Area Pizza Lovers Pick Their Prize Pies By Molli and Andy Yood
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, March 15, 2001; Page SM06

Alert the media. The votes are in for Southern Maryland's best pizza.

Local Tastes received hundreds of votes (not including pregnant or dimpled chads), and while there was some evidence of collusion, we didn't need Katherine Harris to certify the results.

There weren't a lot of votes for franchises. Your pizza palate is sophisticated, and we had fun stuffing ourselves checking out your choices.

In each county there was a clear winner. In Calvert County, Vic's Italia by the Bay in Chesapeake Beach won going away. The favorite in St. Mary's County is Pizza Hotline in Charlotte Hall. And Charles County readers overwhelmingly favor Pizza Hotline in La Plata.

Vic's crushed the Calvert competition. They make a thin-crusted pizza that'll bring a smile to your face. Many readers pointed out that the crust is made from scratch and that the pizza is cooked in Vic's wood-burning brick oven. Voter Burt Shaffner described the pizza as light, thin and crunchy -- and consistently good. Roy and Shirley Crockett like the "Margherita," mozzarella and fine herbs with fresh basil and classic tomato sauce. Stephan Malloy had a simple reason for voting for Vic's: The pie simply tastes better, especially the white pizza (garlic, olive oil, herbs and a blend of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese).

Two Pizza Hotline locations were the other winners. Brothers Chris and George Heinze run the La Plata and Charlotte Hall favorites. George Heinze has the St. Mary's operation in the Charlotte Hall Shopping Center next to the Amish Farmers Market. He received a ton of votes for his delicious medium crust pie. Bob Blackistone said the pizza is great, and he likes the fast delivery. Pizza Hotline is mostly a carryout and delivery place but there are a couple of booths for those who want to eat their pizza there.

Chris Heinze runs the Pizza Hotline on Charles Street in La Plata. Joe Bell voted for the pizza he calls "da bomb." He loves the aroma and taste of the Hotline pies. Heinze's sauce and crust drew lots of votes. Joanne Worden said the sauce is "smooth and not acidy." Patrick Fisher called it "the Picasso of Pizza because they make it look like a work of art." Christiana Adams praised the service. Liza Leitch recalled the day she was starving and her pizza was delivered in 11 minutes! "My boss and I were astonished," she said.

Chris Heinze has a lot of fans, and not just for his pizza. Maryellen Rogers of Welcome said it's time to return the love and support he has shown. Her vote was "for everything that he has or would do for everyone else."

Greg Atkins, who used to work at Pizza Hotline, told us that Chris Heinze left college to run the business with his brother George when their father died. Atkins recounted incidents such as when Heinze gave a $20 bill and a pizza to a man "you or I might describe as an old drunk." The man started to cry. Atkins said Heinze often refuses to take a dime for the orders that go to "a convent down Route 6."

Working for Heinze, Atkins said, "motivated me to get my life together and go back to school. I went from getting into trouble with the law to getting my master's in business administration" -- quite a testimonial for a pizza parlor.

There are lots of other pizzas in Southern Maryland that have fans. In Calvert, Mamma Lucia's (Dunkirk) and Guido's (Lusby) did well in the voting. In St. Mary's, Niko's Restaurant in Lexington Park was first runner-up. Ledo's (La Plata) in Charles County was the choice of many, especially those who remember the original Ledo's from their days at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Thank you all for your votes. We enjoyed hearing from you. Let's lift a slice to all those wonderful Southern Maryland pizzas, and to the people who make them for us.

2001 The Washington Post Company