By Corinna Lothar
Walking into Seventh Hill Pizza in the Palisades is like stepping into a place you would expect to find in a country town. The restaurant is a large, cheerful, open space with a row of booths along one wall, a few tables at the back, a long, high table running down the center of the room, and a bar near the kitchen. Bright yellow metal stools serve both diners and drinkers enjoying a pizza and/or a glass of something at the bar or at the high table. Decor is minimal and the loud music isn’t country.
Seventh Hill (named for its sister restaurant on 7th Street SE “behind Capitol Hill,” or for the seven hills of Rome, whence came the owners) is a pizza parlor offering more than just pizzas. The menu lists some sophisticated “befores” and “afters,” sandwiches, and five recently added complex salads. A hit dessert is a calzone filled with Nutella. The full bar includes a handful of white and red wines and a number of beers, bottled and draft, as well as soft drinks.
The pizzas are made in a large Italian wood-burning oven, and come in 8- and 12-inch sizes. They are good, if not great, but tend to be somewhat soggy in the middle, possibly because they are so generously topped and sauced.
Toppings are unusual. The 17 pizzas are named for places around town, such as, for example, “MacArthur Boulevard” (olive oil, mushrooms, fennel sausage, brie, parmesan, mozzarella, oregano); “Lincoln Park” (artichoke, rosemary, mozzarella, zucchini, mushrooms); “Union Station” (goat cheese, mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola, oregano, garlic). There is also a pizza of the day, as well as a daily pasta offering.
Sandwiches, like the pizzas, have imaginative fillings. They are served on pizza dough, akin to pita loaves. Fillings include eggplant with mozzarella, pesto, parmesan, and tomato sauce; prosciutto with roasted red pepper, provolone, tomato, and sun-dried tomato pesto; an Italian sandwich of salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone, hot peppers, and tomato; and a veggie sandwich of eggplant puree, roasted red pepper, portabella mushroom, artichoke, mozzarella, and pesto. Many of the sandwiches include a handful of arugula, which adds a fresh, slightly bitter crunch.
“Befores” include such dishes as crispy brussels sprouts, arancini goat cheese risotto balls, eggplant parmesan, prosciutto and potato croquettes, and some terrific meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. “Afters” are gelato, tiramisu, and the aforementioned calzone.
The five new salads mix various greens, fruit, egg, nuts, cheeses, and vegetables with a variety of dressings. Seventh Hill also prepares simple salads of arugula, kale, or mixed greens.
Portions are generous and can easily be shared. It’s a welcoming place to bring children, and offers a “kids pizza-making party” ($14.95 per kid); children pick the ingredients and the restaurant does the cooking. For grown-ups the daily happy hour runs from 3 to 6:30 pm, during which a glass of house wine and an 8-inch cheese pizza are $6 each, and draft beer is $4.50.
Seventh Hill Pizza: 4885 MacArthur Boulevard NW, (202) 506-2821.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 am to 9 pm; Friday to Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm.
Prices: Pizzas $9.95 to $16.95; sandwiches $8; “befores” $6 to $9; “afters” $3.50 to $7.
Parking: Meters and street (Zone 3).