I grew up in NW New Jersey and frequently made trips to NYC. Growing up we had a great many pizza parlors to choose from (4 in my town alone and I lived in a small cow town). Those very familiar with the general NY/NJ style of pizza know that a NY/NJ Pizza joint is uncommon in the DC metro area. The pizza has a certain flavor, texture, "feel" to it that is not found at any of the chains. Until now I've settled for Vace or even the Besta in NW DC to be an approximation of this style.
It should be noted that NY really has a bunch of styles now depending on the borough and even the neighborhood, but there are commonalities to the pies.
On Friday night we were craving pizza after running around. I vaguely remember something about a decent place I read about in the Pan Am shoppinge center in Merrifield/Vienna. I now live out there after living in the city for 8 years. We took a chance but after cruising the center 3 times, we were unable to find it.
On our way back on 123 in Vienna we took a chance on Joe's Place Pizza and Pasta (435 Maple Ave., West in Vienna). The place smelled right, so I figured I'd give it a shot. We ordered a House Special pizza with mushroooms, sausage, pepperoni, and olives.
It is as good as many of the pizzas I had in Jersey, better than some, and a little worse than my favorite shop up there. The crust was the right consistency, the sauce was good with the right amount of acidity and not sweet like most around here. The cheese tasted very close to the mozzarella I grew up with, although slightly on the bland side. The mushrooms were fresh which is in line with many NJ/NY shops although many still use canned mushrooms. The pepperoni was not very memorable, but the sausage was fantastic. It's the standard Italian hot sausage sliced thinly lengthwise.
Joe's is a local chain with much of the family working there in the kitchen and on the floor. The owner came to the US in 1970 from Italy, studied the NY style in NY until 1973 and then moved to the DC area. They have shops in Vienna, N. Arlington, Bailesy X-Roads, Fairfax City, and Gaithersburg. We had 2 iced teas (all drinks are served by the quart in a 1/2 pitcher with a straw), one orange juice for the 3 year old, an X-Large pizza, and I had the salad bar add on for $2.99. The salad bar is underwhelming with maybe 20 items on it including the dressings. Next time I'll skip it.
They also have a wheel of fortune on the way out that you spin before you pay to see if you get a $1 off, $2 off, etc. I won a free dinner there. Very amusing.
I have no affiliation there. I was hesitant to post this as I like to try a restaurant 2 or 3 times before recommending it for consistency sake, but I was very pleased to find a pizza parlor that can do a NY/NJ pie well.
I don't know about their other restaurants, as I only ate at the Vienna one to date.
Chris in VA
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