&pizza

by on February 26, 2017 at 12:42 am in Food and Drink, Uncategorized | Permalink

I was walking from Union Station to about NY Ave. and 11th, and needed to eat along the way.  I passed through Chinatown, but to have taken a meal there seemed to me a bit…complacent.  I have Chinese food all the time, and at this time I cannot afford to be too complacent.  So I thought: what might serve as a radical shake-up for Tyler Cowen?

West of Chinatown, on H St., I saw a gleaming, fast food pizzeria, namely &pizza.  Living in my own strange ethnic bubble, I had never heard of it before.  In fact I don’t think I have had fast food pizza since I was a kid.  “This will do,” and I thought of the anecdotal value I would reap, albeit at the expense of a good meal.  For all my hesitation, the gleaming metal of the interior started to exercise a strange hold over my imagination.  I walked out once and then back in again.

I ordered a pizza margherita and water for $10, and to my surprise it was ready in two minutes, in a funny box to fit the oblong shape of the pizza itself.  To my bigger surprise, it was really, really good.  Betraying its apparent origins, it seemed completely fresh, and twenty years ago it might have ranked as the best pizza pie in all of DC.  I thought I would just snack on a piece, but I ended up eating the whole pie.  It was just the right size.

Funnier yet, the company is a DC start-up (don’t laugh too hard), yet without seeming to do any lobbying of the federal government.

And here is the real news: More Than 50 Couples Have Already Signed Up To Get Married At &pizza.

The next time I will go to one on purpose.

1 derek February 26, 2017 at 12:54 am

I learned much of ww2 history from an old friend, now gone, who lived in Germany during that time. He loved the black bread and sauerkraut of his home country. From his strange ethnic bubble he told me his opinion of pizza. He wasn’t impressed as he gestured with his hand, palm up moving away from his face.

2 Ray Lopez February 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

Your “no-ledge” of WWII history was probably warped by your old dead German friend, who probably told you no Germans supported Hit ler, Germans should have won the war ‘if only they did this’ and other such nonsense.

But on point: “Hawaiian pizza” was in fact invented in the 1950s by a Canadian Greek, who dumped a can of pineapple on a pizza and called it “Hawaiian” since that’s what the can said. Google this. Greeks invented everything. Again.

3 robert February 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

Anyone who puts pineapple on pizza should be shot…or forced to live in Greece.

4 Pshrnk February 26, 2017 at 11:12 am

Anyone who puts pineapple on pizza should be shot…or forced to live in Greece.

Sure as heck don’t want their kind in Iceland. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/world/europe/pineapple-pizza-iceland.html?_r=0

Maybe in Canada. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39072331 And yes he is Greek. Ray Lopez knows everything! I’ll bet his girlfriend, half his age, likes pineapple pizza.

5 Ray Lopez February 26, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Yes she does! Probably because of the sweet taste (Asians love sugar on everything, and hate the sour lemon taste Greeks like). I think both sides would agree on an anchovy pizza topping, which is hard to find these days but lots of anchovies are caught in the Philippines, one of the few fish I’ve seen caught close to shore with nets (the Philippines is over-fished, you rarely see anybody catching anything close to shore).

Thanks for the NY Times link, 2/22/17. Seems pineapple pizza is trending / trendy.

Bonus trivia: “pina” is the Spanish / Tagalog word for “pineapple”, but “ananas” (phonetically) is the word in Greek, Serbian, Russian, French, Italian, Polish, German, Turkey, and oddly enough, pretty much the rest of Europe, for ‘pineapple’. I wonder how the English came up with the word “pineapple”? Possibly they saw the ‘thorns’ that reminded them of a pine cone, and it looked or tasted like a big Golden Delicious apple?

6 anon February 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

I think a well rounded person can enjoy different pizzas in their own style. I used to like a Maui Mama pizza at a local joint, but is a different template than say Lebanese pizza topped with za’atar or piled with fresh spinach after it comes out of the oven.

7 dearieme February 26, 2017 at 4:39 pm

There have been times when “apple” just meant fruit. The “pine” obviously comes from the resemblance to a pine cone.

8 derek February 26, 2017 at 11:16 am

Not at all. In my reading of military history one thing that stood out was the deep and firm support for the Nazi security state. What he told me explained why that was so.

That is the story that should preoccupy everyone.

9 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:37 am

Don’t mind Ray he suffers from psychosomatic syphillus from all the women he pretends to have had sex with.

10 Ray Lopez February 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Begging for my attention Sam Fulsome? Thata boy, I’ll toss you a bone.

