Dining & Designing in the District

A His and Her Perspective

‘Ella-good

Ella’s Wood-Fired Pizza • 901 F Street NW • (202) 638-3434

Her Perspective

Pizza! It had been a while since we went out for pizza, and it was time– we were hoping– for a better pizza review (i.e. compared to Pizzeria Paradiso S: Amen, sister. I looked up “best DC pizza” on Gridskipper, and we decided on checking out Ella’s just because it was conveniently located between work and metro to home. As soon as I walked in the restaurant, I felt like it was a good choice. It smelled good and felt cozy. I got the Di Mare pizza (shrimp, pesto, roasted peppers, pine nuts), which was delicious. Not your traditional pizza choice, and I was a little nervous about it, but I’m glad I tried it. The flavors mixed nicely, and it wasn’t too fishy. Loved the pesto.

So… inspired by the seafood pizza, tonight we’re cooking a pizza with veggies and scallops. Just took it out of the oven– smells delicious. I had a little accident with the lemon pepper, so I hope it’s not too intense.

Scallop pizza

Our pizza, just before we put it in the oven

We started off by chopping onions, green peppers and some basil. S: It’s a good thing we make recipes that involve chopping things. Otherwise I’d be useless. Then I cooked the onions and scallops in some garlic, oil and this delicious roasted red pepper-artichoke tapenade (from Trader Joe’s). S: The tapenade was delicious! I’m writing this a good four weeks after the event and I still remember liking it. After I put in too much lemon pepper, I added some wine to cut the intensity. I let this cook for a while– maybe 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Scott rolled out the dough (the herbed kind, again from TJ’s). We spread some roasted garlic tomato sauce onto the pizza, sprinkled a little crushed red pepper, and added mushrooms, green peppers, basil and the onion-artichoke-scallop mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 425F.

For dessert tonight, we’re having coffee-chip ice-cream. I figure that also counts as inspired from the tiramisu and chocolate pudding we ordered at Ella’s. I didn’t love the dessert, though the chocolate pudding was decent. A little powdery-tasting… but maybe I just don’t love pudding in general. I’m still looking for the perfect DC tiramisu. Hmm… But, all in all, Ella’s is definitely worth checking out. A nice variety of options to choose from, interesting taste, good service. I would go back.

dessert

Chocolate Pudding and Tiramisu at Ella's

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His Perspective

First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed the pizza we made at Rachna’s place. I highly recommend your following her recipe to the letter and making it one night. Whatever you do, don’t skip the scallops. Despite what Rachna terms “the lemon pepper incident” they really made the pizza. Maybe it was the novelty of having a scallop on a pizza? I don’t know. But they were very tender, VERY flavorful, and all-around a nice addition to the meal.

Second off, I don’t remember what I ate at Ella’s because (as I think I’ve mentioned before) I am a slacker and don’t write reviews in a timely fashion. R: I’m pretty sure it was the Sopressata. Pic below. HOWEVER, the fact that I don’t remember anything awful leads me to believe that the pizza I did eat was generally ok. That said, I definitely remember what I ate for dessert. In fact, I think I’ve dreamed about it several times since our dinner. The chocolate pudding! It was creamy, hyperchocolate and cold, but not too rich. After you make Rachna’s scallop pizza, you should go to Ella’s and get the pudding for dessert.

pizzas

Top, Scott's pizza (Sopressata?) and above, the Di Mare at Ella's

So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 4
Ambience: 3.5
Service: 3
Value: 3

Rachna’s overall rating: 4
Scott’s overall rating: 3

Ping Pong Dim Sum … REMIX!

Ping Pong Dim Sum • 900 7th Street NW • (202) 506-3740

His Perspective

Ok, so here’s the deal. Rachna and I went to Ping Pong Dim Sum last week and really enjoyed our meal. We also enjoyed our conversation which went something like this:

Rachna: So, Scott. WHY HAVEN’T YOU WRITTEN REVIEWS FOR OUR PAST THREE RESTAURANTS?! YOU ARE LAZY! Get to work.

