While the dining scene in College Park is something left to be desired, Tommy Marco’s Ledo Restaurant is an institution not only amongst the college town, but across the entire DC metropolitan area. Why? The Original Ledo shares the honors with the likes of Pete’s Apizza, Two Amy’s, and Vace as some of the DMV’s best pizza.
Mind you, we’re only discussing the original Ledo restaurant and not the offshoot franchise that bears the same name as well as a similar pizza design. There is a substantial difference and it should be noted.
Anyway, forget what you know what “real” pizza is. If you’re from New York or New Jersey, you’re comparing apples to oranges when we’re talking about a traditional slice versus Ledo’s square pizza. Just because it doesn’t remind you of a cheese slice from that local pizzeria you grew up with doesn’t mean it’s not good. Trust me, as a native New Yorker (albeit upstate), I carried that very same mentality.
I remember the first occasion I stepped inside their original location in Adelphi. You were transcended back in time with its red carpets, wood-paneled walls, and pool table lighting fixtures. The restaurant’s interior made you feel like you were in an old-fashioned Italian restaurant where time stood still. Oh, and the pizza was pretty good too.
When Ledo Restaurant announced that they would be leaving their Adelphi location for downtown College Park, it was bittersweet news. While they would be vacating the space they occupied since 1955, their location on Knox Road would make them more accessible to the College Park area, right off the main drag of Route One. More importantly, they would be using the same ovens.
The move also makes dinners before Maryland basketball games a lot easier, given how much closer the restaurant is to campus. And so we headed there before the Terrapins exhibition game on Monday night, on top of finally introducing Rachel to the Ledo phenomenon.
The new space, which occupies the retail level of the city’s new parking garage, is not only completely modern in regards to design but simply enormous. The mixture of wood and stone feels like you’re eating at a chic restaurant in Downtown DC, but low and behold, some of those old lighting fixtures were transplanted in the new space as they hung above some two-tops towards the back of the restaurant.
We still couldn’t believe a restaurant this nice, at least aesthetically, existed in College Park. For those familiar with the town, it’s not quite Charlottesville or Ann Arbor, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction in terms of offering a quality eatery in the downtown area.
Despite the place appearing very busy, we had no problems finding a booth and were promptly greeted by our waiter who had to be no older than 20. We started our dinner off by splitting a Caesar salad. It wasn’t the most amazing Caesar salad of my life, but I had no complaints. Besides, we ultimately knew the real reason we were here…
We decided to split a medium pizza, half mushroom and half pepperoni. It arrived served on its classic lunchroom-style plastic tray cut into square pieces. Each slice on the first half had a thick slice of pepperoni where you could faintly see oil bubbles collecting in the middle. Now we’re talking.
The other half was covered in mushrooms so much that you could barely see the cheese below. Rachel was certainly having a hard time avoiding the urge to pickup another square after already polishing off four or five. Then again, I’d say at least three squares are equivalent to a traditional slice of pizza in regards to size.
Overall, the combination of the thin, flaky crust, flavorful homemade sauce, and provolone cheese is why Ledo’s stands out not just for its unique combination of ingredients but because how good it all tastes together. I especially love the sauce as it is more on the sweeter side and has a thick consistency.
When we finished, our bill came out to $18 flat. Turns out the waiter had only charged us for one topping and completely omitted Rachel’s soda. He may have felt bad because the pizza took awhile to come, but that certainly wasn’t his fault. We gave him a generous tip for this oversight, intentional or not, and headed off to Comcast Center. We might have a new ritual on our hands, provided I work out twice as much during college basketball season.