For his First Bite column, Tom Sietsema visits new 14th Street Italian restaurant Ghibellina, and he's a fan of the pies, which customers cut with pizza shears.
The pies at Ghibellina are excellent, by the way. The toppings of your choice are scattered on a crust made with a blend of high-gluten flour and super-soft Italian 00 flour and cooked in a wood-stoked oven for about 31 / 2 minutes at 725 degrees. The result is a pizza with welcome blisters and lots of character.
Chicken liver mousse, eggplant and panna cotta also pass muster. [WaPo]
Candy Sagon heads out to Reston to try Tavern 64, which earns 1.5 stars from the critic. She says it has one of the most creative menus in the area, but a staff that can't always execute. Still, there are some good dishes.
Although the Tavern's menu is heavy on fish and seafood, its meat dishes are standouts, particularly the slow-cooked brisket, which is offered both as a dinner entree and a lunch sandwich. Glover cooks the meat in a low oven for six hours, lets it rest overnight, then cubes the meat and cooks it like a pot roast for two more hours. Served with braised red cabbage, corn bread mash and red wine sauce, it's hearty and satisfying. [WaPo]
Bethesda Magazine visits the new chocolate-themed Max Brenner, and Carole Sugarman finds she isn't too impressed with the chocolate itself. "But after sampling three desserts, a cookie and some candy, I've come to the conclusion that Max makes just middling chocolate—despite the steep prices. Top-tier chocolate has a rich, deep flavor; you know it when you taste it, and it doesn't take much to feel happy and satisfied. Yet the desserts I tried at Max Brenner lacked refinement." [BM]
Arlington Magazine's Walter Nicholls reviews Bistro Vivant, which puts him in the mind of Provence.
The kitchen receives fresh seafood shipments twice weekly from Europe. That's why the starter of octopus is so very tender, with the dewy tentacles joined beautifully with charred pork belly and a counterpoint of zippy, chili-infused sauce. I could make a meal of the pretty roasted-beet-and-ricotta salad, which is garlanded with paper-thin asparagus shavings. Alongside, I'll take an order of the crisp and full-flavored duck-fat french fries. Perfect. [AM]
Tyler Cowen is busy this week, visiting such places as Nostos and Taco Bamba. Of the former, he says, "Finally this area has a first-rate Greek restaurant. This is not a mom and pop but rather a modestly fancy place, not cheap but relative to its market segment it is reasonably priced. I've tried maybe a dozen of the dishes here, with a wide range of choice. Every single one was excellent." [TC]