The current count of dedicated pizza delivery services in downtown Bethesda is eleven. They all have worthy attributes, but none vary drastically enough to stop you after the first bite to say, “Wow!” That is until you try .
Despite its unfortunate name, Naked Pizza is the newest and best pizza delivery service in Bethesda.
What makes Naked Pizza different from all other round pies covered in cheese? Let’s start with the crust. Naked Pizza has ten grains in the dough, including Agave fiber, quinoa, amaranth, teff, spelt, tapioca and two kinds of wheat. One bite renders the complexity of this combination. If you’re a fan of whole grain, you’ll be thrilled. If you’re not, you won’t be displeased.
There’s a sweet, subtle crunch and depth to this crust that provides toppings with a solid framework on which to shine. Naked Pizza specializes in creating blends of complimentary ingredients; meats, vegetables, sauces, cheeses; changing the pie into a satisfying meal rather than a regrettable binge.
At Naked Pizza, the wide selection of toppings allow for a creative custom pie; including artichokes, spinach, black beans, cilantro and sun-dried tomato. I considered putting together my own combination, but went for Naked Pizza’s signature pizzas instead. They sounded so appealing. My group requested Ragin' Cajun, Superbiotic, cheesy breadsticks and plain cheese pizza— the latter would help me make a fair comparison to other pizza delivery pies.
The service on the phone was exceptionally friendly. The woman who took my order was patient and read back my order to be sure she had it right. This is necessary, since you make choices like “skinny” crust versus original or even gluten-free. Naked Pizza uses graphics to demonstrate their toppings, which helps eliminate language barriers— no one needs to explain that ham and sausage is made from a pig, it’s clearly shown.
The pizzas were still warm when they arrived, despite traveling to the far reaches of Naked Pizza’s nine-minute delivery radius. As I opened my boxes, I noted they were not the sumptuous wood-oven charred pizza you’d find at Mia’s, nor were they the traditional oozing mozzarella version from Papa John’s. Instead, I found compact toppings on a flat pizza, emanating with savory smells.
The Superbiotic on skinny crust could be considered ultra-healthy; it’s packed with artichokes, spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic, onion and cilantro. This zesty blend is mixed into a delicate dusting of cheese, allowing the toppings to claim the starring role here. Each bite of a chunky vegetable and fresh herb was distinct. The sauce tasted like real tomatoes— not too sugary— the garlic pungent, but not overly salty. The skinny crust, packed with whole grains, was slim but sturdy. There was a different taste in every bite. Everyone agreed that the Superbiotic pizza was completely satisfying, and best of all, guilt-free. The most health conscious person in the group rated it A+.
The Ragin Cajun’s sausage and chicken toppings made this into a mighty, spicy meat pie; the bell pepper, onion and garlic were overpowered by the meats. Add the original style's thicker crust and this was one hearty slice of pie. The group liked Ragin Cajun, but preferred Superbiotic’s lighter profile.
The tomato and cheese was probably the least successful. It had the wheaty, grainy, sweet crust in its favor, but the cheese and sauce were meager at best. In contrast, the cheesy breadsticks were outright addictive. The same artisanal grains were made into bread sticks, iced with a generous amount of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and accompanied by two containers of tomato dipping sauce. This was probably our second favorite of the four we tested.
I decided, next time, I’ll order the cheesy breadsticks and try Naked Pizza’s spinach salad.
While visiting Naked Pizza, I met the local franchise operator, Phil Parsons.
“Bethesda has a great mixture of daytime traffic, and in the evenings, single professionals in the downtown area. Also, lots of families close by, in our delivery radius," Parsons said. "These people fit into our demographic—they’re educated and care what goes into their body. They still want carry out and delivery pizza, and this pizza actually tastes great and is good for you.”
Although many small businesses have shutdown because of the economy, he opened the pizza shop anyway. “I’m not brave," he said. "I look at it this way— if you have a product as good as, or better than, another product, and it’s priced at the same price point, it offers a value, and on top it’s a healthier product; it just makes sense.”
Parsons says he plans to use Facebook and Twitter to offer promotions.
“In the DC area, the level of education has made the demand for products that are healthier more important,” Parsons continues. “It’s still round and comes in a box, with a price that makes sense.”
I would agree that Naked Pizza’s prices are reasonable for the level of quality and innovation. The 10-inch cheese is $6.99, 12-inch cheese is $7.99. 14-inch cheese is $8.99. You get into higher ranges with a “Dressed Up” or signature pizza—approximately $13 to $17.
The question is can low sugar, lower calorie pizza really taste better than traditional delivery pizza? I think you’ll answer with a rousing “Yes.” Even my kids liked it. Parsons says before he invested in Naked Pizza, he tried the pizza out on his kids: “Kids are so honest. I asked them ‘what do you think of it?’ And they both loved it. That was my final litmus test.”
This story has been corrected to indicate Naked Pizza has a nine-minute delivery radius. We regret the error.