Monday, February 28, 2011

Pie-Tanza, Wood Fired Pizza

My friend Dani was in town, so we met up for a quick lunch before she had to leave (blog about my trip to visit her in NJ/NYC coming soon). After Saturday's experience at 7th Hill Pizza, I was on a pizza kick. I had heard about this place called Pie-Tanza- it got pretty good reviews (4 ★'s on Yelp and 88% of 226 people liked it on Urban Spoon) so we decided to give it a go.
It was located in a shopping center, which was packed at 3 (maybe it was because of it being a Sunday, and there was a grocery store there?). When we got inside, there were a few tables occupied.
D and I decided to split a pizza and a calzone. We ordered the Margherita Pizza for $11.69.I thought it was lacking in cheese (I do know that margherita pizzas are not covered in cheese-but a little more would have been nice) and the sauce was not memorable. There was plenty of basil on the pizza (which I love) but it wasn't enough to make this pizza a winner. 
For our calzone, we decided to ask the server if she had any recommendations, and she told us the Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzone $11.99 was the most ordered calzone so we decided to get it. This was not to bad, it was filled generously with veggies and sausage, but I thought this too was lacking a crucial part, the cheese. The dipping sauce on the side was good, it had a bit of a kick to it which I liked a lot, but it was a pretty chunky sauce that I would have preferred to be a little smoother.
The inside was cute, the service was good and I was satisfied with my meal but I don't think that I will be coming back here again. I want to clarify that nothing was bad, and maybe I had high expectations due to the good reviews but nothing stood out to me, and I know D felt the same way.
It was located in a shopping center with a Taqueria in it, and Elevation Burger, which are both places I want to eventually try.

2503B N Harrison St
Arlington, VA 

703-237-0200

Pie-Tanza on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 25, 2011

7th Hill Pizza

I actually found out about this place by searching random places on Yelp while at work (when I have down time of course). L and I planned a day trip to DC, so I was trying to find a good place to eat. Being the pizza fanatic that I am, I researched a whole bunch of places in DC and saw what places had good reviews. 

I ended up steering away from the pizza and picking Eastern Market because I have heard they have good lunches and I like the Capital Hill/Eastern Market area. Well it ended up being really packed and overwhelming so we decided to try one of the restaurants we passed on our way.

I remembered the name 7th Hill Pizza from my searches, and as I am always down to try some pizza, we decided to give this place a go. It was very crowded...even for our late lunch hour(after 2). The place is pretty tiny, a couple of tables and a bar. The structure (where to order) is a little confusing when it is crowded, but we managed to score two bar-seats next to each other, which were cool because they overlooked the pizza making.
 
Sometimes I get a mild form of anxiety when I go to a restaurant and I can't decide what to order. When possible I like to look at the menu ahead of time and decide what to get, or narrow it down to a few choices before I step foot in the restaurant. Crazy I know. The point of this little blurb is that L and I sat at the bar for probably a good 10 minutes deciding on what we wanted to order.

L and I actually ended up ordering the same pizza, Barracks Row 8" for $10.95.This came with mozzarella, red onions, mushrooms and spinach. Delish. The cheese, sauce and crust-the foundation of the pizza were all very good. The toppings were hearty, unlike a lot of places where you get 3-4 mushrooms on the entire pizza.

I actually got my pizza without mushrooms because I am not a fan, but the flavors still went really well together.
The names of their pizzas are related to things in DC i.e. Capitol Hill, Union Station, Barracks Row, etc.-which I think is really cool, but I am a sucker for themes.
The chef of this place, Anthony Pilla (click here for a cool video of him pizza flipping and stuff), was very friendly, he asked if we were enjoying our food. He asked us if we wanted to try one of the calzones, but we were so stuffed from the pizza that we declined. We saw one being made for a group of people near us and it looked amazing, but it was to big, and we would not of been able to eat it, so he told us he would make a small one...as you can see by the photo...it was NOT small.
Just look at this AmaZingness....it was wonderful. He actually gave it to us on the house (originally around $6 I think), which was very kind, thanks to L for being so pretty :)
I definitely want to come back and try out another pizza or one of their sandwiches-maybe when it is warmer out so we can sit in the outdoor sitting. The guy sitting next to me ordered the turkey sandwich (not listed on the website, but they have a whole bunch of sandwiches on the menu in store) which looked amazing-I of course asked him, and he let me that it indeed tasted as good as it looked. If I still worked on Capital Hill I would probably become some sort of a regular.

