Every once in a while, I like to surprise Liza with a "mystery date." Basically, I announce that we're going out to dinner and I don't tell her where we're going.
As we drive to our destination, I try to trick her, swerving the car to suggest that we are going in one direction when actually we are going elsewhere. Then I swerve the other way, back on course.
This is not safe, but I think it's funny.
Liza has a theme song for these dates: "Where in the World is Gary Taking Liza," sung to the theme song of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego."
So on Friday evening, I was driving to Old Town Alexandria as Liza was singing her tune. On Washington Street, there is a pizza place called Faccia Luna. Best I can tell is that the Italian translation of Faccia Luna is "Face On the Moon."
Faccia Luna apparently evolved from an idea by two frat boys from Penn State. When told of this, Liza the Michigan State grad uttered "Boooooooo."
The restaurant is a chain with branches in Arlington, Scranton, Pa., and State College, Pa. The original D.C. location was in Northwest on Wisconsin Avenue, not far from where I used to live pre-Liza.
Faccia Luna calls itself an urban trattoria and it specializes in wood-oven pizzas. I like the layout of the restaurant. You can actually get a booth, and thus some privacy, instead of sitting side by side with complete strangers. The restaurant has an Italian feel, with pictures of daily life in Rome, Venice and other Italian locales framed on the wall.
Liza and I were seated at a booth. She ordered a pinot noir while I had a chianti. Then we ordered a Caesar salad and a Pomodoro pizza. The Pomodoro has fresh tomatoes and garlic, and we asked for some basil as well. (The menu, incidentally, also has some pasta dishes.)
First comment is on the Caesar salad. Now I know this is a Pizza Blog, but can I say this was one of the weakest Caesar salads I've ever had. The lettuce was kind of worn and there wasn't much dressing. Liza was equally unenthusiastic, calling it "average." Not a promising start to this meal.
The pizza arrived seconds after we were done with salad. It was cut into six slices, enough for the two of us.
Cooked in a wood oven, the pizza crust was very well done. Despite the toppings, the crust didn't droop and didn't fall apart after a bite or two. Tasty, too.
I thought the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese had a real nice flavor. Then I took a bite of what had to be a garlic clove, or something.
All of a sudden, all I could taste was garlic.
I enjoyed the rest of the slices, particularly the tomato and basil flavor, but the garlic taste was not going away.
Hello, garlic breath.
Liza summed up our thoughts on this: "We ordered a garlic pizza, so what can you expect?"
If this were our first date, then we probably wouldn't be kissing afterwards. But since we're married, we can kiss to our hearts content.
Overall, we both thought this was good, solid pizza. We liked the layout and atmosphere of the restaurant. Plus, with our garlic breath, we'll be able to fend off vampires and werewolves howling at the Face On the Moon.
Gary's Rating: 3 stars
Liza's Rating: 3 stars