The much anticipated All Purpose, from Mike Friedman (chef/owner of The Red Hen) and the guys behind Boundary Stone didn’t have to do much to crush the pizza game in DC’s hot neighborhood Shaw. Hint, hint, there is no pizza in Shaw until now. But not only did they bring 110% to their pizzas, which are legitimately amazing, they crushed the other dishes on their menu too. Shaw’s All Purpose does more than just pizza right!
Yes, of course the pizza is amazing. Have you had Mike’s pasta? Crispy, earthy dough, charred where it needs to be. Not super thick, not NY style paper thin, a perfect medium of the two. The slightly sweet sauce you taste on the “Buona” picks up the chili honey and runs with it. That subtle spice is just enough of an offset for the creamy mozzarella, the fresh basil, and the hearty and meaty pepperoni. It just all works perfectly together.
But it’s not just the pizza they’ve nailed. Their “chilled seafood misto” is refreshing, crisp, and full of bright flavors that are perfect before, or between, bites of pizza. A light mix of snapper crudo, octopus, mussels, and squid, with supremes of grapefruit and oranges adding the tangy citrus the seafood needs and hints of dill that perfectly compliment this dish. Salty olives bring it home with brininess that grounds the dish.
Imagine our surprise when this “pizza joint” produces some of the best sweetbreads we have ever had in DC (yours are still up there Rural Society). If you love sweetbreads – get these. If you have never had sweetbreads – get these. Deliciously tender veal thymus glands are likely soaked overnight in buttermilk (just guessing here) to remove the typically irony taste often associated with offal (organ meats). What’s left is a rich, creamy, buttery little nugget of tender goodness. Chef Mike cooks them perfectly, with a crispy crunchy exterior and a delicate tender middle, they are delicious on their own. But what makes them is the sauce. A “marsala” style sauce of bacon, wild mushrooms, butter, cream and herbs dances around the dish and transforms you our of a Shaw pizza place and to a French countryside farm. The richness of this sauce can only come with hours and hours of cooking and reducing. I didn’t ask…I just ate.
Forget “mozzarella sticks” here, and instead imagine crispy fried circles of cheese topped with fennel honey and black truffles. While the flavor combinations worked – cheese and honey never fails – we missed the piping hot ooey gooey melty cheese pull we were expecting and the black truffles transformed into a “light dusting” not described on the menu.
Of course, any misgivings with the cheese were immediately, and I mean immediately erased when their “Jersey style” eggplant parm came out. Piping, volcanic-level hot, bubbling with cheese and the smell of the fresh eggplant and sauce still lingers to this day. After waiting what seemed like nine thousand minutes for this to cool to only 3rd degree burn levels, we dug in.
I mean DAYUM. The eggplant was super tender, fresh and delicious. The cheese was melted and hot and the sauce and herbs were perfect.
Hot or cold, rain or shine, this is good. But just imagine late fall, sitting at the bar, the cold approaches and you and a bottle of Barolo make friends with this eggplant dish. Fork yeah!
Save room for dessert…and let us know how it is in the comment section! We certainly didn’t!
All Purpose Pizzeria
1250 9th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001