Tag Archives: news

Exploring Innovation with Jose Andres

17 Feb

We were fortunate to attend the Washington Post Live event that was part of the GE American Competitiveness:  What Works summit at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium earlier this week. For the luncheon keynote, Mary Jordan of the Washington Post moderated a discussion between local celebrity chef Jose Andres and Tom Sietsema, the Post’s infamous food critic. Disguised with a toupee and sunglasses, we’re sure Andres was a little uncomfortable sitting inches from the man who can easily make or break a restaurant in D.C.

Chef Jose Andres

We won’t go into too much detail about the event since you can read more about it here and here, but we’ll say that Jose Andres is definitely a captivating and engaging speaker. He truly has some inspiring ideas and cares about his adopted home of D.C., the obesity epidemic, food truck regulations, and of course, his beloved Spain.

Chef Jose Andres

Here are some highlights:

  • The session opened with a video of someone caramelizing olive oil, something that has never been done before, in addition to a “Garden on a Plate”, aka the prettiest salad anyone has ever seen.  He then explained that it was an homage to Dale Chihuli.
  • Jose knew he wanted to be a chef since he was 15 years old.
  • Talking about tapas, Jose explained that the concept took time for Washingtonians to get used to because you have to think differently.
  • For those still wary of tapas and the idea of sharing, he suggests the rule of 15 inches.  If you want to enjoy tapas the Spanish way, put the plate in the middle of the table. If you don’t, move the plate 15 inches in, and put it in front of you. This was the difference between success and failure for the restaurant.
  • Andres confirmed that his new food truck, Pepe, will be opening next week.
  • Some would say he should be against food trucks since it takes away from his restaurants; he wants to embrace the new trend and feels it drives innovation and creates jobs. But, cities need to come up with the right legislation for food trucks to not alienate or discourage them from opening.
  • When Jaleo first opened downtown 20 years ago, his first guest was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It will be closing for a few weeks soon to allow for renovations and a refresh of the oldest ThinkFoodGroup restaurant.
  • The idea behind America Eats Tavern:  Every restaurant needs a story. He wanted to open the pop-up restaurant as a way to give back to America and to show America’s real culinary history.
  • Some may criticize Andres that, because he has so many restaurants, there is no way he can possibly spend time in all of them and therefore the quality goes down. He said it’s not like the CEO of GM is overseeing every car, but he understands with food it is more personal. However, he claimed he has people working for him now that are more talented than him, so it is a win/win.
  • For the last 2-3 years, members of his team have been teaching at Harvard’s School of Physics, showing the science of physics through food. They have had over 1,000 applicants to the class so far.
  • He has many ideas on ways to fight obesity by showing the importance of food.  Innovation over the last 60 years has made us used to mainly processed food.
  • We need to bring more grains, fruit and vegetables, less quantity but higher quality of meat to all families.  Rural America should be empowered to bring more natural, less processed food to the table of America.
  • When asked what was the coolest thing done he has done with potatoes, he replied he turned them into air, but people didn’t get it.
  • At ThinkFoodGroup they are working towards understanding food as an artistic expression. For example, one of the newer creations that will be on the menu at the revamped Minibar will be a potato chip you don’t eat, but listen to.
  • Obviously, you don’t want to feed America with the sound of chips, but they can be a course on a menu as a way to think differently.
  • At Jaleo in Las Vegas, they were selling their coquettes in designer Spanish sneakers. Eventually they had to stop because of health-code violations, but the concept of serving the dish in a glass sneaker will be brought to D.C. when Jaleo reopens downtown.
  • As Andres explained, serving food on a flat table with white plates is boring. He wants to make sure the culinary experience is enjoyable.
  • As a member of the board, Andres thinks DC Central Kitchen is the most innovative organization, and that it is amazing to see that through feeding people, there is the power to innovate.
  • If Jose Andres was not a chef, he would be an idea man. His newest idea is a way to boost the economy and awareness of Spain. He envisions opening a school to train Americans in Spanish cooking as a 13-weeks program, and then have them travel to Spain. From there, they can open their own Spanish restaurant, or at use Spanish products in their cooking. In his mind, a simple idea can create thousands of jobs.

