Some things are just built to be taken to the extreme. Some sports, most obviously, lend themselves to over-the-top adaptation: a skiier’s hills can be steeper, a rock climber’s mountains can be higher, a biker’s course can be more fraught with peril. So too are certain foods pushed to their limits, notably pizza. It seems the toppings can always be piled higher, in combinations flush with complexity, until the crust is struggling under the weight. In the vein of this more is more mentality is Extreme Pizza, a West Coast pizza chain that opened up a spot in Pentagon City this summer.
The small dining room in Arlington’s Extreme Pizza is decorated in a heart-quickening display of extreme sports photography, the images fixed to the wall with bungee cords and other climbing rigging. Colorful kayaks are suspended overhead. But if this display doesn’t get the pulse racing, a look at the menu just might.
There’s not a “pepperoni pie” or “plain cheese” in sight. (One could surely be built through the Create Your Own Extreme Pizza option, at a base cost that ranges from $6.50 for an eight-inch pie up to a $17.75 18-inch pie, but that seems to go against the pizza philosophy here.) Among the Signature Pizzas – which are divided between Veggin’ Out Pizzas and Carnivore Pizzas, both ranging in price from a $8.25 eight-inch pie to a $26.25 18-inch pie – there is no shortage of clever pizza names with clever topping combinations. Holy Cow! is the multi-cheese menu pick, with Swiss, fontina, gorgonzola, and mozzarella cheese combining with roasted walnuts and sage. The Screamin’ Tomato steps down to just two cheeses, mozzarella and cheddar, tomato sauce optional, but adds tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
Even bland chicken gets boisterous on the menu, offered in three treatments (Thai, barbecue, and grilled) on pies with in-your-face names like Ragin’ Rooster (barbecue chicken with red onion, cilantro, and cheddar and mozzarella cheeses) and Kickin’ Chicken (Thai-style chicken with peanuts, green onion, cilantro, and a Swiss-fontina-mozzarella cheese trio).
The Drag It Thru the Garden makes the most of the house’s many available toppings for a stacked veggie-lovers pie. Big slices of tomato cover most of the pizza’s surface. Beneath are hearty chunks of broccoli and artichoke heart, and slices of mushroom, green pepper, and red onion, all on a tomato sauce base sprinkled in mozzarella and cheddar cheese. The snap of fresh vegetables give this pizza a boost, and the range of tastes and textures on the pie makes for an interesting meat-free option.
The Yard Sale is touted on the menu as an all-time favorite. In similar style to the Garden, the Yard Sale is veggie-packed. Massive tomato discs, crunchy green pepper and red onion slices, mushrooms, and slightly tangy black olives top the pie, as do mozzarella and cheddar cheese. There’s Italian sausage, pepperoni, and salami, too, but under the weight of the veggie toppings the meat flavor doesn’t come through, save for a taste here and there of something savory with a hint of fennel.
There are non-pizza options on the menu as well – salads, wings, breadsticks, and the like. The sandwiches ($7.95 apiece) are listed as Monster Subs, and for good reason. An order of the Chicken Pesto brings to the table a toasted sub roll so full of chicken, provolone cheese, and thick, nutty pesto that it can hardly close.
Among the desserts are the Pow Pows! ($4.25), fluffy baked dough twists sweetened by hazelnut and chocolate sauces that ensure diners can end an Extreme meal with a one-two punch of flavor.
Extreme Pizza is located at 1419 S. Fern St., Arlington. For more information, call 703-271-1020 or visit pentagoncity.extremepizza.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.