Tony Conte, the chef behind Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana situated at 12207 Darnestown Rd. in Gaithersburg, has earned a nomination for a James Beard Award in the Best Chef category for the Mid-Atlantic region (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA).
Established in 1990 and initially presented in 1991, the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards stand as one of five distinct recognition programs under the James Beard Awards umbrella. These accolades acknowledge outstanding talent and accomplishments in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and the broader food system. Additionally, they recognize a demonstrated commitment to principles such as racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and fostering a culture where everyone can thrive.
Chef Tony Conte inaugurated Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in October 2015 after spending nine years at DC’s Oval Room. While Inferno specializes in pizza, patrons often praise the appetizers as equally enticing. Initially considering Verace Pizza Napoletana certification for authentic Neapolitan pies, Conte has since ventured into crafting a more modern product. The restaurant’s website highlights a pizza style known as canotto, gaining popularity among the younger generation of pizzaiolos in and around Naples. Translating to ‘dinghy’ or ‘inflatable raft’ in Italian, canotto refers to the airy outer ring serving as the crust. The dough’s higher water content allows for puffing up, occasional bubbling, and charring. In contrast, a traditional Neapolitan pizza yields a flatter, breadier, and more evenly-colored crust.
Inferno operates four days a week, from Wednesday through Saturday, from 5 pm to 9 pm, or until the dough is depleted. Given the limited availability, those interested in dining in are advised to arrive before the restaurant opens and form a queue outside. Alternatively, for those preferring to enjoy the pizza at home, pre-ordering is an option, with pick-ups available when the restaurant opens at 5 pm. Even carry-out orders are restricted to ensure an adequate supply of dough for in-house customers each day.
Features image shows French White Asparagus at Inferno, courtesy of @TasteMoCo