Image: Red and White and Green.
Last Updated: November 2022
Current Status: Open for dine-in, take-out and delivery. Uncovered outdoor seating weather permitting.
Though Il Canale serves other dishes, it is famous for its pizza and that is where we suggest you focus your attention. Located in a converted old residential building on a side street in Georgetown, tourists and locals assemble in large numbers to fill the place for both lunch and dinner. The pizza is Neapolitan-style, cooked to a slightly-crispy, mostly-chewy crust that avoids excessive char and a center that is cooked but generally drenched through, so that as you eat a slice it moves from wet to dry – unless you fold it over. Some pies come with an extra dollop of ricotta in the center, adding a decadent feel.
Il Canale is one of the few pizzerias in the area that is certified as making true Naples-style pizzas, having a VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) seal of approval. Accordingly, it uses a wood-fired oven and uses only certain ingredients like San Marzano-style tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and Italian “00” flour. The certifying organization even made them get a new mixer.
If you stray beyond pizza, the pastas are hearty and traditional. The cannelloni packed with cheese then smothered with more cheese and cooked in a crockery dish for a gooey top crispy on the edges.
The wine list covers some sizable ground and price points. There are several by-the-glass options that go from entry-level to fancier (Brunello!). The bottle list includes several high-end options that might pique the interest of the rich and famous visitors that are documented on the walls, but probably overkill for a typical meal of pizza. There are few decent beers listed as well. As for cocktails, we have found the simpler the better.
The space is large with multiple dining rooms. Even on a Friday night, you can probably get in without a reservation, though it may be a bit of a wait. The stress of covering that much ground might show in in service, but if you keep a relaxed attitude, nothing should be that out of tune. The kitchen, however, usually hums like a well-oiled machine. It has only been around since 2010, but it feels like much longer. Perhaps that reflects the owner’s 40 years in the business, or creaky old building, or the old-school touches. In any case, it is a treat.
Other Guidance: The setting is casual, no need to dress up. Vegetarians can do well with salad and non-meat pizza options. They have gluten free options for the pizza and pasta, though we did not try them. Much of the restaurant is on the ground floor, with a small step to get in. Opentable lists them as having wheelchair access.
Washington Post: No reviews. Tim covered the effort to get VPN certified in 2012.
Washingtonian: It has listed them in a couple best of Georgetown guides, and in Washingtonian Recommends: Where to Find the Best Pizza Around DC from 2018.
Andy Hayler – the British diner and reviewer of Michelin-starred spots around the world, stopped by in 2019 and gave a note of approval saying, “this was certainly a more than decent pizza.”