When I was three, my mother would pick me up every day after pre-school and we would walk home together. The best days were when we stopped at Gino’s Pizzeria along Horace Harding Expressway and she’d buy me a pizza slice.
We didn’t speak Spanish, the pizzaiolos didn’t speak Chinese, and nobody spoke English, so there was much confusion despite all our efforts to communicate. My mother would hold up one finger and smile politely as if to say, “One slice, please,” and I would nod in agreeance with my nose pressed up against the glass. One man would translate to the other, they’d wrap up a cheese slice for us to go, then we’d pay and leave. Each time we’d repeat the process and I’d leave with a big smile on my face as they waved goodbye.
Week after week, my petite 4’10” mother and I would terrorize the pizzaiolos in this fashion until I was finally literate enough to understand what they were trying to tell us all along–that they only sold by the pie, not the slice.
And so the cheese slice became my benchmark of a good New York-style pizza, capable of making a little girl so incredibly happy despite a devastating loss in profits.
True to form, you’ll find the traditional 2-inch deck ovens used in New York pizzerias at Wiseguy’s, which opened in November, plus a water softener to recreate the “champagne of tap water” that’s absolutely essential for making that distinctive New York-style pie.
Wiseguy’s cheese slice ($2.72) is hands-down the closest I’ve ever found in DC, even better than Italian Store and Vace. That’s not to say that Wiseguy’s is better than other pizzerias with Neopolitan, Sicilian, flatbread or deep-dish pizzas. That’s comparing apples to oranges.
But if you like the oversized, thin and chewy-crusted, pockmarked-top, charred-bottom, flat-chested and slightly-wilted characteristics that are unique to a New York pie, then that is what you shall find at Wiseguy’s.
Highlights include a fragrant margherita topped with basil ($3.79, pictured) and crusty garlicky garlic knots ($1.99) with a side of marinara. The restaurant just started offering bagels from A&S in Long Island. The only things missing are beef patties, chicken rolls and The Naked Cowboy to make like you’re in the Big Apple.
Wiseguy NY Pizza
300 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001