Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ella's Wood Fired Pizza

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Ella's Wood Fired Pizza, named for the owner's daughter, is a popular Penn Quarter favorite influenced by the Neopolitan tradition, and a love of good food. Their philosophy is straightforward: to use the freshest, best quality ingredients, prepare the food simply and properly, and to serve it with joy. Closest Metro is Gallery Place.

Image via Ella's website
Ella's is keeping things fresh, showcasing both a renovated restaurant and creative menu additions this fall. We were invited to dine and check out the new changes. In September 2015, Hanson tapped Erica Riggio of Green Owl Design to refresh and update Ella's décor. Riggio explains her design influence as "inspired by location; we revamped this established Washington, DC pizzeria by infusing it with modern, graphic interpretations of urban streetscapes, creating an energetic, inviting and familiar locale, reflecting Ella's bustling Penn Quarter neighborhood. Bold graphics that embody movement are contrasted with a classic black and red color scheme, reflecting the vibrant red found in Ella's logo. All new lighting unifies the design elements, adding a pop of “cool” in this hot location."

Image via Ella's website
Ella’s features traditional Neapolitan-style handcrafted thin crust pizza, baked in a 700 degree, wood-fired oven. The result is a lightly crisp, nicely chewy crust with a hint of smoke that allows the full flavor of the toppings to emerge. Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, the menu is rounded out with a wide array of appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts. Hanson showcases what is freshest, and seasonally available, when creating tempting daily specials.

New seasonal appetizers include Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with grilled shrimp and pancetta ($8); Tuscan-Style Beans with spinach, garlic, tomatoes and grilled Italian sausage ($8); Ella's House-Made Meatballs with creamy polenta ($7); and warming White Bean Soup with Applewood smoked bacon and parmesan ($7). Hearty salads reflecting fall flavors include Baby Kale with Apples, dried cranberries, parmesan, sesame dressing ($7); Orange and Beet Salad, arugula, crumbled got cheese, orange-balsamic vinaigrette ($7); Oven Roasted Portobello, arugula, smoked mozzarella, poached pear, spiced walnuts, balsamic dressing ($13); and Steak Salad with romaine, tomatoes, grilled onions, potatoes, parmesan dressing ($15).  We enjoyed the Eggplant Parmesan made with fried eggplant topped with parmesan, mozzarella, and pesto tomato sauce.  The pesto provided a nice twist to this classic dish.

We also tried the Suppli a Telefono - mozzarella filled risotto balls served with a romesco sauce.  The balls were perfectly crispy, yet I found them to be a bit bland.

Diners may also enjoy the Butternut Squash & Roasted Chicken Calzone, with mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan ($15) and can look forward to a changing array of seasonal weekly Neapolitan-style handcrafted thin crust pizzas, such as Sicilian Style Braised Chicken, with roasted bell peppers, black olives and mozzarella ($15).  We opted for the Soppressata with tomato sauce, parmesan, sweet Italian sausage, fennel, and roasted red peppers.  We added buffalo mozzarella on top.  It had great flavor and while the dough was a bit soupy in the center, the crust was nice and chewy.

We also shared the Pucillo with tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, and prosciutto topped with fresh arugula. The smokey flavor of the cheese really came through and complimented the salty meat.  All in all both pizzas were very tasty and a nice 10" size.

At Ella's, all desserts are house-made daily and include the Biscotti Trio, chocolate, anise and lemon pistachio classic Italian cookies ($2.50); and the Italian Style Cheesecake, cream cheese, goat cheese, mascarpone, amaretti crust, limoncello reduction ($6).  We tried the cheesecake and it had a nice tang from the goat cheese and strawberries.

For a perfect pairing, Ella's features specialty cocktails and house-made sangria by the glass or carafe, in addition to a nice variety of wines and beers from around the world. Keith enjoyed a beer flight ($9) made up of Port City Porter Victory, Victory Prima Pils, and DC Brau Public Pale Ale.  The new seasonal cocktails include Ella's Pumpkin Martini, pumpkin infused vanilla vodka, cinnamon and nutmeg ($9); and the Fall Back Margarita, 1800 Tequila and apple cider ($9). Locally produced craft beers featured include Port City Porter American Porter, and Devil’s Backbone Pumpkin Hunter, selling for $7 on draft. Finally, Ella's Own Limoncello, priced at $6, provides a perfect finish to a meal. It is one of the featured favorites on the after dinner drink list which also features grappa and vin santo. Guests may select three of these items to enjoy in an Ella's Taste of Italy Flight for $15.

Total Rating: 3.75
Food: 4, Price: 3, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

Ella's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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