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Smoky wood aroma? Check. Light, puffy crust? Check. Char marks that leave an ashy black residue somewhat resembling coal dust all over your fingers? Yeah, pretty much.

All indications suggest that Edan MacQuaid is in the house. Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema broke the news Wednesday that the prominent D.C. pizzaiolo is back at the oven. Again. This time at Local 16 on U Street NW.

You’ll recall that after flaming out at Peter Pastan‘s popular pie palace 2Amys, MacQuaid landed at RedRocks Fire Brick Pizzeria before moving on to Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, which unceremoniously dumped both him and his manager wife this past March.

I was just planning to stop by for a pie at Ardeo + Bardeo in Cleveland Park, which only last month had enlisted MacQuaid as a consultant, before learning that the renowned pizza maker had already rambled on elsewhere.

“The last few years have been interesting,” the pie maestro tells Sietsema.

I decided to waste no further time—who knows when the wily pie guy might jump ship again—and immediately headed over to Local 16 on MacQuaid’s first night for a quick bite.

Instead of the traditional margherita, a MacQuaid specialty, I ordered the “Pizza 16” (pictured), topped with prosciutto, sopressata, and roasted red peppers. I was not disappointed: not too crunchy, not too chewy, with just the right balance of sauce and cheese. I devoured the whole thing, save for a few ashy specks.

Whether or not this was truly indicative of MacQuaid’s handiwork, though, remains to be seen. He tells Sietsema that Local 16 has been making “pretty good pizza already” under chef Alex Vallcorba, a former 2Amy’s colleague of MacQuaid’s. The former Pastan cronies reportedly will be partnering to develop various meat roasts using the wood-burning grill. And, possibly, a s’more pizza.

Next time, I’ll have to stick around for dessert.

Local 16, 1602 U Street NW, (202) 265-2828

Photo by Chris Shott