327 Seventh St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202.544.1911

7th Hill Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pupuseria El Buen Gusto

I am pretty obsessed with Yelp, so sometimes while I am driving around I like to use the application on my phone and "search nearby" to see if I can find any hidden gems (don't worry Mom, only while I ride passenger seat). Pupuseria El Buen Gusto popped up, and they had 4 1/2 Stars, which is rare, so I decided to read the reviews which were all great so I knew that I had to try this place.

I have never had Salvadorean food and it claimed to be very authentic, so I decided to ask my friend Ed if he would come try it with me. He read the reviews and based on the claims agreed to try it out with me.
G, E and I set out around 7pm Thursday night to try this place. Although not hard to find, this is not a place I would have discovered without googling around Fairfax for Hispanic or Salvadorean food as it is tucked away in the corner of the shopping center. This place is really close to GMU, about a 5 minute drive away.

After we find the restaurant, we go inside and it is as small as the reviews claim-3 booth seats and a bar seating area with 4/5 stools.  Luckily we managed to grab a booth seat.
When the waitress came over to get our drink orders, I decided to go all out and tell E to order me something authentic. He ordered us Horchatas $2.99, a milk-like drink that can include ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tigernuts, vanilla and rice(correction thanks to Rose, I am pretty sure it has rice, but they didn't tell me what was included so I googled the possible ingredients). It was a pretty tasty, a little heavy and it seemed more like a dessert to me. I would get this drink again, although I don't know if I would get it here because of the price.
They also brought us out some chips and salsa. This was very good, but it was a very small portion.
Next we decided to get 3 Pupusas, a traditional Salvadorean dish, for our appetizer, $1.99 each. We got the Queso, which was E's favorite. I thought it was pretty tasty but I am not a huge fan of large portions of cheese. Next we got the Chicharrón(pork) con queso which was good (E's least fav) and the Chicharrón, loroco, queso and frijoles(beans) which was my favorite. They were served with marinated cabbage and some sort of salsa. I was told that the salsa was not the normal sauce that was typically served with this dish. It didn't really go well with the pupusas but the cabbage went really well. 
(blogger apparently won't let you rotate pictures and they insert them in the way they think best so I apologize for the vertical view)
I decided to order the Tacos de Carne Asada $8.99 served with pico de gallo and an avocado slice. I chose to get the flour tortillas(instead of corn). I really liked these-quality meat and flavored well, and the pico and avocado were fresh. G thought it was a little weird that they put radish in the pico, but I didn't notice a difference in the taste.
E got the Plato Tipico $8.99 which includes two pupusas, a chicken tamale, rice and beans. He liked his dish a lot. I tried a bite of his tamale and I thought it was pretty good, it was a different consistency than tamales that I have had before.
G got Carne Deshilada for $11.99, shredded tender flank steak cooked with eggs(you had the option to get without eggs) served with rice, beans and a slice of avocado on the side. I really liked this dish, the eggs and shredded steak were an interesting but very tasty combo and G seemed to enjoy it too.
Our final bill ended up being $50.59, which is not too bad considered we were all stuffed, and had some left overs. Some of the things are a little pricey, like the Horchatas.This is typical of a "hole in the wall" restaurant. They didn't have fountain drinks and they don't serve tap water, so be prepared to shell out some dough if you get thirsty.

The service was great, our server was very helpful, and when G left his "doggie bag" on the table she ran out and gave it to him.

Next time I am craving some tacos, I would definitely call and order carryout or come eat in again to try some of their other specialties.Based on the size of the place, be prepared to order takeout if there is no room to sit.

