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Lime Shortage or Not, Mike Isabella to Open Mexican Cantina, Pepita, in Arlington

Posted by / Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Photo Credit: Greg Powers

By Stefanie Gans

“When I go to a Mexican restaurant, I want a taco, salsa and a margarita,” says Mike Isabella. What the “Top Chef” star wants, he creates. Pepita, to open early next year, will replicate the vibes of a Mexican coastal cantina. The small space, 1,200 square feet in Ballston‘s Liberty Center, is in the same residential complex where Isabella’s Kapnos Taverna will be opening this fall. His first foray into Virginia will happen this summer with Graffiato, a modern American-Italian concept with a new location in Richmond—duplicating an already established downtown D.C. location.

The concise menu will focus on a dozen or so snacks and smaller plates—soups, salads, ceviches, tortas, tacos—and caja china-roasted suckling pig.

Pepita, named for the pumpkin seed, will mimic the color of squash blossoms with accents of marigolds, yellows and greens and lots of wood for what Isabella dubs a “Mexican watering hole” feel. There will be an emphasis on a variety of margaritas with a fresh fruit juice bar (passion fruit, mango, pineapple, prickly pear) and frozen drink machines pouring coffee slushies mixed with tequila.

Isabella’s Mexican food credentials come from working in the Philadelphia kitchen of Jose Garces in Stephen Starr‘s El Vez, as well as opening Georgetown’s Bandolero as a consulting chef. This time, says Isabella, “I wanted to do a Mexican concept that was mine.”

As for the current lime shortage, the Isabella team hopes it isn’t an issue by early 2015, and won’t start the actual sourcing until three months from opening. As for now, says Isabella, “It’s fun to create, to come up with different flavor profiles, and different techniques and evolve and grow. I travel a lot, I dine out. And for me that’s the fun part. I don’t want to be the guy who does one restaurant and makes a chain out of it.” 


Things to Do: Memorial Day Foodie Celebrations

Posted by / Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Courtesy of Trummer's on Main

 By Ariel Yong

Still need plans for the long Memorial Day weekend? Here’s where to eat pig, drink wine and indulge on strawberry rhubarb pie.

Trummer’s on Main
Celebrate with a pig roast on Sunday, May 25. For $48 per person, feast on suckling pig, cured meats, chicken liver mousse and peach panzenella. / Trummer’s on Main, 7134 Main St, Clifton

Paradise Springs Winery
A BBQ sandwich with potato salad and cole slaw is $12.99 (plus tax) and live entertainment includes The J&A Duo, Adam Bruno and the Club Malbec Jazz Band. The party starts Friday and ends Monday. Not in the mood for music? Watch Field of Dreams on the lawn at 8 p.m. Saturday night. / Paradise Springs Winery, 13219 Yates Ford Road, Clifton

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Hungry for Linkage: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Is a Thing + 29 Diner Closes + Tofu to Tempeh

Posted by / Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Zern Liew/

Why Freedom of Choice is Just an Illusion:” The domination of our food system by just a handful of companies. [Finances Online]

Is liquid nitrogen ice cream becoming a thing in NoVA? [Falls Church News-Press]

The 60-year-old 29 Diner is closed. [Eater]

The additives in our wine. [Wired]

From tofu to tempeh, updating  “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” [WaPo]


Messick’s Farm Market Celebrates With Grand Opening on Saturday

Posted by / Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Messick's Farm Market Building

Photo Courtesy of Messick's Farm Market

By Allison Michelli

From selling its produce out of a small tractor shed to opening a new 7,500-square-foot energy-efficient building, Messick’s Farm Market in Bealeton is celebrating this upgrade with a grand opening celebration this Saturday. 

Messick’s offers a unique twist on the traditional farmer’s market design. Unlike a traditional pop-up tent farmers market, a farm market, says Market Manager Brian Seiwell, is located on the land where the produce is grown. Visitors to this 300-acre farm have the opportunity to go out into the fields and pick their own produce—Sweet Charlie strawberries are in season now—while also having the option to shop at the indoor market from pre-picked and locally sourced products.

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New Gelateria to Open in Pazzo Pomodoro; 3 More Pazzos Planned for the Region

Posted by / Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Construction of Gelateria Pazzo / Photo Courtesy of Nicky DeChiara

By Stefanie Gans

In Italy, says Nicky DeChiara, “when you order gelato, you sit down and it becomes a form of entertaining.” In the states, says the 75-year-old, people order gelato and leave. To bring back a sense of hospitality to eating this Italian version of ice cream, DeChiara is building Gelateria Pazzo within Vienna’s Pazzo Pomodoro.

