The restaurant &pizza opened its newest location on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown last week as the latest addition to the neighborhood’s fast-casual dining scene with a unique approach to its classic namesake dish.
The new pizzeria marks the 19th installment of the D.C.-based custom pizza chain, which owns restaurants throughout the District, Virginia and Maryland with one in Pennsylvania and a new location coming soon to New York.
Students and neighbors alike flocked to the Nov. 19 official opening, which offered free pizza to the first 119 guests in line, an homage to its opening date, as well as other giveaways.
With the closing of Five Guys Burgers and Fries earlier this year, &pizza fills its gap as a new fast-casual and late-night option.
Open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, &pizza is one of only a handful of restaurants in the Georgetown area open after midnight, which include Epicurean and Company and Domino’s Pizza.
Following the increasingly popular assembly-line restaurant model, &pizza gives customers the option to select from a variety of menu favorites or to create their own customized pizza based on a wide variety of sauces, cheeses, proteins, vegetables and other fresh toppings.
The restaurant also caters to guests with dietary restrictions, offering vegan and gluten-free twists on traditional favorites. All items on “the hits” menu — that are pre-chosen toppings rather than customized — cost $9.32, on par with the majority of other casual area eateries.
According to &pizza Communications Director Sam Blum, &pizza stands out for the unique experience it provides.
“It’s really what we consider a unique and curated experience. Everything from of course the pizzas on our menu but it goes deeper than that,” Blum said.
Blum said that the Georgetown restaurant’s decoration, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, modern furniture and murals on the walls, is meant to evoke the area’s character.
“Our Georgetown shop is designed to actually reflect the neighborhood and the history of Georgetown,” Blum said.
According to Jayson Harmon, training coordinator for &pizza, the Georgetown community has received the new restaurant positively so far.
“We’ve actually had a really warm welcome,” Harmon said. “The neighborhood seems to love us — even the other restaurants. And the students of course, clearly they just want pizza. So it’s been going well.”
Harmon, who started working for &pizza two and a half years ago, is a self-proclaimed member of “the tribe,” an affectionate name for &pizza’s dedicated base of employees. He is one of around 80 tribe members to have gotten a tattoo of the company’s iconic ampersand logo, proudly wearing the symbol on his wrist.
Like Blum, Harmon emphasized the importance of experience at &pizza.
“We accept anybody,” Harmon said. “So I believe it’s kind of apparent when you walk in you see a lot of smiles you see a lot of different people. It just seems like a place where you can be comfortable.”
Blum also emphasized &pizza’s commitment to serving the communities where they operate by supporting causes that are important to its customers.
“We’ve supported more than a thousand local causes, organizations and nonprofits over the last four years and so we’re eager to get involved with as many of those sort of causes in Georgetown as we can,” Blum said.
Harmon echoed this sentiment, saying he hopes Georgetown students will reach out with things that interest them.
“I say it all the time to new people like, we’re pretty cool and we want people to know that we’re actually cool,” he said. “Anytime there’s like a new idea or some new creative thing we’d love to be a part of it.”
Ganzorig Batbold (COL ’19) enjoys &pizza and claims the Maverick — a tomato pizza with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses topped with pesto, pepperoni, Italian sausage and salami — is his favorite menu item. He said that the employees at the Georgetown location are passionate about their work.
“The employees are always so energetic and enthusiastic that you feel they care about the pizza they’re making,” Batbold said.
Allie Williams (SFS ’19) said she appreciated the convenience of the new &pizza location as well as the quality of many aspects of its service.
“I am a huge fan of &pizza and have been a frequent customer at the other locations in the area and am so excited that one has opened so close to campus,” Williams said. “I love the quality of the food, the friendly staff and the variety of options offered.”