Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pizza Parts & Service

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As a former New Yorker, pizza by the slice is one thing I frequently miss here in DC.  And no, Jumbo Slice is not pizza by the slice.  They are totally different concepts. Needless to say I was pretty excited to hear that the guys who brought us Taylor Gourmet were opening up a pizza place on H Street that is serving pizza by the slice at newly opened Pizza Parts & Service. Check out the menu here.  
Luckily my boyfriend was just as excited to have a new pizza place on H Street NE, and we went right when they opened on Monday night.  For those of you who want the backstory, this place was originally called Taylor Charles Steak and Ice and served up Philly-style cheesesteaks.  But according to Casey, from the Taylor Gourmet empire, Taylor Charles was too much work for too slim a profit margin. 
Originally they planned to open Pizza Parts & Service in Logan Circle on the corner of 14th & P, but the place they were considering was structurally unsound and way too much work. As an aside, that place will soon become a Dolcezza- who seems to be creating their own empire these days and will offer somewhat redundant competition to Pitango Gelato, also located at 14th and P.  Let the gelato wars begin! 
Anyway, back to the pizza . . .

I should probably preface this by saying that we ate a lot of carbs.  An unusual amount of carbs for a Monday night, but Passover had just ended and I was damn sick of salad.  
Even though I loved the pizza, I am going to start off talking about the garlic knots because they were my absolute favorite. When I was a kid in New York, I used to sneak out of hebrew school with my carpool crew to get garlic knots from the pizzeria next door to our temple.  I have been searching for garlic knots as good ever since.  I am surprised to say that Pizza Parts and Service makes the best garlic knots I've tried in this city. The dough to garlic ratio was spot on.  They were not dried out at all.  And best of all, they were warm and covered in the perfect amount of garlic oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. I actually poured a little bit of extra garlic oil over my white pizza (shhh!), and I can only hope that becomes an available pizza topping. 
First I got a slice of the sicilian-style thick crust margherita pizza.  It was flavorful, crispy around the edges, but chewy in the middle -in a good way. I remember having pizza like this as a kid, and haven't seen it in years.  Thanks for bringing it back! I will say, as a caveat, that Chicago does deep dish pizza much better than NY.  If you're really craving deep dish, you might be better off going to District of Pi.  But it was perfect for me! 
My boyfriend got the ultimate man's slice of pizza.  It was topped with various cured meats, and sautéed onions and peppers.  Although this is totally not my kind of pizza, I have to admit it was good for what it was.  The thin crust definitely is the winner over the thicker sicilian crust.  

For our second slices (whatever, don't judge), I got the white pizza with 4 different cheeses. My boyfriend got the buffalo chicken with mozzarella, fontina, and ranch dressing. When asked to decide which he preferred, he declared it impossible to decide because the second was so untraditional.  The buffalo sauce had the perfect amount of heat for both of us, while we generally sit at opposite ends of the spicy food spectrum.  The white pizza was alright, but needed some doctoring up.  Luckily the table was equipped with crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese (or as we used to called it in my house "sprinkle cheese"). 
Lastly, and only because they gave it to us for free, we had a slice of NY cheesecake.  I said don't judge! Casey personally delivered it and claimed it was the best NY cheesecake he had tasted outside of NY.  The cheesecake actually hails from a "little bakery" in Baltimore called Ms. Desserts.  This was a decadent and delicious end to our carb-fueled pizza feast.
We both really liked the different pizzas we tried and can't wait to go back and try some more.  I was personally impressed with the long list of pizzas that you can order either by the slice or by various-sized pies.  And let's be honest, I will be back soon for those garlic knots. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rose's Luxury

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My recent foray into GMAT studying has left me slightly behind on blogging.  While I have been somewhat delinquent with my foodie responsibilities, I have been dying to share some thoughts and photos from my birthday food-extravaganza at Rose’s Luxury.  The new spot, located in the Barracks Row neighborhood of DC, has been on my go-to list for quite some time.  But, the thought of the hours long wait time had me slightly anxious, so a Tuesday night early birthday dinner seemed like a great option.

When we arrived at Rose’s around 5:25 the line was already about 20 people deep (side note: Liz dropped by around 5:45pm Saturday night, put her name down for 2, and came back 2 hours later and got seated right away).  Once the doors opened we were quickly ushered to our table.  But, upon seeing the amazing seats overlooking the kitchen, I requested to be relocated to get a good view of the chefs at work.  The service at Rose’s was impeccable and they had no issue fulfilling my request.  It was awesome to watch the chefs work their magic throughout our meal.

While the menu is small (and changes quite frequently FYI), our appetites are not.  We knew we would most likely be ordering the majority of the small plate options, and order we did.  Our waitress confirmed our suspicions that basically everything is recommended, as all of the food at Rose’s is simply to.die.for.

We started with the kusshi oyster.  It was fried and served over a bourbon ginger ale granita and a dill and raw oyster tzatziki-like sauce.  It was also topped, I believe, with pickled jalapeños.  Though we only ordered one each, I could have eaten a dozen of these tasty bites.

My favorite dish of the night was the pork sausage and lychee salad with habanero sauce.  I know it sounds like a bizarre combination, and it is difficult to accurately convey the complexity of unique and satisfying flavors embodied in this dish.  Suffice it to say it was sweet, tangy, spicy, and rich in each bite.    It is served deconstructed, with each element separately placed in the bowl. The server instructed us to mix it up well before sampling, which we did.  The pork sausage, although fried, was surprisingly delicate and blended perfectly with the mix of zesty red onions, sweet lychee, and hot habanero sauce.  This dish seems to be a staple at Rose’s, so make sure you try it.