Luckily it’s very noisy in Ping Pong Dim Sum so she didn’t cause a scene. Anyway, because I am unreliable, we decided that instead of me writing a blog entry on Ping Pong Dim Sum, we would get together tonight and try to recreate in Rachna’s kitchen one of our favorite dishes from the meal and write a blog on that R: and the restaurant.  That dish we decided to recreate from the meal was … STEAMED PORK BUNS! You’ve got to go to Ping Pong Dim Sum and try these puffy white balls of deliciousness. They come three to an order … just mind you don’t eat the paper that gets stuck to the bottom of each. (Actually, Rachna and I ate several sheets of paper apiece and we’re not dead yet so don’t worry if you do. R: By which Scott really just means that I ate the paper– he’s being nice).

steamed buns

So, this is a splendid idea, yes? WRONG. NO. We only have a couple hours to make dinner and the bun dough alone takes an hour to rise. So, we’ve scrapped the pork bun idea (don’t worry, we’ll do it on some Saturday afternoon when we have nothing better to do than watch dough rise) and are instead just going to make a delicious Asian-esque meal that combines two recipes Rachna found online. R: Still counts as a meal inspired by the dim sum!

I am not a cook.

Rachna has set me to chopping all the veggies with the new knives she got for Christmas (props to Mr. and Mrs. Batra for a brilliant purchase) while she basically goes about making the meal (MAJOR props to Rachna for being a great cook). So I’ll just turn it over to her now so she can describe what she’s doing. Rachna?

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Her Perspective

Initially I thought we would make Peanut Sesame Noodles and some Bbq Pork Dim Sum Buns, but in the end we’ve settled for the noodles and some Sichuan-style chicken. Thanks to the recipe blogs I follow for added inspiration!

veggies

For the noodles: First I made the peanut sauce by blending together some ginger, garlic, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, canola oil, chili sauce and water. S: This sauce was delicious! And you can feel good about eating it because you know exactly what went into making it … unlike store-bought sauces. Then we cooked the noodles (we used rice vermicelli bc that’s what was on hand). Meanwhile Scott chopped some fresh veggies: we used cucumber, bell pepper, red onion and mushrooms. Also, I toasted some sesame seeds in the toaster oven. S: Can you believe it? She ACTUALLY toasted the sesame seeds … I saw her do it. That is dedication. Once the noodles were cooked, we mixed all of the above together, and voila!

Yes, the chopping’s a bit of a chore, and you do have to pull out a food processor for the sauce, but all in all this is pretty easy and delicious!

noodles

For the chicken: First I prepared the Sichuan sauce by whisking together some vegetable broth (though the recipe called for chicken broth), balsamic vinegar, honey, soy sauce, canola oil, cornstarch and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. then I heated a little oil in a skillet and threw in some garlic and ginger. Then I added a little chopped tomato and cooked the chicken with soy sauce, red wine and rice vinegar. Once cooked, I added the Sichuan sauce and stir fried it for a few minutes. Then I let it simmer till the noodles got done, turning occasionally.

Liked the chicken too, but it wasn’t the ideal accompaniment the noodles. The flavors didn’t clash but they just weren’t the ideal pairing. Oh well, you live and you learn. All in all, a good experience in trying out a couple of new Chinese dishes!

Dim sum, they were not, however. In case you are unfamiliar, dim sum are essentially Asian tapas… so you order a few different kinds and share. “Steamed parcels of deliciousness,” Ping Pong’s menu said. Aside from the pork buns, everything we ordered was vegetarian: spring rolls, spinach dumplings, veggie buns, sticky rice, mushroom soup. The filling in the spring rolls, veggie buns and sticky rice tasted exactly the same… which was a bit funny, but ultimately our verdict was warm, comforting, yummilicious. Almost like a soup. The sticky rice was notable– it arrived in a lotus leaf! (Actually, we were generally impressed by the presentation of the food.) And of course the fluffly white buns were definitely a highlight– we even got chocolate buns for dessert! The chocolate sauce was like out of a delicious lava cake, so I approved.

dim sum

Aside from the food, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, and the waiter was also pretty nice. S: Our waiter was VERY nice … he even told us about the paper on the buns (a warning we promptly forgot) and the correct way to eat sticky rice out of a lotus leaf. It took us a while to get seated which was a minus, but we did go on a Friday so I guess we can’t complain too much. S: They totally forgot about us.

