Menomale, the Brookland-based pizzeria that produces some of D.C.’s finest Neapolitan-style pies, opened its second location this week at the base of an apartment building in NoMa. The pizzeria and sister deli Salumeria 2703 now have a much larger space to share and a full kitchen that allows them to bring on a new item: Roman-style pan pizza.
Married couple Maria Rusciano and Ettore Rusciano, a Naples native, opened the new Menomale on the ground floor of the Belgard (33 N Street NE) for lunch and dinner Wednesday, February 3. Hours for takeout and limited dine-in service are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. six days a week (closed Tuesdays). The deli closes at 7 p.m.
Many elements of the two-part business are largely unchanged from the original. Ingredients come from the Campania region in Southern Italy. Neapolitan pizzas take a 90-second trip in a wood-fired oven heated to 900 degrees, producing an airy, charred crust.
“It makes you capable of eating the whole pie with out being weighed down or overeating,” Maria Rusciano says.
One best seller making its way to NoMa is the spicy diavola with fior di latte mozzarella, spicy salami, red peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, and basil. Made-to-order pastas include lobster ravioli, bucatini alla bolognese, and gnocchi.
Rectangular Roman pies, available in half portions (for two to three) or full sheets (for four to six) get topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil.
“We make sure we have the best dough possible — it’s really a two- to three-day process,” she says.
The opening list of Roman-style pan pies, cooked in a deck oven around 400 degrees, include a veggie version — topped with roasted zucchini and eggplant — or a “chef’s special” with salmon. There are also calzones and panuozzo: wood-fired sandwiches made with pizza dough.
Menomale customers can pair pies with beer, Italian reds and whites by the glass or bottle, and cocktails, along with traditional digestifs like limoncello, fernet, grappa, and amaro to cap off the meal.
The original Menomale opened in 2012 in Brookland. Salumeria, located a few doors down, added a deli to the strip in 2016.
Salumeria’s NoMa counterpart has its own entrance is stocked with imported cold cuts, cheeses, gourmet pantry items, packaged pastas, olive oils, and rows of Italian wines by the bottle, along with prepared foods like soppressata and porchetta sandwiches or bake-and-eat lasagnas and eggplant Parmesan. Another new feature in NoMa is a gelato stand, planted at the deli’s entrance and filled with flavors like birthday cake or a vegan sea salt caramel.
Under D.C.’s 25-percent indoor capacity restrictions, the new 75-seat setup can seat around 18 diners at a time. An online reservation system will go live soon. Seating will grow in the spring with the addition of a patio out front.
Customers continue to crave portable pies during the pandemic, and there’s no shortage of fresh options across the city. Georgetown’s Reverie, U Street’s Rebel Taco, and Petworth’s Anafre have all made recent pizza pivots, and Mt. Pleasant’s Neapolitan newbie Martha Dear is selling out of its takeout-only pies online in mere minutes.
Despite the new buildout, Menomale’s design resembles a lived-in Italian grandmother’s house. Ivy and hanging lemons and garlic are suspended in nets. Colorful tiles and playful tchotchkes line the space.