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Our Intern in CH, Karen, Checks Out Pete’s Apizza

by Prince Of Petworth April 30, 2008 at 10:30 am 26 Comments

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Ed. note: Following, Karen does a wonderful write up of Columbia Heights’ newest pizza option. As I am a fanatical pizza devotee I will be writing a smaller post with my own impressions shortly.

Tonight I went to Pete’s (www.petesapizza.com) for a slice of pizza from this new New Haven-influenced Italian eatery located right outside of the Columbia Heights metro (southbound), which just opened Monday. It might be tempting at first to compare Pete’s to Red Rocks–and, of course, heh, that’s exactly what I’m going to do–but even though the main attraction of both places is pizza I would put the two restaurants in completely different categories. While Red Rocks is a sit-down restaurant with individual tables and a bar, Pete’s is set up for quick service–you order at the front of the restaurant and await your meal among the snazzy cafeteria-style tables and either eat there or take your pie to go. And given the fact that Pete’s has almost a similar buzz to a coffee shop or cafe–a single room with bright light and colors, soaring ceilings, and immense photographs of Italian scenes (taken by Alicia’s twin brother Michael Wilkinson, who is a professional photographer based in Columbia Heights ) donning the walls–I’d be much more inclined to head there to read a book or do the crosswords with friends as I eat a slice than I would at Red Rocks, where the more intimate and dark atmosphere makes it very much a serious dining affair.

However, despite Pete’s cafeteria-style set-up, this pizza is anything but cafeteria-quality, and I think does a good job holding its own against Red Rocks’ brilliant Sicilian-style, individual-sized pizza. Pete’s goes back to American pizza basics with the pies large enough to feed a family. And more pizza means more goodness. According to co-owner Alicia Mehr, who I had the opportunity to chat with, Pete’s tries to use ingredients that for the most part are local and organic. But the most amazing thing about this pizza is the crust. Oh, good lord, the crust. Crispy, crunch delight that is augmented even more by the fact that you aren’t expecting it. When I was there I tried the sausage and mushroom and was absolutely wowed. Story continues along with more photos after the jump.

Pete’s also has a selection of other Italian dishes and foods, including pasta, salads, and even gelato (the peanut butter is totally the chunky kind)! Mehr specifically pointed out the My Mother’s Bolognese and the Linguini with Clam Sauce as favorites. She also told me their Sorbillo is recreated from a delicious and unique Italian dish that she and her husband (Joel) discovered during their travels there. It’s a rectangular shaped pizza, similar in style to a calzone, with Salumi, ricotta, and mozzarella.

Though the pizza and atmosphere are certainly enough to keep me coming back, a very important aspect of Pete’s–one that makes me feel better about myself for have dined there–is that they take social and environmental responsibility very seriously. When I was there I was cheerfully informed that my gelato to-go dish was actually made from cornstarch and is not only recyclable, but compostable! (I totally took that dish home to dutifully add it to the compost–yes, I do have a compost!) In fact, Mehr told me all of their take-out containers are biodegradable (“Plastic freaks me out!” she said jokingly). In addition, Mehr said she tries to keep a friendly and fair working environment for her employees, and I certainly felt a very friendly vibe throughout the place.

Alicia and Joel Mehr, Petworth residents, own the restaurant along with friends Kerri and Tom Marr. It’s named for Alicia’s father and son (a picture of both the Pete’s is near the front entrance). Check out the website for more information, and also to order a pizza there for pickup!

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  • Anonymous

    such a cute name that i thought it was a chain restaurant.

  • Markus

    The slices definitely look good and I will check it out myself soon…they kind of look similar to the slices at the pizza place on MacArthur Blvd in Palisades.

    Also, and because it’s a Petworth tradition, no pizza post is complete without mentioning that Moroni’s is the best option in town.

  • Anonymous

    vace is and always will be the best option in town. this place is great to have in the hood but at $20 at pie and $4 for a cricket soda, it seems a bit overpriced for a cafeteria. plus, its not really a relaxing place to hang out as it is very cramped

  • Anonymous

    “Pete’s A Pizza” is the title of a popular children’s book. Admittedly nitpicking and perhaps the owners were not aware, but I would have appreciated an original name for the business (even just Pete

  • Re: [email protected]:55

    Why does a business name have to be so original to the point that no one or no thing has ever used it before? I don’t get that. Do you think your suggested Pete’s Pizza is more original? Because when I google that yields 30x the results for Pete’s APizza including a very famous establishment in Chicago.