Pazzo Pomorodo’s team will use the Italian brand Carpigiani gelato makers and offer between 10 to 15 flavors, including strawberry and raspberry which will be made from fruits grown Pazzo Pomodoro’s owner Jimmy Audia‘s sister’s property, Windswept Farm in Waterford. Expected to open in July, the gelateria will occupy the space next door to the restaurant; they tore down the wall to make it one unit.

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Hungry for Linkage: Turducken in the Dictionary + Bourbon Party + Gourmet Marshmallows

Posted by / Wednesday, May 21st, 2014


By Ariel Yong

Turducken” has been officially added to the dictionary. [Yahoo]

Alexandria’s PX is named one of the 33 Best Cocktail Bars in America. [Thrillist]

Rhodeside Grill in Clarendon is hosting a Hudson Bourbon barrel aged cocktails release party tonight. In addition to mixed drinks, the restaurant will also serve bourbon inspired cuisine. Bourbon doughnuts, anyone? [Clarendon Nights]

Viveltre is a gourmet marshmallow company specializing in Maker’s Mark and “pork-blasted puffs.” It has 13 flavors, including Nutella and red velvet, and three secret ones released after securing funding through Kickstarter. [Thrillist]

Find fried chicken for your picnic at Bonchon Chicken (Arlington), Ray’s to the Third (Arlington), Flavors (Falls Church) and Society Fair (Alexandria). [Eater]




Loudoun County Chefs, Farmers and Winemakers Gear Up For Farm To Fork

Posted by / Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

By Evan Milberg

This summer, Loudoun County farmers, winemakers and chefs will come together for “Farm to Fork,” an 11-day event from July 24 – August 3 that showcases locally grown products. Twenty-six restaurants, 14 farms and eight award-winning Loudoun wineries will be participating. “It’s like Restaurant Week, but with local products,” says Miriam Nasuti, the founder of Farm to Fork. For each restaurant that participates, at least 70 percent of the menu’s ingredients has to come from locally sourced products—from meats to wine—from Loudoun. 

Yesterday, many of the restaurants, farms and vineyards participating met in Ashburn for a “Meet and Greet” to network and discuss how they plan on collaborating to make Farm to Fork work. In her closing remarks, Nasuti said “farmers, be good to your chefs, and chefs, be good to your farmers.” On June 15, the farmers and restaurants and wineries will all decide who they’re going to work with for their seasonal menus. 


Hungry for Linkage: José Andrés + Nathalie Dupree + Fried Avocado Burger

Posted by / Monday, May 19th, 2014


By Stefanie Gans

“Even my daughter said, ‘They ask you to speak or to cook lunch for the graduates?’” José Andrés addresses George Washington University’s graduating class—and makes fun of students’ outrage over his selection. 

Eating cover crops and other ways to really support farms. [NYT]

Say hello to rhubarb. [Food Riot]

Review for fried avocado burger at Heavy Seas Alehouse. [Burger Days]

See Nathalie Dupree at this weekend‘s Epicurience Wine and Culinary Festival in Leesburg. [Loudoun Times]


Cravings: Tagliatelle and Meatballs at Ozzie’s

Posted by / Friday, May 16th, 2014

Photo by Stefanie Gans

By Stefanie Gans

Dish: Tagliatelle and meatballs, $12 (lunch)

Where: Ozzie’s
11880 Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax

Taste: Before it’s too hot. Before a bowl of comfort consists of ice cream, instead of pasta, live once more through twirls of carbohydrates. At Ozzie’s, inside a nest of noodles, tender meatballs, a mix of veal, pork and beef, are graced with a sheen of marinara. It’s simple. It’s solid. It’s an excuse to load the plate with parm. It’s one last meal before summer strikes. 

MORE | Cravings


Hungry for Linkage: Nicecream Factory Opens Tomorrow + Goodbye to Pastry Queen + Soylent

Posted by / Friday, May 16th, 2014

Tiffany MacIssac, Cookies & Confections (Photography by Jonathan Timmes) & Grasshopper Icebox Cake (Photography by Erick Gibson)

Liquid nitrogen ice cream shop, Nicecream Factory, throws grand opening party tomorrow in Clarendon.

Catoctin Creek releases Roundstone Rye 92 Proof at its Purcellville distillery tomorrow. 

Tiffany MacIssac, the James Beard-nominated pastry chef for Neighborhood Restaurant Group, is leaving next month. You can still enjoy some of her best desserts, Cookies & Confections—which she had said is “my best-worst idea”—at Columbia Firehouse, Tallula, Vermilion, and her Grasshopper Icebox Cake at Evening Star Cafe. [WCP]

Tom Sietsema’s Spring Dining Guide is heavy on Northern Virginia restaurants, with reviews of Bayou Bakery, Bistro Vivant, Nostos and others. [WaPo]

With growing stress on the environment, should we eat to live instead of live to eat? Enter: Soylent. [The New Yorker]


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