Thanks to a tip from gooster, my August trip to the Capitol included a dinner with friends at the Federalist to fulfill my pizza tradition.
Located on Mitsui Alley, the entrance is hidden from the street. Constructed of shipping containers, the decor at the Federalist is a mix of old and new.
Order and payment are collected at the counter, then the food is delivered to the table. Long picnic tables and benches make up most of the communal seating. And there's still room to fit the bocce court and pizza oven inside the narrow interior.
The temperature of the wood-burning pizza oven is kept at well over 800 degrees F.
Margherita, $13, our first pie, was about as close to perfect as it gets. Not too wet with sauce, creamy fresh mozzarella, well-distributed fresh basil, pinpoints of sea salt accents, and a well-spotted crust that was tender but not soggy.
The upskirt was charred but not burnt.
The next pie, Chavez, $16, featured roasted pork carnitas. mozzarella. fontina. jack cheese. russet hash. red onion. creme fraiche. cilantro and salsa verde. Bold flavors but something about the balance of this one was a little off. The crust was not fired as well with some doughy wetness.
Our final pizza, Marshall, $17, was topped with arugula pesto. mozzarella. fontina. salami rosa. crushed pistachio. grana padano and red onions. Quite a scrumptious combination, making it easier to forgive the damper crust under the heavier toppings.
For a small bite to start, we tried the Polenta cake, $9,
with cheesy polenta. arugula pepitas. pesto. tomato mushroom compote. creme fraiche and crispy pancetta. Heavy, but really delicious.
The dessert menu promises Seasonal slice o' pie. But unfortunately, none this day. Instead we tried the Brownie, $3. Made in a cake-style, this was much too dry.
However, our collective sweet tooth was more than satisfied by a pair of ice cream sandwiches. The
Ice Cream Sando, $8, is enormous. Chewy oatmeal cookie. vanilla bean ice cream. chocolate dipped. crushed pistachios, made for a super rich ending. Five of us, including one teenage boy, were unable to finish two of these creations.
When I returned to the counter to order our desserts, I remarked to the cashier that the pizza margherita was one of the best I've had. She reminded me that the pizzaiolo was the former sous chef at Masullo. He had made our first pizza at the end of his shift. The latter two were fired by a different pizza chef, accounting for the slight differences that distinguish good from great.
When the space is full, the din is loud enough to require shouting across the table to attempt to converse. Fortunately, the place did clear out a few times to give our ears a rest. One of my friends office is close by and she's looking forward to checking it out during the week for the lunch specials. Federalist was a fun spot for eaters of all ages and I'd happily return.