Tom Sietsema shuttles out to Frederick this week for a review of Bryan Voltaggio's new diner concept Family Meal. Noting that the restaurant is partially "a celebrity chef’s response to chain restaurants," Sietsema awards Family Meal two stars with raves for a number of dishes — in particular the fried chicken:
The dish I would order every visit if my job didn’t require me to branch out would be Family Meal’s fried chicken. It’s a perfect spread: a half chicken joined by flaky buttermilk biscuits, a bouquet of pickled okra and green beans, plus a shot of stinging hot sauce, then crammed into a bright yellow ceramic bowl shaped like a bird. Every item is there for a good reason, and you’re a better man than I am if you leave a crumb behind.
Complaints include dense and dry desserts, "a noise problem," and some perhaps over-eager servers, but Sietsema otherwise approves of Voltaggio's latest empire expansion — and predicts that Family Meal's gigantic parking lot is going to be pretty busy. [WaPo]
Washingtonian's Jessica Voelker files a review of La Forchetta, which she writes is dishing out "food designed not to stretch minds but to soothe them." While she finds La Forchetta's pizza hasn't exactly justified that pre-opening boasting that it would be better than 2 Amys, Voelker finds chef Roberto Donna is still on his game when it comes to pasta and awards the place two stars:
From-scratch pasta dishes include tender gnocchi with a chunky sausage ragu and spaghetti studded with generous hunks of soft-shell crab, tomato, and garlic. Intermingling aromas of tomato, beef, and cream announce a hefty crock of lasagnette—you can soak up its silky sauce with two types of house-made bread.
Unlike Sietsema's Family Meal review, here the desserts win Voelker's praise — as does the candlelit patio. [Washingtonian]
Voelker also has a first look at Cava's new concept Sugo Cicchetti, where the pizza fares a little better than that of La Forchetta: "Then there’s that pizza crust, which Moshovitis achieves by fermenting the dough for a few days, then blasting it in a gas-and-wood-powered oven. It makes a great base for the Onion Love—in which caramelized onions contrast nicely with shallots, olives, and goat cheese—and a Margherita with punchy tomato sauce. For fans of the charred and the bubbly, a trip to Potomac may be in order." [Washingtonian]
Russell Warnick files a bar bites review of Dodge City for the City Paper this week, though a bit wary of bringing the crowds to his personal hidden gem: "The grill is what makes it one of the best spots in town to kick back on a lazy Sunday. The menu features a slew of sausages from 13th Street Meats, including Thai chicken, chorizo, roasted poblano, the traditional half-smoke, and—my personal favorite—the lemon-basil chicken." [WCP]
THE BLOGS: We Love DC feels like a grown-up at Food, Wine & Co.; DC-Wrapped Dates didn't have a very good first experience at Crios but declares Adams Morgan newcomer Mintwood Place a "brilliant addition to the neighborhood; Eat the District raves that Tacos El Chilango lives up to the hype of its Arlington food truck; Bitches Who Brunch had an A+ (and comped) meal at Blue Duck Tavern, plus an A-rated brunch at Mintwood Place.
Family Meal [Photo: R. Lopez]