• The Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Birch & Barley, Vermilion, Buzz, and others) has opened a second Rustico in Ballston (4075 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 571-384-1820). The 260-seat restaurant, which boasts 443 beers—400 bottles, 40 drafts, and 3 casks—has a similar food menu to the Slaters Lane original, which includes pizzas from a wood-fired oven. There are also dishes unique to Ballston, such as ricotta doughnuts, brown-sugar-braised short rib, and butternut-squash agnolotti.
• Arlington’s food-truck count went up by one when Bada Bing Cheesesteaks and Spiedies unrolled yesterday. According to the blog Arlington Now, a spiedie is a sandwich from upstate New York that’s made with meat cooked over an open flame. The truck’s owner, chef Nicholas Terzella, a Centreville resident, has fine-dining kitchen experience in California and has worked as a personal chef in New York City.
• For a critic who’s quite fond of doling out two stars—no more, no less—we were surprised to see the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema give Robert Wiedmaier’s new Bethesda restaurant, Mussel Bar, a measly half star. Sietsema writes: “This is a giant ATM with a dishwasher, and I’m getting ripped off.” He ended up liking exactly three things about the place—the wine-bottle chandelier, Wiedmaier’s family photos on the wall, and the beer.
• Like lots of Washingtonians this summer, we visited Gifford’s, a longtime local ice-cream chain, in hopes of a delicious refresher. Instead, we found an unkempt store, few flavors, and surly staff. Last weekend, the Washington Post reported that the downfall came because of a fierce lawsuit between the chain’s wholesale owners and the 34-year-old investor, Luke Cooper, they had hired to take care of the four Gifford’s stores. The Post story traces the unhappy history of the company, which dates to 1938 and has encountered lots of bumps on the road to its current state, which includes financial problems and not a single shop that can serve the public. Hopefully it’ll all be resolved by next summer.
• Tim Carman of the Washington City Paper got a tour through Restaurant Eve’s just-completed $125,000 facelift. The changes—which include custom-made furniture, peacock-inspired fabrics, and a refinished hardwood floor—affected the Tasting and Sunflower rooms, the fanciest of the restaurant’s dining areas. The biggest surprise is that owners Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong took the capacity down from 54 to 46 seats, which Carman reports means a $3,200 loss every weekend.
• Did somebody say McRib? McDonald’s barbecue(ish) sandwich of a rippled pork patty is making a comeback. NPR sent out a brave panel of tasters, who reviewed the sandwich with such comments as “This reminds me of particleboard, but with meat,” and “Your stomach no longer trusts your hands and mouth.” The McRib has one fan in Bourbon Steak chef David Varley, who recently tweeted his plan to riff on the sandwich: “Gonna bring back versn of McRib. Glaze our ribs with Macallan BBQ or serve with macNchz? Checking mail for cease and desist order from MCD’S.”
Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter at twitter.com/bestbitesblog