Mad Fox Brewpub (Falls Church)

We finally had the chance to catch up with the SIL and her new husband for the first time since their wedding, this past weekend. They just recently moved into a place just around the corner from East Falls Church metro and I’m pretty pleased to have a new  neighborhood to explore with them. I’m also pleased to have the SIL so close! She has lived in Raleigh for the past several years.

When they said they were free on Sunday, the lady immediately suggested we go to Mad Fox. We’ve been before, but only for snacks and beer (Lots of beer. They’re not messing around with those flights!), not a whole meal. Last time we were there we started with the pretzel twist and split a burger. It was fantastic. We knew that it would be a place worth returning to. And the lady knew it would be perfect for the SIL and husband.

We started with a round of beers. I had the Lindy’s Weiss, a wheat beer. The lady had a saison and the BIL had the English summer ale. My beer was a little more flat in flavor than I had hoped, but the lady’s was a little more complex. They just didn’t compare to all the sweeter barleywine  and wee heavys we had last time. I didn’t try the BIL’s, but he seemed to enjoy it.

For food, I decided on the arugula salad with chicken. Turns out when you take on eating and drinking as a serious hobby, your clothes will eventually start to get a little tight. I’m trying to lighten up a little, so you may start seeing a different pattern from my menu selections. ANYWAY!

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I expected the dressing to have a bit more acidity than it did, but the salad was excellent. It was a nice light option for a hot day.

The lady had the Fig and Balsamic Blues pizza. I was pretty jealous of her, but at least I got to sneak a couple of bites. It was really good! I love the combination of sweet and savory things on pizza.

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Both the SIL and husband ordered burgers. 

I can tell from experience, those burgers are damn good. And they definitely enjoyed them as well. I suppose it behooves a brewery to have good burgers. And pizza! Classic combinations.

I have a feeling since we now have family in the neighborhood, we’ll be making a few more trips to Mad Fox. It would be nice to keep a finger on their rotating seasonal beers since I was surprisingly impressed with their winter selection. Yeah beer!

  • Favorite thing I had: My salad was pretty good. But that pretzel on our last visit was fantastic.
  • Favorite thing she had: The pizza. It was pretty great, I kept stealing bites of it.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The grilled veg sandwich sounded really good. I’d also like to give the pizza a try myself. Other beers!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We actually have some vague plans to head back with some of the lady’s high school friends sometime in the next month. Last time we were there was in the spring. So, seasonally!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): I honestly don’t really know yet! There are a lot of things along that strip of street, and I’ve been to Dogwood Tavern before, but haven’t learned enough to direct others.
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Rustik Tavern (Bloomingdale)

The lady and I were looking for a place to grab dinner after the Old Fashioned Happy Hour with Robert Simonson at Southern Efficiency last week. We were looking for affordable-ish. We’ve been putting a big dent in the options around 7th and 9th, so we widened our search area to Bloomingdale. The lady mentioned Rustik Tavern, I checked the menu, and we were on our way!

They have a really nice outdoor deck with tons of tables, but it was super humid and we had just walked 6 blocks. So we opted to sit inside. We settled in and decided on some drinks. I opted for the Texas Pear (Tito’s vodka, pear puree, mint syrup, and lime juice) and she went with the Blood Orange Old Fashioned.

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Mine was nice and light. It was less pear-flavored than I expected, but still good. It was definitely strong! Which I don’t mind so much, because I love Tito’s.

Hers was really amazing. A little on the acidic side, but I really loved it. The blood orange puree tamed the whiskey, which was perfect for me! I was afraid she didn’t like it from her first reaction the took a second to taste all the flavors and then deemed it good.

We noticed that they had some pretty good Happy Hour specials, so we decided on a starter. We went with the roasted cauliflower with prosciutto and sumac.

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The prosciutto was a perfect complement to the cauliflower, which was cooked just right- still plenty of crunch. I thought that the dish could have benefited from some sort of sauce though. It was still tasty, and relatively healthy! Yeeeah, vegetables.

For our entrees, I had already decided exactly what I was going to get when I looked at the menu earlier in the day- the Fresh Pita with Lamb. I’m never going to say no to a combination of pita, lamb, and tzatziki.

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It was INCREDIBLE. The pita was delicious, the lamb was nice and tender, cooked with potatoes and topped with onions, and the tzatiki was flavorful. It came with 3 pita triangles. I was full after 2 little wraps, but powered through the third one because it was just so good. Yum.

The lady decided on The Pep Pep pizza. Lamb, mozzarella, tomato sauce, roasted peppers, green Anaheim peppers, marjoram.

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She said it was a little spicy, but she really enjoyed it. And enjoyed it again as leftovers for dinner the next night. And it sure was pretty.

Overall, not too bad! It wasn’t perfect, but that lamb alone would bring me back.

