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The Hot Plate: A Hand-Tossed Hot Spot

Seventh Hill Worth a Climb

The first thing I noticed upon walking into Seventh Hill, a new pizzeria on Capitol Hill, was a gentleman tossing a ball of dough high into the air. It immediately reminded me of the pizzerias I grew up with on the Jersey Shore and instantly made me feel at home. Ever since I moved to Washington, I’ve been struggling to find a good pizza that has the perfect combination of a chewy crust and bubbling cheese. I’ve tasted pies from Tenleytown to downtown and they’ve all come up short. Then I came across Seventh Hill, a rarity for Capitol Hill.

[IMGCAP(1)]Although the pizza at Seventh Hill (327 Seventh St. SE) isn’t perfect, it’s a great start. Opened earlier this fall and owned by neighboring restaurant Montmartre, Seventh Hill offers a variety of pizzas in a decidedly casual environment. With a handful of tables inside and a few more on the outdoor patio, the pizzeria welcomes eating in as well as takeout. The extremely friendly staff takes orders at the counter, and the pizzas are cooked in a brick oven in the back of the house before being brought to the table.

The menu concentrates on its 11 pizzas, all of which are named after parts of Capitol Hill. For example, there’s the Barracks Row — tomato, mushroom, spinach, red onion and mozzarella — and the Navy Yard — a combination of tomato, Toulouse sausage, oregano and pecorino. While the specialty pizzas are a highlight, the restaurant also offers basics such as the Garfield Park, a simple combination of tomato and mozzarella. The pizzas range in price from $9.95 to $16.95 and come in 8-inch and 12-inch pies.

The Pennsylvania Ave., a mouthwatering combination of fresh tomato, olive, pesto, pecorino and spinach, is the stand-out choice. The pie is smothered in spinach and cheese and decorated with huge purple olives, making it clear that Seventh Hill doesn’t skimp on toppings. In fact, there was enough spinach on the pie to make it feel like a healthy choice. In addition to the tasty toppings, the pizza featured a crust that was perfectly doughy while still being crisp on the outside.

The Union Station was another favorite. Cheese lovers take note: This pizza is a delectable combination of four cheeses on one pie. A white pizza, it includes goat cheese, mozzarella, pecorino and gorgonzola with garlic. On its own, the pizza can seem a tad dry, but the restaurant is happy to add sauce if a customer asks.

Not all of the pizzas work as well. Some of them — like the Lincoln Park, which consists of artichoke, rosemary, mozzarella, zucchini and portobello mushroom — are piled with so many toppings that the crust can’t hold them and the pie becomes difficult to eat.

The Eastern Market also falls into this trap with heaping portions of tomato, goat cheese, herbs, tapenade and mushrooms. While the pie sounds good in theory, in the end there’s just too much going on. On the first bite, I was assaulted by rosemary and then overwhelmed by olive. I had to pull several chunks of toppings off before continuing to eat.

In addition to pizza, the restaurant offers daily soup and dessert specials. The Nutella calzone is a must-try. The creamy hazelnut and chocolate spread is baked into a large calzone and covered in powdered sugar. At first glance, the dessert appears to be too rich, but after a bite or two it becomes apparent that the hazelnut flavor does a good job of mellowing out the chocolate.

In the end, Seventh Hill is a great addition to the area. While it doesn’t offer the greasy by-the-slice pizza that I grew up with, it does offer delicious pizzas made with fresh ingredients at an affordable price.

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