Saturday, October 13, 2007

2Amys are better than one

Don’t you hate being the last person to arrive at a party? The party is in full swing and everyone wants to know where you’ve been. What took you so long to get there? They let you know all the fun you’ve already missed. Such is my experience with the much lauded Neapolitan Pizzeria, 2Amys.

I’ve known about 2Amys for a few years now. Friends have told me that it is there favorite pizza place in the city. Countless reviews and food blogs have supported that claim, and still, I hadn’t gotten there yet. When you also consider that Steve and I can eat a pizza like two men on death row, it’s even more implausible that we hadn’t made the pilgrimage to Washington DC’s pizza Mecca.

Our good friend Mickey called me one afternoon while I was at work. He was looking for a good but reasonable place to eat in the city. He and Carlos had visitors in from out of town and they wanted to finish their day of sightseeing in the capital with a fun meal. I instantly suggested 2Amys, deviously adding, “and if you go there, let me know, Steve and I will join you.” Unfortunately, the timing didn’t really work out and it seemed that we were going to miss, yet again, another opportunity to eat at 2Amys. Then, as luck would have it, Mickey called again, because Carlos had left something in my car that he desperately needed. 2Amys is very close to where I work and I was more than happy to oblige by dropping the item by the restaurant. (You can see the wheels turning in my head, can’t you?) I called Steven immediately and told him to get his butt in a cab and go to 2Amys. Right now.

Mickey, Carlos and visitors had finished their meal when I arrived. We exchanged pleasantries and I gave Carlos the necessary item and off they went, just as Steven arrived at the restaurant.
Ahhhh bliss, joy and revelation. Everything about 2Amys screams quality. 2Amys is a celebration of food and a testament to how simple preparation using the finest ingredients can produce food that is sublime and transcendent.

The décor is very understated with simple wood topped tables and country wicker seat chairs. Light cream walls and a black and white checked floor evoke a retro sense while still remaining clean and contemporary. Not kitschy at all. As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by an open kitchen, and the reason you are there, the wood burning oven. Black and white photos are evenly spaced on the walls and they add a simple yet elegant tone to the ambiance. The restaurant is filled with light and its noisy. 2Amys is a favorite for families in the city and is always filled with couples and children, so please don’t expect a quiet evening.
2Amys features a regular menu of appetizers, pizzas and salad. Additionally, they have a wine bar menu that features a listing of imported and house cured meats, cheeses, and what they call “small things“, a collection of Italian style “tapas” . Then there is the specials menu, which our server noted “was the reason people keep coming back to 2Amys. "

We started with the supli al telefono. Essentially, a deep fried risotto croquette studded with a dab of Mozzarella di Bufala. Supli al telefono, literally means “telephone wires” which becomes evident when you crack open one these gems and the Mozzarella oozes out in a long strand of melty cheese that looks just like an old telephone wire. 2Amys uses a tomato risotto and the balls are lightly crisp on the outside giving way to a soft starchy inside that is simple, delicious and very satisfying.

I also ordered the house cured anchovies with bread and butter. They come laid out on a plate drenched in olive oil with a rich glob of room temperature butter. Unlike their canned cousins, these anchovies have no hint of fishiness. Instead, they are nutty and salty and the perfect foil to the butter and the house made bread. The bread is unctuously dense and chewy and smacks of just baked freshness.

And now a word about Neapolitan pizza. This was lifted directly from 2Amys website.

“In 1998 the Italian government formally recognized Neapolitan pizza as a
traditional food worthy of preservation and granted it D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status, which specifies the legally permitted ingredients and methods of preparation necessary to produce authentic Neapolitan Pizza. Only soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt may be used for the dough, and only Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra- virgin olive oil and fresh basil or dried oregano may be used for the toppings. Fresh garlic may only be used on the Pizza Marinara. All Neapolitan pizzas must be cooked in a wood-burning oven. The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association was established to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions. As a member of the Association, we abide by these strict requirements and serve D.O.C. pizza.”

2Amys serves three D.O.C. pizzas, the Margherita (tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala and Basil), the Marinara (tomato, garlic and oregano) and the Margherita Extra (tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, basil and cherry tomatoes). Additionally, they serve a variety of other pizzas that are made in the tradition of D.O.C, but offer other ingredients and toppings that are not considered true to the Neapolitan pizza tradition.

Pizzas can be ordered as meal for oneself or to be shared. They come in one size that would easily sate a hearty appetite if you were not ordering anything else. We chose to share a pizza from the specials menu so we could sample other items as well. Our pizza was topped with green tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala, Grana Padano cheese and an egg. The crust was perfectly cooked and had that almost magical quality of being crisp and chewy at the same time. A single egg was baked in the center of the pizza and was cooked to a perfect over easy doneness. The runny yolk made a lovely sauce to dredge the pizza dough in. The green tomatoes were lightly acidic and matched nicely against the rich and creamy Mozzarella cheese. Indeed, this was pizza heaven.

After our pizza we enjoyed a plate of Prosciutto di San Daniele. The ham is aged for over 12 months and has a much drier quality than typical proscuittos. Tender ribbons of pork fat run along the outside of the ham adding flavor and texture. A generous plate of ultra-thin sliced ham arrived with more of 2Amys excellent house made bread. It was gone in a matter of minutes.

Finally, for dessert Steven had the Marsala custard. Initially, I thought the Marsala custard would be more like a Zabaglione which is runny and saucy and typically served over berries. However, this was much more like an full set egg custard. It was served in a small coffee cup. The custard was dense and creamy and was permeated with the lovely aroma and taste of Marsala wine.

I had been advised to order the Cannolis, which I did with some reservation. Cannolis are, of course, a simple tubular pastry filled with a sweetened ricotta cheese mixture. Cannolis are the ubiquitous Italian dessert and suffer from two frequent maladies. Malady number one: the pastry gets soggy and rubbery because it can’t hold up to the moisture of the ricotta cheese filling. Malady number two: the sweetened ricotta cheese filling is so over processed and sickeningly sweet that it should be served with an insulin shot. Alas, I should have known by this time that 2Amys would not disappoint.

The pastry was cracker crisp and the filling was made with, what else, but house made ricotta cheese, delicately sweetened, lightly whipped and flavored with citrus zest. These are the finest Cannolis I have ever tasted. Leave it to 2Amys to take something so common and make it a revelation.

If you live in the Washington DC metropolitan region and for some reason you have not been to 2Amys yet, please stop what you are doing and go there right now. Yes, it’s noisy. Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, there may be a wait. There’s a reason for that. 2Amys isn’t just a great pizza place, it’s a great restaurant and I would venture to say, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city.
3715 Macomb Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016


Carlos said...

Thank you for saving my life that day.... AGAIN!

Mick said...

I loved 2 Amys and look forward to going back again when our schedules permit the four of us to relax and enjoy our time there simultaneously. (Imagine that!) Great restaurant and amazingly simple, yet wonderful pizza. And fast service -- wowser!