16 July 2007

The Pizza Has Landed

For thousands upon thousands of years, we residents of DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood have suffered in silence, without a decent pizza establishment. We've either lived with our pain and despair, or we've undertaken pilgrimages to Mt. Pleasant street for the pizza at Radius, sobbing in our beer, sputtering pesto sauce and weeping openly, thinking we'd never have such a groovy thing for ourselves.....

WRONG, soily bastards!

Last Thursday was a sacred day for us, as Red Rocks finally opened its doors after a surge of neighborhood excitement that's been building for months. The pitch was very impressive, and it seems they've delivered on most promises: a decent menu offering brick oven-cooked pizzas with eclectic and more standard toppings, nearly thirty bottled beers, and.......uh, once I saw Chimay Triple on tap, I didn't bother noting what else they had.

We stumbled in and grabbed a table on Sunday afternoon. It had been a day of puttering in the yard, trying to tame the weeds and tall grass while keeping the dog entertained (The solution was simple: brandish the weeds and shake 'em at the dog, who promptly runs in circles for about fifteen minutes. Shake the weeds at him again, and off he goes. Boxers have such odd brains).

Point is, it's a summer day in DC. No better time to check out our new pizza joint and lovingly chuck back a Chimay or three.

Oh crap....Waitress says the taps are dead today. hm. No matter. They've got thirty-some bottles to choose from, so make it a Golden Monkey. What the hell. It's Sunday...the Lord's Day. Or something.

Supposedly, the building which now holds Red Rocks was once a rooming house, and one of East Columbia Heights' more notorious sites of prostitution. I seem to recall a City Paper cover story on it a while back. Who knows how much work had to be done in there, to transform it into this place, but I'm certainly glad they did.

The interior and overall vibe is actually a fair comparison to Radius, in Mt.Pleasant. And that is a good thing. Exposed and darkly mottled brick walls, comfortable bar, framed reprints of historic photos from the neighborhood... Looks like it's been decorated just enough for what it is, but not overdone. Instantly cozy.

Most bloggers and commenters on other sites have noted the slow service, while playing nice and granting Red Rocks the benefit of being new, etc. And truly, we had quite a long wait for our pizza, and I'll give 'em a pass as well. Besides, it was a hot, humid summer afternoon in DC, my fingers still stank of citronella from the tiki torches, and I was in no hurry. As long as there was another Golden Monkey back there somewhere. No worries.

We witnessed several curious folks poke their heads in, assess the crowd, and either find seats, or leave while thoughtfully nodding, making internal promises to return. One family came in and sat for a minute, then became instantly irate at the lax service, and stormed out. We laughed...it's the epitome of Arrogant, Ugly, Fat, White America: The universe revolves around THEM, and THEY must be catered to with flawless precision. Screw 'em. They can subsist entirely on delivery pizza from that Nazi Domino's company, while we wait a few extra minutes like dignified people, and ultimately feast like kings. Exhausted, sweaty kings.

And feast we did. We got a pair of specialty pizzas from the menu (fungi & margherita), both of which were excellent. Perfect woodfire crust: thin and strong without being too dry, and the toppings balanced well (i.e., not too much. Someday, let your inner sociologist really study a typical Pizza Hut TV commercial; you'll see what I mean).

The only real downside was, no taps! We'll definitely be back and with luck, the Chimay will be flowing freely, and the butterflies will be singing, and the people will be dancing in the streets, and the bartenders will vomit golden rainbows upon the sidewalks outside, paved with endless woodfire pizzas..... and I shall look upon it, and it shall be good.

Gluttony is a virtue.


epota said...

An enjoyable post, I must say. I almost felt like I was there, waiting anxiously, sampling the brews, scoffing at impatient families, and truly hoping that my pizza wishes would be granted.

Now if only my computer screened had a scratch-n-sniff (or taste) to simulate the experience of the Golden Monkey...

inowpronounceyou said...

I had a different experience. I waited forever, as everyone seems to be noticing. But the apps that my date and I ordered never showed up, the crust was flimsy and the toppings were less than thrilling (undercooked pancetta is NASTY) ....and they never came back to see if we wanted another drink.

Highly unimpressive across the board, but I'm hoping it's just that it's new. I'm going to wait it out and try again in a month or so. Until then, I'll gladly trke to Radius.

IntangibleArts said...


I understand completely. We went back last Sunday afternoon and the place was closed. Evidently their brunch "didn't work out" and they purged until the dinner rush. "Growing pains" the guy said. And again, I figure I'll be patient and gracious because the place is so damned convenient, etc. But yeesh. What's the acceptable time limit on growing pains?

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