I’m not sure if I’ve really emphasized my love for pizza on the blog yet (I have just a little bit on the ole Twitter), but I love pizza. Actually, the word love doesn’t really do justice to how I feel about pizza. If I had a food soul mate, it would be pizza. We go way back. My working life didn’t start with pizza, but from age 16-22, I worked with pizza. It started the Pizza Hut while I was in high school. This was very much a coming of age time when I finally found other gay people in my small southern town and no longer felt so alone. That job was tied in very closely with that. Then in college, I worked for a little mom and pop Greek and Italian restaurant in Roanoke called Veranda Bistro. I was a server for most of my time there, but in the last 6 months, the owner pulled me off the floor to help in the kitchen. I was in charge of pizzas and calzones on those nights. It led to quite a few burns, I was always covered in flour, and my hands smelled like garlic for days, but it only deepened my love for pizza. Once I moved away, it took me a long time to find pizza I liked as much as there, but Il Canale comes about as close as you can get.
Il Canale is one of the places that has convinced me that I WILL have a wood burning, stone oven in my back yard one day (Theirs is mosaic and is on display as soon as you walk in). You really can’t beat pizza cooked that way. It gets the crust crisp on the outside but still chewy on the inside. I originally wasn’t sure how to feel about Neapolitan pizza. So few toppings! The more, the better! But I’ve since learned, no, when the ingredients are delicious, you only need a couple.
- What I usually order: The Sofia pizza. Bufala mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and basil. Olive oil instead of tomato sauce. Sometimes I branch out, but sometimes I also just HAVE to have that. Last time I went, my friend ordered a seafood stew that was amaaaazing. It had mussels, clams, fish, all in a tomato-based broth with pieces of day-old bread in the bottom to soak it all up. After a couple of tries with some very mediocre seafood earlier in the week (at a place I will not be reviewing because I was so disappointed), this stew was a winner.
- Why I keep going back: The slightly crunchy, slightly chewy crust on the pizza, the super fresh ingredients, the location half a block from my office, the roof deck, even the iced tea.
- Thing I still haven’t tried yet: I haven’t tried any of the pasta. If it’s anywhere near the quality of the pizza, it has to be good.
- Fun things about this place: The tiny roof deck! It’s so nice to sit outside on a warm day, enjoy a slight breeze, and forget about work for a while. They’re also expanding into the old fish market space next door, so the size of the dining room is about to increase significantly. Il Canale is one of very few places in DC with D.O.C status. Only certain ingredients are used and the pizza has to be cooked in a wood-burning oven. “The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association was established to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions.” Il Canale adheres to these standards and you’ll see the seal on the outside of their building. How can you not love pizza that is certified by the Italian government?