Our ongoing quest to find DC's best pizza (although, to be fair, we've already found DC's best pizza, we're just looking to round out the competitors' field) brought us to Mount Pleasant where Radius offers an eclectic mix of brews alongside Italian dishes and inspired pizzas. Located in a refurbished town home, the small restaurant and bar was already full when we arrived on a recent Thursday night, but had a two-top ready for us within a few minutes.
The decor is modern/casual, with alternating brightly painted walls and exposed brick. Like other eateries ensconced in converted townhouses, Radius felt cozy and laid-back.
Angela started with one of the specials, gazpacho (below) served with a ciabatta crouton topped with grape tomatoes and arugula. The cool tart soup had a real nice bite to it and was especially refreshing given the mid-90s temperatures outside. The bruschetta-like accompaniment tasted wonderful with its grilled bread, but was a hot, sloppy mess to attempt to eat.
I got the arugula salad, which was creatively combined with Virginia blueberries, mint, feta, and a balsamic vinaigrette. It was executed just a note better than what I would've expected, given that we were at a pizzeria- a perfect, light and refreshing starter for a hot and humid day.
Craving salt, Angela ordered the Magni, with house-cured pancetta, sopresseta, pepperoni, mozzarella, and red sauce (below). The crust was just about perfect - flaky on the outside, yet soft and doughy on the inside, hearty enough to support a mountain of toppings, yet still cracker-crisp. However, the "red sauce" was definitely lacking. My guess is it had come from a can. And the pepperoni tasted generic - like something you could get at the grocery store. Normally the crust gets cast aside, but in this case I was tempted to toss aside everything but.
We also ordered the seasonal Fig and Feta pizza (below), with Black Mission figs, ricotta, and arugula. Somewhere between the server and the kitchen our order seemed to have disappeared. No worries- we were happy to order another round of local microbrews while the kitchen sorted it out. When the Fig and Feta pizza arrived it had magically grown from a 12-inch to a 16-inch pie to befit our patience.
This paper tiger really meant well with its seasonal figs, feta and heaps of arugula. Gone was the canned-tasting sauce, but the fig an' feta had issues of its own. The balance of ingredients seemed all off, mainly with the thin-sliced figs playing a very underwhelming role. The occasional bite of fig had enough sweetness to make up for the sauce and to stand up against the dry, salty feta. Unfortunately the figs were few and far between and this one falls into that dreaded 'In Theory...' category. Later at home, we took the leftovers and drizzled them with honey, which helped a lot.
I may come across harsh. Truth be told, the pizza crust at Radius was rounding third base before the toppings pulled up lame with an injury. Had a little house-made fennel sausage, a decent sauce or properly portioned ingredients been added to the mix, Radius wouldn't be too far behind the pace car. As it stands, Radius did win us over with their beer selection, appetizers, laid-back environment and the foundation (mmm.. that crust!) for what could be top-notch pizza. Certainly an adventure worthy of any DC pizza connoisseur (assuming said connoisseur has already crossed off Pete's, 2 Amy's, Pizzeria Paradiso, Comet Ping Pong and Red Rocks...)