Subscribe Now »

Special Holiday Deal

Give the Gift of the

Give one person a magazine subscription for $29.95, and get each additional subscription for just $19.95.


Get Dining Out delivered to your inbox every Wednesday Morning.

Proof, Sidebar, and Fire Works Pizza: The Needle
Every month, we take the pulse of three area restaurants. By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg
Comments () | Published August 11, 2011

At restaurants such as this lively Penn Quarter wine den—where a call for a reservation is usually answered, “We have tables at 5 or 10:30”—it’s not uncommon for the food to slip. Management is pulling double duty, overseeing the white-hot Estadio in Logan Circle, but judging by a recent knockout meal—from a well-balanced Root cocktail to veal sweetbreads with pickled mushrooms, grapes, and a poached egg—the team is doing well. Even the simplest dishes, such as a side of cauliflower with mint and tahini, confirm that the customers who pack the place aren’t there just for the scene.

This no-frills bar next to Jackie’s Restaurant is one of Montgomery County’s best-kept dining secrets—a place to eat adventurously without spending a lot. Chef Diana Davila-Boldin’s small plates show the same imagination that distinguishes her work at the big-sister operation—be it a mini-burger with a quail egg, perfect chicken nuggets, or more complex fare such as “rabbit-stuffed rabbit” atop a carrot purée. The cocktails kick off a meal in style—the mujer verde, with gin and two kinds of Chartreuse, is like a high-octane lemonade.

Fire Works Pizza
At this Courthouse spinoff of Leesburg’s upscale pizza-and-beer joint, we went beyond our usual order—the Smokey Blue pizza, with Gorgonzola and balsamic—and tried a few other pies. The Fire Cracker, with pepperoni and olives, was a welcome addition to the table, but the Segundo, with apples and an Alfredo-like sauce, was heavy and bland. Starters were erratic: Blue-cheese risotto fritters were flavorless, but creamy spinach dip and spicy-sweet wings were the stuff bar-food dreams are made of.

This article appears in the August 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter

Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter

More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder


From the Magazine From the Magazine From the Magazine
Subscribe to Washingtonian

Discuss this story

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. The Washingtonian reserves the right to remove or edit content once posted.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Posted at 10:15 AM/ET, 08/11/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Blogs