The Greatest Maryland-Fashion Pizza within the DC Space

Touch upon this storyComment

It comes on a tray that appears like a cafeteria tray, together with a ladle-shaped spatula. Cheese and sauce run proper to the sting of the sq. sides of the pizza, which is barely half an inch excessive and reduce like a tic-tac-toe board. On every of the 9 slices lies a thick, cup-shaped slice of pepperoni with drops of glistening oil inside.

For individuals who grew up within the D.C. space, notably in Prince George’s or Montgomery counties, that is pizza: the type you get after Little League video games, on faculty dates, or on nights if you simply can’t felt like cooking, ate. Possibly you went to Pizza Hut to redeem the E book It! coupons. rewards, otherwise you lived shut sufficient to a Domino’s that your loved ones may very well be enticed by the promise of supply in half-hour or much less, however within the suburbs there have been at all times native pizzerias that served pies that appeared very totally different from what was they obtained from the ovens of nationwide chains.

Ledo Pizza opened in 1955 in an Adelphi purchasing middle and was based by early restaurateurs Bob Beall and Tommy Marcos. They discovered a formulation — a skinny, dough-like crust, smoked provolone cheese and a candy however oregano-heavy marinara sauce — baked in rectangular pans, not spherical ones, as a result of that’s what the homeowners had entry to. These substances turned staples, though Jamie Beall, Ledo’s president and CEO, explains, “A Ledo pizza is basically a set of errors.”

Bob Beall, a former restaurant alcohol inspector, and Marcos, a deputy sheriff, “didn’t know a lot about pizza,” the youthful Beall says with fun. “My grandfather went to a bakery down the road and the baker mentioned, ‘Okay, right here’s tips on how to make a pie crust,’ which means not a standard pizza pie, however a daily pie. He went to a different chef to get marinara sauce and it was sweeter. He used provolone as a result of it was available on the time. He didn’t realize it was presupposed to be mozzarella. The thick pepperoni is mainly as a result of we had lazy cooks. In case you advised somebody to slice six items of pepperoni, the thicker he sliced ​​them, the sooner the work would go.”

Ledo, situated a few mile west of the College of Maryland campus, turned a slam dunk, drawing skilled athletes like Joe Namath and Yogi Berra in addition to college students, native highschool groups and households to a wood-paneled eating room with School Park murals and framed images of Terrapin sports activities stars. There have been no queues because the pizzas had been made to order.

The restaurant’s success led to comparable formed and tasting pizzas spreading all through the area, notably within the inside suburbs from Hyattsville to Rockville: Italian Inn in Hyattsville, Pizza Oven in Riverdale and different areas, Leonie’s in Langley Park, Continental in Kensington, Stained Glass Pub in Wheaton, 4 Corners Pub in Silver Spring, The Cavalier (later Gentleman Jim’s) in Twinbrook and eventually Gaithersburg. Those that couldn’t make pizza obtained inventive: Within the Nineteen Eighties, earlier than Ledo opened franchise areas, eating places as distant as Burtonsville “imported” complete pizzas from Ledo’s, the Washington Submit reported, if not simply to wholesale the recipe to purchase.

In fact, eating places don’t serve carbon copies. Right this moment, the pies on the Stained Glass Pub arrive with a border of bubbles and char across the edges, versus the flat Ledo, whereas Gentleman Jim’s defaults to Swiss cheese as a substitute of provolone. However due to its position within the origin story, the archetypal Ledo cheese pizza turned the muse of Maryland-style pizza, and regardless of being mocked by transplants from different components of the nation, it’s positively a singular model. “Not everybody likes Ledo’s pizza,” former Maryland delegate Tim Maloney wrote in a 2005 tribute to The Submit, “however you shortly notice that these individuals are from New York and New Jersey, so their pizza opinions are actual don’t rely.”

“I might assume we had been a contributor-slash template” for the model, Beall says. “There have been some good individuals who – I don’t wish to say they ran away – however by some means took a few of what we did and made it their very own.” The geographical designation is comparatively new: within the Nineteen Eighties Phyllis Richman, the Submit’s longtime restaurant critic and longtime Ledo fan, referred to Ledo as “Prince George’s County Pizza” in print and wrote in one other story, “This uncommon pizza, with its flaky, crispy crust and intense tomato and taste Cheese toppings have turn out to be the most effective culinary image of Prince George’s County.”

