80°Mostly Cloudy

Red Rocks and Pete’s Apizza to Expand in More Locations

by Prince Of Petworth December 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm 63 Comments

random 057a

Red Rocks (11th and Park) and Pete’s Apizza (14th and Irving) are two super popular pizza spots in Columbia Heights. Washingtonian broke the news on Red Rocks’ expansion yesterday:

“The beloved Columbia Heights restaurant RedRocks is opening a second location of its wood-oven-fire pizza joint. The owners just signed a lease on a space on the 900 block of King Street, right across the street from the Majestic.”

I was holding off writing about Pete’s Apizza because there are a few details still being wrapped up. But since word is spreading of pizza expansions I thought I’d share some scuttlebutt. While this is not 100% sealed yet I’m hearing that Pete’s would like to open two more locations. Speculation is that one could be in Clarendon and one on Wisconsin Ave. I’ll update with exact addresses as info becomes available.

I’m a fan of both spots but since we’re talking about them – I have to ask – do you have a favorite between the two?

  • Matvey

    Pete’s is drastically overrated and far more expensive than it should be (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume overhead there is astronomical). Red Rocks has a pretty good vibe to it, so I’ll choose the latter.

  • Irving Streete

    Pete’s is expensive indeed but Red Rocks is hardly cheap, and I find the pie itself lacks personality. I much prefer the former spot.

  • Kalorini

    Pete’s in Clarendon–perfect! They’ll make bank with the lunchtime crowds, especially at their prices.

  • Hey PoP – Thanks for mentioning us! We’re working with one landlord on lease terms, so that’s in pretty good shape. But as far as locations beyond #2, we’re still looking at a wide range of neighborhoods, including Clarendon. Developers and landlords approach us fairly regularly, which is great. But unfortunately, we’re nowhere near being able to say that #3 is even on the horizon.

    We are not going to vote in the poll, but if we could vote for both restaurants, we would. Just had lunch at RedRocks last weekend. Enjoy it every time.

    • schweeney

      Good luck. And thanks for the Staven pizza, it’s not cheap but many is it gooooood! What gave you the idea to put those ingredients together?
      PS you are a class act.

      • thank you so much, schweeney. Staven is local shorthand for East Haven, which is heavily Italian-American. Hence the “hot” ingredients. Lots of IROC-Zs in ‘staven.

  • You must be crazy, asking which pizza place is better!! Don’t we debate that at least twice a week already?

    For some reason I am reminded of Carl & Lenny’s light saber battle at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant:

    Lenny: “The Phantom Menace sucked more!”
    Carl: “Attack of the Clones sucked more!” {lc}

  • Anon.

    It IS a stupid question and typical of this website.
    It’s what I call a typical PoP feeding frenzy.
    Must be good for traffic on the site.

    Anyway, as long as I am here.
    Red Rocks is authentic Neapolitan pizza.
    Pete’s is authentic New Haven (read New York) pizza.
    Io preferisco la pizza di Pete’s.

  • Anonymous

    I was born outside New Haven and I want to love Pete’s, I really do, but it’s not New Haven-style pizza. It’s pretty good, but nothing like Modern or Sally’s. Sorry.

    • True, Pete’s is not very much like the famous New Haven pizzerias like Modern, Sally’s and Pepe’s, but they don’t represent the whole New Haven style by any means.

      The city and surrounding towns are dotted with smaller pizzerias (Apizza). We based our pizza on our favorite pizzeria, Grande Apizza in East Haven.

      Anon 9:41 makes a valid comment, but he/she does not have the whole picture on the style. It would be like saying you know New York City because you’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building and taken a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park.

  • Joe

    @Anon.: If you don’t like the site and the discussion, leave, because a lot of us do. I would have never heard of Pete’s without this site. Don’t be an ass because you don’t have a site with this traffic.

  • Pierre

    Pete’s is by far the best pizza I have had in DC.
    I have yet to try Redrocks.

  • GforGood

    This is “very worrying news”. MANY restaurants turn into mini chains and the quality almost always suffers. Red Rocks is already not as good as it was at opening. Too many toppings now. Yes, too many – makes the pizza soggier than it should/could be; take the pepperoni one as an example – have the pepperoni would be about right and that’s what it was on the opening night.

    Anyway, good for them both, from a business point of view. And let’s hope they don’t lose sight of quality

  • asl

    Anon 9:41

    I’m sure those two pizzerias are the best ever and you’re really cool for having eaten at both, but as lowly as this area’s pizza might be, New Haven is a bit of a drive.

  • Warderite

    I agree with GforGood that Red Rocks isn’t quite as good as when it opened. the pizza isn’t nearly as crispy as it used to be. but I still love the flavor combinations, the non-pizza dishes, and the smuttynose on tap.

    alors je préfère les rochers rouges

  • Anon

    If I’m in CoHi, either joint is good, but more often I’ll be at RedRocks (having a beer while waiting for my pie).

