Disclaimer: In exchange for this restaurant review, I received one pizza.
A fair question would be, why would I review a pizza chain based in Washington D.C.? Not only that, but New York, New York is the land of (good) pizza, and D.C. throws
crab rangoon feta on every possible slice…until 2010, when &pizza opened their first outlet on H Street NE.
&pizza recently opened their first Manhattan outlet in NoMad, at 15 West 28th St. (between 5th Avenue and Broadway). They have more than 20 branches to date, mostly around the DC area, but are also expanding their presence throughout other regions.
The concept however, is unlike your usual pizzeria. &pizza takes a bit of Potbelly and a hint of Chipotle – the kind without the bad press – and melds them into a casual, relaxed conveyor belt-style pizza eatery. Furthermore, where possible, local/non-GMO/organic/non-HFCS ingredients are used.
There’s a smattering of toppings, sauces, and “finishes” – figure, egg, shrimp, spicy chickpea, fig balsamic, and pickled red onion – not commonly found at pizza place (oh, lookey here, feta’s available too). Surprise: most toppings don’t cost extra, but the base price of the pie is around $10, so quite a bit more (and less surface area) than a couple of NY slices.
Create your own huarache-shaped pizza (ok, it’s Mexican Spanish for sandal, but it’s also a delicious and filling street snack), or choose from a bunch of tempting pies. That day, I went with “Farmer’s Daughter,” heh, which has spicy tomato, spinach, mozzarella, Italian sausage, egg, parmesan, and red pepper chili oil. Upon seeing shrimp while on line, they were promptly added to my order.
As &pizza NoMad only opened last month, I’ll give the muddled prep/cashier service the benefit of the doubt. In spite of that, the flavors – the mix of textures of the egg and shrimp, along with the soothing basil and peppery sausage – made me think that I had chosen the right pie- perhaps I’ve spent too much time in Japan? Heck, the quality combination and flavor of toppings and surprisingly pleasant crust quickly made me forget about the slow-moving line…until I discovered an egg shell resting on one of the pieces. Whoops.
In addition to pizza, &pizza also offers a handful of different drinks, as well as a couple of minuscule cookies produced in tandem with milk bar‘s Christina Tosi. Though I’d sooner go to a local pizzeria for a couple of slices, when I crave random ingredients again (and trust me, it’ll be soon), &pizza will indeed be revisited.