Ledo started providing franchise alternatives in 1989 and there are actually greater than three dozen satellite tv for pc areas of the restaurant within the D.C. suburbs. However Marylanders’ affinity for Ledo (or, as many name it, Ledos) is ardent, virtually fanatical – very like their affection for Previous Bay – and is aware of no state boundaries. When a brand new franchise referred to as Ledo opened close to Daytona Seashore earlier this 12 months, in response to Beall, within the first few weeks, “the bulk of people that got here in had Maryland socks on or a Baltimore Orioles T-shirt or one.” Ravens hat. “I feel they wished to indicate they had been from Maryland once they got here to the restaurant.”

In September 2022, Ledo raised the Maryland flag within the self-proclaimed pizza capital of the world and opened its first retailer in Midtown Manhattan. Beall says the shop is doing effectively and he’s thrilled with the response from New Yorkers. “Individuals aren’t essentially turned off by the sq. pizza itself, however they arrive in and seize a slice. They begin chewing it, have a look at you and say, ‘This isn’t pizza.’ It’s actually, actually good, but it surely’s not pizza.’” However they’re mistaken: It’s pizza. It’s our pizza.

The place to get pleasure from Maryland-style pizza

Continental, based mostly in a small strip mall on busy Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, is a step backwards in each manner. The decor is spartan: illuminated menu boards, picket tables, no televisions. A handwritten signal on the register reminds clients that transactions are “CASH ONLY.” The toughest drink to pour is grape lemonade. And a primary p
izza begins at $11.20. Most individuals who come by way of the door get takeout: pizzas or cheesesteaks cooked on a flat-top grill behind the counter.

In case you don’t order upfront, you’ll have to attend about quarter-hour for a cake that arrives in a field wrapped in aluminum foil. The crust has extra of a yeasty sourdough high quality than others, with a slight edge to the perimeters. It’s not as buttery as some Maryland pizzas. However with salty cheese and flat pepperoni, it’s instance of this model. A big one is 10 x 14 inches and makes 12 items. Professional tip: In order for you some environment, seize your pizza to go and take it to BabyCat Brewery, only a brief drive away, the place you may pair your pie with traditional lagers or a easy, hazy IPA.

10532 Connecticut Ave., Kensington.

The Stained Glass Pub is a real neighborhood hangout, attracting crowds with its weekly occasions – Wednesday karaoke, Thursday quizzes – in addition to its meals. On the cozy picket bar, the place televisions present soccer, baseball and the Maryland Lottery Keno recreation, lecturers sit elbow to elbow with contractors, beer and large steel trays stuffed with pizza in entrance of them. The pies have a bigger crust than Ledo — we truly noticed some charred, blistered edges — and the kitchen is heavy-handed with the toppings, notably the cheese. For pizza followers, Mondays and Tuesdays are the most effective nights to go to, and never only for watching ESPN: Pizza is half worth if you purchase a drink. Lower than $12 for a two-topping pizza large enough to feed the entire crew? Bought.

12510 Layhill Rd., Silver Spring. tainedglasspub.web.

Ledo Pizza in School Park

Open since: 1955. At this location since 2010.

No, this restaurant, previously referred to as the “Authentic Ledo Restaurant,” shouldn’t be the unique dwelling of Ledo. After 55 years on College Boulevard in Adelphi, the unique Ledo Restaurant closed in 2009 and moved to downtown School Park. Proprietor Tommy Marcos Jr. determined to retire in 2020 and offered the enterprise to a lodge firm that operates different Ledo franchises. The restaurant reopened in October 2021 after a serious rework. The restaurant is situated proper on the primary road of Route 1 and boasts giant crimson and black cubicles and a big bar. There are images on the partitions from the unique location.

There are many particulars to remind you that you simply’re in a school city, together with images of the Maryland flag flying over a scholar cheering space and a basketball signed by coach Kevin Willard behind the bar subsequent to Maryland soccer helmets, however for individuals who do keep in mind the times when legends like Lefty Driesell or Morgan Wootten stopped by for a pizza, the environment appears just a little generic. (Not that the sports activities heroes are gone: Once I spoke with Beall for this story, he had simply had lunch with former Maryland basketball star Steve Francis at Ledo in School Park.)

And on recreation days, alumni and college students flock to the constructing — Ledo is situated between campus and Sorority Row — to order the traditional pizzas, which encompass 9, 20 or 30 sq. slices and have a buttery, typically greasy crust. Except for cheese and pepperoni, Beall says the chain’s different finest sellers are meat lovers, vegetable lovers and, consider it or not, Hawaiians. Ledo is served at greater than 120 franchise areas alongside the East Coast, however School Park stays its non secular dwelling.

4509 Knox Rd., School Park. Different areas within the DC space.