Video: Coal-Fired Pizza in Crystal City

by ARLnow.com September 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm 3,412 31 Comments

Tagolio Pizzeria (549 S. 23rd Street), located along restaurant row on 23rd Street in Crystal City, is one of the few pizzerias to serve an authentic coal-fired pizza in the D.C. area.

A crew from the county’s cable TV channel caught up with the restaurant’s French-born owner to find out the secret to Tagolio’s critically-acclaimed pies (and its freshly-made gnocci). Short answer: the dough, the fresh ingredients and the coal-fired oven.

  • PikerShorts

    Wasn’t Pete’s prevented from using authentic coal-fired ovens b/c of County regs?

    • drax

      Pete’s says coal is completely unnecessary for good, “authentic” New Haven pizza. Don’t know if they don’t use coal because they can’t, or because they chose not to.

  • JimPB

    Who eats at home anymore?

    How do the restaurant food offerings meet the food pyramid recommendations?

    Are there restaurants in Arlington County whose menus reflects well the food pyramid and good health foods, e.g., vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, soy, omega-3 rich fish, and a bit of oil and very little sugar (in any of its forms), fat and salt?

  • Jack

    So we shut down a Coal fired power plant but provide zoning for a coal fired pizza….little but of irony there 🙂

    • Richard Cranium

      The worst part is the County rejected my permit application for a Chevy Volt-fired pizza oven. Hypocrites!

    • steve

      beat me too it

    • The interviewer in the video says coal has “zero pollution”.

      Coal is carbon. Chemistry lesson:

      In a combusion reaction carbon plus oxygen produces carbon dioxide which is characterized as a greenhouse gas.

      The ash from burning coal can be toxic, and is typically landfilled. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_ash

      • Bob32

        All smoke is bad for the lungs. Are we gonna ban BBQ grills too? And fireplaces? Not to mention the diesel-powered transit buses?

        • drax

          “All water is toxic in the right amounts. IAre we going to ban water too?”

          Just as stupid.

          • I’m not suggesting banning it! I would suggest those who don’t want a coal-fired power plant in their back yard are being hypocritical if they think burning coal for food here is any better.

          • drax

            A coal-burning restaurant probably generates about 0.01% of the emissions that a coal-burning power plant generates.

          • RosRes

            +1 for the math lesson to complement the chemistry lesson ;)-

          • Aaron

            Many more people in the community benefit from the coal burned for electricity than benefit from the coal burned for one gourmet pizza.

      • SamsontheCat

        Not all coals are created equal, you know. They aren’t burning the bituminous stuff they fire down at the power plant. It’s anthracite, aka “smokeless” coal. The carbon content is high, around 90+%, and depending on where it was mined (probably PA) and the washing practices, has a very low sulfer content. It will produce some ash, but that can be dealt with at the local cement factory (and again depending on mining site can be very low…just don’t bring it in from the Ilinois fields).

        Comparatively, it’s better for the environment than some “authentic” wood fired oven because it’ll burn hotter, faster (so less fuel needed) and will put out less smoke and impurities.

        (This message was brought to you by Science, an expat from the coal region of America, and the letter C).

  • Tabby

    ArlNow, Crystal City (headline).

  • Hillz

    Love this place!

  • Charlie

    Yuck sounding.

  • JamesE

    I want my pizza heated by plutonium rods.

  • SteveP

    Authentic? Hm… I grew up in Italy and coal fired in not authentic by Italian standards. I know there’s a tradition in NYC for coal fired pizza for a number of historic reasons, but you might want to modify your statement to reflect that the pizza is authentic only in (I assume) the older NYC style. Never had the style (or Tagolio’s) myself, but am curious to try.

    • CW

      Yawn. But if you want to discuss minutiae, he never said anything about being authentically Italian (and when you say “Italian”, I am assuming you mean Neapolitan pizza, not Sicilian or another regional variety, so lumping all “Italian” pizza together is not very “authentic” either). Buy anyhow, he said it was “authentic coal oven pizza”, which it is. New Haven pizza, not just NYC thin crust, is traditionally coal fired as well. Places like Pete’s purport to serve New Haven pizza but don’t have coal ovens.

      • Bob32

        The point is to get the oven super hot (800 degrees F or more) and dry. Wood is traditional, but wood I believe burns faster than coal. So coal I’m guessing requires less storage and may be cheaper. It may even burn hotter as well.

      • SteveP

        Yeah, we could get into semantic games here, such as pointing out that in Italy, Sicilian pizza isn’t called pizza, but we’ll just end up having a long back and forth.

        My issue is with the use of “authentic” (and, while not done here, the frequent misuse of “traditional”). Just because the pizza is coal-fired tells me nothing of the authenticity, even if there is style which in order to be considered authentic has to be coal-fired. All I am suggesting is that if something is called authentic, then the context of the authenticity be noted. I brought up the Italian style (and yes, you’re right, there are variants), as an example of lack of context.

        • CW

          Yes, but what I am saying is that the style is “coal fired pizza” (which is a draw even if not attached to NYC or new haven) and that this is an authentic representation thereof.

        • Stu Pendus

          Good points. I could throw a frozen Totino’s on the Weber and call whatever came out 20 minutes later “authentic coal fired pizza”.

          • Chris

            I’m now hungry for pizza. Thanks!

  • Stu Pendus

    Is this local coal?

    • CW

      I hear they got a great deal on a pile of it down in Alexandria.

  • charles

    The interviewer in the video says coal has “zero pollution”.
    The interviewer is lying. Even my kids know that.

  • Cyrus

    Gil, the 1970’s called, they want their mustache and gold chain back.

  • MyHood

    In the sea of restaurants in our neighboorhood this one stands out. Gil may have a porn star ‘stache but he has a rock star restaurant.


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