11 msgkings February 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Why would he need to pretend he has sex with women he’s paid good money to have sex with?

12 Thomas Sewell February 26, 2017 at 1:44 am

If you can get to Blaze Pizza (couple locations locally in DC) you may find you like their take even better.

13 JWill February 26, 2017 at 1:50 am

I like Blaze better, but I suspect Tyler will not. As the Chipotle of pizza, he would probably be impressed by Blaze’s business plan, but not their actual food. &pizza, while technically inferior, has something unique and special about it. Maybe just the odd shape…

14 Fazal Majid February 26, 2017 at 2:09 am

Blaze is surprisingly good for a fast-food pizza. I suspect they and &pizza use the same technology, some form of steam or microwave pre-cooking of the dough in the machine that forms the round, so the pizza does not need to be cooked as long in the oven, improving throughput.

The chain “The Melt” (started by the founder of the Flip video camera company after he sold it to Cisco) has a similar machine to produce a grilled cheese sandwich in a couple of minutes. It was made by Electrolux and combined grill and microwave.

The great stagnation doesn’t seem to have slowed innovation in the oldest industry there is, food prep.

15 ChrisA February 26, 2017 at 2:50 am

Isn’t Pizza the original fast food? Like fish and chips, it is best served as take away not in a restaurant. That’s how I would buy my pizza in Rome anyway. So it’s not surprising that it can be very good if the restaurant chain wants to just follow the ancient formula.

16 anon February 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

Pizza cooks very fast in a oven pushing a thousand degrees. Wood fired (and the occasional coal fired) oven reach that. I believe natural gas tends to top out at around six hundred degrees. That’s why neighborhood pizza takes longer, lacks the crispness.

I do see this as others have said as a tech story. Some new conveyor oven.

17 anon February 26, 2017 at 10:56 am

Re. yesterday’s conversation on marchers and strikers

It srikes me that it is also valuable to have someone who will go cook traditional dishes every day for ten years. You don’t need a patented food technology to make people happy.

18 anon February 26, 2017 at 11:09 am

Matchers and strivers. Auto-corruption is the new spell-check.

19 Sam the Sham February 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Autocorrupt. I like it.

20 mulp February 26, 2017 at 3:21 am

Isn’t it more accurate to say two people who adopted nyc to begin careers decided DC was more deficient in pizza shops than Nyc?

Surely an economist would understand seeking to have few competitors.

21 Mark February 26, 2017 at 3:21 am

The one in Springfield, VA is about a mile from my step-daughter’s home. Will try it next visit. Thanks for the tip.

22 prior_test2 February 26, 2017 at 4:25 am

Calling it a pie really brings back certain childhood memories of Long Island (and north to Boston). along with old 50s black and white TV shows.

My hazy memories of Shakey’s (call it Springfield, VA) as a kid, watching them make the pizza through the large windows, is that pie was not used to refer to pizza.

Possibly because pie does not describe pizza to those who grew up eating pizza in NoVa strip malls in the late 60 early 70s.

(Another Shakey’s memory was the massive collection of player piano rolls they had there.)

23 chedolf February 26, 2017 at 5:41 am

Soccer post-game ritual: ride to Shakey’s (Annandale) in back of pickup, watch pizza construction, dad drinks pitcher of beer, drives us home.

24 Punkaj February 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Minor factual correction: there is no &pizza between Union Station and 11th/NYA, where you say you were going. There is one down by E St. Cinema, and there is one further past your destination on K. The one you linked to is on H St NE. No argument about the pizza, though–it’s surprisingly good.

25 Peter Akuleyev February 26, 2017 at 6:17 am

“I ordered a pizza margherita”

You mean a cheese pizza. There is no need to import European pretension into the world of pizza.

26 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:41 am

Eh arguable but if he is going to be his normal pretentious self he should at least say margherita pizza like English grammar demands.

Pizza margherita just seems like a typo for a terrible drink.

27 Dan in Euroland February 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Margherita’s typically have basil. Which is not on the traditional cheese pizza.

28 Tagore Smith February 26, 2017 at 9:17 pm

A Pizza Margherita is not quite the same thing as a cheese pizza, especially in NYC.

29 Peter Akuleyev February 27, 2017 at 10:05 am

This is true, but at least in the German speaking world “Pizza Margherita” seems to be used to cover your basic cheese pizza, it may or may not have basil. If it is a cheap take-out joint, it often won’t.

