Plaudits: Washingtonian 2009 #81, Washington Post's 2009 Fall Dining Guide Top 50
Neighborhood: Tenleytown/Friendship Heights
With a rapidly expiring Groupon/LivingSocial deal and a need for pizza, I rallied Official Friend of DCWD Rajistan to head up Connecticut Avenue with me for Comet Ping Pong.
Comet Ping Pong may be a mysterious name for a pizza place, but it certainly is descriptive of the decor; there's a giant picture of a comet behind the bar, and the entire theme of the restaurant is ping pong. To wit: all of the almost-exclusively booth-style tables in the front of the restaurant are painted like miniature ping pong tables (even the two-tops are sectioned off with attached chairs), and there are actual ping pong tables in the back for play (and a foosball table to boot, which together are a perfect antidote to the probable wait time for a table). What's more, a giant projector screen hangs on the front wall showing (what else) Olympic ping pong matches, and even the hanging orb lights are vaguely ping pong-esque.
All of these quirks add up for a pretty family-friendly atmosphere, something highlighted by the sheer amount of families and large parties seated at the central communal tables at 6pm when we arrived. This lighthearted atmosphere is further augmented by the other decorative touches: the neon sign out front, a hanging Vespa over the bar, and bright red and blue metal art work hanging from one of the overhead skylights in the center of the space. All this sits within a dining space that's very much the recovered factory theme: unfinished walls, exposed rafters and bricks, garage and industrial lights, and linoleum floors.
Rajistan and I decided to each get a pizza and split them. So between the two of us, we ordered the Smoky (smoked mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, smoked bacon, melted onions, garlic) and the Time-Out (merguez sausage, parsley, melted onions, potato, garlic, gorgonzola).
Oh man. First and maybe least important is that all the pizzas are the personal pan size, so it's definitely just the right amount for a meal. Second, and slightly more important is that the crust is delicious, that right amount of bubbly and crispy with that oh-just-slightly black crisp on it that gives it that flavorful oven-kissed burnt taste. And third, the toppings are paired superbly, with the Smoky a rich savory kick to the palate, while the Time-Out was a perfect recall of a fresh bite of French-Mediterranean cuisine. Washed down with our pitcher of Allagash White, it was a fantastic and beautiful meal through and through.
Honestly? For a place that's way more casual than other "serious" pizza places, the quality of the pie is right up there with all them. I mean, dare I even say it? Tied with venerable 2 Amy's for the best I've had in DC.
Food Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Party in the USA
Vibe: Energetic to Noisy
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: What more could you ask for than the ping pong tables in the back? The last time I'd played ping pong before this trip was two years prior on a cruise ship. Super fun.