Real Neapolitan pizza has finally come to Georgetown. Joe Farruggio's Il Canale on 31st Street at the C&O Canal boasts an impressive wood-fired oven built on site by Italian craftsmen. Though not quite in the same league as Orso in Falls Church (Slice review) or Pupatella in Arlington (Slice review), Il Canale certainly serves Georgetown's best pizza. Housed in a smartly decorated townhouse with two levels of dining and a charming rooftop terrace, it's an inviting place to relax and enjoy an affordable meal.
Georgetown is home to congressmen, senators, and diplomats, and is also a popular destination for tourists and young locals—Il Canale is right in the heart of it. Some would say that Pizzeria Paradiso on nearby M Street also serves a Neapolitan pie, but that's quickly disproven by Paradiso's dry, crunchy, cornmeal-coated crust. Wood-fired, yes. Neapolitan, no.
Il Canale will more likely satisfy a craving for Neapolitan-style pizza. The Margherita is thoughtfully assembled from top-quality ingredients (including Italian buffalo mozzarella), and overall is a pleasure, though I'd like to see a lighter hand with the sauce. The crust is has a slightly crisp exterior and good chew but lacks the character and depth of flavor found in a truly excellent pie. I'd say this pizza falls in the 95th percentile of DC pies, and 15 years ago, it would have been in the 99th.
The Filetti, with its creamy buffalo mozzarella and juicy cherry tomatoes, is a delight, but again the crust comes up just a bit short, with a certain uniformity of color and surface texture in the cornicione.
The Italia is a white pizza topped (after baking) with salty, paper-thin prosciutto, a generous handful of peppery arugula, and shards of shaved Parmesan. The sauce is wisely left off, as tomato and prosciutto never really play well together. It's a brilliant combination of flavors and textures, and a very satisfying pie.
Il Canale offers a full Italian menu for both lunch and dinner, along with a compact but well-rounded wine list. With friendly service and a welcoming atmosphere, it's quickly becoming a favorite among Georgetowners and visitors alike. The pizza may not be the DC area's absolute best, but it's close enough to warrant a try.