Now if you want to be an Italian purist a Pizza Margherita, as a type of Neapolitan pizza, must be baked in a wood oven – “La cottura della pizza napoletana, infine, avviene sempre ed esclusivamente tramite l’utilizzo del forno a legna”. So Tyler could not get a Pizza Margherita at &pizza.

30 Cliff February 26, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Doesn’t margherita involve chunks of tomato on top?

31 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Using an Italian word to describe an Italian food is pretentious?

Speak American when eat American.

32 Pearl Y February 26, 2017 at 6:19 am

I haven’t had &pizza, but Blaze pizza is not good, and I seriously doubt Tyler would like it. Punch in Minnesota is good though (real Napoli style).

33 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:44 am

I seriously doubt Tyler would like any food in Minnesota-except maybe a mesabi range pasty- if he could overlook his contempt for the WWC and focus on the ethnic angle.

34 Rich Berger February 26, 2017 at 6:26 am

“Funnier yet, the company is a DC start-up (don’t laugh too hard), yet without seeming to do any lobbying of the federal government.”

Just like PDT.

Of course, sometimes a pizza is just a pizza.

35 LinearLog February 26, 2017 at 6:44 am

Is referring to oneself in the third person a new innovation on this blog?

36 Borjigid February 26, 2017 at 8:21 am

He also referred to himself as “I” eighteen times, so I don’t think its the start of a trend.

37 rayward February 26, 2017 at 7:01 am

The failure rate for start-up restaurants is somewhere between 60% and 90%, depending on the source. Given the size of the failure rate and the size of most Americans, maybe Americans should be more complacent when it comes to restaurant start-ups. On the other hand, my father and his father before him were chefs and owned restaurants, the privileges I enjoyed during my childhood (and affinity for food as an adult) being directly attributable to restaurants. When we traveled and ate in restaurants, my father almost always ended up in the kitchen, sharing stories and recipes with his new friends. And no, my father and grandfather were not the rotund chef so often depicted on television and in movies. My parents came of age during the great depression, when college was all but out of reach for most Americans, which meant my parents and others in their generation had to rely on their wits and ambition to succeed. Maybe Boettke is right. Forget complacency, depression economics may be the next thing.

38 rayward February 26, 2017 at 7:18 am

I assume those 50 soon to be married couples met at &pizza. I enjoy talking to strangers, something I inherited from my father. My good friend is mortified when I strike up a conversation with the people sitting at the table next to us in a restaurant (or at the airport, in the grocery store, etc.). Yesterday, in a restaurant with my son and his wife, I struck up a conversation with two attractive women sitting next to us (well, would I have done so if they weren’t?), and learned some interesting facts about one of them, such as where she is from, why she was there, where she went to college, where she had spent much of her career, where her daughter was spending this weekend. I don’t believe my new friend (I never asked her name) and I will be getting married in that restaurant, but it was an enjoyable conversation nevertheless. I don’t understand why people prefer talking to other people they already know rather than people they don’t. It’s the people they don’t that have new and interesting information to share. People are way too complacent when it comes to meeting new people and learning something interesting.

39 The Other Jim February 26, 2017 at 9:06 am

>”People are way too complacent when it comes to meeting new people and learning something interesting.”

Very true, but sadly understandable, given the current media climate of telling everyone 24/7 that men are out to kill and rape women, whites are out to kill minorities, straights are out to kill gays, anyone rural probably already has a gun and a plan to kill you…. and the only the Deep State keep you alive.

40 Cliff February 26, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Sometimes having a stranger try to talk to you is very annoying. Some people do not like to impose

41 Cliff February 26, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Sounds like you learned new, totally uninteresting and useless information.

42 msgkings February 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm

It provided utility, so it was not useless. Not everyone is on the spectrum, Cliff.

43 Jeff R February 26, 2017 at 7:44 am

Sbarro’s is where it’s at. You missed out, Tyler!

44 Pshrnk February 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

The definition of ordinary

45 ClickByCommenter February 26, 2017 at 11:39 am

S’barros has improved all the way to ordinary? As a pizza lover, I refuse to eat there. Ordinary pizza for me is Pizza Hut, which is the Tommy Hilfiger of pizza.

46 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:47 am

Live in Brazil for a year and your eyes will weep-like Tyler landing at Heathrow- at the sight of a Sbarros.

47 Jeff R February 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

I was 100% kidding. Sbarro’s is crap.

48 dearieme February 26, 2017 at 8:01 am

‘Oblong” is a seldom used word. That’s a pity because it’s really woody.

