Too old for Ping Pong?

At any given time, there are four or five episodes of The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” saved on my DVR.  I record every episode and save the ones about restaurants that are located close by or in cities I may visit in the near future.  Guy Fieri has a way of making everything he eats sound so delicious. The way he declares “mmmm, mmmmm” after taking a bite of some decadent sandwich or a piece of pie featuring some unique flavor combination makes me want to rush right out of the house. It usually takes me awhile to actually get to a particular destination, but eventually I manage.

One episode I’ve had saved on my DVR for months features DC’s Comet Ping Pong.  When describing the pizza at Comet Ping Pong Guy’s words are “out of bounds” and “if you live north of the equator you have to come here.”  Since I do live north of the equator and purchased a Living Social coupon for Comet Ping Pong, I find time to take advantage of the opportunity.

We walk in through the back where the ping pong tables are located.  This is not something that interests me.  I’m here for the food, but I definitely appreciate the concept.  This would have been a great place for the kids when they were younger.  Too late now.

I like the industrial artsy funky atmosphere.  My friend disagrees, thinking the decor has gone too far and wandered from chic to cheap.

I read a couple of reviews in advance and see favorable remarks about the chicken wings.  Chicken wings are a favorite of mine so I start with an order, while my husband and friends stick to vegetarian options in keeping with their kosher observances.  The chicken wings are tender and juicy with a nice kick.  They are definitely worthwhile.  I have to keep myself from eating too many since I am on my own.  I have to save room for the pizza.

The other three share a Greek feta salad and wood roasted cauliflower.  Here is where things begin to deteriorate. There is a stack of small plates on our table.  We reach for the plates and realize the top plate is dirty.  The next plate is dirty as well.  This is repeated through the stack of plates.  They are all dirty.  We flag down the server.  She is nonplussed.  She takes the plates and then remembers to ask if we want replacements.  Um, yes we do.

The salad is okay but unremarkable.  The cauliflower is astonishing, and not in a good way.  It’s undercooked and there is no seasoning on it at all.  It is hard to believe that this $6 dish is actually being served in a restaurant.

On to the pizza.  This is the good part.  Guy Fieri focused on some of the dishes that we are unable to try i.e. the Yalie pizza with clams and the Philly calzone with roast pork.  These both look good and if this is your thing I say go for it.  We order three vegetarian pizzas to share.

The first is called “Steel Wills.”  It includes spinach, homemade ricotta cheese, olives, and tomato sauce. This is a tasty pizza.  The pizza crust is chewy  The cheese is light and fresh. It has a nice crunch, which is important to me.

Our second pizza is one we make up with potato, onions, and red peppers.  This is a nice combination if I do say so myself.

We also order “The Drive.”  This one features broccoli rabe, garlic, onion, and a Whitmore Farm egg. This one doesn’t appeal to me but the others really like it.

The pizza at Comet is quite good, but we haven’t been able to recover from the dirty plates and the cauliflower.  Plus, my friend makes a trip to the bathroom and reports that they are “disgusting.”

I’m betting that my son and his friends would like Comet Ping Pong.  They wouldn’t be phased by the dirty plates or bathrooms and they would probably take advantage of the ping pong. If you are in your twenties, its okay for a dive to really be a dive.

I prefer to hang out with the college students from American University who seem to be gathering at the newer (and cleaner) Pete’s New Haven Apizza on Wisconsin Avenue. The pizza there is just as good.  It may never be featured on “Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives” but in this case, that’s really ok with me.

Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 
My rating (on a 1-5 scale):   2.6  (pizza 4.0)
Zagat rating:  20
“Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” episode

Comet Ping Pong on Urbanspoon

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