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Maura Judkis Thinks Oz Favors Style Over Substance

Plus, reviews of Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, The Riggsby, Convivial, and more.

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This week, Tom Sietsema reviews D.C. itself as part of his search for America’s Best Food cities for the Washington Post. He praises newcomers Maketto and Masseria and highlights renovations at Marcel’s and The Source. He also delves into the region's vast selection of international cuisines. [WaPo]

Maura Judkis files a review of Oz in Arlington for the Washington Post. She awards the Australian restaurant one star and concludes it's more concerned with scene-setting than the actual food. The dishes are quite bland, but co-owner Ashley Darby (who's starring in Bravo's upcoming TV series Real Housewives of the Potomac) explains it's due to Australia’s connection to British food. But Judkis doesn't think this necessarily justifies the carelessness on the plates. She writes:

"The fish of the day (a very Australian barramundi, during one of my visits) was a fillet simply prepared with light seasonings — bland, but not as disappointing as its sides, which were downright lazy: plain romaine lettuce leaves next to a wan tomato salad drenched in balsamic... on a subsequent visit, I found a dish even more egregious: the crumb steak, a pair of breaded chicken breasts served in a puddle of ordinary mustard with skinned wedges of plain cucumbers, and yet another pile of romaine. It’s the kind of thing I might have made for myself as a broke college student. Here, it was nearly $15." [WaPo]

In his First Bite column for the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema visits Tony Conte's Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Gaithersburg. He thinks it's off to a good start with appetizers that could be served at a fancy restaurant.  He also tries the pizzas and writes:

"An early sample of two pizzas found subtly crisp crusts of good flavor that could have benefited from more time in the 750-degree oven; both interiors were a tad underbaked. (Pizza ovens take time to get to know. I have a hunch next month’s crusts will be better.)" [WaPo]

Tyler Cowen tries The Riggsby in Dupont Circle. He writes:

"This deliberately 'retro' place is actually quite good. They have meat, seafood, a kind of 'do they serve shrimp cocktail here?' 1970s kind of vibe."

He recommends the mussels, sardines, and schnitzel and looks forward to returning soon. [TC]

Don Rockwell joins the hordes crowding into Convivial thanks to some favorable buzz. He’s recognized by Cedric Maupillier, the chef and owner, who recommends several dishes to him including the latke, cauliflower blanc-manger, and veal tartare. Rockwell writes:

"These three dishes were among the culinary highlights of my 2015, and we’re quickly running out of days in the year. Get all three if you can, even to share with the table – you’ve got to try them."

Rockwell is less impressed with the much-vaunted fried chicken coq au vin. He’s simply a French food purist who likes both fried chicken and coq au vin, but not together in the same dish.

Continuing on a reviewing bender, Rockwell merely quells hunger with the help of Elevation Burger in the Hoya Court behind Georgetown Hospital but calls BGR- The Burger Joint in North Arlington "excellent." He also gorges on "superb" tamales at ABC Canteen in Fairfax, and he has a "needlessly unpleasant experience" at Super Pollo in Arlington. [DR]

Bitches Who Brunch unveil their end-of-year guide to the best and worst brunches of 2015. Hank’s on the Hill, DC Harvest, Republic, Casa Luca, and Glen’s Garden Market tie for best overall, while Ping Pong Dim Sum is declared worst overall. [BWB]

THE BLOGS: The Jolly Bartender shares the new cocktail menu at The Source...Bad Sentences says brunchers could do worse than Penn Commons...Hungry Lobbyist discovers Thai by Thai's secret menu...DC Wrapped Dates passes on Beefsteak

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