From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
Edan MacQuaid is fairly quiet guy. He doesn’t have the bravado or in-your-face ego that most chefs exude upon meeting them. But once you get him talking about pizza, he starts to talk with his hands, he smiles and he gets almost… humble?
MacQuaid’s passion for pizza can be found in the details — details that have been well documented by the likes of Tim Carman and Don Rockwell. The delicate crust, the charred edges, high quality toppings and olive oil are all hallmarks of Macquaid’s work at the brick oven, and that work, as we now know, is coming to 14th Street: to 1832 to be exact, just south of Room & Board.
But DC almost lost him. See, MacQuaid seriously considered packing up and leaving life in DC to return to Maine. (His shuffles from restaurant to restaurant are also well documented.) He attended high school in Maine and has a buddy who owns a coffee shop up there; the perfect respite from the madness and sometimes incestuous drama of DC’s fine dining kitchens. After working in hotels in his youth, MacQuaid left Maine at the age of 19, with dreams of starting a band here in DC. And that’s when he landed at the original Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle.
The passion for pizza making stuck, while dreams of being a rocker went by the wayside.
MacQuaid has worked with a number of great chefs over time, but his no-fuss approach to food is what sets him apart from the rest. See, the pizzaiolo doesn’t really see eye to eye with most chefs. He’s not a fan of “silly plating” as he called it, saying that he prefers to “let good food speak for itself.” And where most would be talking about the amazing kitchens they’ll be installing in a new restaurant or the amount of steel going into them, Macquaid focuses on the flame.
“I like to cook with fire. There’s something very primal about it,” he said.
And he’s not talking about fire from a gas range, mind you. MacQuaid plans to invite a crew of Neapolitan builders for a 10-day brick oven building extravaganza. The oven won’t just serve the four to five pizzas on the menu — there will also be an assortment of small plates, oven cooked dishes like casseroles or roasted lamb chops.
Oh, and there’ll be a green salad on the menu too, though that’s not at all what I’m chomping at the bit to try. Daily specials will give the chef a chance to play around with locally sourced ingredients from places like Whipple Farms, with which Local 16 has a well established relationship.
While MacQuaid is working with local restaurateur Aman Ayoubi, both are quick to remind me that this spot will be uniquely MacQuaid’s. He’s 100% in charge of the vision and execution behind what will likely become our favorite neighborhood pizza joint.
What’s next for MacQuaid? While nothing’s in the works yet, he says he’d love to open a pho shop. Key word: yet.
- Will Stephens (2B08), chair
- Mike Feldstein (2B01), vice chair
- Mike Silverstein (2B06), treasurer
- Phil Carney (2B07), secretary
In other actions, the ANC vote 8-0 to protest the application for renewal of CT (tavern) license for Local 14, 1832 14th St NW. The license was first obtained in 2009, but has not been used. ANCs often protest a liquor license application pending a Voluntary Agreement with the establishment, which may stipulate certain conditions for operating.
Last week Dcist reported that Edan McQuaid will open a pizzeria at the spot, in partnership with one of the owners of Local 16
ANC 2B encompasses the Dupont Circle neighborhood and has nine commissioners. Commissioners serve two-year terms are elected in the November general election; they are non-partisan elections with no primary. Agendas and meeting minutes are available at the 2B website.
The January meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2Bis Wednesday, January 11, at 7 pm. Location is the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 1st Floor.
Two items on the agenda stand out, both related to liquor licenses:
- Application for renewal of CT (tavern) license for Local 14, 1832 14th St NW (2B09)
- Application by Black & Orange, 1931 14th St NW, for new CR (restaurant) license for “restaurant specializing in hamburgers and Latin food” with occupancy 79 & 40-seat sidewalk cafe; open 24 hours (interior & exterior); alcohol sales/service hours Sun-Th 9am-2am, Fri-Sat 9am-3am (interior & exterior); Petition date 1/30/12; Roll Call Hearing 2/13/12. (1B02, near to 2B09)
The space at 1832 14th Street NW (proposed Local 14) has been vacant for some time, with the liquor license app first appearing in the window in 2009. Interestingly, the agenda item is for a “renewal” of the license. Borderstan was unable to get more information on the application.
Across the street, the application by Black & Orange is another ANC — 1B — but ANCs will occasionally comment on issues in adjoining ANCs. Notably, the license applications come under ANC 2B09, which is represented by Ramon Estrada.
Over the past decade, Estrada has built a reputation in the Dupont-Logan area as a neighborhood activist that developers and owners of restaurants and nightclubs often have to deal with when they want to set up shop. (See Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar Saga FINALLY Over at 14th & You and A Story About ANCs, Small Businesses, Liquor Licenses and More.)
The July meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B / Dupont Circle is this coming Wednesday, July 8, at 7 p.m. at the D.C. Jewish Community Center at 16th and Q NW (entrance on Q Street).
Item of note on the agenda is the liquor license application for the new establishment planned for 1832 14th Street NW, “Local 14.” For some background information, please see the posting on Local 14 over at 14th & You blog: “Plans for ‘Local 14’ Take Shape.”
Remember that West Borderstan (west of 15th Street) is part of ANC 2B while East Borderstan is part of ANC 2F/Logan Circle.The Borderstan commissioners on ANC 2B are Victor Wexler-District 5 and Jack Jacobson-District 4.
Agenda follows (plus a link to the PDF here).