Slice: Washington DC

Pizza reviews in the DC area.

Expectations Fizzle at Arlington, Virginia's Fire Works

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[Photographs: Dave Konstantin]

Fire Works American Pizzeria & Bar

2350 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington VA 22201; map; 703-527-8700; fireworkspizza.com
Oven Type: Wood-fired
Price: 10-inch pizza, $10 to $11; 14-inch pizza, $16 to $17

I had high hopes for the recently opened Arlington outpost of Fire Works American Pizzeria. It's owned and operated by Tuskies Dining Group, known for the excellent Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg (and other respected venues)—by all rights it should be terrific.

Fireworks is located close to two of the finest pizzerias in the DC area—Pupatella (Slice review) and Pizzeria Orso (Slice review). Fireworks is just not in the same league.

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The restaurant space is contemporary and very attractive, with glass all around and a comfortable feel. Service is excellent. But the pizzas are largely disappointing. We started off with the restaurant's signature pizza—the Fire Works—with sausage, onions, and peppers. It was a sloppy mess.

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The display on the wide-mouthed, wood-fueled Wood Stone oven showed a floor temperature of only 500F and an ambient temp of 645F, so it's possible the pies are drying out from spending too much time in there. It was dry, dense, and bland.

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Fire Works doesn't claim to be a Neapolitan joint (they serve "American" pizza, whatever that means), but I expected more from the Margherita. It seemed compressed, like it was losing a fight with gravity. There was too much sauce and the cheese was all wrong. This is a reminder that the mere presence of a wood-fired oven does not guarantee that great pizza is being served.

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But the toppings on the Black Sheep pie (lamb sausage, spinach, feta, red onion) were quite tasty, helping this pizza rise above the plebian platform on which it was built.

With a great upscale location, just blocks from Courthouse Metro, and close to countless offices and apartments, I'm sure Fire Works will do fine as a bar that happens to serve pizza—they have more than 30 beers on tap. But as an actual pizzeria, in a region with so many superb alternatives, it just doesn't get off the ground.

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