Spike Mendelsohn, the quirky, talented but not THAT talented cheftestant on a couple different versions of Top Chef, has established a couple of places doing upscale (well, it’s all relative) versions of iconic American. For example, his first joint, Good Stuff did the shakes and burgers thing – but at a higher level. Right next door to that place on Pennsylvania Avenue is We The Pizza, which is of course, a pizza place. Burger joints are a dime a dozen, and Good Stuff is a pretty good version therein (though the rosemary fries were kind of offensive), but when Ray’s Hell Burger is around, well you can tell where I stand.
Like Good Stuff, We the Pizza is fashioned after a 1950s sort of motif. You see the pies right as you enter and then order in line, get the beeper, then eat upstairs. I took advantage of the surprisingly good $10 value – two slices and a homemade soda. I had an orange cream and the slices are mozzarella and roasted tomato, and the Forest Shroom, a wild mushroom white pizza with truffle oil. Across the board, the crust was thin, and crispy – not a cracker type crust, but more traditional – definitely good. The margherita type pizza was very solid – with the additional depth of the roasting, it is pretty good. On the other hand, the forest mushroom might have actually been too “mushroomy” which I cannot actually believe I am writing. The truffle oil was a bit heavy-handed, and kind of obscures everything else. Without a creamier, milder counterbalance, the mushroom is overbearing.
In some ways though We The Pizza is hurt by the existence of a similarly hip upscale pizza place in Pupatella, in Arlington. Pupatella serves similar pizzas, but the brie gives its wild mushroom some smoothness that Spike’s place lacks. The margherita at Pupatella is more traditional – with the chewy foldable slices and brick oven. Obviously I should not hold Pupatella’s greatness against We The Pizza – you can only be what you are. Spike’s place is a good pizza joint, but does not have the wow factor that makes it that urgent to go to the Hill for.