Just ate at Pupatella in Arlington, VA. This small, casual restaurant is run by a couple who started their business out with a popular Neapolitan pizza cart next to the Ballston Metro. I never got a chance to try the cart pizza, but their new restaurant is a winner.
The space is small and semi-self serve, you order at the counter and pick up your food and bus your own table, but the pizza quality is top notch. I tried a “real” Margherita with fresh buffalo mozzarella and a simple San Marzano sauce. The pie was delicious, very authentic and reminded me of the pizza I had at Da Michele in Naples. The crust had a nice char, but was still soft, light and flavorful. Enzo, the co-owner and pizzaiolo, cranked out the pizza in about 90 seconds from their beautiful Forno Napolento wood-fired oven.
The special of the week was a white pizza with red onions and pistachios – inspired by and nearly equal to Chris Bianco’s Rosa. Personally, the Rosa is is one of my all time favorites, with the melding of strong flavors (onions, nuts and Parmesan) into a unique pie and Pupatella’s version hit all the high notes.
Also on the menu are sandwiches (on house-made bread), salads, fried calzone, arancinos and gelato. We tried an arancino with fontina, peas and beef. This baseball sized globe of fried risotto was crispy on the outside and gooey and flavorful on the inside. They live up to their billing as a friggitoria (fry shop) at Pupatella. The gelato is made outside of the restaurant, but is quite tasty.
Bottled beer and wine from Italy are served. We had a bottle of Bastardo that was pretty good. They were running a special where all bottles were $10 when 2 pizzas are ordered which makes the wine a steal. The co-owner Anastasiya even offered to save the cork and bag up the wine in case we didn't finish it. This was a nice, but in our case wholly, unnecessary gesture.
All in all, I would put Pupatella on the list as one of the best pizza places in the DC-area. They are certainly equal to if not better than 2Amy’s and Pizzeria Paradiso in terms of quality (I’ve not tried Pizzeria Orso down the road yet). And, for value they can’t be beat.