The strip of storefronts across the street from the Cleveland Park Metro station is filled with classier restaurants: Ardeo + Bardeo, Ripple, Lavandou, and Dino are all there, and Palena is only shopping center away. But tucked in among these pricey, white tablecloth restaurants is Vace, an unassuming Italian delicatessen and store that’s hands down the best food value in the neighborhood.
Let’s start with the pizza. Is it 2 Amys or La Forchetta? No, but it’s not supposed to be, and it won’t cost you nearly as much, either. Vace spreads the cheese on first and then layers the tomato sauce on top, all on top of a nice thin crust. It’s some of the best pizza-by-the-slice I’ve found in DC, and it’s only a couple of bucks a slice. Two pieces of pizza and you’ve got yourself a quick, cheap lunch.
But as good as this pizza is, the reason to go to Vace is for the Italian delicatessen and store. Think typical glass case filled with cured Italian meats and delicious cheeses, including some fresh house-made mozzarella. Vace will either make you a sandwich or sell you meat and cheese by the pound to make your own at home. Bring these sandwiches to work for a week, and you’ll never want PB&J or a frozen burrito again.
A couple of steps across the store from the deli counter is a row of refrigerators and freezers housing homemade sauces, fresh homemade pastas, and a large selection of frozen stuffed pastas. It’s dinner made easy: all you need is a pot of boiling water and a microwave. If you don’t want to spend money at a nice Italian restaurant but want the next best thing at home for less, Vace should be your first stop home from work or from class.
My go-to at Vace? Frozen cheese tortellini, which I stash in my freezer at home for a quick pasta dinner when a box of dried linguine just won’t do. A one-pound bag for around $4 lasts for four dinners, making it easily worth the price. Heat up the tortellini in a pot of chicken broth for a simple tortellini en brodo soup, or saute sausage, peppers, and peas in some olive oil before tossing your boiled tortellini in the plan; both make for a delicious dinner in a matter of minutes. I promise you’ll be running back to Vace when your bag runs out.