We were feeling adventurous on Sunday so we spent the day biking and walking around Rockville and Gaithersburg. We used Bikeshare to go from the Rockville Metro to the Medical Center area then explored Downtown Crown. Downtown Crown is an award-winning New Urbanist community in Gaithersburg, located near the Washingtonian town center. All the biking and walking that we did got us hungry, so when 5:00pm rolled around we were ready to eat.
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana is the new Neapolitan pizzeria from former Oval Room chef Tony Conte. Although he has a fine dining background, he opened the pizzeria so that he could be closer to his family in Gaithersburg. We chose to sit at the chef’s counter right in front of the Marra Forni oven. Marra Forni ovens, which are made in Beltsville, MD, are internationally known as probably the best Neapolitan pizza ovens in the world. The menu and kitchen are small, meaning that the restaurant has a short and simple list of small plates, pizzas and desserts. It also means that the restaurant can focus on what it does well. And Inferno does a lot well.
We have a format when we go to Neapolitan Pizzerias: one to two small plates and then one pizza. It’s a format that we have stuck with almost everywhere, including some places reviewed on this blog. Blown away by the pizza options at Inferno, however, we decided to do the once unthinkable: order one small plate and two pizzas. The small plate we ordered was prosciutto Americano with melon caponata, slices of cantaloupe and an herb salad. The herb salad in particular was fantastic and included peppery, flavorful arugula.
We were torn between three different pizzas and trying to decide which to get. We were about to abandon the corn and shrimp sausage when our server stepped in and strongly suggested that we get it. Boy, are we glad that we listened to her. The shrimp sausage pizza came with corn, basil and smoked parmesan and was incredible. It definitely seems like a pizza that would be best in the summer time, because of the fresh sweet corn. The smoked parmesan had a ricotta-like taste and consistency. As we were eating, I actually thought it was ricotta. The shrimp sausage was a bit lighter than traditional pork sausage and the corn brought a pleasant sweetness to round things out. I honestly cannot pick my favorite topping because they were all in perfect harmony.
Our second pizza was the DOC Margherita, with the traditional Neapolitan ingredients: buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and basil. The char on the pizza from the Marra Forni over was out-of-this world. For a traditional Neapolitan pizza like we had, you want a lot of char.
We were certainly full from our two pizzas, but we could not leave Inferno without getting dessert from the soft-serve machine. The soft-serve of the day was sweet corn with blueberry compote and crumbled cookies. A sweet way to end an excellent meal.
Paul and Marnay: Shrimp Sausage and Corn Pizza
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana: 12207 Darnestown Road, Darnestown MD 20878
Closest Metro: Shady Grove, then taxi or Uber