Jump to content

Vace, The Calcagno Family's Italian Delicatessen in Cleveland Park and Bethesda


Recommended Posts

Vace is a glorious throwback to the days before pizzerias pasted pretentious psuedo-DOC stickers in their windows and demanded twelve dollars for a hubcap-sized pie. It is shameless in its inauthenticity and brazen in lumpenprolitarian appeal. Uniquely constructed in that the cheese lurks beneath the sauce, it is salty, unsubtle and inorganic. It is, in short, an inexpensive and delightful slice of city life and (taken home and crisped atop a pizza stone) a brilliant accompaniment to a bottle of cheap red wine (or several bottles of high class beer), a Coen Brothers movie, and the pleasant company of friends and family as they jostle on the couch for a better view.

I have leftovers in my fridge right now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
A coworker is touting the quality of Vace's pizza, saying it's the best slice in the city. Having never been, and not seeing a thread for it here, I ask for your opinions. There's also a Bethesda location.

It's pretty much my favorite in DC. I do note, that it always tastes better the next day and is particularly delicious cold.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I join the chorus of Vace fans - their mushroom and cheese pizzas rock. I prefer their pies over Pete's. Are they as good as 2 Amys on most days, or Comet or Sette at their best - probably not. But for the price, and for pies to take home, freeze and reheat - they are very hard to beat in the DC area.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only echo the praise for the pizzas that the posters make. But I will also heap praise on Vace's fresh pasta. A bag of the fresh fettuccine, a frozen container of their alfredo sauce, and a bottle of table wine makes for a super easy, delicious, and over-indulgent way to spend the evening.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Theie frozen cheese lasagna has been my standard vegetarian friendly potluck dish for years. I also like the frozen pastas. I usually keep one or two around for nights when I don't want to cook. I think the pizza is fine-a bit dry most of the time but tasty.

I'm so glad you mentioned the frozen pasta /products. I've bought them at Vace (pizza dough) and Italian Store. I love to throw them into the oven when I don't want to cook. I just make a side salad and..dinner. It reminds me of P&S ravioli in Philly. Same type of thing and something we always had around. It also reminds me of the many red-checkered tablecloth Italian restaurants in the region.

I like Vace's slice. It's a nice slice, but I'm a bit more drawn to cheese on top, like Italian Store--it just reminds me more of the pizza I grew up with. Then again, perhaps I should try Vace again!

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm so glad you mentioned the frozen pasta /products. I've bought them at Vace (pizza dough) and Italian Store. I love to throw them into the oven when I don't want to cook. I just make a side salad and..dinner. It reminds me of P&S ravioli in Philly. Same type of thing and something we always had around. It also reminds me of the many red-checkered tablecloth Italian restaurants in the region.

I like Vace's slice. It's a nice slice, but I'm a bit more drawn to cheese on top, like Italian Store--it just reminds me more of the pizza I grew up with. Then again, perhaps I should try Vace again!

clue #1: it's good pizza: They use real deck ovens, not impingers (conveyors)

clue #2: Fresh dough made daily

clue #4: frsh cheese (sliced not shredded)

clue #3: same guy making the pies for almost 20 years

try your own hand and buy some dough and make it at home....

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been once each to the Bethesda and CP locations for pizza and CP was far superior. I've been several other times for the pasta (which is made in CP and taken to the Bethesda location) and agree with the positive posts.

Pax,

brian

Is the pasta made at the Cleveland Park location? I'm pretty sure they have a kitchen in Gaithersburg out near the airport where they make their stuff, unless it's a different Vace. I stopped by there once and peered through the window at the guys inside preparing food, but the doors were locked and it didn't seem open to the public.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Is the pasta made at the Cleveland Park location? I'm pretty sure they have a kitchen in Gaithersburg out near the airport where they make their stuff, unless it's a different Vace. I stopped by there once and peered through the window at the guys inside preparing food, but the doors were locked and it didn't seem open to the public.

I can't say for certain, but that is what the counter woman at the Cleveland Park location told me. She said people come in and say that the pizza at the CP location is much better than Bethesda, but don't worry about the pasta b/c it's made "here" and shipped up to Bethesda. But maybe it is produced centrally and shipped to both.

