Vace Pizza–An Epicurean Tower of Pisa at Washington

VACE pizza parlour, Washington, DC

Vace Pizza—Simply The Greatest

Natives of Washington are subjected to petty mockery and cheap charade when they lay, indubitably justifiable, claim to having the best pizza in the world.  Chicagoans and New Yorkers in particular lead the Bronx cheers that this little southern cow town could possibly trump the pizzas available in their cities.   Raucous though the reaction may be, the critics are simply wrong and, over time, I have forced many to admit that they are—and cry uncle.  Having an Italian mother from New York, I initially was reluctant to admit that facts are facts and Vace is Vace and that ends the story about who is best.  But, then, there it is. Take a bite and you’ll be a believer.  Like Holy Communion.

Vace Italian Delicatessens are located in both Cleveland Park in city and close in Bethesda, Maryland.  They do not deliver. The owners of Vace consider themselves purveyors of real Italian food and they have all the fixings for a great feast.

From the beginning, the Calcagno family, who opened Vace nearly 50 years ago, had pizza available, a small slice usually for free, mostly given to children whose mothers were busy buying real Italian food for dinner.  The Calcagno family considered pizza to be “a treat for children—like a cookie—not real food.” I am but one of many who implored them to get a truck and turn their locations exclusively over to the production and distribution of pizza, but they would have none of it and considered the entire idea to be a joke.

Over time, particularly in the Cleveland Park store, the demand, especially at weekends and during big sporting events, made for lines wound long to get in and pick up the pizzas to take back home by hand.  In today’s zip dial, order anything and have it sent in world, that so many would brave bitter winds, rain, hail and snows to get their Vace is sufficient testimony to just how loyal the Vace following is.

Like all good Italians, the Calcagno family has resisted any and all change as silly, evil and nonsensical–so, still no trucks–if you want Vace, you have to come to Vace to get it.  The Italian mind has no patience with change.  Italians are imbued at birth with the dictum that Italy is the center of all that is good, beautiful and simple and so, well, why would anyone change that?  Be of good cheer, friend–the trip to Vace is well worth it

To order, one simply calls in and the pizzas are usually available to take out in a half hour or less.  The pizzas are registered under your telephone number, not your name, so you have to shout out your number to get your pie.  At this point, 50 years on, the business is so brisk that Vace turns out pies day and night.  There is also deli style food available and men working on the endless construction in the Cleveland Park area make up a bustling lunch trade, while at night, office workers come to get their pizza fix.

If you are new to city and have not tried Vace, you have missed out on one of the singular eating events to be found here at Washington.  What is more, pizza is a comparatively cheap food and, as is the case with other Italian meals, it often tastes better warmed up next day than on the fresh arrival.  But, if you expect to have extras, you’d better buy a lot because an 8 slice Vace pizza does not last long.  Advice to the uninitiated—go to Vace–pronto.  Vace is a can’t miss experience sans pareil.

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