  • gesture

    [email protected]:55:

    It’s “Apizza” and it refers to the kind of pizza it is. I had no idea until I looked it up the other day after talking to some of the store employees pre-opening.


    So basically it is saying “Pete’s Pizza,” just a specific kind.

  • Amel


    Went to Pete’s this past Monday (opening day) and although it was packed with folks (Jim Graham was chowing down on some pizza), the pie we ordered was delivered in under 10 minutes! Now, I am a New Yorker (from Long Island) and pizza in New York is like another religion, so I was blown away and completely impressed with Pete’s ‘New Have’ style pizza. I’m equally impressed how this local family (from the CH blog, they live in Petworth/CH) took a chance on opening a great restaurant right in their backyards!
    Bravo to Pete’s A Pizza!

  • Miss K

    Amel, glad you mentioned the LI in you, because I myself am a former LI’er and it is hard to find pizza that is up to snuff (and bagels) outside of NY. I know everyone now thinks we are the pizza snobs from NY but it is totally true! NY makes the best pizza and the best bagels! That said, I can’t wait to try out Pete’s!

    What are the prices like?

  • New Hampy

    vace rocks, maroni sucks, red rocks and radius are ok – can’t wait to try pete’s

  • OB
  • anon3dg

    pete’s apizza is meant to be said with a hand in the air saying, “piece a pizza”

    its a play on words see. and the owner’s kid’s name is pete. i think.

    3DG is proud to to be the design architect on this project. we are excited to be a part of another columbia heights business.

    good luck and best wishes to joel and team!

  • Parkwood Person

    I went on opening night- it was great! I love Red Rocks too, and they are completely different animals. Aside from the pizza being different styles, this is a good choice when you just want a nice meal with no fuss, and to have it fairly quickly. A great weeknight spot, or place for some food on your way home from running errands. And though the pizzas are about $20 each, it was a cheaper overall experience for us, as we didn’t get appetizers, wine, coffee etc that we’re likely to do a Red Rocks. That, and the pizza was enough for two people to leave stuffed, and have a few slices leftover for breakfasts/snacks the next day.

  • Parkwood Person

    side note- forgot to say that I loved the owner’s accent, which I couldn’t hear to clearly until she told me to go to the next “registah” to pay and order drinks.

  • Steve

    Moroni is too squirrly on delivery – one day they deliver to my address, the next the don’t

    This looks interesting!

  • nate

    Other than Lombardy’s in Manhattan, most of the NYC pizza I have had sucks a$$. Ray’s. Not Ray’s. etc, etc. Moroni’s is better.

    Order a pepperoni pizza in NYC and they will add pepperoni to a cheese pizza that has been sitting out all day, put it in the oven and voila, you have a pepperoni pizza. That’s not my idea of a good pizza.

    Pizza is so beloved in NYC because it is CHEAP. $2.50 Plain and simple. One big sloppy slice. I guess with the price of living in NYC, you can feed a family of four for $10. In that light, the pizza up there must taste great…

    Red Rocks has a nice atmosphere. I go frequently. But the pizza is mediocre at best. It’s crust is mediocre. The pizza literally falls apart while eating it. They even discourage you from taking it home. A good pizza shouldn’t go bad in the 15 minutes it takes to get home?

    Never had Vace or Radius. Manny & Olga’s sucks.

    Moroni’s is the best in Petworth. Best Toppings. Best Crust. And you can take it home and it is still edible.

  • DCDireWolf

    I used to like Radius best for pizza in the area, but my new favorite is Maronis. The goat cheese pizza there with a cold beer is like a five star vacation for my taste buds and belly.

    Plus I just like the joint, friendly staff, friendly owner, cool juke box.

    Haven’t tried Pete’s yet, definitely will.

    Was underwhelmed by the pizza at Redrocks, but like having a neighborhood joint a few blocks away such as it is.

  • BigSherm

    i love how pizza discussions on here about 1 place turn into talk about pizza in general in the dc area. i’m not gonna start because i could go on and on about certain places and why i like one over the other. what i will say is i like the different style and taste options and i don’t think 1 is the true winner. looking forward to trying this new spot out.