    However, that’s just for CoHi. If I’m at home, I’ll head to Ledo’s on GA Ave. Incredible pizza!

  • There’s no such thing as good pizza in DC. It simply does not exist, or else I haven’t found it, so the viral spread of a chain like Pete’s does no appeal to me.

    Nonetheless, I could be mistaken and one day pleasantly surprised. I haven’t tried Redrocks. But I can tell you that Pete’s is garbage and is even rivaled by the lowly Jumbo Slice.

    • Pete’s is not a chain. The Columbia Heights is the only location. Its owners live in Petworth. I’m sure most people on this site know this, but it is a factual error we would like to correct.

    • springroadintoaction

      Yup, you’re an idiot.

      • He’s right. The only pizza worth eating is in a tiny little back alley in Naples, Italy. That floppy crap in NYC? No better than that burnt crap from New Haven or that godawful Chicago stuff. Really, there’s just no good pizza in North America. Period. It’s all worse than Hitler.

        • There’s no good food, anywhere, period. That will remain true until the first Soylent Green Shack opens. Here’s to greener eating options in Columbia Heights.

          • Is Soylent Green Shack a real thing? Your mention comes below some sarcastic posts, so I’m just checking. If it is real, can you say more about it? THANKS!

          • @Mike.. sorry, I couldn’t resist. Since you haven’t heard of it before make sure you read the last line in the “Plot” section.


          • springroadintoaction

            It still won’t be as good as the Soylent Green I had one time out in Tulsa. Actually, that was terrible too.

          • gardyloo

            I don’t do Soylent Green, unless it’s certified Soylent Green Vegan–made from, well, vegans.

          • Guffaw. Awesome. Best comment of the month. I love people! Does that mean I’ll be fine when we’re all eating Soylent Green?

            Also, I just love the fact that my reCAPTCHA words for this post are “gittins” and “get”

        • springroadintoaction

          That wasn’t pizza you had, monkey. That was back-alley… oh, never mind, you know where I’m going.

  • Anon

    I agree with Mike W. A local business with several outlets does not qualify as a “chain” When I think chain I think franchises or locations spread out geographically and requiring corporate oversight.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not trying to name drop New Haven pizzerias in order to be cool. But Sally’s, Modern, and Pepe’s are the three places that most people are going to think of when someone says “New Haven-style pizza” (if they have any idea what that is). And Pete’s is nothing like those. If anyone’s trying too hard, it’s Pete’s, with all the insistence on “Apizza” and continually popping up on blog posts to clarify that their pizza is modeled after some small, off-the-beaten-path place that they’re cooler than you for knowing about.

    • We know about the lesser-known pizzerias in the New Haven area because we are from New Haven county and grew up on New Haven pizza. Our parents (dad is Big Pete, by the way) live on the New Haven side of the New Haven – East Haven border. We’re not trying to be cool or anything, it’s just what we know. You can’t make Sally’s or Pepe’s anywhere in the country because their coal-fired ovens are grandfathered in; coal ovens in commercial kitchens are against code. We tried all of the big guys and little guys, and Grande was the best, in our opinion.

      What can I say to make you believe that we’re not trying to be cool? Ah! I’m wearing a plaid shirt. Trust me, we’re really not cool.

      • 10Benson

        I can attest that neither Mike nor Joel could be considered “cool.”

        Friendly, welcoming people committed to the community, yes.

        But never cool…

    • springroadintoaction

      Also, sorry that every French restaurant isn’t the French Laundry.

      • Not to nitpick, but French Laundry isn’t a French restaurant. It gets its name from the prohibition-era business that used to be housed in the building. (Interestingly, prior to prohibition, it was a saloon.) The food though is American.

        • Though, to not nitpick further, Keller is about 99.5% in the French tradition regarding style and (especially) technique, his most important mentors were French and his restaurant not be at all out of place in Paris these days. His second restaurant, Bouchon, would not have been out of place in Lyon four decades ago.

          • True, but that doesn’t make French Laundry a French restaurant.

  • Irvinf Streete

    There’s always some crank like Rafael to whine about pizza in DC. While we once had a shortage of good pies here, only a someone with a stick up their butt would say repeat that long-outdated conventional wisdom. Pete’s, Vace, Moroni Brothers, 2 Amy’s, Comet, Red Rocks, Matchbox… — a lot of good-to-excellent pies out there in a variety of styles for anyone who thinks with their taste buds rather than their attitude.

    FWIW I prefer Petes to both Sally’s and Moderne, and would rank them as roughly comparable with Pepe’s.

    • springroadintoaction

      Finally, some reason.

      Although you forgot about Ella’s 😉

      • name dropper

        I like your user name. Very good one.

  • Anonymous

    Old Ledo’s in Adelphi anyone ?