49 msgkings February 27, 2017 at 12:44 pm

“Woody” is also a woody word

50 libert February 26, 2017 at 8:10 am

“Funnier yet, the company is a DC start-up (don’t laugh too hard), yet without seeming to do any lobbying of the federal government.”

It’s almost as if real people not worthy of scorn and condescension live in DC…

51 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

Almost but not quite.

52 libert February 26, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Imagine if Tyler had posted an analogous comment about so-called “fly-over states”.

53 Chase February 26, 2017 at 8:46 am

&pizza is disgusting, not surprised everyone loves it, American’s know little about food and nothing about pizza. They know what is cheap and salt and sugar.

54 anon February 26, 2017 at 9:47 am

I have not had all pizzas, but I had Pizzeria Blanco in Phoenix, when Peter Reinhart was calling it the best in America.

The thing that amazes me is that serious wood fired pizza (not that hard to make if you have the oven) has spread across southern California.

Now there is oak fired pizza at the end of my street. I will give you that they offer both margherita and the sweet chicken options.

55 Dick the Butcher February 26, 2017 at 9:48 am

Initially, I misread “Union Sta.” DC as “Union Square” NYC; so I read too far.

As is the case with bagels, you can’t get pizza outside NYC and close-in suburbs. You get over-sized confederate, hard tack crackers covered with herbed ketchup over which some species of whitish cheese is melted. That also is the case for Chicago dough-cheese-tomato casseroles/deep dish so-called pizza.

56 Cliff February 26, 2017 at 9:33 pm

This reminds me of the satisfaction taken by various Christian sects over all the other Christian sects who are not REALLY Christian and are in fact going to hell

57 msgkings February 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm

LOL +1. I guess Heorogar found something he can like about liberal ol’ NYC

58 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 11:51 am

We really do suck in general. Now can everyone else stop coming here. We have a contagious fever, we are all ugly fat and stupid, our food sucks, we are one giant strip mall and yet and yet I can’t walk through the galleria in Houston (which the he helliest of America hellscapes) without being almost run over by people speaking fifty differnt languages in clothes two sizes too small.

59 ClickByCommenter February 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Hey, the constitution gives us the right to bare arms, and everything else.

60 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I think he was specifically talking about food.

“Fast food” is a largely American invention. It gets calories into you fast for a relatively low price.

61 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Is it anti-American to savour a meal, or to express the belief that more Americans would be more happy if they took more time to savour meals more? (By contrast with the view that its opposite is something to criticize.)

62 Anand February 26, 2017 at 9:15 am

If you’re grabbing pizza near Chinatown, a slice of Wise Guy’s mushroom pizza is the way to go!

63 mavery February 27, 2017 at 9:47 am

This is the place on like 5th and H, right? Great by-the-slice pizza joint. Used to go there all the time.

Also, there’s like one, maybe two places in China Town that one should consider getting Chinese food. Unless these places have secret “authentic” menus, there’s the place just south of H on 6th and then a bunch of tourist drek.

64 mhl February 26, 2017 at 9:38 am

&Pizza is also at Reagan National Airport, so look for it next time you fly out of DCA!

65 RustySynapses February 26, 2017 at 3:53 pm

There’s also one at Dulles – I like their salads (the Wilma Jean) for grabbing to take on a plane. If I grabbed a pizza before every flight, I’d need the seat belt extender.

66 Sanjay February 26, 2017 at 9:43 am

Professor Cowen,

A chain that seems to do the same thing is right here in Maryland and probably your area too — “Pie Five.” It’s not the greatest pizza. But normalized to price and speed of cooking, yeah. It sounds very like what you’re describing and is local, so, maybe there’s a blossoming of the same idea.

67 A Definite Beta Guy February 26, 2017 at 11:44 am

A lot of these places are springing up. I have 3 within a few miles of my suburban Chicago home. They are all pretty meh: honestly, I prefer Domino’s for the price, and it’s a better experience, because I bring it home to a watch a movie.

Maybe if I am out and about and absolutely need pizza, these places will fit the bill, but honestly? A pub with a good burger/beer will beat these pizza places every time.

It’s surprisingly easy to make okay pizza at home, though your poor kitchen oven can’t reach the requisite temps. If you have money to blow because you’re an above average suburbanite in this “Average is Over” world, you can blow a few grand for a pizza oven in your backyard. You MIGHT be able to even cook it on your grill? I dunno, never tried it, but you have a grill anyways, seems like you can cook it indirect and get something that’s not terrible?

http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2011/02/tips-for-cooking-pizza-on-a-grill.html

68 anon February 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm

A Big Green Egg, or Costco knock-off, can hit the temps. Still not really cheap. We got our knock-off at end of season clearance for $400.