I think that about covers it. Let us know what you think of the new approach to the blog! And for full recipes visit http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/04/peanut-sesame-noodles/ and http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/sichuan_style_chicken_with_peanuts.html  (I always alter a bit, but it gives you an idea.)

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 4
Ambience: 3.5
Service: 4
Value: 3
Rachna’s overall rating: 3.5
Scott’s overall rating: 3.5

Fresh Agraria

Agraria • 3000 K Street, NW • (202) 298-0003

Her Perspective

Scott said he had heard good things about Agraria, and we hadn’t reviewed a Georgetown spot yet, so we decided to check it out. Plus it was a beautiful night for the walk over after work! Our friend Fred joined us for this outing, so he’ll be guest-blogging.

We were seated in these colorful, patterned high-backed booths. The restaurant has interesting character. When you walk in it feels very spacious; not like a cozy, fancy restaurant but a more casual, open and homey restaurant. The tablecloth was checkered green and white. They have a bright green-blue theme (in the decor and in the logo, menu, etc.) which is a somewhat quirky contrast with all the wood since the colors kind of evoke modernity while the wood is very grounded and traditional.

menu

The waiter was extremely amicable and explained that everything was very fresh and grown/harvested through sustainable agriculture. He said that we’d really be able to taste the difference, especially if we opted for fish or beef. I ordered the Spicy Tuna Farm Salad and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Not sure I could really tell that the tuna was superior quality, but it was very good, and I enjoyed the avocado and the tangy sesame vinaigrette. My mouth is watering thinking about it, actually. The dessert didn’t live up to expectations quite as much– we got brownies, which I was really excited about, but they were too sweet. (I think I’m learning I’m pretty picky about my dessert.) I did also order a cup of coffee, which helped.

The bill came out to be a bit pricey, but considering we ordered entree, dessert, drinks and coffee, I guess it’s understandable.

salad

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His Perspective

The burger was good (see below) but the fish-cow on the walls was even better. Unfortunately we only got a picture of the food so you’ll have to go to the restaurant for a glimpse of the animal mash-up.

burger

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And Another Perspective

Agraria’s proximity to Georgetown with is sophisticated charm and the natural beauty of the Waterfront is a large part of what made my visit so enjoyable. It simply is one the most beautiful parts of the city. Even if the food was disappointing, which it wasn’t, at least we were by the Waterfront.

Unfortunately, it was crisp fall night so we couldn’t sit outside, but the inside was spacious and inviting. I loved their use of wood, from the hard wood floors to some wood paneling. The space was modern with a few tasteful slightly rustic touches, like the large stone fireplace we were seated near.

I was really in the mood for comfort food, and I ordered State Fair Burger, a fresh ground sirloin mixed with their housemade Bulldog Steak Sauce and dressed with seasoned mayo, cooked medium rare ($11). I paired it with Stone IPA ($6). The burger arrived cooked perfectly, and the seasoned mayo added some interesting flavors. Overall, it was one the best burgers I’ve had in DC. It’s was my first time trying the Stone IPA, and it had crisp and refreshing taste but a little too bitter for my taste. The dessert brownies were good but I agree they were very sweet, but it’s hard to mess up brownies.

I would go again, but I’ll wait till spring so I could eat outside and really take in the beauty of the harbor.

dessert

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 3
Ambience: 3.5
Service: 5
Value: 3.5
Rachna’s overall rating: 3.5
Scott’s overall rating: 3
Fred’s overall rating:3.5


Exquisite bites at Co Co. Sala

Co Co. Sala • 929 F Street NW • (202) 347-4265

His Perspective

Is it weird to say that one of the coolest things about Co Co. Sala is the bathroom? Really, I’m not a pervert (even though I pointed out the sweet bathroom decor at Oyamel … it’s a coincidence I swear). From sleek bathroom faucets to pocket doors and nifty circular windows that make you feel as if you’re the main attraction in an aquarium show, Co Co. Sala’s decor really is exciting. It’s quirky and fun, but in a way that adds to rather than detracts from the restaurants upscale atmosphere.

