Italian Pizza Kitchen, at 4483 Connecticut Avenue and 1110 U Street NW, can’t quite compare to John’s of Bleecker Street compares to some of the better traditional pizzerias. That’s not faint praise, either. These basic pizza joints have certain characteristics that indicate a focus on the food product more than the image of the restaurant. The name is nondescript, the signage and decoration is hokey, and the staff are attentive but just a little gruff. It’s like the setup for some joke: man walks into hole-in-the-wall… and finds awesome pizza.
So let’s say you go in, get a pie and sit down. You’ve gotten the Margherita, because that is the best one, for reasons that’ll be clear in the next sentence. The smell of fresh basil and mozzarella pours off the pizza, which is a patchwork of cream and red, with wide-cut strips of green and the occasional tomato strewn across it, all covering a limited amount of sauce and enough bread, emerging at the gaps. Incidentally, it tastes good too. The bread is a little too spongy and processed compared to the thin crust styles I prefer and sometime the pizza gets cold too quicklyl, but when you take a break to try the traditional salad, you forget. The fresh greens are coated with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing that is flavorful but not spoiled by bitterness.
After finishing, you’re satisfied but not burdened by the food. Only the meat-leaden Italian actually drips grease, a refreshing break from Jumbo slice that makes it a pleasant dinner without making it too bourgie. The only other suggestion I have is to go to the restaurant. It’s part of the aesthetic experience, since the pizza is much better hot – but more importantly, like any self-respecting cheap joint, they charge for delivery.