A New Pizza Haven in Bethesda

27 Apr

Well folks, it looks like Bethesda is about to become a pizza haven. And yes, we literally mean that – Haven Pizzeria Napoletana is scheduled to open late spring at 7137 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

Haven Pizzeria Napoletana

Haven Pizzeria is a joint venture between founder and partner, Tiger Mullen, and New Haven-born pizzaiolo Marco Stefanelli, who will also manage the restaurant and has an extensive resume in the pizza and restaurant business.

Haven Construction

Photo courtesy of havenpizzeria.tumblr.com

The pizzeria will feature New Haven-style pizza, cooked via anthracite coal ovens that give off a distinctive “char” flavor. The dough will be freshly prepared on a daily basis while ingredients such as plum tomatoes (hand-grounded daily) and cheeses will be imported from Italy.

Even the water used to make the dough is filtered in such a way that it “replicates the exact characteristics found in the reservoirs feeding the best pizzerias in the world”, Haven’s website claims.

In addition to pizza, Haven will offer salads, antipasti, and homemade gelato. It looks like Haven will also have a full bar with an extensive wine list to boot. You can even see their construction progress on their Tumblr page. Judging from pictures alone, this place is going to be huge!

Haven Notice

Alcohol License Notice

Considering how much we love Pete’s New Haven pizza, which is a couple of miles down the road, we are very excited for Haven to open.

Between this, Pizzeria da Marco, and Naked Pizza all opening very soon, let’s just say we’re not too upset that we’ll have so many great new pizza venues to choose from!


Haven Pizzeria Napoletana will be located on 7137 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda and is scheduled to open late spring.

Bethesda Row Restaurant Week is Coming Up!

1 Apr

Now that April has finally arrived, perhaps it will mark the end to one of the longest winters we have ever experienced. While the warmer weather will be fun to look forward to, we also can’t forget about Bethesda Row Restaurant Week!

Raku Bethesda

Photo courtesy of www.rakuasiandining.com

Staring on Monday, April 11 through Sunday, April 17, diners can choose among ten restaurants in the downtown Bethesda corridor. Three-course lunches (yes, three!) will cost $15 while dinners, also three-courses, will be $30.

The following restaurants will be participating:

Our picks? We would recommend Raku, Redwood, Assaggi, and of course, Jaleo.

Pizzeria Da Marco to Bring Neapolitan Pizza to Bethesda

11 Feb

Pizzeria Da Marco

Image courtesy of Pizzeria Da Marco - http://www.pizzeriadamarco.net

We here at DMV Dining have long been curious as to what would open at the retail site under construction at the intersection of Woodmont and St. Elmo Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

After several months, a sign was posted on the window announcing the forthcoming opening of Pizzeria Da Marco – a restaurant serving “authentic Neapolitan pizza”.

After digging a little deeper, the excellent blog pizzablogger shed some more light as to how Pizzeria Da Marco will differentiate itself from the rest of the pizzerias in the neighborhood: its oven.

The restaurant plans to utilize a Stefano Ferrara oven – a handmade, wood-burning brick pizza oven manufactured in Napoli. Here’s more from pizzablogger:

Now Maryland is set to showcase its first Ferrara oven at the soon to be opened Pizzeria Da Marco in Bethesda.  Now of course any pizza oven is exactly that…an oven. And an oven alone guarantees nothing. It takes people with drive, knowledge and passion to make great pizza. But the selection of a Stefano Ferrara oven certainly points towards an ownership that is passionate about pizza, so I have hope for this new joint. Good luck the rest of the way.

UPDATE – Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post uncovers more about Pizzeria Da Marco in the Going Out Gurus blog:

Decorated with mosaic tiles and iron chandeliers, Pizzeria da Marco will seat up to 130 customers in 5,000 square feet of restaurant, including two semi-private party spaces. In addition to the chef’s dozen or so 12-inch pizzas, the menu will feature salads, calzones, charcuterie, 12 wines by the glass and gelato churned on site, making it “a little trip to Naples,” hopes the chef.

Sounds like Pizzeria Da Marco is dead serious about its pizza if it plans to incorporate a Ferrara oven, and hey, we’re all for it. Looks like Mia’s Pizzas is in for some competition. And that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.

UPDATE II – Pizzeria Da Marco has uploaded a “trailer” on its website hyping the restaurant’s opening. According to the countdown timer, the pizzeria plans to open 41 days from today, which is Monday, March 28.