The  beauty of the restaurant continues right on down to the food. Each tiny, tapas-sized course is beautifully constructed and meticulously plated. A variety of colors, textures and shapes play out on funky plates and table settings. It’s terribly cliché to say it, but each dish really is a work of art.

Fig Croustade

Fig Croustade

Unfortunately, this attention to presentation works against Co Co. Sala in a way. Every dish is so beautiful that it kind of creates expectations for taste that the food really can’t live up to. I mean, don’t get me wrong … the food is good. But looking back on the dining experience as a whole, the taste of the food wasn’t the most memorable aspect of the dinner.

One of the two dishes that may be an exception to this statement is the Bacon Mac & Cheese. Really, how can you go wrong with a dish that involves fried bacon and four melted cheeses over pasta? And if that doesn’t sound good enough, it’s garnished with a slice of chocolate-covered bacon. Yeah, chocolate plus bacon. (If you’re a huge fan of that combo, try this recipe for bacon brownies. You’re not going to find a better recipe for a dessert/breakfast meat anywhere else.)

And speaking of desserts, the other memorably tasty course as the Peanut Butter Fluff. A long plate of several components, this dessert includes milk chocolate peanut butter ice cream, banana compote, a peanut butter and jelly chocolate, and marshmallow fluff. Again, with ingredients like that, how can you go wrong?

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Her Perspective

We went to Co Co. Sala for Restaurant Week; I figured a five-course meal plus drink seemed like a decent deal for $35. The deal was Amuse (Fig Croustade), Salad (Manchengo & Baby Arugula), a choice of two Co Co. Bites, a Sweet Finale and an Elixir.

For my bites I went for the Crispy Louisiana Crab Cake and the Portobello Flatbread. I was glad to see that the two weren’t teeny tiny; I was a little worried after seeing the Fig Croustade, pictured above. I really enjoyed everything I ate. I was loving the mix of sweet and salty all over the place: the figs came with a gruyere-rosemary scone, the salad came with a coffee vinaigrette, the crabcake had a chipotle chocolate tomato glaze (and a light avocado/cilantro sauce), the flatbread had peppers, cheese, olives and fig marmalade. Kudos to unique ingredients! My favorite was probably the flatbread, though everything was really delicious. For the sweet finale, Scott and I ordered one of each of the two choices so we could share. Clearly, dessert is the restaurant’s specialty because each dessert came out in a long plate with several little bites as part of it. The two desserts were Peaches & Cream and Peanut Butter Fluff; the peaches and cream was nothing to write home about, though the grilled peaches were nice. Scott already went into the Fluff, which was quite good. Though, I have to be honest that I enjoyed the rest of the meal more than the dessert. (Surprising?) I think the banana compote was the best component of the dessert; maybe all the different components were too much, maybe if they combined to make one beautiful and delicious dessert I would have preferred the result. Who knows. For the elixir, they only had two of their four choices available, which was disappointing, but I had a nice glass of Prosecco. The drink was a definite highlight of the meal since most restaurant week menus don’t include a drink.

All in all, a pretty pleasant experience at Co Co. Sala. And much better than our Restaurant Week experience last year at Finn and Porter. (Maybe that’s for another time.) The weather was nice, so we sat outside. I’ve always liked sidewalk seating– maybe it reminds me of France. The downside of this is that I really don’t have much to say about the ambiance inside the restaurant. I did think their menu looked nice, and I quite like their logo ;) And as Scott mentioned, each dish was presented like a piece of art.

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 4
Ambience: 4
Service: 4.5
Value: 3.5
Rachna’s overall rating: 4
Scott’s overall rating: 4

Oya-what?

