Monday, September 29, 2014

Merrifield Brunch: Ovvio Osteria

The Story: I LOVE brunch – which is funny because I spent the majority of my life avoiding breakfast/brunch dishes. What I love even more is bottomless brunch – however I’m not a huge fan of having to travel all the way into DC to get it. I recently had the opportunity to try out the new fall menu of Ovvio Osteria last week (post coming soon!) and funny enough I had made plans to visit them for brunch this past Saturday after a 9am flag football game. What drew me to them initially was the fact that they had $1 mimosas during brunch and had a biscuits and gravy dish.

Ovvio Osteria is a semi-new restaurant in the Merrifield area (right across from the Dunn Loring metro) with a new chef, Richard Hetzler. Serving up Italian classics focusing on seasonal and local ingredients Ovvio features a variety of delicious salads, pizzas, pastas and entrees having something for everyone. 

$1 mimosas – could there be anything better? I was quite pleased with the mimosas – much better than some of the bottomless ones I have had. Coffee was served with a french press but was grainier then normal with the two servings that my friend had. 
Bread basket to start the meal - two different breads which were delicious served with quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  
For an appetizer we split the Semolina Panettone (fancy French toast) $13 mascarpone, fig, fruit compote, potato cake. We were a little split on this dish as far as likes/dislikes. One of my friends, while being a big fan of the bread used was not a fan of the filling. Another loved everything about this dish while I was partial to the fruit toppings but otherwise this dish was not for me. 
Vegetable Frittata $13 mushroom, roasted cherry tomato, parmesan, saffron potato served with a mixed green salad and your choice of a biscuit or semolina toast. We all agreed that this could have used a lot more flavor and the potatoes tasted a little powdery. The salad was perfectly dressed and the toast was a great carby addition. 
While the biscuits and gravy were delicious, the Breakfast Calzone $14 egg, taleggio, pancetta, Italian sausage, tomato sauce totally stole the show. Dubbed as a hangover cure by one friend this dish was given an A+ by the three of us (plus another by a husband for the leftovers). The combo of the delicious dough and stuffing was perfection, a dream comfort food and as good as you imagine it would be. Word to the wise this dish is huge and would good to share or take home for leftovers.  
Parmesan Biscuits $14 spicy Italian sausage gravy, poached egg, parma prosciutto, zabaglione. Think of this as a biscuits and gravy benedict. It’s pretty much a given that if any form of biscuits and gravy is on the menu I will order it. Ovvio Osteria’s did not disappoint. The twist of the parmesan biscuit (think of a high class delicious cheese-it plus a biscuit) and Italian sausage used in the gravy made this dish stand out. I liked the twist of the poached egg on top but sadly Ovvio needs to work on their poaching, the yolks were cooked on my egg so I just pushed it aside. Another fun twist to this dish was the prosciutto – I must have been so excited about biscuits and gravy that I didn’t realize that there was prosciutto on the side – heaven sent. 
I am really excited about this place. Being so close to my house and having delicious food and a great deal on their mimosas repeat visits will definitely happen. They still need to work a little on their service – it started off really slow (and for an almost empty restaurant that really shouldn’t have been the case) and picked up towards the end. The only things I was unhappy about were they poached eggs – crucial if you are going to be serving brunch and the fact that my friend wasn’t notified that she was going to be charged for more coffee when she asked for another cup – a nice notification would have been nice as most places just have a flat fee for coffee.  

Would I come back? Yes, definitely will. They have delicious food and lots of fun specials throughout the week to draw people in. 

2727G Merrilee Way
Merrifield, VA
Closest Metro: Dunn Lorring 
Twitter @OvvioOsteria
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Preview: VEGFEST 2014

I was recently invited to a preview for VEGFEST 2014. VEGFEST is a huge vegan festival organized by Compassion Over Killing (COK) with several awesome companies sponsoring this event. While at the preview held at Bus Boys and Poets (who has a new vegan menu that I will be writing about it a separate post!), I had a chance to see who some of the sponsors are and try their products. It definitely opened my eyes to a lot of new things and even though I am not a vegan, I was really impressed by a lot of the different food and merchandise. What I really liked is that some of the products had a great message behind them. It’s always great to see companies giving back and trying to better the world.

