I love pizza! ¬†To me, it is the most perfect food. ¬†When I select the toppings for my pizza, I usually include a healthy dose of vegetables and some style of meat. ¬† One evening after work, MJ was headed home and I knew traffic was causing her voyage home to be much longer. ¬†So I decided to invite her to dinner and cut into her miserable commute by meeting at 2Amys in Cleveland Park.
We arrive around the same time and only had to wait approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. ¬†This is actually a reasonable amount of time to wait on a Friday night during the height of dinner. ¬†As soon as you open the door, the immense aroma of Neopolitan pizza hits your nose. ¬†The restaurant was between small to medium size. ¬†The decor reminded me of a wonderful bistro MJ and I visited while in Florence, Italy with a delightful bar at the back of the restaurant.
We started the meal with two appetizers, first the¬†Suppli a telefono which consists of arborio rice, mozzarella a hint of parmesean cheese coated in bread crumbs and finally deep fried. ¬†The golden brown balls of cheese had a slight crunch to the exterior and warm savory cheese and rice on the inside. ¬†Next, MJ ordered the Beet salad. ¬†I am not a fan of beets, but this salad had white and red beets and a mild flavored¬†vinaigrette which sweetened the flavor of the beets.
For our main entrees I ordered the¬†Calabrese pizza without anchovies and MJ ordered the¬†Santa Brigida Pizza. Many a times the amount of salt flavor overwhelms the other ingredients in the Calabrese pizza, but 2 Amys had it right. There was superb balance of onions, olives, tomato and parsley that was absorbed by the fresh mozzarella. The fluffy brick oven baked crust had a mild crisp to every bite.
Across the table, MJ had a healthy heap of arugula on her pizza. The cherry tomatoes with the peppery arugula worked very well on the melted fresh mozzarella. ¬†They say that you eat with your eyes first. ¬†Well, whomever ‘they’ are were right because the colors in the Santa Brigida prepared me for the exploding flavors led by the cherry tomatoes. ¬†MJ usually reserves most of her appetite for dessert when pizza is on the table for dinner, but by the end of this night the pizza on her side of the table was almost gone.
Nevertheless, dessert is always on our minds and before we bid farewell to 2 Amys, we decided to split a cannoli and a foggy se√Īor. ¬†The flavors of the homemade cannoli was a great finish to wonderful meal. ¬†The dessert really took us back to Italy quickly and quietly then dropped us back into Cleveland Park as we exited.
The scenario: ¬†Although agrodolce means bitter-sweet or sweet-and-sour, our experience at this Germantown, MD restaurant was definitely more sweet than sour…this time. ¬†What do I mean by that? Well, we’ve been to this restaurant twice before, and, while it wasn’t a bad experience, the food just wasn’t quite what we had hoped for.
Friday date night we were feeling the tug on our heartstrings for the flavors we loved so much during our visit to Italy last year. ¬†So, against our better judgment, we decided that we’d give Agrodolce a third try and of it wasn’t good this time, then we would not go back there anymore. ¬†After all, third strike & you’re out, right?
The place: ¬†Situated in a busy strip mall, the restaurant is a small space that feels more cozy than cramped. ¬†There’s also a large patio area for dining alfresco if the weather’s nice and you’re so inclined. ¬†The wait staff is made up of friendly locals ready to give you tips on what’s good that day, what wine would make a good accompaniment to your meal, or whatever else you want to know.
The food: ¬†The waitress brought us a plate of freshly baked bread and black olive tapenade. ¬†Hot baked bread always gets me, so we were off to a great start. ¬†Though the tapenade left something to be desired…perhaps more salt or herbs?
For the next course, we had their house salad which included mesclun greens and all the other standard salad accoutrements topped with house vinaigrette.
For the main course, I ordered the¬†Risotto and Seared Diver Scallops and DJ ordered the¬†Gnocchi al Forno. ¬†Once our dishes arrived, all I could smell was cheese and some sort of smoky scent that I couldn’t figure out, that is, until my dish was placed in front of me.
It was everything I’d hoped for; smoky and salty with a bite of fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas, topped with nutty, slightly melted parmigiano reggiano. ¬†The scallops were perfectly cooked – and I’m a stickler about scallops because I’ve had one too many bad experiences with them – seared on the outside with a firm-but-not-too-chewy texture. ¬†The risotto was cooked nicely as well, al dente but cooked all the way through so you never had a bite of rice that was stuck to your molar. ¬†(You know what I’m talking about…it’s that bad risotto that’s not quite cooked in the middle so that the inner-most layer is hard as a rock.)
I digress. DJ’s dish was wonderful – like a lasagna, except it was made of gnocchi. ¬†Cheesy, salty and nutty, full of tanginess from the tomato sauce with uber-tender little potato dumplings all throughout that were textural little masterpieces.
We ended our delicious meal with cappuccinos and shared a strawberry shortcake with homemade ice cream. ¬†Overall, we had a terrific experience at Agrodolce and, for us, third time was a charm.
MJ and I headed down to Orlando on a quick trip, and when I say quick I mean less than 24 hours worth of the Florida sun. While there, we were in search of a good meal that may not be as easy to find here in the DC Metro area. ¬†We started to scour the internet for ideas of cuisine and neighborhoods. ¬†Finally, we decided on Havanas Cafe which scored fairly well on a few different Web sites and the reviews made it much more appealing. ¬†A quick confirmation from some locals and MJ and I decided to make that our lunch plans (stay tuned for an entry about our dinner journey in Orlando).
