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The Early Word on Splashy Pizzeria La Forchetta

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R. Lopez

Much has been made of chef Roberto Donna's return to a DC kitchen with the opening of La Forchetta earlier this month — will the financial issues that have plagued his past projects fade with owner Hakan Ilhan responsible for that side of the restaurant? Will the master chef's food taste the same at a lower price point? Will the pizzeria, as claimed, take the mantle of best pizza in DC from Two Amys? These are the questions that the restaurant's early diners have taken on so, here now, let's take a look at their early answers.

The Restaurateur to Restaurateur News: Estadio owner Mark Kuller had some kind words to say about the restaurant in a Don Rockwell post, writing: "The owner, Hakan Ilhan, came over to say hi - he strikes me as a serious restaurateur who will do whatever is necessary to make this place a success. Roberto was at work in the kitchen and say what you will, he is a beast of a chef. I predict this place will be a huge success and that with Hakan overseeing the business side this venture will not have any of the problems that plagued this great chef in the past." [Don Rockwell]

The Two Amys Comparison News: Responding to a City Paper post in which Ilhan claims La Forchetta's pizza is better than DC classic Two Amys, a commenter weighs in: "Live a couple of blocks away from La Forchetta, and ate there for the first time last night. Very disappointed by the pizza. Not particularly flavorful. Crust was tough rather than crisp. No comparison to Two Amy's. Other food we had was also disappointing. Hope the place improves." [WCP]

More Two Amys Comparison News: And another Don Rockwell commenter finds La Forchetta generally a mixed bag, but does take sides in the Two Amys debate: "This pizza was very good, mind you, but in my mind not as good as Two Amy's--admittedly, I have not had pizza at many of the newer places in town and across the river, so my opinion is not an educated one. I have had Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza pies in Los Angeles on more than one occasion, however, and La Forchetta's aren't even on the same planet, both in terms of the quality and flavor of the crust, and the creativity of the toppings." [Don Rockwell]

The Not-At-All-A-Snobby-New-Yorker News: One Yelper wants La Forchetta to succeed in the neighborhood but, alas: " Unfortunately, the food there is worse than Chef Geoff's. The service was fine, the wines by the glass were well-priced, I could care less about decor (frankly, we moved here from NYC recently and not to sound too snobby, but nothing in this area looks or feels very "cool". Not important at all, though). But the food was awful and the prices too high for the quality - even if the food had been better, it was still too $$." [Yelp]

The Great News: Here's the rave from a Yelper: "As for the food? The pappardelle with wild boar ragu was just about perfect; the pasta was light and fresh, the sauce a warm, homey flavor. It brought back the great food memory I'd had from Donna before, but this time without the associated frustration. My dining companions all liked their food, enough so that no one was willing to share! I'll be back to try more items from the menu, absolutely." [Yelp]

The Bad Service News: A lot of the complaints on Yelp were regarding service, including this one: "First, the service was horrific. Being relatively new was not the reason. The waiter was a mess.  He got my order wrong, was unable to properly time the courses and would go missing for long stretches of time.  The dining experience itself was terrible." [Yelp]

The Good News: Another Yelper is very pleased with what arrived on their plate: "Although most people were ordering pizza, which looked and smelled delicious, I couldn't resist the pork shoulder sandwich, which was topped with broccoli rabe and provolone cheese on toasted ciabatta, and it was one extremely good sandwich. The pork was perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, the provolone was sharp, and added a really nice contrast to the bitterness of the broccoli rabe. The sandwich was huge as well, and definitely a bargain at about ten bucks. My colleague got a vegetarian sandwich, which she seemed happy with as well." [Yelp]

The Food Critic News: And, of course, Tom Sietsema takes the temperature in his First Bite column this week: "As everywhere else, small plates dominate the first half of the menu. Whipped salt cod makes a nice munch. Butter-bathed agnolotti stuffed with roast veal and pork are pleasant, if a little more dense than I'm accustomed to eating in a Donna destination. And pizzaiolo Panette Giuseppe appears to still be getting used to that 800-pound pizza oven; the crust of my margherita tastes on target, but the bottom could use more char and the center is soupy enough with tomato sauce to make me ask for a spoon."

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