In my family alone there are vast preferences, posing a challenge when it’s time to order in. For me, it has to have good sauce or that’s a dealbreaker. Perhaps cheese is the most important thing, or maybe you love Sicilian deep dish pizza. On one thing we can all agree, pizza continues to be an American passion since it’s arrival on our shores in 1905 in New York City. Since then, the proliferation of pizza parlors is virtually astonishing. Just look at the number of pizza restaurants in Bethesda alone.
For this blog post, I focus on places that specialize in pizza, not just include it on their menu. But, even that’s hard to narrow down. You can also distinguish pizza by type—the gourmet pizzas vs. the take-out, mass produced type. There’s also the old school pizza vs. the modern pie. Many purists prefer plain cheese and sauce—with no diversionary toppings.
I can’t write about pizza in Bethesda without stating my preference–Mia’s is my favorite pizza. Bethesda welcomed Melissa Ballinger, aka Mia, about seven years ago. Since then, Mia’s won a competition conducted by Rachael Ray’s Magazine in 2009 in the “Search for the Best Pizzeria”—Winner of South/Southwest Final Four. Mia was trained by Washington DC’s renowned chef and hometown boy, Peter Pastan–first at Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle and then at 2 Amy’s in Cleveland Park. But Mia brought her own brand of inventive wood oven pizza to Cordell Avenue. In a restaurant with bright yellow walls and shelves of Italian wines, cheerful, efficient servers welcome customers of all ages to dine in, while countless others take home food from Mia’s. Under the expert eye of Mia herself (who’s so often there), the staff keeps dishes moving, always freshly prepared and bursting with robust ingredients: sweet deep red gravy (sauce), molten patches of buffalo mozzarella, singed crust crackling from a roaring flame, and a gentle drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil
Mia’s pizzas are generous enough to share, but I like to order more than one to sample the artistic combinations she’s created. One of my favorites is the Il Forno (honoring the restaurant that was here before Mia’s) with a pretty combination of tomato sauce, kalamatas and a bright green spinach and ricotta blend. Tradition with a spin. I also like the Abruzza with artichokes, onion, kalamata’s and goat cheese. Every bite a party in your mouth. You can design your own from a variety of gourmet ingredients like caramelized onions, fontina cheese, sundried tomatoes, barbecued chicken and arugula. The salads look terrific, and there are several popular antipastis including deviled eggs. Even the freshly baked cupcakes get rave reviews. But if you’re at Mia’s, order at least one pizza. No matter what your taste, you’ll probably find something you like. A lot.
Below you’ll find an abbreviated list of pizza restaurants in Bethesda. Remember, pizza is personal, and only you will decide which one suits your taste buds best. There’s so much more to be said about pizza in Bethesda, but I leave you with this open invitation to add your opinions, comments and recommendations. Mangia!
This round red brick hut on Old Georgetown includes great sauce, silky cheese, crisp medium crust but can be a bit greasy.
7750 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda
Award winning pizzas—read my review above.
4926 Cordell Avenue, (301) 718-6427
Beloved by many who’ve discovered this hidden gem. Take out pizza with rave reviews for freshness, authentic style. So many flavorful toppings to choose, ample amounts of sauce and cheese. Crust holds up under the generous toppings.
4705 Miller Avenue (301) 654-6367
I haven’t tried this yet, but they offer some interesting versions like My Big Fat Greek Pizza with olives, spinach and feta, free delivery for orders $10+
8118 Woodmont Ave, (301) 656-1450
Designed to please the younger crowd. Crust is consistent, sauce is bland, cheese is thick, but they offer great deals related to local sports events, like 50% off after certain Wizards and Capitals games.
7200 47th Street, (301) 654-8282
This is good! The toppings are varied, fresh and interesting. The crust is a perfect holder for all those good toppings. Lines are impossible, but get there early and recognize that this is not a bargain.
at Westfield Montgomery Mall 7101 Democracy Blvd # 2456, Bethesda (301) 469-5090
They offer NY style slices and pies. The texture of the crust is tender and soft, yet thin. The sauce has a nice tomatoey flavor, and they put the perfect amount of cheese on the slice –not too much and not too little.
7901 Norfolk Ave, (301) 907-7542
Skinny crust, bland sauce, but if you’re not particular it’s a good deal–two slices and a drink for $5
10400 Old Georgetown Road, Georgetown Square Shopping Center (Democracy Boulevard)
Charming, upscale restaurant with pricey pizzas that are flavorful and fresh, especially the sumptuous white pizza.
10257 Old Georgetown Rd, Wildwood Shopping Center (301) 493-9230
Friendly place with NY style thin crust containing hearty amounts of cheese. Extremely casual dining, often over-salted and makes you thirsty for hours afterward. Those with high blood pressure be warned. Welcoming to team parties
10474 Auto Park Ave (301) 365-4190, across from Montgomery Mall and Home Depot
Jerry’s has good sauce with chunks of tomato, but they are skimpy with it. The cheese is thick and often gets burned on the top. The crust tastes bland but it has a good consistency. Acceptable. $4.99 on Mondays!
7340 Wisconsin Ave,
This local favorite offers well-made hearty portions. It’s a perfect hangout for parents with small children.
4916 Elm St, (301) 907-3399
This Bethesda restaurant institution has real Italian pizza with giant smashed tomatoes in the sauce–so you know I love it. It has light cheese, and the crispy crust can get soggy from all that sauce. Do not do take out, eat it right away.
4709 Hampden Ln, (301) 657-8775
Wood fired, Neapolitan style pizza in a cozy restaurant
4910 Saint Elmo Ave, (301) 652-4499
A Maryland institution and for good reason. Ledo’s was the first to cut pizza into squares. The crust has the consistency of cake, and I love this sauce, very tomatoey and well seasoned. But like all pizzas–eat it right out of the oven or it’s greasy.
10301 Westlake Dr, (near Westlake Montgomery Mall) (301) 469-6700
This gourmet food store with a huge selection of wines, is also a cute cafe with very tasty gluten free and regular pizzas.
7921 Old Georgetown Road, (301) 654-5454
Hormone and antibiotic free meats. If you like eating healthfully, then try Naked Pizza’s whole grain pizza crust and fresh vegetables. Eating healthy never tasted so good.
4914 Del Ray Ave, (301) 215-9899
Many knowledgeable foodies say this is the best in town. They have a crackling crust with fresh mozzarella and lots of inventive toppings. With an extensive choice of wine and craft beers, it’s a fun place to hang out with friends.
7137 Wisconsin Ave, (301) 664-9412
Go order at the window and they’ll summon you with a pager. Nice thin crust and delicately placed toppings. Lots of other good choices, like fresh pastas and salads. Nice outdoor setting.
4900 Hampden Lane 301 215-7013