UPDATE IIIEater DC is reporting that the opening has been delayed until mid-April.

UPDATE IV – Bethesda Magazine is reporting that the opening has been officially announced for Monday, May 16!

Pizzeria Da Marco will be located at 8008 Woodmont Avenue.

Bethesda Restaurant Week 2011 is Coming Up!

7 Jan

Just a week following DC’s Restaurant Week, Bethesda will take over prix-fixe duties for the Washington metropolitan area.

Starting Monday, January 24 and lasting through Sunday, January 30, diners can visit one of the many Bethesda-area restaurants participating.

Lunch prices will range from $12 to $15 while dinner will cost $30.

Bear in mind that OpenTable only lists participating restaurants that are also partners with the online reservation system, so there are many other venues that will be a part of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week (such as Matuba).

We, of course, will keep you updated on a full list of restaurants once they become available.

Our recommendations? Persimmon, Grapeseed, Redwood, Jaleo, and Food Wine and Co. are all excellent choices.

UPDATE – Courtesy of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, here is a full rundown of restaurants that will be participating in this year’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week. Bon Appetit!

UPDATE II – Bethesda Restaurant Week has been extended an additional week due to the inclement weather. It will now run through Sunday, February 6. An updated list of participants can be found here.

  • Alfio’s La Trattoria
Lunch $15 & Dinner $28
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner, $25
  • Bezu Restaurant
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $25
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Cesco Trattoria
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • Clyde’s of Chevy Chase
Lunch $15
Dinner $30
Lunch $ 12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • Geppetto Restaurant
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • The Irish Inn at Glen Echo
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • La Ferme
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $29
  • Lia’s
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12-15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Oakville Grill & Wine Bar
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Old Angler’s Inn
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Tavira
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Bethesda Restaurant News

15 Dec

It seems Bethesda has lately become a revolving door for restaurants. After a flurry of new restaurant openings in late summer and early fall, it had seemed that things cooled off a bit as Bethesda residents were busy trying out the new arrivals.

Well, it looks like new spots are on the horizon as we head towards 2011.

We already told you about Cava Grill, and it seems the place is coming along quite nicely and should open as planned by the end of December.

In other news on the Bethesda Row side, it looks like Rock Creek is closing its doors on December 31st to make way for a new restaurant, Newton’s Table.

Dennis Friedman, the former chef at Bezu in Rockville, will take over the space and hopes to reopen in March 2011 offering American food with an Asian twist while focusing on farm fresh ingredients. Thanks to BethesdaPatch for the heads up!

Friedman can also be seen on Sundays at the Bethesda Central Farmers Market serving woodfire pizza from his food truck, Fired Up Pizzas, so he already has a relationship with local farmers.

Moving to the Woodmont Triangle area, it looks like Grapeseed chef Jeff Heineman is opening a casual eatery next door to his formal restaurant, Freddie’s Lobster and Clams.

It will be a seafood shack serving food such as lobster rolls, clams, and fish and chips. This seems like a great new addition of a more casual dining establishment, and I can always go for more lobster roll options! Heineman plans to open by the end of the year. Thanks to Table Talk for the tip.

In another scoop from Table Talk, Jetties, a sandwich and salad eatery, will open in the Spring of 2011 on Fairmont Avenue next to BGR. There is already a location in Northwest DC on Foxhall Road, and they are known best for their carved turkey sandwiches.

I’m always glad when a new sandwich and salad place opens, since there never seems to be quite enough options around lunch time aside from old standbys like Sweetgreen, Potbelly, and of course, the new Taylor Deli.

Check back for updates as these new spots get ready to open, and for other breaking restaurant news.

Bethesda Restaurant Openings and Closings

28 Oct

DMV Dining brings you a compilation of some comings and goings in the Bethesda restaurant scene.

There are certain places that have been in the DC area for decades and are thought of as institutions. Gifford’s Ice Cream is one such place, and we sadly learned that they have closed their doors at all locations due to a legal dispute.

I was walking past the Bethesda location yesterday, and was shocked to see the dark store and eviction notice taped on the door. There was a written note that said, “Closed for the weekend”, but it seems that the sign had been there for several days.