10012 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22031
703-218-3489
Pupuseria El Buen Gusto on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gordon Biersch

I have been sick for the past week and I hadn't eaten anything,but I was feeling better and hungry so G and I decided to go out to dinner. We have been to Gordon Biersch before and the food was pretty good. I mainly wanted to come for their Garlic Fries because I could barely taste anything due to my illness, and I figured I would be able to taste their fries. Please excuse the poor quality of the photos, I didn't have my camera, so I just used my phone.
We started off with their Garlic Fries $5.95. Last time we were here the fries were amazing, but this time they were a little too salty. There were still edible, just not up to par.
G got the Pulled Pork Sandwich for $9.50. There was a hearty portion of pulled pork, you definitely get your moneys work of pork. It was decent-had a little kick to it, nothing to brag home about. The chips served with the meal were pretty bland, didn't taste like much.
I decided to try the pizza, I did a create your own with onions and sausage $10.95 + $1.00 for every topping. I was very disappointed in this, I didn't really have an appetite but I ALWAYS have room for some good pizza. The sauce, cheese and toppings were lacking-I will not be giving pizza another chance from here.
Ive tried burgers, tacos and fries here, and steak years ago, and it was all very good. This wasn't the best experience I have had here and I understand everyone has off nights, so I would be willing to go back here and try some more of their food.

Gordon Biersch Brewery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Al-Maza

Al-Maza is a Lebanese restaurant located in Old Town Fairfax. My Mom and I both enjoy Lebanese food, and I have been wanting to try this for awhile so we decided to go. This place is huge and very clean-but it was very empty so I was a little worried. We decided to sit at the booths (my favorite kind of seat) and give it a go.
Mom and I ordered some Vegetarian Grape Leaves $4.95 to to start off our meal. They were pretty tasty, not to briny-which I find is problem I often come across when ordering these. I would have preferred a little more filling and I probably wouldn't order this again unless I really had a craving for grape leaves and I needed a quick fix.
My mom and I went to London a few years ago for my spring break and we had this amazing version of Fattoush $6.95 (description), and nothing has lived up to it since. Everytime I got to a Lebanese restaurant I order this and I have yet to have a salad that matches the one I had in London. This salad was really good, and I would order it again.
Mom ordered the mixed grill $14.95, which came with chicken, meat and vegetable skewers. The meat and chicken were both moist and tender, good quality-really tasty, especially the meat. The vegetables needed to be on the grill a little bit longer. It came with this white garlic dipping sauce which was tasty, if you are not a fan of garlic I would not suggest tasting this.The hummus was sub par, I would not order this by itself, but as part of the dish it was not bad.It also came with basmati rice, which is one of my favorite rices.
One of my favorite dishes is the Chicken Shawarma Wrap $6.95 (marinated chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and tahini sauce). This was good, I was not a fan of their Tahini Sauce, but with the sandwich it was pretty good-quality meat once again. For the price and quality of the sandwich I would get this again.
Their pita bread is not that tasty-kinda dry, but it will suffice if you need it to dip in the hummus or sop up some extra sauce.

If you do eat in, they offer bottled drinks for purchase.

After writing this review I checked out their yelp reviews (pretty surprised I didn't do this before I went), and they got a 4/5 stars. I don't know if I would sit down and eat here again, it is kinda pricey depending on what you get-but carry out is a good option. I do want to come back here and try some more of the wraps/sandwiches and if I am feeling like spending a little bit more money, try some of their meat combos.

There is a free parking garage in Old-Town that is across the street, or free lots scattered around Old Town that get packed pretty quickly.

Al-Maza
10427 N St
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 865-8401