Oyamel • 401 7th Street NW • (202) 628-1005

Her Perspective

Before beginning my review, I decided to look up what Oyamel means. Scott and I were considering that it was butterfly since there’s these beautiful stained-glass type butterflies on the window when you walk in. Surprisingly (?) the first link for the meaning of the word “oyamel” is actually the FAQ of the restaurant website. And the answer explains: Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies leave the eastern United States and Canada and journey south to spend the winter in the forests of Michoacan in the volcanic highlands of central Mexico: here, they seek the shelter of the oyamel, a rare type of fir tree! “Draped in gold, its branches bent with the weight of thousands of butterflies, the otherworldly shhh created by the flapping of the monarchs’ wings, the oyamel forests in the winter are a place like no other. At Oyamel, we serve our tortillas in baskets woven from the needles of the oyamel fir tree. It’s our way of bringing a little bit of the forest to you.”

Ok, can I just say that credibility just went way up? First off, the baskets made from the tree?! Whoa. Secondly, they had these weird goldish wirey things hanging from the ceiling with butterflies and now I get that totally represents the tree! Way to carry out the meaning through the brand through and through. I don’t feel like a lot of restaurants really do this. Though I guess larger, nicer restaurants are more likely to do so than smaller ones. Anyway, I did notice I liked the menu: the handwriting scripty font is appropriately whimsical :) I liked the colors and lighting in the restaurant, and now that I think about it, even the menu items (and drinks) are a little eccentric, so I’m quite impressed by the cohesive brand image. (I totally sound like I work in marketing, eh?)

Pomegranate Margarita

Oyamel's pomegranate margarita

Anyways, Oyamel serves tapas. I like tapas because I get to try several things at once! Definitely got points for unique but yummy tastes. The only totally “normal” tasting thing was the shredded chicken taco we got– which could have been out of Taco Bell. But aside from that, strong sauces, crisp/fresh/bizarre ingredients. The highlight was the grasshopper taco. Glad I was adventurous enough to try it, actually. I kind of wish I could have eaten it with my eyes closed– bc it tasted ok, kind of like fried okra, bit it just looked scary because you could see the little legs!! Also of note, the margarita. It better be good at $11 for a mini-glass! We tried the pomegranate one; it came with this salty foam on top and was deeeelicious. It was the most delicious item. I think I enjoyed trying the different tapas but I didn’t necessarily LOVE anything. But definitely worth trying; liked everything. Ooh, also, the salsa was good.

Oyamel's grasshopper taco

Oyamel's grasshopper taco

(Do I sound a little scatterbrained today? Tired and overworked. I’m gonna let Scott cover the rest.)

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His Perspective

… and the CORN! The elote con calabazitas was amazing. It’s sweet corn, baby zucchini, & serrano peppers with Mexican cream, queso fresco & chile pequin. It’s probably the best dish of corn I’ve ever had (sorry Mom) and the most memorable dish of the night at Oyamel … which is weird because it’s just corn.

Plantain fritters (up front) and the AMAZING corn (in back)

Oyamel's plantain fritters (up front) and the AMAZING corn (in back)

We also had the trucha alpina a la plancha en mole verde de cacahuate estilio Pánuco a.k.a. arctic char and a sauce made with peanuts, tomatillo and green chiles. Once you get past that unwieldy name, you’ll discover that the arctic char has a flavor similar to salmon and that the sauce is delicious and also green. A+

Since Rachna already talked about the tacos (I’d like to add that the grasshoppers were similar in texture to half-popped popcorn) the only other dish to comment on is the plantains. Called machuco relleno de fijol con salsa negra, these plantain fritters are stuffed with black beans and come with a chipotle chile and piloncillo sugar sauce. They were ok. Nothing special. I’ve already written too much about them.

The decor is pretty nifty (the bathroom has these glass blocks set into the wall with little skeletons hanging out inside them) and the service was good, but overall I feel like the prices were pretty high. I mean, the corn was fantastic but was it really worth seven bucks for one scoop? Actually, yeah, the corn was worth $7 and I’d probably get two plates next time, but I’m not sure about the $11 char.

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 3.5
Ambience: 4.5
Service: 3.5
Value: 2.5
Rachna’s overall rating: 3.5
Scott’s overall rating: 3.5

Sticky Rice: All hail Tots!