Inside a dark Gifford'sGifford's Closed signGifford's Eviction Notice

Looking into this further, the Washington Post confirmed that there has been a nasty legal battle spanning the last few months between the current and former owner, and the former alleged that the company had been swapping premium Gifford’s ice cream for a generic Hood ice cream brand. We hope this all can be worked out as it would be a sad day in Bethesda to see the beloved store close down for good.

tout de SWEETWhat’s great about working and living in Bethesda is that I can easily run some errands during lunch time. A few days ago, I was picking up some shoes I had repaired at Fortuna’s, a great shoe and leather repair store on Woodmont Avenue, when I spotted a sign on a storefront for a new dessert and pastry shop.

The sign covered the windows so it was hard to tell what was going on behind the scenes, but I was able to take a picture, and it looks like tout de SWEET pastry shop will be arriving soon. The only other description was on the bottom of the sign, which said, “tea, cakes, macaroons, coffee, cupcakes.” We’ll report more when we notice further developments, but as of now, there is no website to speak of for this establishment.

We may have missed the boat on this one, because is looks like Annie’s Bistro Francais is already open on Elm Street in Bethesda. We noticed a few months back that something was coming in the old Cafe Gelato space, but since we don’t live on that side of Bethesda anymore, that specific area is harder to keep track of.

While checking Yelp, it looks like the Bistro opened about a month ago and is already getting rave reviews. The story behind this restaurant is that there was a place with the same name in Middleburg, VA that had a great following. Sadly, they had to close down after too much damage from Snowmageddon, and decided to move up to Bethesda and start over. We can’t wait to try it and I have a feeling we’ll be really glad that they decided to make the move to Maryland.

One place we were always curious to try but never got around to was Javan Restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue. We always heard good things about the Persian restaurant, but now it looks like we’ll never have the opportunity to try it as we recently noticed it was closed for good.

We won’t have to hold out for Persian food for too long as Table Talk reported that a Kabob Bazaar will take its place. This restaurant has a long track record with their Arlington location, which has an average of four stars on Yelp. We will certainly have to check this one out, and based on its reputation, it definitely looks promising.

Finally, I have always found it interesting that there are so many rug stores in the area, yet before long, they all close and have huge signs hanging for months saying that they are going out of business and that everything must go. I noticed this when I was living in DC, and now the same case presents itself in Bethesda, next to Gaffney’s on Wisconsin Ave.

However, below their Going out of Business banners are green signs on the bottom of the windows that say, “Italian Cuisine Coming Soon.” Now, this is fairly vague, and we still have no idea what type of Italian cuisine they’ll be cooking, nor the name of the restaurant, nor any other details, but the signs are prominent in several places. It just seems odd to us that they are already posting signs for a new establishment while the current one has not shut its doors yet.

We’ll keep an eye on those signs and look for more details, but for now, we can tell you that there is yet another Italian restaurant coming to the Bethesda area, and that it will be “soon.”

Bobby's Burger Palace Coming to DC, Bethesda

21 Oct

To continue the trend from yesterday’s burger review, now comes news that Bobby Flay will be expanding his Bobby’s Burger Palace chain to Bethesda, DC, and Baltimore.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Flay has a dozen or so locations planned to open up over the next year.

But does the DC area need yet another burger joint? Flay, and more importantly, his personality, seem to think so:

The “better burger” market is very crowded now, Flay said, “but I feel we have an advantage. When I open a restaurant, people come.”

“That doesn’t mean they’ll like it,” the chef noted. “It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it gives us a shot.”

Well now, I guess because Bobby Flay has his name on the restaurant, it MUST be good, right?

We’ll reserve judgment once his Burger Palace actually opens in the area, but in the meantime, dude really needs to keep his ego in check.

UPDATE – The Washington Business Journal reports that Flay will be opening his Burger Palace in two area locations. The first will be in College Park, Maryland at The Varsity, a luxury student housing complex. An opening is slated for September 1.

The second location will be located in DC proper at 2121 K Street NW. It is tentatively scheduled to open later this year.

UPDATE IIMetrocurean is reporting that the DC location of Bobby’s Burger Shack is expected to open on Tuesday, August 16.

Weekly Restaurant News

30 Sep

As always, I like to be on the lookout for news about new restaurants opening in the DMV. This could include a new concept from a relatively unknown chef or business, a new outpost from a well-known figure either locally or nationally, or a new location of an established restaurant. Today’s post covers all of these categories.