VEGFEST 2014 is this Saturday, September 20 from 11-6 at Yards Park in DC – did I mention it’s a free festival! No entrance free, tons of free samples and vendors selling things. First 1000 guests will receive a free goody bag! I received a goody bag when I was at the preview, and let me tell you, it was super awesome. One of the best goody bags I have received. Vegans sure know how to party :) 

Even if you are not a vegan, I highly recommend checking out this festival. You will learn a lot, enjoy a lot of food and see some really cool speakers, including this awesome woman - Dr. Betty Smith.

See below for some of the awesome sponsors

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Falls Church: Taco Bamba

Being an avid taco lover I was thrilled to stumble upon Taco Bamba on one of my many google searches for food. Taco Bamba is owned by Chef Victor Albisu, owner of the well known Del Campo in DC (just looked at the menu, wow - need to go asap...their brunch is swoon worthy). Taco Bamba is Albisu's take on Mexican street food, and according to one of my Californian friends, he definitely hit the spot.
Not only does Taco Bamba offer tacos, but also a selection of sides, sopas, tortas and other miscellaneous items. I went with a big group of people - about 10. It's important to note that there are no tables, just a bar along the wall and some chairs outside. This is not the place to catch up with friends - this is a place to eat delicious tacos. 
We all got a random assortment of tacos. Tacos are either $3 or $4 a piece, half being specialty tacos with toppings for a $1 more. I got two $3 tacos : barbacoa and carnitas and a $4 taco: Taco Bamba Skirt Steak, Chorizo, Grilled Guacamole, Chicharrones. I also got a side of grilled guacamole and chips. Definitely better then Chipotle's (gasp).
The favorites of the night were varied, but the chicken, taco bamba, tongue, goat, mushroom and barbacoa were all talked about. Basically if there is a meat you like, you will most likely enjoy the taco. I recommend playing it safe for 2 out of 3 tacos and then getting something different for your third. I did not do that, but I did try one of my friends goat tacos and mushroom tacos. I could not be convinced to try the tongue but the 4 people who were daring enough to all said it was really good.  
They offer three different salsas, the verde was my favorite!
Now, I really liked these tacos, however the "gringa" in me should have gotten her act together and ordered the tacos on flour tortillas instead of the usual corn (totally possible, I asked after my meal) and the tacos would have made it from like to LOVE. Guess I have to go back again, darn. 

Would I come back? YES

2190 Pimmit Drive
Falls Church, VA
-it's behind the Whole Foods shopping center
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ballston: Rustico

After walking up and down several flights of stairs to help a friend move out of her apartment we decided that we needed some substance and headed over to Rustico for one of their delicious and totally original dishes, carrot hummus (past review OCT12).

We decided to split a couple of appetizers for our meal instead of getting entrees. 

Carrot Hummus spiced lamb, crumbled feta, pita: I'm really not sure how to describe the wonderful flavors of this dish but if you like hummus, this is a milder version, but still flavorful in it's own way. Topped with lamb chili and crumbled feta, it really is perfection in a dish. One I need to learn to recreate ASAP.
Fried Green Tomatoes bacon jam, avocado ranch, arugula: This dish had so much potential but unfortunately the main component was not up to par. The actual tomatoes were sliced so thin that all you could taste was the breading. The bacon jam was everything you could have ever hoped it would be and more and the avocado ranch was delicious. 
French Fries herb and garlic: The garlic flavor was there but the fries were not fried the first time around, they were limp and soggy. We sent them back and they brought us new ones which had the appearance of being fried but were not cooked in the middle. Huge fail.
Service was seriously lacking this time around (not rude - just pretty much ignored us), and they royally screwed up the fries twice (how hard is it to cook some darn fries??). We didn't want to complain and get a 3rd order so we ended up just leaving them untouched. Our server was probably just having an off day...or we were sitting in the bar area drinking ice tea so we probably weren't on his high priority list. 

Would I come back? Yes. Although service wasn't the best, they weren't rude and their carrot hummus with lamb is really spectacular - a must order dish. I am also really curious about their pizza with a chick pea crust so a visit in the future will probably happen. 

4075 Wilson Blvd
Arlington VA
Closest Metro: Ballston 
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