about us

The philosophy behind Mia’s Pizzas is simple, but important: great food and better customer service.

Mia’s Pizzas opened in the popular restaurant district of Bethesda, Maryland in September 2006. Previously occupied for thirty years by Il Forno, Mia’s Pizzas takes pizza to the next level. In a tribute to her restaurant’s popular neighborhood predecessor, Chef Melissa Ballinger adapted and recreated one of Il Forno’s most popular pizzas and now serves it as a signature dish of her own. This respect for traditions of old, as well as an eye towards the future, can be seen throughout Mia’s extended menu, specialty pasta dishes, and nightly specials.

A signature wood-fired oven is the centerpiece of the Mia’s Pizzas kitchen. The 4,000 pound monolithic structure was built in Seattle, Washington and shipped cross country as one complete piece. The oven was carefully chosen by Chef Ballinger and is considered to be the best of the best for cooking pizza. Attention to quality and providing the best possible culinary experience for our customers is the cornerstone of Mia’s Pizzas.

When you walk in to Mia’s Pizzas you become part of our family. We have watched children grow up in our restaurant, engagements, weddings, parties and family gatherings of all kind. Chef Ballinger prides herself on building relationships with everyone that walks through the doors of Mia’s Pizzas.

about the chef

Melissa Ballinger…her food and her causes are well known to the D.C. Metropolitan Area. Beginning her career in the 1980s, Melissa gained notoriety through her role as an Executive Chef at famed D.C. institutions such as New Heights, Washington’s Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, and as Corporate Chef for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Chef Ballinger has also actively given back to the community that supports her through her participation with programs and organizations such as “Project Uplift”, “Share Our Strength”, “Food & Friends”, and “Habitat for Humanity”.

Although she is a self-taught chef, after cooking professionally for many years Melissa was chosen to attend Madeleine Kamman’s elite “School for American Chefs”. Chef Ballinger also attended Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne and holds an honorary degree from L’Academie de Cuisine.

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