Could it be that the best restaurant in Montgomery County is a pizzeria? The answer is yes to just about anyone who has been to chef and owner Tony Conte’s Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown. It wasn’t that long ago that we could only choose from one kind of pizza: New York-style pies baked in a deck oven (the long, rectangular stacked ovens you often see in pizzerias) with pre-shredded cheese right out of a bag. Now, Neapolitan-influenced pizzas baked in wood-fired ovens reign supreme, even though they were introduced to the D.C. area barely 30 years ago and not in Montgomery County until Mia’s Pizzas opened in 2006. Here we highlight some of our favorite pizza joints, most of which veer toward Naples more than Gotham.
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana
Chef Tony Conte made a name for himself in the world of high-end, four-star dining, but he gave that all up for dough—pizza dough. He comes upon his love of Neapolitan-influenced pizza naturally—his father and paternal grandparents were from a municipality just north of Naples.
Conte opened Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in 2015, and diners have lined up since day one to nab the 44 seats in his Darnestown restaurant, where the hours are “5 p.m. until the dough runs out.” (Inferno’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.) Conte also brings his finesse and impeccable taste to the starters and desserts on his menu—there are good reasons he was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for the best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region in 2018.
When it comes to pizza, Conte is at his most refined with his egg and black truffle pie, its crust ringed with big, charred, airy bubbles of dough. In the center, a poached egg quivers, waiting to be broken open so its bright orange yolk can mingle with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, melted fontina and smoked scamorza cheese and an abundance of sliced black truffles. That’s four-star eating in an 11-inch circle.
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, 12207 Darnestown Road, Darnestown; 301-963-0115; inferno-pizzeria.com