2711 12th Street NE
Washington, DC  20018
Menomalé on Urbanspoon

Menomale (forgive me if I don't use the accent every time) is located in the Brooland section of Washington DC and I worry about places like this.  First of all, I've never heard of the Brookland section of Washington and that may just be my familiarity with DC.  Brookland is located in the NE part of DC and I was hoping it was some sort of hipster breeding ground like Brooklyn.  It's also not that far from Logan Circle so it wasn't entirely impossible.  But, when I drove up to the restaurant, it's in a quiet neighborhood and surrounded by residences except for the three small storefronts where Menomale was located.  Part of my worry is that it's a big of a hike to get there and it's a bit out of the way.  But, most of my worry is that Menomale just isn't in the right place to give everyone a chance to eat such great food.

I was heartened by the fact that at two in the afternoon the place was still pretty packed (even though it probably only seats about 25 max) and it continued to turn-over pretty briskly the whole time I was there.  Menomale is a traditional Italian pizza joint or Pizza Napoletana akin to 2Amys and Pizzeria Paradiso.   It also boasts some homemade calzones and some other Italian staples.  I was really tempted to order a calzone for take out after my meal but I'll just have to order one when I go back.  Today, I stuck to their bread and butter which is the pizza.

For a drink, I got a Sehr Crisp which is the same beer I had when I went to the Green Pig.  I really need to find out if they sell this in any local stores because I'm really enjoy the beer.  It has a nice light taste with no hints of bitterness.  Maybe I should just take a trip up to Brooklyn.

To start, though, I ordered Proscuitto e Melone which is some prosciutto generously wrapped around two pieces of cantaloupe.   These were circled by some arugula drizzled lightly with balsamic with some halved strawberries and grapes.   They also included two wedges of orange in the middle.  It was also served on a really big plate which was a theme that would continue throughout the meal.  I guess they don't believe in small presentations at Menomale.  The combination is pretty classic so I enjoyed the salty/sweet flavors of the prosciutto and cantaloupe.  The one surprise to me were the grapes, strawberries and arugula.  The contrast there was even more flavorful and I could have eaten much more.

For my pizza, I ordered the Salsiccia which is sauteed mushrooms, sausage, San Marzano tomatoes buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil.  I'm a big fan of mushrooms and sausage on the pizza but I'm always wary of the pizza being overly greasy with the sausage.  This was far from the case in this pizza.  The dough itself was light and amazingly thin (made it tough to pick up by hand sometimes), the sauce and cheese added nice sweet overtones and there was just enough mushrooms and sausage to give those savory, earthy flavors but not so much that they overshadowed the pizza.  To me, it was almost a crime to put any additional toppings on the pizza since just the dough, tomatoes, and cheese were so sublime.

I thought the waitress said something like duetto or dueto when I ordered my dessert but I have no idea what those things are.  She did say it was a frozen dessert and what came out was a vanilla gelato.  It came with sliced grapes and strawberries again with confectioner's sugar, a strawberry reduction, five big heaps of whipped cream and strands of mint infused olive oil AND on a huge ass plate.  While pretty, it felt like the presentation was a bit outdated or not refined enough.  For the flavors, there's not much not to like about grapes, strawberries and whipped cream so those elements disappeared promptly.  The vanilla flavor in the gelato shined through as it should and I liked the chewiness of the candied strips of olive oil with the hint of mint.  Overall, you probably could have just included one scoop of gelato, topped it with some whipped cream, added fruit, sprinkled the mint infused olive oil, placed it in a BOWL, and it would work much better.

It took me a while to find Menomale due to my unfamiliarity with DC still.  Brookland still feels like an out of the way location to me but the joint was constantly busy while I was there.  I guess in DC, if the food is good enough then people will find it.  That's the case here.  The pizza, just by itself, is well worth the trip from anywhere.  The atmosphere is casual and hip.  The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and very relaxed.  I've only been once but I'm already dreaming about my next pizza from Menomale or trying out their homemade calzones.


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