Emilio’s Brick Oven Pizza, Sterling, VA

Emilio’s (either www.emiliossterling.com or www.eatatemilios.com) has been open since 1997, and is a classic suburban pizzeria, of great value to the neighborhood, but not a restaurant you’d travel for, unless you were me.

I’m typing this at Emilio’s now, on their WiFi, and have a tinge of sadness that Mr. Reza Emil “Emilio” Azar once had the fortitude to open in Leesburg, only to have the second branch shut down.

This is very much of an outlet – an advertisement – for Boar’s Head, and if you like Boar’s Head products, you’ll probably like the toppings and sandwich fillings here.

I ordered a large Roma ($20) with fresh mozzarella, crumbly Italian sausage, pepperoni, portobello mushrooms, and marinated, i.e., “canned” tomatoes, with my strategy being this would be an “interior only” pizza, and that proved to be correct. Despite the beautiful, wood-burning brick oven, the crust itself is not a strong point, and the outer periphery is best left alone.

Orders are taken at the counter, and a Moretti ($4.50) or Peroni ($4.00) is paid for, self-grabbed from the beverage cooler, and opened if the staff can find a bottle opener which will be lying somewhere near the register.

In many ways, this reminds me of my child comfort pizzerias, Sammy’s Villa (which was much better) and Dominic’s (which is a little better), or maybe even Stained Glass Pub. This is not pizza that you write about; it’s pizza that you order for your kids, and then go home and turn on the TV, unaware that restaurant websites even exist.

The kids in Sterling here this evening are loving it, however, and there are dozens of pictures, photos, and posters on the wall that show Mr. Azar is active in the Sterling community, loves soccer and football, and even skydives. As I type, he himself is assembling a pizza, commiserating with a customer about the Oklahoma-Texas game, and worrying aloud about his blood sugar, just as I suppose he’s been doing since 1997.

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