Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana has been crafting high quality food from their carefully curated menu for upper Montgomery County since 2015. Chef-owner Tony Conte’s bona fides are incredible–so his move from fine dining to a shopping center in Darnestown is quite the leap and one I’m grateful for. In fact, Chef Conte is a nominee for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic for the 2018 James Beard Foundation awards.
The combination of the buzz around his new restaurant along with its location next to where I practice martial arts has kept it on my mind as a place I must try. Why it took three years, I can’t honestly say, but I picked Inferno for my belated birthday dinner with my husband and 2 daughters this year and I’m so glad I did.
The space is tiny, only stays open “till the dough runs out,” and doesn’t take reservations so you may be in for a bit of a wait. We got there shortly after opening and opted to sit at one end of their communal table so we were seated pretty much straightaway. Inferno has a high-energy vibe, with cheerful and attentive servers in soccer jerseys zipping around to fill your water glass and inquire how everything is over the thumping beats of reggaeton. Our server, Sarah, was super sweet and helpful and my girls impressed by her glittery eyeshadow.
Since it was a special occasion, we wanted to try a variety of items from the menu. We started with their winter vegetable salad and gently roasted beets. The finely shredded kale leaves and thinly sliced apples and persimmons in the winter vegetable salad were tossed with a spiced vinaigrette and toasted pumpkin seeds. The beet salad combined tender beets with cherries, celery, basil, and toasted hazelnuts for a satisfying mix of textures and flavors.
Brick Oven Pizzas
Next, we moved on to our pizzas. Easily visible from just about any seat in the restaurant, Inferno’s brick oven cranks out delicious pies with a properly charred crust and a delightful smokiness. My youngest daughter and vegan husband both opted for custom combinations, my oldest daughter chose the Winter Black Truffle with added prosciutto and basil, and I had the Smoked Prosciutto. High quality ingredients with mindful preparation are what Inferno does best. Indeed; the prosciutto was sliced so thinly it was transparent and the fennel atop my pizza retained its crisp, lemony brightness. Why shouldn’t people be able to access well-prepared food from fresh ingredients beyond starred restaurant settings?
Of course we opted for dessert since our meal was part of a birthday celebration. My vegan had to abstain but we ordered and shared the triple chocolate cookies, ricotta cheesecake, and affogato. The triple chocolate cookies were dense with the chocolate flavor turned up to the max. The cheesecake resembled more a parfait, served in a jar topped with jam and a crumble. And the affogato swirled a twirl of soft serve into a cup of bitter and rich coffee. All three desserts were a definite delicious alternative to birthday cake, that’s for sure.
As we finished up our meal, surrounded by other happy diners, the sunny wait staff, and the view into the open kitchen, I found myself satisfied by not only the delicious meal just savored but by the knowledge that living upcounty doesn’t mean a long drive to enjoy a meal thoughtfully prepared. A happy birthday to me, indeed!
What are your favorite pizza toppings? Please share in the comments. Thanks!
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