It’s about 4600 miles and a 9.5-hour flight between Washington, D.C and Naples, Italy. So, if you have a week and a couple grand to spare, I HIGHLY suggest you take a trip over there. But, in the case that you are a busy Washingtonian with just enough time (and cash) to pick up your dry cleaning, Bethesda’s newest addition, Pizzeria da Marco (8008 Woodmont Avenue), might be the next best thing to actually eating in Naples.
Last week I had the privilege of trying out this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria for dinner with a group of fabulous foodies. I’ll cut straight to the chase: it was absolutely amazing. The ambiance is charming – incorporating mosaic tiles and exposed brick, while keeping it cozy with large hanging pictures of Italian grandmothers and countryside vineyards. The staff is delightful and the food is simply sinful and impeccably authentic.
Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Naples, but I’m married to a New York born and raised Italian-American who has made sure over the last five years that I know the difference between good Italian food and bad Italian food. This, ladies and gentleman, is about as good Italian food as it gets.
Now since my status as the Persian wife of a third-generation Italian American doesn’t give me total clout to give a restaurant the authentic stamp of approval – I’ll let the professionals do it. Naples-born head chef Dino Santonicola is recognized by the Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) Association as a master of authentic Neapolitan pizza (his certificate is hanging on the restaurant’s wall). Using double zero flour for a lighter crust, Buffalo mozzarella, and organic San Marzano tomatoes (all imported from Italy), Santonicola makes perfectly one of the best pizzas you’ve ever had (I had the Bianca and it was delish!). The restaurant itself is on it’s way to becoming only the second VPN certified restaurant in DC (an honor only currently held by Cleveland Park’s 2 Amy’s Pizzeria).
Priced at an easy $9-$13, Santonicola’s pizzas are created in the proverbial Masserti of all pizza ovens. Pizzeria da Marco is the first pizzeria in the Washington area to have a 4,500-pound handcrafted, SF Allestimenti brickoven, which cooks pizzas in 60 seconds at a temperature of 900 degrees. Dinnertime would be so much easier if I had one of those…..
I strongly encourage anyone looking for a new delightful restaurant that would serve as a perfect first date or a family night out to head over to Pizzeria da Marco. And before you head out to the new and delicious, here are some things to know:
- Calzones, delicious seasonal salads, charcuterie, Italian cheeses and house-made gelato along with traditional Italian sweets are all on the menu. Prices range from $6.50 to $9 for salads, $11 to $14 for antipasti selections, $8.50 to $13 for signature pizzas and $6-$8 for desserts.
- The Wine List is full of over 45 lesser known, great value Italian red, white and sparkling wines from various regions of the country and pair perfectly with entire menu.
- You will be VERY sorry if you don’t order the Nutella Filled Calzone (picture below). It’s huge and about a gazillion calories (so be sure to share it), but if you never try this, you’ll never truly live.