Friday, July 12, 2013

Red Tomato Cafe Food Review

Sausage Pizza

Bethesda has an endless array of choices for pizza: You may as well rename it Bethesda, Italy. With so many options, one has to ask: Who's the best? It took a long-delayed return visit to Red Tomato Cafe to remember who still makes the best pie in town.

Nothing tops wandering the many side streets off Norfolk Avenue to discover Bethesda's best places to eat. Red Tomato is one of the elder establishments in the neighborhood, anchoring the corner of Norfolk and Saint Elmo Avenues; but don't let the almost two decades fool you... It's one of the more beautiful spaces in Bethesda.

Step inside, and you're instantly transported into an Italian oasis. The atmosphere is gorgeous... clean, cozy and dark with pleasant, jazzy music in the background. Each table is adorned with colorful tiles, while a sweeping bar (and brick oven) dominates the center of the room. Definitely my kind of place. I arrived just before noon, and had my pick of seats. I was warmly greeted by the hostess/owner, and my server Demi couldn't have been nicer or more efficient. So far, so good great.

I placed an order for a Sausage Pizza ($11) and Diet Coke ($2.50) and began a short (less than 10 minutes) wait to see if Red Tomato still had "it." Surprise, surprise... they do. My 12" pizza arrived nice & hot on its stone. You could easily feed two people with its generous size, but I was able to devour all of it for myself. The first thing you notice is the copious amount of toppings (spicy sausage, red bell peppers) over one of the gooier, tastier cheeses out there. The sauce is bright red and zesty in flavor. The crust, almost buttery and crisp... more than sturdy enough to handle the weight of all those toppings. Absolutely delicious.

It didn't take long for the restaurant to fill up (noise levels bounce well, and it never feels crowded.) Best of all, Demi never forgot about me... checking in thrice and asking if I wanted her to "top off" my soda. Color me impressed at the staff's overall customer service... I wasn't the only one who was well taken care of.

I'm pretty sure it's been about five years since my last visit... one of the downfalls of trying so many restaurants at least once. I remember good pasta and soup; and I promise not to be a stranger anymore. For now, please settle on my recommendation for the best pizza in Bethesda.

Atmosphere: A (So comfortable)
Crust: B
Toppings: A- (I could only ask for a spicier sausage, but that's nit-picking.)
Service: A (Impossible to ask for more.)
Value: A- ($11 for a 12" pie... That's less than a dollar an inch for the best pizza in Bethesda.)
Overall: A- (How refreshing to find an established restaurant that doesn't rest on its laurels.)