Olazzo has consistently provided Bethesda with enjoyable Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. This past Saturday night’s dinner was no exception.
It is easily one of our go-to places if we want to go out to dinner yet not spend a considerable amount of money. We decided to grab a meal here last weekend as Rachel, as well her friend Lisa, wanted to “carb up” for Sunday’s Army 10 Miler of which they were both running in. Me? Well, let’s just say I watched.
Anyway, we arrived on the earlier side as Friday and Saturday nights tend to fill up rather fast at Olazzo, and given the intimate space of the venue, wait times can be rather high if you show up around 7pm or so.
Because we got to the restaurant around 6:30, we were promptly seated and given a plate of bread along with olive oil and vinegar that was poured right in front of us and served by one of the servers.
Another reason why Olazzo is such a great value is that salad is included with the order of any entrée. It seems rare these days to find many restaurants include salads with their meals, so it’s reassuring to know that at least one eatery in the area still abides by this practice.
As for our dinner, I went with the Grilled Eggplant which was served with layers of fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers over a bed of spaghetti. Instead of the olive oil and garlic sauce, I opted for the marinara instead as I’ve always been more fond of red sauce.
While the pasta isn’t homemade, the marinara is, and man, is it delicious. It proved to be a generous portion as the eggplant was grilled nicely while the mozzarella helped balance out the acidity of the red peppers. It was a great dish, and for only $13, it’s certainly a bargain.
Rachel was torn on what to get, since normally she would have chose the Pasta Primavera, but since this was a night for pasta and some protein, she got the homemade meatballs with marinara sauce and penne. Again, for $13, it was a great deal.
We already knew how great the meatballs were since we got one at Taste of Bethesda a few weeks back. It was a huge portion and just as good as we remembered, if not better since it was fresh from the kitchen. The dish came with two huge meatballs, so of course I got to have one too since it was too much for her to finish.
We finished the meal off with, of course, their ridiculously good cannolis. I’m not kidding you when I say that these are hands-down the best cannolis you will find in the entire Washington metropolitan area. You might have to drive up to Vaccaro’s in Baltimore if you want the next best thing.
The cold, rich, creamy filling and crisp pastry shell, all topped with miniature chocolate chips, makes this a dessert you do not want to pass up.
The service was great, though we did feel a bit rushed as bussers would immediately clear our plates as soon as we finished them. I guess I can’t blame them because of the high turnover during the weekends, but it would be a little nice if they toned it down just a tad.
Overall, if you’re looking for some great, casual Italian fare while not trying to break the bank, we cannot recommend Olazzo enough. And while the lack of homemade pasta might be a drawback to some, the cozy atmosphere and food alone makes for a reliable meal in Bethesda.