Thursday, March 11, 2010

Red Rocks Firebrick Pizzeria

*Post by Mark.
Ever the pizza fan, I've been trying to keep up with the best pizzas in and around the District.  Conversations involving both DC and Pizza typically revolve around any combination of 2 Amy's, Pizzeria Paradiso, Pete's Apizza, Comet Ping Pong and one additional place that I've never been able to visit. That place is called Red Rocks and serves up Firebrick Pizzas in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood near Columbia Heights.

(Click Read More below to see how Red Rocks stacks up)

Red Rocks featured prominently in last year's Best Bites Pizza Pool from the Washingtonian- a March Madness style tournament that used reader polling to crown a winner. Obviously flawed, the tournament booted 2 Amy's and Comet Ping Pong in the early rounds and pitted Red Rocks against a suburban chain called Flippin' Pizza. I've tried Flippin' Pizza, and I can confidently say that I've had better pizza in mall food courts, so this survey's credibility is called into question.* Nevertheless, I have continued to hear good things about this Red Rocks, and today, a warm spring afternoon and a couple of hungry friends gave me a good excuse to wander over.

Red Rocks sits on a quiet residential street corner in what appears to be an old townhouse.  Inside has a nice little bar and limited seating. Outside has a patio with several tables perfect for people watching. My friends and I chose a table outside and together, we combined forces getting three pizzas to share.

First, was the Margherita Pizza. This often tends to be the worst (i.e. most boring) of the pizzas I choose, yet for some reason I continue to order it no matter where I go. If nothing else, it serves as a constant in tasting pizzas from different places. How well does their traditional Margherita hold up? Well, Red Rocks' basil didn't really jump out at me and the pizza was left tasting somewhat flat. While it may have been the worst of the three, at least it looked pretty.


Next up was the Salsiccia which was topped with roasted red peppers and some delicious fennel sausage. The sausage and peppers added some needed flavor where the Margherita fell flat. You'll probably notice a decent char on the crust which I enjoyed on all of the pizzas, but found them all lacking a certain dynamic that I've found in other similarly thin pizzas.


Last was the Chicken and Broccolini, a heartier brand of pizza topped with black olives.  This was probably the most successful of the three, as it added a little depth to the slightly lacking crust.  The chicken and broccolini provided some subtle flavors that weren't overwhelmed by having too much black olive in the picture.

Chicken And Broccolini

In the end, the pizzas at Red Rocks are certainly above average - maybe even some of the better pies in DC. But the crust was missing a certain complexity (check out Paradiso) and the toppings were missing a certain artistry (check out 2 Amy's) that I've enjoyed much more at some other places. While Red Rocks may be pushing second tier, one thing it does have going for it is a cute space and a nice front patio to enjoy the warmer weather. The beer menu is also rather encouraging.

*I hypothesize that Flippin' Pizza has an advantage in this style of pool due to the fact that seven suburban locations give them a wider base of people that are familiar with them. Either that, or the DC pizza lobby is a stronger entity than we ever knew. Watch out DC, their eighth mediocre location will be opening soon in Dupont Circle!

1 comment:

  1. "But the crust was missing a certain complexity (check out Paradiso) and the toppings were missing a certain artistry (check out 2 Amy's) that I've enjoyed much more at some other places" Sums it up in a nutshell. I haven't tried this place but I've seen it. Doesn't look like I'll be making a trip.