Sticky Rice • 1224 H St NE • (202) 397-ROLL (7655)

His Perspective

A couple of weeks ago Rachna and I went to Sticky Rice over on H St. NE. We’d been there before but got lazy and didn’t write a review.

The food at Sticky Rice is really really good. We got four rolls and a bucket of tots (spicy tuna, G.I. Jane, The Philly Roll and another that Rachna will have to name because I can’t remember what it was). Rachna, the voice of reason, suggested three rolls and a bucket of tots but we were really hungry and instead we ordered this ridiculous amount of food for two people.

This is the amazing Bucket of Tots.

This is the amazing Bucket of Tots.

It may not seem like a lot, but basically, when the menu says “Bucket of Tots” they mean a Bucket Full of Tots. And these aren’t your high-school cafeteria tots; they are AMAZING tots. Crunchy, crispy on the outside and soft, tender (but not mushy) on the inside, these tots have a delicious salty potatoey flavor kind of like a McDonald’s breakfast hashbrown but way better. I think I could have just ordered two buckets of tots and had a great meal.

But the sushi was also good so the Two Bucket Plan would have been a mistake. All the ingredients were really fresh and flavorful and the specialty rolls had some interesting combinations and ingredients. The G.I. Jane is rolled in crushed wasabi peas and I really liked the flavor and crunchy texture.

Somewhat unfortunately, the service at Sticky Rice kind of sucks. It takes twenty minutes to get a waiter to come to your table and then after they bring you your food (which didn’t take very long, so that’s a plus) they kinda forget about you until you need your check. Actually, I think the first time we went there the waiter left and forgot to give us our check at all. But on the bright side, the waiters are really friendly and laid-back and the atmosphere is very relaxed so for me it doesn’t really seem to matter.  I wouldn’t really call it bad service because they don’t forget about you in an I-hate-my-life-and-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-work-here-so-I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t kind of way. Instead, it’s more like an oh-crap-we’re-really-busy-and-I-had-to-run-across-the-street-to-see-my-friend-for-a-second-but-it’s-cool-because-I’m-here-now kind of way. It’s just how it is.

Oh, and it’s really loud in there so you have to shout to have a conversation. But that’s ok … you can talk in the car.

sticky_rice_roll

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Her Perspective

So I actually think Sticky Rice is amazing. I’ll confidently say it’s some of the best food I’ve eaten in DC, and I’ve eaten a LOT of food in DC. Also, I love the atmosphere… even though it kinda intimidates me. (More on that in a bit.)

The Chili Roll is my favorite out of the ones we’ve tried thus far. You can’t really go wrong with cilantro. It’s tuna, cilantro, jalapeno, cucumber and pineapple. Mm, I can taste it now! So fresh and delicious. It’s got a kick, but I highly recommend it. I think one of the awesome things about the specialty rolls here is that they’re a treat for the senses: not just taste but smell and feel as well. (I agree with Scott on liking the crunchiness of the G.I. Jane roll, for example.) Another plus for the menu: lots of vegetarian options, and they’re pretty creative too. Last time we tried the South roll, which has sweet potato in it!

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So on to the vibe of the place. As Scott said, the waiters aren’t super-attentive. I’m pretty ok with that; I’m there to talk to my friend after all, not to the waiter, but the point is that they’re almost just too cool to wait on you. The last time we were there the waiter literally told us he’d gone next door to have a shot with a friend and almost forgot he had a table. The diners aren’t much more normal than the waiters. I ran into my ex-hair dresser here, and he’s one of the most hipster people I know. Bright red, curly long hair, tight jeans, some bling, hair dresser and straight… get my drift? Everywhere you look people have interesting haircuts or belts or shoes. I was like “wow, I am not cool enough to be here!” And I think I have some fashion sense. Maybe this is a personal issue, but just sharing!

