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Pie-Tanza, Wood-Fired Pizzas in a Family-Friendly Atmosphere in Lee-Harrison Shopping Center in Arlington

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Taqueria Poblano was seemingly empty (yes, empty!) on a recent Friday night. Probably about half full. Next door was a mobbed pizza joint with a wood burning oven that was new. We didn't go there so we don't know exactly how good their pizza was. Still, given my obsession with coal oven pizza, it's just a matter of time until I "discover" it. But TP was not as good as it has been in the past. Frankly, in combination with a less than half full dining room on a Friday night this was not, well, encouraging. I've liked this place in the past and now, with competition from the adjacent family friendly pizzaria it seems to be fading. I would like to believe that TP will return to what it served for several years before the pizza chain's opening and recapture my heart and stomach. BUT, based on what we were served on a recent Friday night, some one seems to have thrown in the towel! For myself and for the neighborhood this is NOT an encouraging development...

The pizza place next door is not new, Pie Tanza has been there for two years.

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Am I the only one who likes this pizza?

No - I haven't had it more than once or twice, but thought it was very good. The salads are also huge and quite tasty.

I'm pretty sure this is what I'll be having for dinner tomorrow at a soon-to-be 9 year old friend's birthday party, so I'll report back with an update then.

Friends who live nearby carry out frequently - one way to avoid the karate kids :( They have also had very good things to say about the service when they do dine in the restaurant.

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We like this place. The service is pretty good for a family friendly place although I haven't been enough to experience the screaming karate kids first hand.

I like the thin crust on the pizzas and the light hand with the cheese. One thing I can't understand though is why the kid's pizza comes with no sauce. Are there really that many kids out there who don't like sauce? We usually add on sauce and black olives for the munchkin.

For moderate eaters, one of their pies will feed two adults. I agree with goldenticket that the salads are huge and tasty. One is easily enough to serve 3 adults.

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One thing I can't understand though is why the kid's pizza comes with no sauce. Are there really that many kids out there who don't like sauce?

We have 3 kids. Two prefer pizza with no sauce, or basically with anything on it other than mozzarella. They even pulled this stunt at Bebo to the raised eyebrow of our server. I seriously question whether they are actually my children. They do bear a strong resemblance to the postman. :(

For the record, we love Pie-Tanza pizzas, including the ones with sauce. We have also enjoyed the pasta dishes and calzones. Personally, I like the fried olives.

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I revisited this place last night after Don mentioned it and I am glad I did. The last time I ordered pizza from Pietanza was around 6 months ago and I found it dry and relatively flavorless. Last night's was a different story.

I ordered my customary Meat Lovers on one half (pancetta, meatballs, and spicy italian sausage) and got chicken, spinach, and feta on the other side for the lady (not a pork eater). Both sides were very tasty, but I was surprised to find that I liked hers better than mine. The ingredients really complimented the very tomatoey sauce quite well and made for a nice slice without being too overpowering. My only issue was that the crust in the middle was very soft and could use some more stiffness, but the outside crust was pretty charred as it was and I am not sure what the result would be of leaving it in that oven even longer.

Either way, this place is no Comet or Red Rocks, but a nice option for a quick bite if you're in the area.

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Question for anyone who's been and remembers: Are the black olives canned? That is my quick rule of thumb for predicting whether or not a pizzeria has good food or not.

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Question for anyone who's been and remembers: Are the black olives canned? That is my quick rule of thumb for predicting whether or not a pizzeria has good food or not.

Not only canned but sliced!

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I recently tried the White Pizza with Fontina (fresh herbs, olive oil, creamy shaved fontina cheese and minced garlic) and it was tasty but much thinner than I'd bargained for. It was a 12" wood-fired pizza and it was definitely a meal for one, not two. I'd order it again, though.

I've also tried their Italian sub to go. It was nice and filling. It came with some very decent fries, too.

I haven't sat down to eat a meal there, but I'll bet it has become a neighborhood favorite.

Oh, and I asked - THEY pronounce it "Pie (rhymes with eye) -tanza" Yes, in Italian it would be "Pee-ah tanza", but they elected to go with Pie-tanza.

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Hollowing out the roll ensures that the meatballs don't go shooting out the other side when you take a bite. :mellow:

Pie-tanza definitely has the pop-out meatball thing going on. But the Meatball Parmesan Sub ($7.99) was better than I thought it would be, mainly because it's baked in the oven. A side of mixed greens (instead of french fries or caesar salad) was a good choice also. This is the first time I've ever not gotten pizza here, but I would get this sub again in a pinch.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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For the uninitiated, it's pronounced "Pee A Tahnza" (long A).

No longer, by the way: It's now pronounced "Pie Tahnza," as in American Pie.