  • Miss K

    Thanks OB

  • idlesmith

    Excellent point, BigSherm. Our selection of pizza joints needs to be as varied as our selection of…underwear. A different option for every mood/circumstance. Personally, I’ve been griping for years about the lack of eateries where reasonable portions of quality can be had without much fuss. Pete’s hits the nail on the head in this department. I also find it extremely affordable, because there are so many CHOICES — go big or go small, either way, it’s creative, gracious, and (best of all) easy! Pete’s is my new best friend.

  • Kelly

    I love Moronis and have never had a problem with delivery. The pollo pizza is yummy. Red Rocks has been underwhelming. I am excited to try Petes!

  • WOW! We’re three days into operations and we’ve been thrilled by the response.

    We have been getting a lot of attention on DC blogs, foodie blogs and neighborhood blogs & websites, including this one. We were also featured yesterday in the uber-popular Daily Candy website and email blast.

    As a result, particularly starting yesterday, we have been getting an unusually high volume of customers for a new restaurant in its first week of operation. Heck, I think even if we were still pre-internet age, with our location at the top of the Metro in Columbia Heights, we would have a LOT of customers right out of the gate.

    As our first weekend approaches, we would like to ask customers to be patient if it looks like the line is getting kinda long, and if the food takes more than a few minutes to arrive at your table.

    Our staff is all still in their first week of work, and they haven’t experienced the first weekend crunch yet. If last night (Wednesday night) is any indication, they’re starting to get the idea…!

    If you’ve read about us this week and were planning on visiting to try it out, we would appreciate people spreading out their visits as much as possible during the day, rather than planning on bringing a group for lunch right at lunchtime crunch, or dinner right at dinner crunch time. I know that may be a lot to ask, but I’m hoping that it makes the experience during this first weekend smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.


    We’re so proud to be here and look forward to serving you.

    Mike Wilkinson

  • brightwoodgirl

    moroni’s diavolo pizza is amazing! gotta try pete’s! red rocks, eh…

  • Nita

    I’ve been in Columbia Heights a lot this week and have been dying to try it. Unlike most, I’m not a big Moroni fan. (But if there’s more than one Pete that it’s named after, shouldn’t it be “Petes’ Apizza”? Ha.) Thanks for the great write-up Karen!

  • Nita, you grammar psycho. Dr. Echols, my high school English teacher, would be proud of you. We’re having a pretty hard time just getting people to pronounce apizza “ah-BEETS,” and not call us Pizza! Pizza! like Little Ceasars’ old tagline. If we put the apostrophe in the right place, we would have to explain that one, too. But I know little Pete and Big Pete appreciate your inclusiveness. …grins…

    BTW, here’s a link to a big old pile of photos of the restaurant before, during and after construction; and our whirlwind tour of Italy back in November; as well as a few shots of Little Pete and Big Pete. Please note the proper separation of clauses with commas and semicolons as appropriate. Thank you, Petworth, and thank you, Doctor Echols.


    Mike Wilkinson

  • Nita

    Mike – Don’t even get me started on “there” “their” and “they’re”. :-D
    Thanks for the pics. The black and white Pete shots are fantastic, and very awwwww worthy. (The Pfeiffer hardware pics are nice too; just went there for the first time last weekend and I love the staff!) My sister lives in New Haven, and she goes on about how great the pizza is there, so I’m sure Pete’s won’t disappoint!

  • Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, located in the Highland Park building at the Columbia Heights Metro, 14th and Irving Streets, now has wine and beer!

    We’re starting off with four beers on draft this weekend: Allagash White, Yuengling, Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, and Dominion Lager. Because we just obtained our license today, we probably won’t have a full Friday night’s supply of all four brews, but rest assured we’ll be restocked tomorrow. We’re also working with a distributor to offer a selection of bottled beers starting next week, including a great Italian summer favorite, Peroni. Stay tuned!

    On the wine side, we have five reds and five whites, all Italian, with a range intended to match the flavors of your meal, from light and summery to fruit-bomb reds. We’ll publish a detailed list shortly.

    Pete’s has been open for three weeks now, and we are most grateful for all of the support and kind words. If you’re from Connecticut, make sure to tell us! We’re beginning to keep a map highlighting the town of origin of out Connecticut guests!

    Mike Wilkinson
    202-332-PETE (7383)

    Sunday-Thursday 11A-10P
    Friday-Saturday 11A-11P


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