Monday, July 25, 2016

Crystal City: Bozzellis Italian Deli

My work bestie, Jasmine (and real life friend, just so there is no confusion) and I love to go out and try new places for lunch about once a week. Sometimes more if I am bad and don't pack. We both love pizza and are on a mission to try all of the pizza places in the surrounding area. This particular discovery occurred via the search nearby on yelp. Bozzelli's popped up and we have now been here a few times and Jasmine has declared it on of her favorite pizza places in this area.  
Bozzelli's Italian Deli is a local chain (3-4 stores) and this particular location is in Crystal City, a block or two away from the main strip of restaurants. It is a small store front but they have a few pub tables inside and a few tables outside. During lunch hour it can get crazy. The first time we came we ate in the restaurant and the place was filled to the brim with lunch hour folks. 
Pretty much wanting to try everything on the menu, I somehow settled for just one "extra" thing and decided to try the Fried Ravioli. It was awesome - the cheese was gooey and it was a solid marinara dipping sauce. I brought the rest back to my office mate and he scarfed them down and said they were awesome (update - I have also tried the mozzarella sticks, equally cheesy and delicious)
Jasmine ordered one of the set pizzas and it came with mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage and onions. The sausage is phenomenal and this was the pie that won her over. I ordered a pizza with a few veggies and I agreed that this was a good go to place. The second time we came, Jasmine got another assorted meat and veggie pizza and I stole a slice. I normally shy away from meat on pizza but all of the meat at Bozzelli's is great and I find myself leaning towards ordering meaty pizzas. 
I decided to switch things up my second time around and ordered the Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella sub. Very delicious, if you love red peppers and prosciutto I highly recommend this sub.  
Even during lunch hour Bozzelli's is very quick (you can order online/call/in person). Food is delicious. There are a lot of things Jasmine and I wanted to come back and try and I have a feeling it's going to be a part of our normal rotation. 

They also sell wine/beer/other random stuff, which is great if you are taking out for dinner (or want a cold beer with lunch)! 

Would I come back? Yes! White pizza, fried mozzarella/zucchini and pepper shooters are on my to try list! 

2600 Crystal Dr #1
Arlington, VA 22202
Tel: 571-970-4570
Bozzelli's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Event Recap: Giant National Capital BBQ Battle 2016

The Giant Barbecue Battle is one of the largest and most unique food and music festivals in the country with BBQ teams cooking off for their share of cash and prizes and the title of National BBQ Champion. Celebrity chefs like Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone from the BBQ Pitmasters TV show will compete smoker to smoker with Grand Champion teams like Historic BBQ from Lebanon Ohio and Pork Barrel BBQ from right here in Alexandria, Virginia. The Giant BBQ Battle features a series of competitions leading up to the main event including The National Pork BBQ Championship, the Australian Lamb Contest, the Perdue Sizzlin’ Chicken Contest, American Beef Cook-Off, Smithfield Rib Championship, and the Grand Daddy of them all, the KCBS Sanctioned Giant National BBQ Championship Contest. In addition, you’ll be the judge as former and current military chefs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard cook off in a friendly yet highly competitive “People’s Choice” competition to see whose BBQ reigns supreme. (from the Media section of BBQ in DC)

The festival was pretty standard as far as street fairs go. There were lots of vendors lining the streets, live music at the far end, and lots of booths giving away free stuff. April and I walked from booth to booth collecting everything would could. Most of the free giveaways were snackish type treats, like pretzel packs, cookie or candy things, chips, etc. Further down was hot food giveaways. Obviously this was a marketing deal for Giant to let people know about their wide array of products available at their stores but hey, free is free, and I needed something greasy to deal with the hangover from Friday night anyway, so I hit them all. Their wide array of products also included a wide array of quality. I tried several different kinds of burger, sausages, jerk chickens, and frozen treats all ranging from “amazing” to “what did I just put in my mouth?” The lines for everything were pretty long as well. The better part of our day was spent grabbing a snack so we had something to eat while we waiting in line for the next snack.
Next we stopped by the Barefoot vendor and tried some of their spritzers called Barefoot Refresh. I mentioned this in my last entry, but I am not a big wine drinker. These were hardly what I would call wine though. They had frizz, came in a can, and as the name implies, tasted pretty refreshing. Also the booth was a lot of fun with flower necklaces and real sand on the ground, giving it a goofy little beach vibe. They had a red and white version, both were great but I personally preferred the wine. It was a little lighter and slightly more refreshing on a hot DC Saturday.
After a while I decided that it was time to stop messing around with the small samples and get down to business. Barbecue. The reason I came here in the first place. (Well that, and April told me I was covering this event for the blog so I didn’t really have a choice.) The strangest and most disappointing part about the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle is that the Barbecue in the Battle wasn’t actually available for purchase or sample. I came to the event later in the day on Saturday so it is possible that the barbecue was open earlier but I found none up for grabs while I was there.

Instead I settled for a barbecue sandwich from one of the many vendors selling food. I got a North Carolina Style sandwich and a Heinken light beer. I would describe the sandwich as overwhelmingly OK. When I ordered they took meat out of a bin, put it in a cup, microwaved it, and then slapped it on a sandwich and poured on the sauce. That method of service was less than satisfactory and probably affected my overall feelings toward the sandwich. The sauce was nothing special, the meat was a little dry, and the bun was your standard white bread bun. All and all, the sandwich nothing to write home (or, uh a blog) about.
In the end I wasn’t too impressed with the barbecue at this event. It was a fun way to burn a Saturday in the District but because I either missed the actual competition or wasn’t allowed to try any of the barbecue from the competition I really didn’t feel like I got what I came for. That being said, trying all the samples (and getting some to take home) was pretty cool and the music and atmosphere made for a good time. This is a great festival to check out if you want to try products from your local grocery store before committing to purchasing them but they need to work on the barbecue aspect of it. Next year
they need to have an option for people to try the competitor’s barbecue. If that happens, I will definitely be back!


I agree with Brandon's summary of the festival. I was a little more excited about trying all the products that Giant carries then he was but he was spot on about the barbecue. On a side note, my favorite things I tried from the event were the Barefoot White Wine Refresher and the Nature's Promise Lemonade (Giant Brand)

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