Perhaps it was just bad timing, but I had a pretty mediocre sausage, onion, and peppers pizza ($11.69) today. A really coarse slice job on the ingredients, particularly the peppers, some of which were several inches long. This pizza always has things sliced on the large side, but if it's even slightly undercooked, it gets pretty noticeable. The best thing this pie had going for it was that it obviously came from a decent oven - the crust itself was flatter and blander than usual, although it still had something resembling lightness.

Pie-Tanza has arguably had the best pizza in North Arlington for the past couple of years (yes, you can make a case for The Italian Store and a few others). While the pizzas themselves have certainly not been "great," they've been a little better than zPizza's, and a lot better than Joe's.

Pie-Tanza is opening a second location in Falls Plaza (between the Starbucks and the ABC store) this spring. Call it instinct, an educated guess, or just a gut feeling, but my impression is that opening a second location will do nothing to help the quality of this restaurant.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Pie-Tanza is opening a second location in Falls Plaza (between the Starbucks and the ABC store) this spring. Call it instinct, an educated guess, or just a gut feeling, but my impression is that opening a second location will do nothing to help the quality of this restaurant.

Well perhaps not, but the Falls Church location cranked out a pretty good Tomato and Oregano pie recently. I like the new space much more than the old one, too.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Three of us tried the new place last Saturday. The kids pizza was great! With a good crust and an appropriate amount of cheese and sauce, the pie got a "thumbs up" from Katie. She also had a side of fruit that was very fresh and generous. We also split the house salad and a roasted vegtable pie that was very good. The place is very clean, and despite the heat had a fair amount of customers for a Saturday afternoon.

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Well perhaps not, but the Falls Church location cranked out a pretty good Tomato and Oregano pie recently. I like the new space much more than the old one, too.

And yesterday, the Arlington location made a Tomato and Oregano pie that was every bit its equal. Everything else here (pasta, salad, etc.) looks really "Joe's-like," but the pizzas continue to be excellent.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Pietanza has pretty inexpensive kids meals, $4, that include a drink. My daughter loves the "mini" cheese pizza which is actually an 8 or 9" pizza.

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The Rosemary Flatbread ($6.49) at the Arlington Pie-Tanza was a dud - the honorable, but bland, matzah-thin pizza crust covered with clippings of fresh rosemary, and not brought to life by the little plastic tub of bad, throwaway tomato sauce. What to do?

Enter the microwave, accompanied by shavings of Vermont Butter and Cheese company's outstanding butter (purchased at Balducci's). Thirty seconds later, voila, softer crust, melted butter ... season to taste with coarse ground salt and pepper, and now you're talking about the best cheeseless white pizza in town!

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The Harrison St location of Pie-Tanza is right in my neighborhood so I have had the occasion to eat there numerous times. We were less than impressed on an initial visit when the place first opened (canned olives, bland sauce) but have warmed to the place on several visits since. The white bean soup is my wife's favorite lunch order. Nothing complicated, just a hearty flavorful soup. Pizzas are still not overwhelming but above average for the neighborhood. Paired with either the pie-tanza salad (good oregano vinaigrette) or the mediterranean salad, it makes a decent meal. Service is ok at the Arlington location, though can be harried when the place is busy, so we usually order carryout. They are very accomodating of youngsters though which explains the proliferation of such in evening hours.

Overall, a decent pizza place where convenience and neighborhood feel make up for food that is sometimes just ok. When I or my family is in the mood for pizza and dont want to travel far, this is where we go. But, if we're on the fence, we'll more often gravitate toward one of the other dining spots in the same strip mall (Taqueria or Elevation or Sushi Zen) as Pie Tanza's not quite good enough to sway the vote yet.

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I've just moved Pie-Tanza (which has opened a third branch in Columbia, SC (!)) below both Flippin Pizza and Faccia Luna in the Dining Guide.

The whole pies at the two Flippin Pizza locations I've tried (Joe H is correct) are substantially better than the bland, flavorless pizzas which are coming out of Pie-Tanza these days. This includes the Falls Church location of Flippin, which directly competes with the two Pie-Tanza locations - for carryout pies, I see no reason for people not to order from the Falls Church Flippin if they need to choose between the two.

Also, my first dinner this evening (at Proof) featured one of the greatest terrines I've had in quite some time: a Pho terrine. Trust me and get this.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I did a same day taste test of the Falls Church Pie-Tanza and Flippin and both were pretty lacking in many ways.

Pie-tanza's problem is the paper-thin crust, which is just so ridiculously thin it makes me crazy. The whole middle of the pie is a soggy mess of cheese with a razor thin layer of wet cracker crust. I rather like Pie-Tanza's fresh-tasting sauce though.

At Flippin all I had was a few by-the-slice options, but they were not very good. Ok, yeah, I know, everyone says get it the whole pie but whatever. This pizza had a good, sturdy crust but the sauce was non-existent and overall the pizza was actually quite bland and flat compared to Pie-Tanzas (I literally ran back to my car to try Pie-Tanza leftovers after eating at Flippin and the difference was SHOCKING...Pie-Tanza's pizza was much more seasoned and fresher tasting, in spite of its horrible crust).

