. The toppings were wonderful, just a little wet, and earn a 9. The ambiance was great, also a 9 and I can’t mark then down because a subset of customers are oblivious to the issues created by their whining infants. Appetizers were wonderful and the service was thoughtful. Overall, a top-rank pizza experience and I’d go back in a heartbeat.