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Heard on the Hill: Capitol Hill Is Pizza Central

Not for nothing, but when we read about GQ’s pizza party with presidential hopeful Herman Cain, we got a little defensive. Not because of anything Mr. Godfather’s Pizza revealed — or didn’t reveal — in the chummy interview but because of carpetbagger critic Alan Richman’s pronouncement of Seventh Hill as “the best pizza joint in town.” It’s our town, buddy, we’ll be the judges of the pizza.

We fanned out across Capitol Hill for a spot-check of the most unique and flavorful pies hidden in more unheralded places. We discovered a diverse and enticing field of foldable, toppings-laden bliss. But we must respectfully disagree with GQ.

Noteworthy local pies (from most to least favorite):

Matchbox: 521 Eighth St. SE; 202-548-0369;

The Fire and Smoke is an intensely cheesy-smoky experience punctuated by creamy smoked gouda, robust red peppers and dulcet Spanish onions stretched across a crispy, lightly scorched crust.

Seventh Hill: 327 Seventh St. SE; 202-544-1911;

Egg seeps into the melted pecorino (and vice versa) that anchors the thin-crust Maryland Ave, creating a cushion of cheese and fluffy albumen that’s punched up by fingers of savory whole-leaf spinach.

Bistro Italiano: 320 D St. NE; 202-546-4522

The Shrimp Supreme folds together crunchy broccoli florets, melted mozzarella, sweet puffy shrimp and a breathtaking amount of garlic on a spongy, easily collapsible crust.

Al’s Gourmet: 1382 East Capitol St. NE; 202-543-1113;

The Jamaican Pizza may be the spiciest pie we’ve ever battled through, embedding shredded chicken caked in an incendiary rub of chile powder, cloves, cinnamon and other spices beneath a blanket of hot-pepper-spiked cheese.

Toscana Cafe: 601 Second St. NE; 202-525-2693;

The New York Pizza sprinkles coins of zesty sausage and strips of roasted red peppers on a stubborn crust that transported us back to woeful, high school cafeteria meals.

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