Arlington, Virginia: Still Cooking with Gas at Faccia Luna
Faccia Luna Trattoria
With wood-fired pizzerias sprouting up all over the Washington area (some great, some not-so-great), it's easy to forget about the New York-style, deck-oven pizza that dominated the scene until very recently. Five years ago, most people here thought Neapolitan was a type of ice cream. Where did we even eat before 2 Amys and Paradiso and RedRocks?
Faccia Luna in Arlington has been a standby for nearly two decades, and still serves a very satisfying pie. The handsome restaurant, in a prime Clarendon location, is a favorite with families and singles alike and offers terrific pizza along with a well-rounded Italian menu. All pies are available in miniature-to-gargantuan sizes and could almost hold their own if transported north to the tri-state area.
Faccia Luna's Margherita (we'll indulge the use of that name) is your basic tomato and mozzarella incarnation, and is about as close as you'll come to NY-style in DC. The endcrust is somewhat puffier than the archetype, but it's yeasty, beautifully browned, and has a pleasing spring. The cheese is commercial mozzarella, and while there's a bit more than absolutely necessary, it adds a good chew to the slice. There's a well-balanced sauce, not too sweet and wisely applied, that completes the formula and doesn't draw undue attention to itself.
Beyond this, the offerings are nearly limitless, with no fewer than thirty toppings available and a dozen named pizzas on the menu. The Melanzane Bianco is a real winner, with generous slices of rich sauteed eggplant and creamy goat cheese on a mozzarella base.
While no one outside the region has yet been able to replicate the magic formula that results in what people in New York call "pizza," Faccia Luna makes a valiant effort and succeeds in numerous ways. You're happy while you're there, you're happy when you leave, and—with any luck—you're happy the next day when you see the box in the fridge.