As a pasta fan, I was so excited that my not-as-enthusiastic-a-pasta-lover boyfriend agreed to order two of the house-made dishes.  We started with the ricotta-stuffed ‘gnocchi’ and quickly added the rigatoni amatriciana with smoked sheep’s milk pecorino as well.  The gnocchi were larger than others I’ve seen, and reminded me more of ravioli, stuffed with the perfect amount of cheese.  The sauce, mushroom based, was light and flavorful at the same time. 

The rigatoni amatriciana was served with a smoky and spicy guanciale (Italian bacon) sauce, topped with grated cheese and pickled red onions that added a surprising and delightful kick.  The combination of red onions with the spice-rubbed guanciale was the star of the dish, and a unique twist on traditional sauce.  It was zesty, and by far the spiciest meal of the night.

Rose’s was offering a special that night of langostino with a buttery side of rice—good, but not our favorite.  Though, we did devour it, evidenced by the fact that the only picture I was able to snap was of the remains.

For the last two courses, we went with the pickle-brined fried chicken, which was topped with honey and benne seeds and was served with the most amazing and creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve had in my life.  The chicken was crispy and the breading was flavorful.  Inside, the chicken was juicy, though I did not really get the pickle-brined flavor at all.  Still this dish was divine.  The mashed potatoes were velvety smooth.  They were topped with chives and fried potato skins that were a great textual contrast to the creamy potatoes. There are probably at least 1,000 calories in this small pot, but every bite was worth it.

The softshell crawfish with grits and hot sauce were up last.  The grits were fluffy and creamy and the crawfish was deep fried, but overall lacked the vibrancy and complexity flavors of the other plates.  This dish was low on my list of favorites, but still tasty and perfectly executed. 

Though it might seem like we would have had enough, we could not skip out on dessert.  Luckily for us, Rose’s was serving homemade donuts topped with apple caramel glaze and cheese.  It might sound strange, but trust me, it works. Sweet donuts paired with savory cheese are now high on my list of favorite desserts.

Rose’s may have stolen a spot in my heart as the best meal of my life.  I was wowed and truly inspired by the pairings of flavor and ingredient combinations. If you have appetites like us, be aware that you will pay for perfection.  The meal was also up there in terms of cost, but totally worth it. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Enterprise Car share takes us to Alba Osteria

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As a car-less city dweller I rely heavily on public transit to get me around town. But once in a while, I need a car to run errands or get out of town for a bit. A few months ago I signed up for Enterprise Car Share and have since used them on a number of occasions.  The cars are conveniently located, clean, relatively inexpensive, and perform very well!  I've totally enjoyed trying out all the different makes and models as I zip around town! As a result of one of my loud-mouthed tweets, Enterprise's marketing department got a hold of us and offered us the opportunity to take one of the cars to a restaurant of our choosing in exchange for our write up of the experience here. The truth is that I am happy to share the experience with you. After trying out a variety of car sharing options, I am more pleased with Enterprise than ever. We were able to use the $100 gift card Enterprise gave us to rent a car for 3 hours (at $8/hr) and had about $75 left over for brunch at Alba Osteria! Win-win! Despite the sponsorship from Enterprise, the views and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

I picked up this adorable yellow Chevy Spark just a few blocks from my apartment on a Sunday morning and drove over to a new Italian spot, Alba Osteria, in Penn Quarter.  Alba has an all you can eat and drink boozy brunch that is well worth the $30. We started off a little shaky with a confused and abrupt hostess, but we quickly overlooked that with a plethora of delicious food and excellent waitress service. 

On this particular occasion I met Amanda and a group of our other friends for a birthday brunch. And celebrate we did! We started out with some brunch cocktails that were both delicious and generous. As the driver of the group, I had to stop at just one, but the waiters seemed disappointed that they couldn't serve me more! We stayed for hours and the rest of the group never saw the bottom of their champagne flutes!

The menu was bottomless, and as 6 hungry girls we dabbled in a bit of everything.  One of the group favorites were the lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes. They were delightly sweet and tart.  The ricotta also keeps them the perfect lightness. They were so flavorful that they barely needed the syrup.

One of my favorite dishes was the smoked salmon benedict. Instead of serving it on the traditional English muffin, it was paired with toast schmeared with burrata mozzarella.  The only drawback to this dish was that the poached eggs were bordering on raw.  We like our eggs runny, but not that runny.  That being said, there is no doubt I will be back for this dish. 

We also ordered one of the breakfast pizzas. This one was a creamy white pizza with pancetta, spinach, and topped with eggs. I am seriously starting to wonder if there is any food item that isn't better with a runny egg on top.

Another group favorite, although not my personal fav, was a skillet baked with spicy tomato sauce, meatballs, eggs, cheese, and french fries - for dipping. It was a unique take on the dish and reminded us of shakshuka.

The egg white frittata was a great addition to the meal. Made with a mix of veggies and Parmigiano Reggiano, it was a nice lighter option. It was also served with a link of lamb sausage that was surprisingly delicious!

Finally, it being an Italian restaurant, we had to try one of the pastas.  Yes, pasta for breakfast is acceptable. This light egg pasta was served with a veal ragu that was just divine. Although I was totally stuffed by this point, the pasta convinced me I need to come back for dinner. 

I have to say that Alba Osteria was not only a great meal, but an altogether great experience.  We loved being able to try so many dishes.  The restaurant is also beautifully decorated with a great ambiance.  

Also, because Enterprise was generous enough to sponsor us with the free ride, here is a link to their website.  If you are like me, and occasionally find yourself in a need of a car for a few hours, I definitely recommend checking them out.