Still, I can't see myself going to either one again.

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I tried the vegetable lasagna at Pie-Tanza this weekend and wasn't impressed. I like cheese and all but nobody needs to eat as much cheese was glopped on top of that dish. Makes me think the kitchen is nervous about the quality of the ingredients underneath when they smother a dish in cheese like that. The veggies promised in the description were hard to find amid the heaps of ricotta and melted mozzarella and the whole dish was rather bland.

I did like the roasted tomato sauce that accompanies the calamari appetizer though. The calamari themselves were rather ordinary, not overly tender, but the sauce was chunky and had a nice roasted tomato flavor.

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A buddy of mine says let's get some Orso tonight. It never crossed my mind, they are not open on Monday nights until I'm half way over to the place and he calls from out front saying, they are not open.

I guess this is what I get for not making it tomorrow night!

Yes, and unfortunately, I found out Pupatella is closed on Mondays also.

This left me with Pie-Tanza, and you know what? While it's not as good as Pupatella or Orso (sorry, it just isn't), it really is a pretty good pizza. "Pie-tanza was our Orso before there was Orso," my young dining companion said, quite accurately. Gold, Silver, Bronze ... the order is clear in North Arlington, but on Monday nights, Pie-Tanza gets the Gold.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Yes, and unfortunately, I found out Pupatella is closed on Mondays also.

This left me with Pie-Tanza, and you know what? While it's not as good as Pupatella or Orso (sorry, it just isn't), it really is a pretty good pizza. "Pie-tanza was our Orso before there was Orso," my young dining companion said, quite accurately. Gold, Silver, Bronze ... the order is clear in North Arlington, but on Monday nights, Pie-Tanza gets the Gold.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Well, we ended up at the Italian Store, sitting outside, pizza bianca with mushrooms with cans of soda.

Not bad for a pre-labor day summer night actually.

Cheers back at you! Have a fun time tomorrow night at Orso!

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Although many go to Pie Tanza for the pizza, I was just in no mood for that for a quick phone ahead take-out lunch yesterday at the Harrison Street location. What I got instead was a terrific roast turkey & sweet tomato club sandwich, which instantly bolted to my ever revolving top 5 sandwiches in Arlington (see also the heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella sandwich on Italian feather loaf on the current summer lunch menu at The Liberty Tavern). As described on the menu: oven roasted turkey and shaved ham served hot with crisp bacon, fontina cheese, roma tomato, mixed field greens, herb mayo and sweet tomato spread. Served warm on a not quite toasted long roll, I found this to be a perfectly balanced sandwich. It comes with a choice of sides, and I chose the mixed greens with grated parm on top. It will be hard for me to order anything else here at lunch again.

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Although many go to Pie Tanza for the pizza, I was just in no mood for that for a quick phone ahead take-out lunch yesterday at the Harrison Street location. What I got instead was a terrific roast turkey & sweet tomato club sandwich, which instantly bolted to my ever revolving top 5 sandwiches in Arlington (see also the heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella sandwich on Italian feather loaf on the current summer lunch menu at The Liberty Tavern). As described on the menu: oven roasted turkey and shaved ham served hot with crisp bacon, fontina cheese, roma tomato, mixed field greens, herb mayo and sweet tomato spread. Served warm, I found this to be a perfectly balanced sandwich. It comes with a choice of sides, and I chose the mixed greens with grated parm on top. It will be hard for me to order anything else here at lunch again.

I've been curious about their non-pizza offerings, and perhaps your description will convince me to try the other items on the menu. I tend to succumb to the lure of their pizza.

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In my continuing pursuit to hit every take-out spot within 5 miles of McLean, I had really solid takeout last night at Pit-Tanza, my first time here (FChurch location). Began with the fried stuffed olives, which retained the crispiness of the breading by the time I got home (which admittedly is not far), were jumbo-sized, tasty, and a good start. The herbed tomato calzone had a flavorsome dough, good char in some areas, and was amply stuffed. The best item was the sweet tomato cream penne, which had a delicious sauce – a perfect combination of sweet and cheesy, al dente pasta, and complementary toppings. Also the staff was very courteous. I forgot to mention the coupon I had and they very generously re-processed my order, even tho I made it clear I was willing to just use it another time. I’ll definitely be back.

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Don repeatedly says that the only good thing here is the pizza, but I think we can all agree that he doesn't know shit about food. So, don't sleep on the sandwiches at this place. I had the prime rib and cheddar the other day and it was solid. Not going out of your way for, but a solid sub/cheesesteak. They also come with shoestring fires, which were awesome. Previously, I've had the Italian and the Turkey and Sweet Tomato, which were also solid. If you're in the area, and looking for a sandwich, consider this place.

[Oh, and the sweet tomato cream penne can be delicious...alas, depending on the batch you get, it can also be middling...but when it's good, it's really good!]

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