Friday, October 26, 2007

Nicola's Trattoria-- Foggy Bottom

Last night we went to dinner at this little Italian place called Nicola's, which is on 23rd Street NW between M and N. Since that's not really our neck of the woods, we probably would never have found it except for Open Table. If you're not using Open Table for reservations... why the heck not? We got 1000 Open Table points for dining at Nicola's, so we said... what the hey. We were up for a drive on a rainy Thursday evening...

We hadn't updated the blog for a while, so I (Liza) decided a pizza was in order. Gary got a pasta dish, and we split a salad.

I had some quibbles with the meal-- like, a slice of pear in the salad still had the grocery sticker on it... HELLO-- but Gary thought it was some of the best Italian food he's had in the city. I must admit, the pasta was super yummmmmmmmy.

However, the pizza fell flat. I ordered a 9" mushroom pizza, that had mozzerella, portobella mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately the pizza was just bland tasting. The crust was not well cooked (it looked white) and it was floppy.

Gary liked the pizza better than I did, because he's having the leftovers for dinner tonight. I'll be flying off to Chicago, but I can't say I'll miss having it again.

Our summary review of Nicola's-- go for the pasta, but pass on the pizza.

Liza's review: 1.5 stars
Gary's (pizza) review: 2.0 stars

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Source-- Wolfgang Puck pizza now in DC! (and not the frozen kind)

Monday night we ventured out to Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant, The Source, which is located downtown in the same building as the new Newseum. Since Puck is famous for his fancy-schmancy California pizzas, we decided to go sit at the bar, watch a little Monday Night Football, and try a couple of his chi-chi pizza pies.

There's a restaurant upstairs, but we sat at the bar in the lounge downstairs. It was kind of funny-- being a new restaurant, they were way overstaffed but yet we still got kind of odd service. It took us a while to flag down a bartender, and at the end of the evening she gave us dessert menus and then... left. No dessert for us. Bummer.

Apparently the staff is supposed to serve pizza slices with two forks put together like chopsticks. (Watching the staff actually try to accomplish this is rather humorous.)

But anyway, you might expect some service issues the first week a place is open. We didn't care, we were there for the 'za and MNF and Joey Harrington, because he's so dreamy. (<-- Only Liza thinks this! Signed, Gary)

Liza got the margherita, Gary got some fancy pizza with shrimp, pesto, peppers, and other goodies.

The margherita was okay. It was more of a California style, with tomato slices instead of sauce. The crust was thick-ish and chewy. The pesto pizza was SO flavorful. Really good stuff.

So for the first week on the job, The Source is doing just fine by us.

Liza's rating: 3 stars
Gary's rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's National Pizza Month!

Did you know that October is National Pizza Month? In honor of the holiday, here's a few pizza facts:

National Pizza Month began in 1987.

The people of America eat around 350 slices of pizza each second, or 100 acres per day.

Pizza is a $30 billion a year industry.

In the U.S., there are about 61,269 pizza parlors.

Everyone in the United States eats about 23 lbs., or 46 slices, every year.

Each year in the United States, 3 billion pizzas are sold.

Children ages 3-11 prefer pizza over all other foods for lunch and dinner, according to a recent Gallup Poll.

36 percent of all pizza orders want their pizza topping pepperoni.

We consume around 251,770,000 pounds of pepperonis every year.

Americans prefer meat toppings to veggie toppings by a ratio of 62 to 100. Women order twice as many vegetable toppings than men.

Some popular pizza toppings in Japan are squid and Mayo Jaga (mayonaise, potato and bacon). In India they like pickled ginger, minced mutton and tofu. The people of Brazil prefer green peas for their topping. Russians serve pizza covered in mockba (a mix of sardines, tuna, mackeral, salmon and onions.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tom Sietsema likes 2 Amys, too

2 Amys was reviewed in the Fall Dining Guide in the WaPo:

"Thanks to the arrival of American Flatbread in Ashburn, Bebo Trattoria in Arlington and Comet Ping Pong in Washington -- as well as the ongoing good work of Matchbox and Pizzeria Paradiso, both in the District -- pizza enthusiasts have more places than ever to dig into pies of distinction. Still, the place I gravitate to most often is 2 Amys, home to Neapolitan-style pizzas that are as good for their crusts (yeasty, crisp and blistered from a wood fire) as for their toppings (which run to such mouthwatering enhancements as chanterelles with squash blossoms and grana). Named for the wives of the two owners, 2 Amys isn't just about great pizza. To start, there are lovely "little things," including lemon-kissed fried mussels, and first-class charcuterie (salami-like cured boar is a current favorite). And I wouldn't dream of leaving without a bit of cheese or something sweet, maybe grapefruit panna cotta with a lashing of caramel sauce. The wine list brims with unusual finds (and truly helpful descriptions), and a mere question about one of them might prompt your server to pour you a gratis taste. Diners pay a price for the thrill of first-class dough, though: The main dining room, with its tile floors and pressed tin ceiling, bounces noise around. Discerning adults know to head for the more intimate bar in the back."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Papa John's at FedEx Field