Pax,

Brian

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having the good fortune to live less than a block from Vace, I've eaten their pizzas and pastas hundreds of time. Very good crispy, NY-style (not Neapolitan, gourmet) pizza. The pizza is consistently good, sometimes excellent - for instance my wife often gets upset because our usual order is white pizza half spinach and half onion (you can get both of these by the slice too) and her spinach half comes out more overcooked than the onion half. That being said great real mozzarella used on the pizza. Definitely enjoy the white over the red/standard pizza - their sauce isn't the best in my opnion - but to each their own. Definitely check out the pizza dough in the freezer, fresh mozzarella behind the counter (really, really good), good selection of meats, olives, and frozen pastas (try the pumpkin ravioli - for something different). There line of frozen sauces are pretty good too. Also some of there dessert pastries on the counter are very good too - but somewhat pricey. It is definitely one of CP's neighborhood treasures.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Vace is a glorious throwback to the days before pizzerias pasted pretentious psuedo-DOC stickers in their windows
Methinks the prince's silk drawers show beneath his pauper's clothes.

No need to put down the sincerity, financial burden and hard work that 2 Amys and others have put into making Neapolitan pizze (how's that for pretension?) when praising something else entirely.

I love that you can get slices w pepperoni or onion or spinach from Vace when running around doing errands. They're cheap and actually portable vs. the huge, floppy wedges from Ray's up north. And there is little worse than hurrying home late and starving than passing someone carting a Vace pizza box and getting a whiff of char, cheese and sauce unless it's passing someone carting said box accompanied by John Legend crooning James Taylor, right hand tenderly touching the small of her back while guiding a fuzzy Golden Lab puppy on a leash with his left.

One of my favorites is simple cheese pizza when I have fresh arugula and Parmesan at home; then I ask for imported prosciutto, thinly sliced. Put the arugula leaves on the hot pie, first. Then shaved cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil. Then drape on the prosciutto. Damn good. Mushrooms aren't canned. Artichokes, umm!

However, the crust sometimes is pretty bad and disappointingly cardboardish.

* * *

As for prepared stuff: absolutely adore the eggplant parmesan, especially leftover, wedged into crusty bread, extra cheese and heavy snow of red chili pepper flakes.

More expensive than Balducci's, perhaps, but those big cans of Sicilian salt-packed anchovies are eye-opening. Contents keep in fridge for at least a year. So, so much better than the cheap, oil-packed stuff in narrow, flat cans.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HAd some slices from Vace a few weeks ago. Far superior to Corner Slice over in the Woodmont Triangle. I would gladly walk the distance to get Vace over Corner Slice. Easy decision for me.

Now, I tried their Italian Cold Cut subs today and was...mixed in my feelings.

The flavors were good. The bread was wonderful. But something was not right. The bread to meat ratio was off. Too much bread, too little meat. Not enough onions (I ordered it 'with everything'). Very good oil, nice hots. Meat was good, just nowhere near enough. My standard is a joint up in Owings Mills, MD of all place (worked there for 7 years) called Vito's Express. Maybe I need to become a regular? Maybe I need to try something different?

On a good sidenote, I love that they carry proper Italian aqua naturale, wine, pastas both fresh and dried, sun dried tomatoes, marinated anchovies and so much more. And that's not even mentioning fresh pizza dough.

Don't worry, fearless readers, I'll be back to try some more.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a simple gal. And I'm never so happy as when I pick up a slice from Vace--cheese or pepperoni--and chow it down over beers and smokes at Aroma. That's just a damn fine night in my simple, silly world. But I'm okay with it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stopped by the Vace in Bethesda for a few cheese slices at lunch time for the first time. Two slices of cheese pizza were good, the sauce was outstanding, but the crust was not as enjoyable as I remembered my times at the Cleveland Park location.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad I found this established topic since I wanted to express my appreciation for what I have been finding for sale in Bethesda. Inventory has been moving more towards regional Italian/upscale for customers who honeymooned in Positano or backpacked on a Eurail pass in between Brown and Wharton. You don't have to go to Balducci's.

Yesterday I noticed unfiltered and filtered Ligurian olive oils, the former especially great for pesto. Black rice. Paccheri (better than the Severino, Pat: Italian, and the right scale--big enough to stuff without all the effort the more costly, NJ brand demands). Also, really long, white-flecked strands of bucatini you need to break in half to cook. I've mentioned the farro before. Here there were cantucci and a round drop-cookie produced from farro flour. Italian fleur de sel for half of the price of the precious crystals from Brittany or marshlands in Southern France. Crema di funghi with truffles. Mosto (grape must, the Italian take on pomegranate syrup). Chestnut honey.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been any eggplant parmesan for over two months because crops of the main ingredient froze in California.

