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Tom Sietsema Previews Bob Kinkead's Ancora

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Tom Sietsema visits the new Ancora for his First Bite, and while the decor there is still an issue (it will be redone eventually), he's charmed by many of the food items.

As Kinkead suggests, main courses embrace plenty of flesh. One of the heartiest plates brings together braised pork butt, sliced roasted pork and cubed pork belly flanked with broccoli rabe and house-made gnocchi. Fragrant with garlic, rosemary and onions, the meaty feast is what you should probably try when you can enjoy it at a leisurely pace -- and not when you know you'll soon be seated thisclose in a theater.

If it was an Italian dish on the chef's former Kinkead's menu, it's probably reappearing at Ancora, but much of the menu is different, the critic observes. [WaPo]

For his full review, Sietsema treks out to Baltimore to visit Johnny's, from the owners of The Charleston and other popular restaurants. He gives it two stars. Portions can be small, and grilled cheese is overcooked, but there are other pleasures.

My go-to dinner picks reflect the menu's span. If I want to splurge, I slice into the hanger steak, blushing slices of beef flanked by a handful of terrific "fat fries." If I slacked off at the gym, I'm inclined to fish for something else. A barge of baked salmon on a heap of sauteed edamame, bok choy and apple slivers -- enough shades of green to populate a paint fan -- manages to be both hearty and light. [WaPo]

New on Todd Kliman's list of current favorites: Mari Vanna.

Service the night I was in was a mess; I can't remember a meal in the last couple of years in which more went wrong. And our first courses were hardly diverting: a beet salad was salty, and a smoked fish platter was uneven. But then came the pelmeni (tortellini-like bundles of tender pasta stuffed with well-seasoned veal and served with heavy sour cream) and a fabulous rendition of chicken tabaka... [Washingtonian]

Columbia's Tino's Italian Bistro is featured in the Good to Go column this week.

Food is a satisfying array of red-sauced classics. Many of the recipes come from his family. The popular meatball, for example, worthy of stand-alone status as an appetizer, is gently seasoned and softened with a blend that we're guessing includes Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Infantino won't reveal his great-grandmother's formula. [WaPo]

For The $20 Diner, Tim Carman's latest recommendation is Kantutas in Wheaton. Don't skip the house sauce there.

Kantutas, for a number of operational reasons, opts not to sell the ubiquitous Bolivian snack, the saltena...Instead, Peredo offers the deep-fried equivalent, the empanada tucumanas stuffed with beef or chicken and many of the typical saltena fillings, such as raisins, peas, olives and sliced boiled eggs. The appetizer is head-smackingly good, at once chewy, moist, savory and ever so piquant thanks to the spellbinding green sauce. [WaPo]

Stefanie Gans reviews Fuego Cocina y Tequileria for Northern Virginia Magazine and likes its simplicity and its price point.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria swells with Arlington's going-out crowd—and the food matches; it's a place for an easy dinner, with solid, uncomplicated food. Dishes do not obey trend lists. There are no kale salads or pig's ears. There are tacos and no need to get fancy. Keep it sausage, stupid.

THE BLOGS: The PoPville commentariat weighs in on TAAN.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria

2800 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201 571 970 2180

Mari Vanna

116 Knightsbridge, , England SW1X 7PJ 020 7225 3122 Visit Website

Ancora

600 New Hampshire Ave. NW Washington DC

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