Il Canale is in Georgetown, a quite picturesque district slightly to the northwest of downtown Washington DC. Its wood-fired oven was imported from Naples by owner Joe Farruggio, who opened the restaurant in 2010 after decades making pizza in New York, and his pizza chef Ciro Salvaterra. The restaurant is a member of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napletana, an organisation that lays down strict rules for how a Neapolitan style pizza should be made, from the cooking time to the type of flour and variety of tomato. The wine list had some surprisingly ambitious bottles on the all Italian list. Sample labels were La Vis Dipinti Chardonnay 2015 at $39 for something that you can find in the high street for $15, Chianti Certosa di Pontignano 2015 at $54 compared to its retail price of $17, and Barbera d’Alba Ca’Viola 2014 at $79 for a wine that will set you back $36 in the shops. At the posh end of the list was Marchesi Antinori Tignanello 2013 at a quite fair $159 compared to its retail price of $116, and Antinori Solaia 2011 at $489 for a wine whose current market value is $262.
Arancini ($8 for three) were fried rice balls filled with ground beef ragu, peas and mozzarella. These were quite enjoyable, the coating crisp and the filling having reasonable flavour (12/20). The main event was the pizza, and between us we tried three different ones. Mine was the diavola ($13), which had a spicy salami topping as well as San Marzano tomatoes and imported buffalo mozzarella in addition to olive oil, Parmesan and basil. The base was quite good and made with OO flour, suitably thin and reasonably supple with “leopard spot” charring from the hot oven. This was not as soft and supple as really top notch Neapolitan pizzas that I have tried elsewhere. However, the toppings were fairly generous, indeed some might say there was too much tomato sauce, and the base was quite good, so this was certainly a more than decent pizza (12/20). We didn’t try any of the other menu offerings such as the pasta or main courses, this being a pizzeria.
The bill came to $87 (£68) each, but that involved a bottle of Antinori Tignanello, which is not normally a wine that you would drink with pizza. If you had three courses and coffee and shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost per person might be around $55 (£43).