Eggplant Parm – Jersey Style
Bayside Pizza – Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Sicilian Oregano, Fresh Basil
Rainbow Cookie Cake – Marzipan, Chocolate Sauce, Crema
Located in Shaw and apparently backed by the same folks behind Bloomingdale’s Red Hen, a fact unknown when reservations were made for both Restaurants on separate days during a recent trip to D.C., it was for lunch on Wednesday that a party of three was seated at All Purpose Pizzeria on 9th Street Northwest, the 11:30am reservation finding the rustic dining room and kitchen fairly empty on arrival but soon to fill with businesswomen and men dressed in suits.
Featuring what Chef Michael Friedman and others have referred to as “updated” Italian-American Cuisine, no checkered tablecloths to be found but instead decked out in reclaimed woods and bare walls, All Purpose opened in 2016 and immediately became a favorite for both locals and media thanks to its diverse menu ranging from Antipasti and Salads to Pizzas and larger entrees, the lunch menu not featuring the latter but adding several Sandwiches including a formidable appearing Italian Hoagie.
Doing all of the 72-hour fermenting and baking in-house save for Desserts, those outsourced to next-door Buttercream Bakery which would be visited just a few days later, it was shortly after seating and while listening to the hostess calmly deal with a man making unrealistic requests for a party of “I don’t know, about twenty” that a waitress appeared with glasses of water and a discussion of the concept, the menu already perused and an order quickly placed for two items that would be delivered simultaneously, as requested.
Raised in New Jersey and clearly bringing a bit of that ethos to his menu, an appetizer of Crispy Calamari actually pronounced by the waitress as they do in the area passed over in favor of Eggplant Parmesan served “Jersey Style,” anyone who doesn’t absolutely hate the Vegetable should dive right into Friedman’s interpretation served in a scalding skillet served bubbling from the oven, deep spoonfuls through layers finding Tomatoes bright and acidic with crispy and creamy transitions created by Bread Crumbs up against the Eggplant’s soft flesh.
Using a unique style of Crust featuring both “00” Flour and Whole Grains plus a bit of Malt Powder, the latter leading to a slight sweetness and darker color than many wood-fired Pies, it was as the Eggplant was still cooling that bites were taken of the “Bayside Pizza” featuring all the hallmarks of a Margherita plus Sicilian Oregano, the Cornicione not quite as puffy as a true Neapolitan but still very light while the center was crisp and crunchy almost like a Chicago-style Bar Pie.
Having already mentioned Pastries from next door, a total of four including one type of Soft-Serve changing frequently, it was without hesitation that any additional stomach space was pledged to a generous slice of Rainbow Cookie Cake, a many-fold magnification in terms of size compared to the typical Cookie that shined in terms of both the Marzipan and layers of Jam with finishing touches contributed by a dollop of freshly whipped Crema and Chocolate Fudge drizzled around the base of the plate.