    • Anonymous

      really ledo’s? i guess if you were raised on ledos….

  • Angelico’s and Radius in Mt. P are my new faves, but I’ll take Pete’s over Red Rocks since the pies are enormous.

  • Instant douchebaggery is conferred on those who refer to our neighborhood as “CoHi.”

    • I agree. I’m so sick of shorthand like AdMo, BloMi, YouStreet, and DuPont. It’s a sad state of affairs. When’s the last time you heard someone refer to DuPont by it’s true neighborhood name, “Douchebag Pontoon?”

      • springroadintoaction

        I agree, but BloMi can stay.

    • I’ve been calling it “Cool Heights” for years. Is that douchy? It’s not an abbreviation. I used to call it Columbia Frights. I’ve been here since 1999.

      • Hehe, we used to say that too back in the day when I lived in Adams Morgan (I mean “The Morgue”). Personally I don’t give a crap about abbreviations. Who cares, call it what you want. Then there were the Safeway names, and Petworth was definitely the Shady Safeway.

        Cohi as it turns out, takes a lot less time to enter into a text message than Columbia Heights. I am sure the fact that I send text messages makes me a douchebag though. I don’t think I would ever speak it though.

        • Bitter Elitist

          CH is even easier. I just call it Colombia Jais

  • Jamison

    Red Rocks is my favorite brick oven pizza place in the district plus their beer selection is straight up amazing. Pete’s is over-priced and their single slices usually spend too long under the heat lamp… Both places rock out amazing paninis though…

    • We do not use a heat lamp. Slices are reheated in a slice oven when they are ordered. We appreciate your opinion, but just need to clarify the facts. It’s true, heat lamps ARE gross. THX.

  • Living on Mt P


  • j

    i can’t believe people are even debating redrox v petes. I don’t want to sound like a hater, but, pete’s is straight up inferior pizza. Without a doubt.

  • I like them both for different reasons. If I’m grabbing a bite while running errands, I head to Pete’s. If I want a sit down dinner of pizza, I head to Red Rocks. There’s room in Columbia Heights for both.

  • pizza person

    pete’s has gone way downhill in the past few months. i had a cheese slice there a few weeks ago that tasted like a burned grilled cheese. it was kinda horrifying.

    • contact me please at info at petesapizza dot com. this kind of feedback is important, and more details would be helpful. thank you.

      Mike W.

  • metrocenter

    Love them both! Red Rocks is nice and cozy for a sit-down dinner, and Pete’s is great for a quick slice or to take home. I agree that Pete’s is more expensive than one would expect for pizza, but I presume this has much to do with overhead, as someone suggested, and the quality of the ingredients. I think it would be nice if the regular cheese pizza were slightly less expensive. We are really lucky to have them in our neighborhood. (I grew up in NYC and love New York pizza, but I also think it’s nice to have different types of pizza in our ‘hood.)

  • PT Varnum

    I’d have to go with Moroni and Bros. Pupusas and P-Pizzas. Plus, they are in Petworth.

  • Jumbo slices rule! Pretty much the only thing I miss about my former residence in Adams Morgan.
    Between the two choices, Pete’s wins on volume.
    But if I’m going to order a pizza for an afternoon or night in front of the TV, it’ll be Papa John’s. I grew up in a neighborhood where there was a pizza joint on every corner – long before the era of designer pizza. I’m used to pizza as quick, filling comfort food. I’ll do the gourmet places on occasion but I don’t necessarily need gourmet in order to be satisfied.
    If you’re ever in Bethesda, try Mia’s. Exceptional!

  • Liz

    I appreciate Pete’s because it is one of the few places in DC that does gluten free. And it is SO tasty! The best gluten free pizza I have had!

  • Mark

    I like them both and selfishly do not wish to share either with the people across the park, or across the river.

    Also, it can definitely be true that different locations of the same local restaurant vary widely in quality. My local Faccia Luna and my local Austin Grill (both in Glover Park) seemed to do very badly after fancier, higher-volume versions opened in the suburbs.

    C’est la vie.

    • Seriously! Those a-holes east of the Anacostia don’t deserve a decent slice of pizza one bit.

      • Mark


        Clarendon and Alexandria are west of the Potomac, not east of the Anacostia. And while everyone deserves a decent slice of pizza, my experience with local restaurants is that smaller, older locations can suffer when newer, larger, higher-volume locations open up elsewhere. I do not want to share the small, unique amenities of Columbia Heights with other areas, especially if it costs me something in quality here.

        That is all.

  • Victoria

    Pizza Hiaku

    Zebra room long gone
    Bacon and onion pizza
    Nothing will compare.

  • El Gringo

    So awesome that this vote is so close still!!

    Pete’s is great for my slice needs, and RedRocks for my “personal pizza” needs…all depends on the day…all better than the Boli,,,


Subscribe to our mailing list