I have a smaller original BGE as well. It has nicer vents, but both serve.

69 A Definite Beta Guy February 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Good call. $400 for a big green egg is not unreasonable for readers of this blog, IMO. We’re higher income on average. Better than eating out all the time by far.

70 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

There’s also pita pizza, which can be prepared in a $30 miniature oven.

71 charlie February 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

Tyrone, not Tyler.

All food is ethnic food.

72 Mike Corbin February 26, 2017 at 12:44 pm

my god what a pretentious food snob

73 Jeff R February 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Yeah, pretty much.

74 Tom T. February 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm

“Earlier in my trip, I stopped in at a restaurant with a Scottish name, wondering if the haggis would be prepared Edinburgh-style or the rarer (but much superior, in my opinion) Aberdeen fashion. Surprised to find that the menu featured German sandwiches of meat patties on a roll. I had high hopes, since the restaurant was dingy but packed with ethnic people. I was told that the signature sauce was secret; must look for it on my travels.”

75 Sam Haysom February 26, 2017 at 1:11 pm

The buns were sesame seed underscoring just how much even traditional Scottish fare owes to countries like Syria- to which we also owe Apple products.

76 ClickByCommenter February 26, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Pish! I get my haggis direct from an artisanal abattoir in Dundee. They pull out the intestines immediately upon slaughter. It’s wrapped up before the sheep stops bleating.

More seriously, as a Desi-Murcan, does Chicken Tikka Masala count as English ethnic food?

77 Cliff February 26, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Haggis is lung if I’m not mistaken?

78 prior_test2 February 27, 2017 at 2:26 am

You know, typing ‘haggis’ in wikipedia, or ‘haggis wikipedia’ in a search engine would allow you to read this – ‘Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”.’ Before posting whatever it is you believe. Maybe you need to be more hungry minded, at least as a loyal reader?

79 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm

The defining feature relates to being cooked in sheep’s stomach, no?

80 Jonathan February 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

We make a point of either taking visitors from out of town to an &pizza, or at the very least insisting they visit one, and so far no one has determined that our praise of the place was unwarranted.

81 Tagore Smith February 26, 2017 at 9:29 pm

” to have taken a meal there seemed to me a bit…complacent. I have Chinese food all the time,”

This is a rather odd take on things, I think. I have Chinese food all the time too, and some of it is rather good, and fairly authentic Sichuan, which I love. That said, one thing I go out of my way for in NYC is hand-pulled noodles- there aren’t a lot of other places you can get them. My favorite spot is a little hard-to-find place tucked away on Doyers street, near the old post office. Of course it has yelp reviews now: https://www.yelp.com/biz/tasty-hand-pulled-noodles-new-york . They note, rightly, that the place looks like it would fail a health inspection, but that’s part of its charm. I’ve never gotten sick eating there, but I have a pretty cast-iron gullet. It is, at any rate, delicious.

I have nothing against &pizza, not having tried it. But I think it’s wrong to suggest that there’s nothing worth eating in Chinatown just because you eat Chinese a lot.

82 Barkley Rosser February 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

I have not eaten at @pizza, but in the US I have yet to find a pizza at any chain that beats the best I have found at individually owned and run pizzerias or more general Italian restaurants.

Regarding whether the margherita should be called a cheese pizza, I suspect that @pizza called it a margherita as do many US pizzerias now, so it is totally appropriate for Tyler to call it that, whatever they actually put on it. As it is, the remark above that a margherita is not a cheese pizza is correct as a margherita usually has tomato chunks and basil on it. I note that while the matter is much debated, the most widely touted theory of the origin of pizza is that the first ones were margherita ones made in Naples.

Finally, I have been in Italy since early January and had had only one small pizza until yesterday, that one not good at all. But yesterday I was in Bologna and just went into a nothing pizzeria across from the train station and had a Bolognese pizza that has mortadella on it along with cheese, and it was one of the best I have ever had anywhere.

Unsurprisingly, margherita pizzas in Naples are generally very good also.

83 Troll me February 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

When your food knowledge is only sufficient to identify the green stuff in sauces as “probably herbs or something, maybe oregano”, then it’s quite understandable that people will call it just a cheese pizza.

84 Hadur February 27, 2017 at 9:45 am

This is a fantastic post. I could not be happier with every aspect of this post. It is quintessentially Tyler.

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