When Chef Tony Conte decided to leave his post at DC’s upscale Oval Room and open Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, Darnestown got lucky. Really lucky. The Chef hung up his fine dining toque last year and is now tossing up pizzas, salad, and appetizers in a lovely, but small, no-reservations restaurant in a strip mall. As a Montgomery County resident, often starved for greatness in the suburbs, I’ll take it.
Chef Conte has Italian heritage, a residence in Gaithersburg, and experience making pizza that goes all the way back to his teen years in New Haven, Connecticut. So the move isn’t so far-fetched.
The good word about Inferno Pizzeria has clearly spread. We arrive at 6:30 on a Friday night to a 45-minute wait. There is a steady stream of patrons, who line up against the wall or perch on a few benches at the front of the restaurant. I imagine the crowds won’t mind waiting outside when the weather heats up.
The decor in the long and narrow space is simple. Dark wood, industrial ceiling, some homey touches, and a gorgeous wood-burning pizza oven.
Bring your appetite, as you don’t want to miss out on Pizzeria Inferno’s glorious appetizers. Ember roasted beets with calabrian chili, mint and pecans are on fire with heat and flavor.
Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, 12207 Darnestown Road, Darnestown, MD
Washington Post review by Tom Sietsema: “Inferno Pizzeria serves designer pies with fine dining flourishes”
Washingtonian review by Todd Kliman
Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants 2016, #44