3195 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
CUISINE Modern American, Pizza, Southern
PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch, Tuesday through Saturday, dinner daily, late-night dining, Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
NEARBY METRO Orange(Clarendon)
SPECIAL FEATURESOutdoor Dining
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.3 Ambiance: 7.9 Service: 8.0
“Let me know. I work for you,” one Liberty Tavern host unequivocally assured a befuddled guest.
Talk about putting the customer first.
The conviviality of the place is damn near infectious. What should/could become a mob scene—routinely two-deep at the bar during happy hour, brunch goers lounge like its their job on weekends—remains refreshingly serene thanks to: 1) hyper-vigilant servers and 2) chef Liam LaCivita’s hunger-taming skills.
Ear-shaped noodles are fleshed out with meltingly tender lamb, invigoratingly bitter dandelion greens, silky fried egg and aromatic herb sauce.
A picnic-style fried chicken platter summons golden brown bird pre-soaked in buttermilk and fried ‘til audibly crunchy. Plunge it into the accompanying sweet onion gravy for maximum effect.
Brown butter cake features head-turning hints of pistachio, beany vanilla ice cream and honey-thyme roasted apricots.
Best of the US II: Pittsburgh Primanti Bros. Sandwich - Top Notch(March 2010)
By Warren Rojas
Liberty Tavern owner Stephen Fedorchak credits chef Liam LaCivita—a Pittsburgh native—for bringing seasoned sandwich lovers to their knees. “Its fans include a lot of loyal regulars who have one or two every week,” he suggests.
Bread: homemade Italian (excellent containment)
Filling: two fingers of hot, moist pastrami (perfectly frayed edges, succulent center), melted provolone, robust slaw (heavy on the cabbage and shaved carrots) and crispy, salt-flecked fries
Bonus: LT offers a fried Polyface Farm egg upgrade—“For $0.50 it’s good sandwich insurance,” one server advised when I waffled a bit about extras—well worth the added investment/calories/messiness.(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.4 Ambiance: 7.7 Service: 8
“Was it that bad?” the fresh-faced temptress teased as she retired the virtually licked-clean plate from before a fellow Liberty Tavern patron.
Gentle ribbing aside, you can’t really argue with happy customers.
This urban hot spot jumps from noon till night, whether they be tempting business types—laptops on, but perhaps folded over to allow for the briefest of actual social interaction—with a world of possibilities (beef stroganoff, branzino with spinach spaetzle) or treating agents of leisure to their favorite pursuits (readymade rounds of Virginia gentleman with PBR chasers for $5, discount wine deals).
Grilled squid and bulbous caper berries—pickled pods that shower the palate in a mustard-vinegar burn—reign supreme atop a gourmet pie further embellished with torn arugula and roasted garlic (adds zesty oomph).
An apple-endive collaboration bound by chilled buttermilk helps cool off a heated tug-of-war between smoked bacon and caramelized pecans (this salad’s got spunk).
Homemade gnocchi glide down the gullet astride a magic carpet of fava beans, mushrooms and chevre, the rumpled dumplings enrobed in extra virgin olive oil and concupiscent goat cheese (encore!).(November 2008)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.5 Ambiance: 7.8 Service: 7.6
Liberty Tavern executive chef Liam LaCivita executes pizzas and bar snacks with the same aplomb that guides his signature entrees, which makes for happy eating at any spot/hour within Clarendon’s current nightlife magnet.
The once-dormant corner lot has rocketed to an eating/drinking Mecca seemingly overnight, due largely to LaCivita’s well-sourced cuisine and vibrant bar scene. But unlike at some other boozy breeding grounds, the dolled-up beauties and on-the-prowl gents here seem happy to remain completely civil (no pushing or shoving required to reach the bar).
Many of the main dishes, however, are worth fighting for.
A show-stopping grilled octopus and shrimp plate summons fire-kissed seafood sporting a spice-rubbed veneer, lain to rest on a bed of watercress and mint (outstanding). Brined chicken is baked to a coppery finish (crackling skin, juicy white meat) while onion gravy and sauteed escarole battle it out for best supporting actor (both winners in my book). Lemony skate swims in a sea of crushed hazelnut-lemon-brown butter sauce, all anchored by a remarkable roasted potatoes, beets and smoked bacon hash (bravo).