Tag Archives: pizza

Rustico

Upon moving to Northern Virginia, one restaurant that I kept hearing about was Rustico. Two days after moving I was stepping into the restaurant. Two days later, I was stepping into it again.

Both weeknights I went  had a similar vibe. Not too many people in the dining area, but a decent amount at the bar. Sleek lights hang in one portion of the room and a few steps down more rustic (like the restaurant’s name guys!)  lighting illuminates the place.

While Rustico is known for their pizza, my eyes caught the couscous on the menu. It caught my friends too. The couscous carbornara is similar to a risotto with bacon, parmesan, black pepper, truffle oil and garlic. The best part of the dish is the poached egg that sits on top. It has a creamy consistency and they don’t go light with the truffle oil. The couscous was apparently one of the first items Rustico decided to put on the menu and it has been a popular selection since. In fact, DCist featured this exact dish along with a recipe if you want to try and make it.

Like I said, Rustico is known for their pizza which is why I ordered it a couple days later. The white pizza is fairly simple when it comes to ingredients: mozzarella, basil pesto and ricotta. The pizza is pretty thin and there is a good amount of cheese. I liked it, but I was more impressed with Pizzeria Orso down the street.

Another pizza, the spicy shrimp, came with a jalapeno pesto. Caliente! Actually, it’s not too spicy — just keep a drink nearby. Speaking of drinks, Rustico has a happy hour including an enormous amount of  beers.

For $11 I also got an appetizer, the lettuce wrap meatballs with a sweet tomato aioli and a minted yogurt for dipping. Nothing impressed me about this dish other than the pig shaped cutting board.

My second time visiting I finished the meal off with a Nutella cheesecake with a dark chocolate sauce and candied hazelnuts. It was a deliciously light cheesecake. The again, I guess light cheesecake is kind of an oxymoron. Either way, if you make it to Rustico in either Ballston or Alexandria stick to the pizza or couscous.

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Pizzeria Orso

Pizzeria Orso (Italian for bear) opened in Falls Church last June and has been getting impressive reviews from local publications since. Prior to opening, it gained buzz due to their chef, Edan MacQuaid, who has created pies for the popular NoVa joints, 2 Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso and RedRocks in Washington. It also helps that the owners of the fancy French restaurant 2941– also in Falls Church– refers to Orso as their sister restaurant.

The neapolitan pizzeria, not nearly as fancy as its sister, has an open and relaxed dining area with high ceilings and sporadic images of bears. There is even a bear statue upon entering.

To start, my friend and I ordered the suppli al telefono. Or, fried risotto balls. For $5, six of them are topped with a bit of salt that seemed weird at first, but it was a nice compliment to the risotto and melted buffalo mozzarella. As I used my fork to break open the appetizer, mozzarella oozed out.

Steam was still coming out when we got down to the final risotto ball. It looks as though prior to frying the risotto, some sort of tomato sauce is mixed within that brings even more flavor to the delicious starter.

The service at Orso was extremely helpful when it came to describing the pizza. The wood-burning oven was crafted in Italy and shipped to the restaurant. It can reach 900 degrees and that’s hot enough for some of their pizzas to cook in about 30 seconds. Each pizza is individual sized (12″), but I think most could probably split one. That being said, my friend and I decided to order our own. We like to eat.

Per the recommendation of our waiter, we went with the crudo pizza for $15: tomato, mozzarella, basil, arugula, shaved grana (a milder parmesadn) and prosciutto.Another standout creation was the mezzaluna: half margherita pizza and half folded with ricotta, grana and pesto inside.

They don’t shy away from the arugula at Orso. I left some on the pizza, but had to push the rest to side. The pizza had strips of prosciutto baked right in and as I picked it up to have my first bite I was a little disappointed. No, not because of the taste. Instead, it was because the pizza wasn’t cut. I’d be interested to hear why they do this. I’m lazy and ended up tearing my first slice out.

There’s nothing like pizza from a wood-burning grill. It brings such an authentic flavor and pair that with prosciutto, I’m one happy girl. They give you a decent amount of the prosciutto too. You can also tell the sauce is fresh and homemade.

Of course, reading other reviews, there are some who remain loyal to 2 Amy’s and have found ways to nitpick Orso. In order to compare, it looks like I need to schedule a dining session with Amy..and Amy.

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Butter

With a name like Butter it has to be good.

And Butter lived up to the name.

Walking down Lafayette in Manhattan with cold winds whipping at our faces we were frantically looking for the restaurant. We knew the address was 415 and yet we found ourselves passing numbers 410-420 with no 415 in sight. We felt as though we were losing our minds. “For the love of God where is this place!?” I managed to say as my lips instantly became chapped. Then all of the sudden I peered through glass doors and saw some barely readable letters on the door: Butter.

We opened the door and were greeted by the coat check lady. Upon giving her our coats we opened another set of glass doors and walked down the long hallway to the two hostesses. Apparently at 7 o’clock on Monday night reservations are not exactly necessary. Or maybe the empty seats were due to the Arctic weather. Or maybe it’s the fact that New Yorkers eat after nine. I’ll go with the latter.

After having some cheddar biscuits with herb butter we ordered some drinks and the special appetizer. My drink was champagne with concord grape syrup and lemon. Simple, light and delicious. Our appetizer was a wood-fired pizza with ricotta and mozzarella cheese topped with oven-dried tomatoes and artichokes. The tomatoes were the stand out with tons of flavor in every bite. Since the pizza was not on the menu my friends and I tried to guess the price. “Oh, no more than $20,” I said confidently. Oh, it was $25.

Obviously I was not thinking about pinching pennies and I went ahead and ordered the filet of beef for my entree. Topped with cremini mushrooms, I ordered it medium. How pink will the beef come out I asked my waiter. “Pretty pink,” he said. He was wrong. There was absolutely no pink and instead the meat looked well done. Luckily there was enough flavor with the demi glace, mushroom and baby onions to make me forget about what the culinary definition of medium is.

I know the picture does not make it look the most appetizing. It also came with a side of black beluga lentils. I had no idea what they were when I was eating them and when I pulled up the menu online my meal was nowhere in sight. So, instead I e-mailed the chef. The famous chef quickly e-mailed me back to inform me that those lentils are usually served with beef. They had the texture of beans but the appearance of couscous.

For dessert I ordered the raspberry beignets served with a dish of vanilla sauce.

Topped with sugar, these mini donuts were filled with a delicious raspberry jam that oozed out the second I split it with my fork. I was surprised at the large portion. For a fancy restaurant in New York I would have expected one beignet.

Even more surprising was the candle Butter stuck in my friends tort for her 22nd birthday. We had to wait about a minute for the gigantic flame to burn out.

For such an elite restaurant (Beyonce and Prince dine here all the time) the customer service was amazing even for three college girls. From the second we walked through those invisible doors to my e-mail to the chef, Alexandra Guarnaschelli (you can find her on the Food Network!), I always felt appreciated. And if you go here you’ll definitely appreciate the food.

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