ETA: In response to comments above: pizza from Bethesda perfectly okay. Seems same as Cleveland Park and just as accommodating to arugula, etc. topping.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes, I'll have Vace, and swear to myself I love it; other times, I'll think it's boring, bland, and in the case of the pepperoni, ridden with sodium. Last night, I got to nab a couple of slices from a whole, carryout pepperoni pie. The first two (reheated in the oven) were really tasty, but the third, about an hour later (also reheated in the oven), came across as much more dense and flavorless, crust-wise, and the pepperonis themselves were ferociously salty (that's probably because I'd gotten my 100% RDA of salt from the first two pieces, and was sodiumly sated by that time). I was gulping water a couple of hours later.

So I'm thinking Vace is good when it's freshly made, and you're really hungry; and it's not so good otherwise. Which means, I hate to say, that it's not so good.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Per my 5 year old comment above, I continue to live nearby and regularly frequent Vace. Hands down if you love onions - go and get the white onion pizza - by the slice or like me a whole pie. It is the bomb! So good when I lost track of time today reheating a piece from last night thereby burning it - it still tasted better than most other pizza.  Not burnt - it is divine (note: they never burn it, that was butterfingers here).

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Per my 5 year old comment above, I continue to live nearby and regularly frequent Vace. Hands down if you love onions - go and get the white onion pizza - by the slice or like me a whole pie. It is the bomb! So good when I lost track of time today reheating a piece from last night thereby burning it - it still tasted better than most other pizza.  Not burnt - it is divine (note: they never burn it, that was butterfingers here).

Is that an item that should be ordered ahead? Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Vace in Bethesda is one of my go-to's for lunch when I'm craving an Italian sub. Bethesda is expensive for mediocre food, but Vace is surprisingly reasonable for their subs. It's been years since I've been to the CP location even though my parents live within walking distance, but I remember the staff at CP being a tad bit friendlier than Bethesda. Regardless, they have a nice selection of things to pick up for dinner or to stash in the freezer for those nights when we aren't sure what to cook.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I can't remember the last time I took a bite of pizza, and said, "Wow!" I'm accessing my memory banks right now, and I honestly cannot remember.

Don your bar is set too high. Good pizza like any good food makes you go wow. After writing the above post, I headed to Vace and got two slices of onion and Wow! it was good (probably not wow head across town for but I doubt almost any pizza place is like that unless you are hankering for a slice already). Full disclosure - I needed to eat my veggies so I also had a spinach empanada which has the same filling as their spinach pie and it was pretty tasty too

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had some extra tomato sauce, some cheese, and pesto kicking around my fridge, so I bought some pizza dough from Vace.  I let the dough warm up by a radiator for about 90 minutes, cranked my oven to 550 degrees, formed a couple of rectangle-ish pizzas on sheet pans, and baked them on the lowest oven rack for 10 minutes.  Came out pretty awesome for home pizza making.  One bag of dough cost $4. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2020 at 4:22 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Thought it might give each other ideas based on where and what you're ordering for take-out or delivery.  

Vace tonight. Vace is always good.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Vace for dinner tonight - got a large pizza, so we could have lunch leftovers. Extra cheese and mushrooms on the whole thing. The husband added garlic and sausage to his half. I don't like their sausage. The garlic is good, but there is enough of it that it is hard on my stomach, so I don't get it on my half.

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, saf said:

Vace for dinner tonight - got a large pizza, so we could have lunch leftovers. Extra cheese and mushrooms on the whole thing. The husband added garlic and sausage to his half. I don't like their sausage. The garlic is good, but there is enough of it that it is hard on my stomach, so I don't get it on my half.

Agree on the sausage.  And they need to get bell peppers as an option.  That being said, Vace remains my favorite pizza night in the city.  My son is seriously worried that they won't have pizza like Vace when we move (they won't - we'll survive).  Gotta love a place this down to earth nearby.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/12/2020 at 9:24 PM, zgast said:

Agree on the sausage.  And they need to get bell peppers as an option.  That being said, Vace remains my favorite pizza night in the city.  My son is seriously worried that they won't have pizza like Vace when we move (they won't - we'll survive).  Gotta love a place this down to earth nearby.

Where are you moving to? Hopefully some place where there is some good pizza, even if a different style.

Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Bob Wells said:

Where are you moving to? Hopefully some place where there is some good pizza, even if a different style.

London - plenty of great pizza, but there won't be anything quite like Vace.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...