Pizza Tempo: One day I was walking on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda and noticed a small sign in a vacant space where a Pizza Hut used to be.

Pizza Tempo before opening

Pizza Tempo before Opening

I hadn’t been by there recently and forgot all about it, till I thought today to look at the image on my phone and saw a web address. Sure enough, Pizza Tempo’s website says that it is now open, so I did my research on this establishment.

It wasn’t clear if this was a standalone location or if there were others out there. Just from the website alone, it seems that the site is only for Bethesda, as the Map and Contact Us tabs only provide information for that location. However, when doing a Google search on them, I mostly got results for the same company name, but in Rockville as well as a mention of one in Kensington.

So, this is not a brand new establishment, but a relocation of one that has been in business since 2005. It was hard to tell if the other locations were closed, but that seemed to be the case when looking on Google Maps. However, any mention of it on either Chowhound or Yelp showed positive reviews, whether talking about the old or new venues.

From the outside, Pizza Tempo looks like it could be just another pizza joint, but that is not the case. First, their story, according to the website, is that they began in a small gas station in Rockville back in 2005, and then added a second location in Kensington. These were small establishments with only two or three tables, but they received a following from locals. Second, the menu includes not just pizza joint staples such as pizza and buffalo wings, but it is Turkish-owned so pides, hummus, falafel, lamb, and baba ganoushare also included. Looks like we’ll have to check this out soon.

District of Pi: More pizza places are coming to DC, and this one is a transplant from St. Louis. An article from the St. Louis Magazine website reported yesterday that its hometown pizza establishment, Pi Pizzeria, will be adding a new location early next year, on March 14, 2011 to be exact.

This will be the first outpost outside of St. Louis, and the magazine suspects our most famous resident may have something to do with that. Though the new location on 9th and F St. will still be a few blocks from the White House, it may not be long before they start getting delivery calls from the President. The deep dish pizza establishment already has a website up, with more to come as they get closer to opening.

The Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: Finally, there are some chefs and owners that are local favorites, and anything with their name and stamp on it is destined to be a success. This can be said for Jeff Black of Black Restaurant Group. We are definitely regulars at Black’s in Bethesda, particularly for their great happy hour that includes some great oyster specials.

So when I read Tom Siestema’s report that Mr. Black will be opening a new location in DC that features oysters, I could immediately tell that it would be a success. The plan is for the restaurant to open by February of next year, and the two-story space on 14th will include an upstairs bar and even a bocce ball court. We’ll be keeping on eye out for more news about this one, but this is one restaurant empire we’re excited to see expand.

OpenTable Introduces Spotlight, Enters Deal-of-the-Day Market

15 Sep

Many people know me as their go-to reference for finding out great deals and discounts, especially when it comes to food and restaurants. If it’s free ice cream day, burrito day, you name it…I can probably find it and will ultimately tell you about it.

I also think coupons are a great way to try new restaurants without having to break the bank. I was a frequent purchaser with Restaurant.com, but wasn’t always thrilled with the restaurant selections.

As you could guess, I was elated when I first saw companies pop up such as Groupon, Living Social, What’s the Deal D.C., and countless others. It seems that a new one starts up each day.

I love the idea of buying coupons for restaurants, massages, kayaking trips, and even the Newseum. While the expansion of these offerings has possibly saturated the market, it’s great that several of them are now geographically targeting and sending out deals each day not only for D.C, but also for Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. Groupon recently stepped up their game by increasing their focus yet again via offering deals to locales such as Silver Spring or Bethesda

Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be another coupon site that would warrant attention in my inbox, a new one appeared from a familiar name, and it made perfect sense.

While scanning my emails this morning, I received a message from OpenTable saying that they would be offering daily weekly deals as well, but from top restaurants that already participate with their site.

I trust OpenTable and have used it for years. I have reached VIP status as well as received enough points to acquire several gift certificates over time just for booking reservations and, of course, honoring them. Many people already receive regular emails from OpenTable, so they already had a large pool of followers to start out with.

The first deal is also quite enticing: a voucher worth $50 at Charlie Palmer Steak House for only half the price. DMV Dining has always heard good things about this particular restaurant but, alas, we still have never been before.

I think we just might have to grab OpenTable’s introductory deal and wait and see what else they have to offer. Too bad we’ll have to wait another week!