Al-Maza Lebanese Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 3, 2011

H street, Fruitbat and Frites

Luckily I have wonderful friends who are in support of my blogging aspirations and share my love of food and drinks so L and L2 decided to venture with me to H-street to try a couple of places I had heard about through thrilllist. Our first stop of the night was Fruit Bat, offering "fresh-squeezed and seasonal juice cocktails" and serving "South-American/Central American street-fare with a heavy vegetarian focus."
We are all quick walkers but with L being the extreme power walker, we actually pass fruit bat on our first attempt by about 2 blocks. We turn around and take it a little bit slower and finally arrive at the bar (you can see why we missed it the first time in the pic below).
It is a pretty small bar/seating area, but it's clean, well-decorated and pretty empty when we arrive. We decide to sit at the bar so we can bombard the bartenders with questions about the drinks and the bar (they were both very patient with us, points for service).
The menu looks pretty good, and we are all hungry, so L and L2 order the Arepa de Casa $4 "vegetarian white corn griddle cake con queso blanco." It was basically a corn cake filled with cheese. The dish came with a side of marinated coleslaw. They both enjoyed their dishes, and I thought it was pretty tasty.
I decided to get the Ensalada Loco $7 "corazones(heart) de palm, avocado, tomato salad and cilantro dressing." This was very visually appealing and presented very nicely compared to the arepas. All of the vegetables were fresh and delicious. The only downside to the dish is that you couldn't taste the cilantro in the dressing at all-and I love cilantro so this was very disappointing because this is what made me choose the salad over tacos. There were a lot of tomatoes, and I can only take so much, so L & L2 were happy to oblige and finish up the dish.
I decided to order a Lime Libations drink, a Passion Fruit Caiprowska ($10). This drink was pretty good, I probably should have tried one of their seasonal drinks, but I played it safe. I didn't really taste a distinction in the flavors and I probably wouldn't order this specific drink again.
L got "Rabbit Juice", "Rabbit Hole", or "Down the Rabbit Hole($9)." (same drink, 3 ways of putting it I guess?) After she ordered this, we heard a blending noise and looked over to see them juicing the carrots. This orange colored drink is made out of fresh squeezed carrot juice, ginger vodka and ginger-ale. L thought this drink had been an off choice but L2 suggested the addition of some freshly squeezed OJ, which made this drink a lot better.
L2 got the Dark Knight ($9) which consists of rye whisky, Crème de cacao and blackberry. This drink packs a punch-definitely worth your money for the alcohol content alone. It was pretty tasty, but very strong. You could taste the whiskey and the cacao, and they complimented each other. I personally did not get a strong taste of blackberry. L2 liked her drink, but it took awhile to finish, definitely a drink you only order one at at time.

Below are the wall ferns they boast about coming out of the wall. And not shown is their "condiment" bar, which has about 4 things you can add to your drink.

This is a great place to come and enjoy a cocktail with your friends and just catch up. When we first got there, it was empty, but it was packed by the time we left. I would suggest getting there around 5-7 to ensure good seating. We all agreed that we want to come here again in the summer and see what sort of seasonal cocktails they have created with fresh berries. 

*they can't split checks very well, so if you want to pay separately, then make sure to ask at the beginning*
Fruit Bat on Urbanspoon
After hangin around for a little while we decided to go next door to Granville Moores. A "Belgium Beer and Gastro Pub." I had heard that they serve really good oysters and pommes frites (french fries) and we could all use some good frites and a tasty beer. 
picture from http://www.granvillemoores.com/
L ordered Leffe. I actually liked her beer more than mine, it was light and crisp-and they give you this neat cup to pour it in.
L2 and I ended up getting Affligem, which was also good. It's a pale ale, but it had a more cloudy look to it. I would drink this again, but like I said previously I prefer the Leffe.
We decide to split an large order of the Frites for $7.50. Hearty portion and delicious taste. This alone with the dipping sauces would make me come back. To bystanders, the way we consumed these fries probably made us look drunk.They were that good. I think we may have spent a total of 30-45 minutes tops in this place.
We got a choice of 2 dipping sauces with our fries so we picked Garlic Ranch and Truffle Aioli...AMAZING. I have never had truffles before, and just trying the dipping sauce makes me want to try more. It is an originial flavor that I can't really compare to anything else.
We decided to try a new flavor, Maple Dijon...horrible, couldn't even force ourselves to eat more than one bite.
Yet another reason why L and L2 are great to accompany me to these places. After the horrible experience with the Maple Dijon Dip, we decided to just get another Truffle Aioli. After we had finished our fries, we decided the the Aioli was so good we did not want to waste it, so being the classy ladies that we are, some finger dipping may have occurred. 

@ Granville Moores, splitting the bill 3 ways, we each paid about $9, adding $2 for a tip. Not bad as we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and would definitely come back here again to try more Belgium beers, eat more frites and maybe try a Bison Burger. I would like to come earlier though so we could get a table instead of sitting at the bar.
Just a blurry, but pretty picture of the Capital driving back home.

If you can, I would recommend driving to this location, or taking a cab from the metro, the walk from the metro to H-street is not in the best neighborhood, and it would be a long walk.

Granville Moores
1238 H Street NE
Washington D.C.
(202) 399-2546

Fruit Bat
1236 H St NE
Washington, DC
(202) 399-2323