Beyond the waiters and the diners, the music is awesome (mostly mainstream hip hop the night we were there, but not a single song we didn’t like), they’re open till late even on weekdays, and there’s cool art on the walls. I also appreciated the attention to detail. One of the cooler menus I’ve seen: they have fun with type, color, style. Also, the soy sauce bottle had their logo pasted on their; nice touch.

sticky_rice_menu

All in all, love it. Even if it makes me feel like I’m not as cool as I normally think I am ;)

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 4.5
Ambience: 3.5
Service: 2
Value: 4
Rachna’s overall rating: 4
Scott’s overall rating: 3.5

Pizzeria So So

Pizzeria Paradiso • 2029 P St NW(202) 223-1245

Her Perspective

I’ve been hearing about Pizzeria Paradiso for a while now so decided to finally check it out last Wednesday when we realized they were on the list of restaurants supporting Unicef’s TAP project. (For a week or so at participating restaurants in the DC area you could “pay” for your tap water, and the restaurant would donate the proceeds toward the TAP project, which works to provide safe drinking water for children around the world.) Anyway, we arrived there between 8:30 and 9, and the place was pretty full and smelled delicious. The dining room is small, pretty plain, and very chatty, but we did get a cute little window-view table.

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I went for the Siciliana, the pizza with tomato, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, red onion, capers, garlic, oregano, mozzarella and pecorino. Yes, I like my veggies. And I added on sundried tomates; I looove sundried tomatoes. Scott ordered the Bottarga; bold move. He didn’t even know what Bottarga was and was going to go for it, but I suggested he at least ask the waitress first :) You’ll learn quickly that whenever possible, Scott will order something he has never tried before. I’m open-minded about food too… but sometimes I just know I won’t go for something. Like Meditteranean caviar on my pizza… not so much. Haha, but I digress. The pizzas arrived looking scrumptious. The ingredients tasted very fresh; I felt like my meal was healthy-ish. And about 1.5 slices of the pizza were the perfect blend of flavors. The bite that gave me veggies, oregano, cheese and capers was DELICIOUS, but overall the pizza was slightly lacking in flavor. I think the tomato sauce was pretty plain. I tried a bit of Scott’s pizza too. Not bad; the egg was interesting…

We almost didn’t get dessert, but would a review really be complete without dessert? We decided to share the Pere Marsala. Tasted pretty winey… which I guess is normal, but I didn’t like the runny cream on top. Might have prefered a scoop of ice-cream to that. Really, maybe should’ve gone for the tiramisu. Will try it next time.
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His Perspective

As Kara DioGuardi on American Idol would say, I’ve got six words to describe Pizzeria Paradiso: disappointing. This restaurant gets rave reviews from critics and diners alike, yet as Rachna said, it didn’t really end up being much to write about. Even the Dupont Circle location’s Italian decor  seemed somewhat lackluster. Yeah, they have a neat faux blue sky painted on the ceiling, but what restaurant doesn’t these days? I mean, shoot, the one in Nellie’s on U Street even has cherubs to boot.

Anyway, the complementary dish of olives for appetizer was great. I didn’t know I liked olives so much and I pretty much ate them all (sorry Rachna). My Bottarga pizza (with tomato, egg, garlic, parsley, parmesan, and cured fish roe) was ok. The two sunny side up eggs in the middle of the pizza provided a nice dipping sauce for the crust, but to be honest, I think I’ve had more flavorful frozen pizzas from the grocery store. I like crust to contribute something to the taste of the pizza; at PP it just served as a way to get the toppings into my mouth. I didn’t notice the flavor of fish roe at all (should I be disappointed or relieved by that fact?) and the sauce was pretty boring. I’d be interested in trying the Genovese pizza (potato, pesto and parmesan) but given the inherent blandness of potatoes, I feel like I can predict the outcome. As for dessert, really, don’t bother with the Pere Marsala. Just go down the street to TangySweet instead.

On a brighter note, I think the wait staff and hostess were pleasant and attentive. I drink a LOT of water when I eat (Unicef’s TAP project was an appropriate charity) and I rarely saw the bottom of my glass.

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So, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best:

Taste: 3
Ambience: 2.5
Service: 4
Value: 3
Rachna’s overall rating: 3
Scott’s overall rating: 2.5

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