Tom Sietsema likes the decor of Mazagan, a new addition to Arlington. The food has its strengths, too, even if it isn't everything. The restaurant earns 1.5 stars.
Bouizar cares about the way his food looks, evinced by the vessels that ferry his recipes from kitchen to table — black casseroles, burnt-orange ceramics, dimpled white plates. The most festive look belongs to my favorite Moroccan export, the phyllo-shrouded chicken pie known as bisteeya, its crackling cover striped with cinnamon and completed with powdered sugar. The combination of sweet crust and soothing shredded chicken (and eggs and almonds) is one I always make room for at Mazagan.
For his First Bite, Tom Sietsema visits the new Tico, and appreciates the sound-proofing restaurateur Michael Schlow has done. Not every dish is a winner (read: tuna ceviche), but many are hits.
Patrons encounter tasty fried-fish tacos, chorizo risotto and tender lamb meatballs garnished with panes of ricotta salata and served in a robust tomato sauce. I expect the cabbage salad, a beautiful study in green, to be the hit it is in Boston. Shredded cabbage, romano beans, asparagus, zucchini and crushed Marcona almonds, everything enlivened with a salsa verde vinaigrette, add up to a winning combination. Schlow says he conceived the dish ("my attempt at a green salad") one night at home from what he found in his refrigerator. Everyone's remnants should go down so pleasingly.
Todd Kliman offers a mini review of NaiNai's Noodle and Dumpling Bar in Silver Spring.
The dumplings are good, not great (get the Year of the Pig, stuffed with juicy ground pork), but even a good not great dumpling is a pretty wonderful thing. The steamed, stuffed buns vary in quality, and the meats inside are a touch dry. Focus on the noodle bowls, which feature hand-pulled noodles (notice the ends, which are uniformly not uniform — some are fat, some thin). I like the Pai Gow, topped with ground pork, chili oil, bean sprouts, mustard greens, toasted garlic and ground peanuts, and the Mahjong Noodles, tossed with sesame paste, peanut butter, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts and chili oil. [Washingtonian]
Warren Rojas reviews the new Luke's Lobster at Union Station. They've stopped serving breakfast there, but the lobster rolls still satisfy.
No filler. Subtle spicing. All seafood. The lobster roll is all business. Massive chunks of rich, delicious claw meat luxuriated in citrus butter flood every bite. There are trace amounts of salt. And a hint of fresh garlic peeks through. But the sweet flesh of our formerly heavily armored friend leads each gustatory charge. [RC]
Bethesda Magazine has a first taste of Heckman's Delicatessen. The matzoh ball soup isn't great, and the chicken liver needs more texture. But Carole Sugarman says, "the pastrami is worth raving about. Moist, flavorful and crusted with a blackened spice mixture, it's terrific. What's more, with 10-ounce portions of meat, all the sandwiches are appropriately zaftig." [BM]
Northern Virginia Magazine pays a visit to Trio Grill in Merrifield. Generally, the restaurant plays it safe. "Entrees hover between mid-$20s and mid-$30s and read like many menus today: Norwegian salmon (pleasantly smoky, bringing credibility back to a fish over-served at luncheons); short ribs atop polenta (an overwhelming portion, but fork-tender); and diver scallops (cooked well, but the porcini crust tricks the mouth into thinking it's grit, something to avoid with a creviced sea creature known to be difficult to clean)." [NoVa Mag]