We arrived at a strip mall close to Lake Buena Vista. ¬†Before you think anything else, yes, I know it is a touristy area. ¬†But, this strip mall seemed a little more tailored to the locals than for tourists. ¬†Anyway, we arrived at Havana’s ¬†Cafe and lo and behold we were the first customers for the day. ¬†I looked down at my watch and realized that we had arrived only 15 minutes after their opening time. ¬†Walking in I knew what I was going to order. ¬†MJ was more interested in Mofongo and found it on the menu.
I tried a little and knew it was perfect. ¬†Ice cold touching every corner of my palette tasting milk, brown sugar and mango. ¬†Next, came the Camarofongo (i.e., Mofongo with shrimp). ¬†The Camarofongo was served in a garlic sauce with shrimp served over smashed plantains. ¬†I (trumpets please) ordered a classic Cuban sandwich. ¬†I like to measure a Cuban restaurant based on its traditional fare: Cuban sandwiches, Cuban coffee and Ropa Vieja.
MJ enjoyed every bite of the Camarofongo. ¬†The broth was so tasty that it could stand alone as a meal along with its chunky vegetables. ¬†Biting into the smashed plantains, the texture was meaty and had absorbed the broth flavored. ¬†The plantain only sweetened the spoonful everytime.
My Cuban sandwich was tangy and cheesy like it should be. ¬†The ham had a suttle flavor along side the roasted pork. ¬†But, the bread is what won me over. ¬†It is not too often that I want to taste the bread in a sandwich, it really is more of a folder for the important stuff inside. ¬†The bread used on my sandwich was much more than a carrier. ¬†The bread was slightly toasted and crunchy to start. ¬†Then, it had a nice doughy consistency later on in the bite that allowed the flavor of bread to come through. ¬†The bread introduced the meats and cheese along with the mustard and pickles extremely well and left me savoring another bite.
The meal was an ideal portion size. ¬†Additionally, the ambience in the medium-sized restaurant was welcoming and gave off a nice, homey vibe. ¬†I have visited a few different Cuban restaurants from Miami to Washington D.C. and Havana’s Cafe gives me a good taste of authentic Cuban cuisine. ¬†When in Orlando be sure to stop by and taste a few different dishes at Havana’s Cafe.
I have the pleasure of working with the wife of head chef, Chris Willis, of¬†Posh. ¬†And, lucky for me, she invited me and another one of our co-workers to a ladies’ night event at the restaurant.
Posh is a hip spot downtown with an obviously loyal set of diners that won the restaurant a Diners’ Choice award from OpenTable.com. ¬†Their monthly ladies’ night event, called Girlfriends Night Out ¬†is delicious, fun and exciting. ¬†While geared toward women, the event attracts quite a few men, as well, because of the many mini-events-within-the-event they host. ¬†The upper level of the restaurant has a bar and two additional spaces where they host speed dating and simple spa services from a local mobile spa company. Downstairs near the restaurant’s main bar, there is a small area where brave souls take the stage to belt out karaoke tunes – a la American Idol – while being taped for posting on Posh’s YouTube site.
Posh is one of our favorite places to dine, so I may sound a bit biased when I say that the food is terrific. ¬†Chef Chris has a great sense of what types of flavors Posh diners are drawn to as showcased by the interesting mix of dishes on his menu. ¬†He draws from many different areas in his cuisine, from the Asian-inspired Crab Rangoon to the Southern favorite, Shrimp & Grits.
We also had a cone of their deliciously scented truffle french fries to share. ¬†For entrees, I had Chicken & Waffles, chef created a special spicy pasta dish with sausage, mushrooms, and lobster for his wife and our co-worker had the¬†Seared Jamaican Jerk¬†Rockfish.
My dish was executed in a terrific way with lightly crispy-yet-tender crust on the chicken, perfectly spiced, served on top of a soft and fluffy sweet waffle served with sticky maple syrup and melted butter on the side. ¬†Doing my duty and trying to eat my dish the “right way” I asked my co-worker, who had lived in Atlanta for a while, if I should pour the syrup over the whole thing. ¬†She looked a me and said “Of course!” ¬†So, I drizzled the syrup over both the chicken and the waffles, even though I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like it this way. ¬†After all, I’m more of a “dipper.” ¬†I cut through the chicken and waffle below it, creating the perfect, syrupy forkful and it was love at first bite. ¬†I tried my dinner companions’ entrees as well and let me just say I will probably end up ordering the jerk rockfish the next time I come to Posh.
After eating, drinking and listening to some of the karaoke, the ladies and I decided to take advantage of the Girlfriends Night Out spa services and went up to get hand massages. ¬†When we came back down to our table, we watched more karaoke over some coffee/cappuccinos and a shared banana split. ¬†We finally ended our night with some¬†limoncello, said goodbye to chef Chris.
Hopefully we’ll be heading back to Posh next month with a bigger crew of co-workers as we got back to the office the next day and regaled the girls who missed it with our fun stories.
Just got word of this from my dose of DailyCandy. ¬†You can take a “Taste of DC Tour” now through October 31st. ¬†It’s a three-hour walk-and-eat tour of DC food history and where some of the good eats can be found. ¬†Get more of the deets here and sign up to take the tour. Yum!