Okay, I have never been more hot than I was today. It is frickin' October, people, and I sizzled like a piece of bacon as I sat in the sun watching the Lions / Redskins game at FedExField. WTH? And on top of that, the Lions got whooped, 34-3.

Anyhoosle, I got a cheese slice at the field. The pizza is Papa John's and I split the slice with guest judge Jenn.

Any pizza you get in a stadium is rubbery. That's just the way it is. But, it had a decent crust and the sauce is sweet, which I like.

It's also a thick crust, which you don't find much outside the Midwest. (For more on the topic, check out this excellent blog, Slice.)

But, it's still stadium pizza. Okay for a nosh during the game but not something I'd go out of my way to find.

Liza's rating: 1.5 stars

Jenn's rating: 2.0 stars

PS-- Highlight of the day: I got to meet former Michigan State running back TJ Duckett.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

OMG, a Celebrity Chef Made My Pizza!

Last night we went across the river to Bebo Trattoria in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, VA. This is a relatively new restaurant from celebrichef Roberto Donna. I could list all his accomplishments, but let's just sum up by saying the dude was on Iron Chef... OMG! (For a TV obsessed Gen Xer like myself, this is big stuff.)

We had heard good things about the pizza, but bad things about the service. Actually, we had quite good service... you might even say "hovering"... so I guess they have taken the bad comments to heart. The only weird part was that when we walked in, the host asked us if we had reservations and we said no, so he told us he had a "special room" for people without reservations. And he seated us in this curtained off area by ourselves. Odd. But then more people got seated there so it wasn't so weird. Anyway.

We split the mista salad as usual, and they served it in a bowl. Then I thought, why doesn't everyone serve salad in a bowl? Salad should be in a bowl, right?

We also both got a nice glass of wine-- Gary, unlike the guy in Sideways, almost always has a merlot. Someone told me that when dining in authentic Italian restaurants you can't go wrong with a Chianti. (I have always shied away from Chiantis because of the Silence of the Lambs connotations...) Well, I ordered a Chianti and it was SO smooth. I usually opt for more fruity wines but this one was excellent-- I may become a Chianti convert.

But this is a pizza blog right? So down to business. I got a red pizza with eggplant, and Gary got the margherita pizza. When our pizzas were served, the waitress said that "the chef was making the pizza today" and by "the chef" she meant THE chef, the man, the celebrichef himself, Roberto Donna! Whoooohoooo! So I was ready to dig in and realized the pizza wasn't cut (just like at 2 Amys) and it was hotter than hell. Or a woodburning oven, one of those two. So our waitress kindly came back with a pizza cutter and cut up our pies.

The pizza was most like the pizza I ate in Italy (which makes sense, since the chef is Italian, duh). It was characterized by a crust so thin that you could read a newspaper through it, and it was quite crispy. Gary complained there wasn't enough cheese, but that's how they make pizza in Italy-- thin crust, light on the sauce, light on the cheese, with a drizzle of olive oil.

I found the pizza to be quite yummy, but Gary wasn't impressed. However, it must be noted that he is suffering from a cold, so his taste buds may not be up to the usual blogging standards.

All in all, I think my American tastes prefer the pizza at Sonoma, but for authenticity, you can't beat Bebo. Gary didn't like the pizza as much, but as noted, he's playing hurt.

As we left, we saw "the man" himself in the kitchen-- they have an open kitchen located right near the door, and passersby can see the chef working. He was making a pizza and looking happy as a clam. If nothing else, you'll know that at Bebo, your pizza is made with love.

Liza's rating: 3.0 stars

Gary's rating: 2.5 stars

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jerry's Pizza and Subs-- National Airport

On Friday night we were in the Northwest terminal, waiting for our delayed flight, starving. Anyone who's flown out of the A terminal at National knows that the food options there are nill. So, we opted for a couple of cheese slices from Jerry's.

When you have to blot the grease off your pizza with a napkin, it's not exactly screaming "quality." The crust was burnt, the cheese was rubbery, and the sauce was blah. The best thing we can say about Jerry's is that it didn't give us food poisoning.

Liza and Gary's rating: 1/2 star