  • Favorite thing I had: The lamb with pita. Her Blood Orange Old Fashioned was REALLY tasty too.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The Pep Pep pizza. She said it was a little spicy, but she enjoyed it a lot.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: It’s a small menu, and I didn’t have any qualms making a decision. I might want to try one of the other pizzas and go for their brunch.  I DID have a hard time deciding between cocktails, so I could go back for a drink.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): If we end up in the neighborhood and can’t get into Red Hen or Boundary Stone, we’d go here. Not sure I’d make a special trip. But I could be wrong… that lamb was REALLY good.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Go grab a drink at Boundary Stone!

Pupatella (Ballston)

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I’m pretty sure I could sustain this blog on pizza places in the DMV alone. As much as I love pizza, I wouldn’t hate that! This day, we headed over to Ballston to check out Pupatella. It’s on Wilson Blvd. just past Ballston Mall. I actually had no idea it existed until a couple of weeks ago when reading some “Best Pizza in the DMV” lists. It’s not an area in which  I’ve spent much time, but there’s more and more stuff over there all the time, so I imagine that may change.

 

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My life’s motto?

 We chose to head over there on a Saturday at lunch time. So, we walked into to the place about half-full with tons of families with kids buzzing about. Like Il Canale, it is a DOC Napoletana restaurant. They also have their big brick oven just inside the door. We grabbed menus and pretty quickly settled on what we wanted and marched up to the register to order. We went for a Sausage, Red Onion, and smoked mozzarella pizza and Salad 3 (Arugula, Parmesan, and grapefruit with a citrus dressing).  Since it was lunch, we just opted for water, but they had a pretty decent beer and wine selection.

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The salad came first and we dug in. It was a really great combination of flavors. I don’t know if I’ve ever had grapefruit on a salad, but I’d do it again!

The pizza was only a couple of minutes behind the salad. I actually hadn’t noticed that the cheese was smoked when I order the pizza, but as soon as I took a bite, I could tell. It was delicious. The sausage was nice and flavorful too. And the crust, which I think is the most important part, was perfect. Crisp but still chewy.  Since we only ordered one pizza to split between the two of us, it disappeared pretty quickly. I think I would have liked to have another half of a slice. Maybe next time we’ll order 2 and have leftovers! Leftover pizza is never a problem.

  • Favorite thing I had: The crust on the pizza, as to be expected, was excellent.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Any of the other pizzas. It would be nice to enjoy a little bit slower-paced meal with pizza and wine.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is kind of interesting. You could tell it had been updated within the past few years, but not fully, just superficially. It’s sort of hole-in-the-wall in the best way possible.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): The next time I’m craving Napoletana pizza but don’t feel like going into the city. I think this might be the kind of place I’d take my parents.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You’re a little off the beaten path (just a couple of blocks) from Ballston. I think Westover Market/ Beer Garden might be nearby, so had this been an evening meal, I may have headed there to have some beer. But alas, we had to be off to the grocery store.

Favorite Friday: Lost Dog Cafe (Arlington)

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I’ve already said plenty about how much I love pizza. And I’ve told you a little bit about how much I love beer. I’ve even talked a little bit about sandwiches. Well, I love Lost Dog Cafe because they have all 3 of those things, and they do them so well. They now have 4 locations (two in Arlington, one in McLean, and one in Dunn Loring along with Stray Cat Cafe, also in Arlington) but we’ve only been to the South Arlington location.

Lost Dog was something we knew about before YEARS before we actually made it there. We made plans to go there once with friends, but it just so happened to be when that particular location was closed for renovations. We lived in Rockville at the time, so we weren’t spending much time in Arlington. When we moved to Alexandria, it came back onto our radar, but still took some time to expand our local circle to that point. As soon as we finally made it there, I regretted waiting so long to make it back! We’ve been making up for lost time and now visit on a regular basis.

My most recent visit was last weekend. My friend, P, asked me if I could drop him and his boyfriend off at his sister’s place for Easter dinner. He described where she lived. I agreed because I love him and it wasn’t too far out of my way, but also because I knew that meant I could have pizza and beer for my own Easter dinner! It had been a long day with two football games (that didn’t go so well for our team) and I just didn’t feel like cooking. So, I dropped them off and hurried over to Lost Dog to pick up a pizza for me and the lady. I plopped down at the bar, perused the beer menu and grabbed a beer by one of my favorite VA breweries, Wild Wolf. The lady had given some guidance via text of what she wanted, so I checked those out and settled on the THE CATAHOULA: Spicy tomato sauce, marinated chicken breast, spinach and sliced tomatoes, covered with mozzarella cheese and basil. It was so much effort to have the pizza in the front passenger seat and not eat a piece of it on the way home, but I made it. I didn’t even change out of my football clothes before I sat down to inhale the pizza. It was a perfect end to a long day.

  • What I usually order: The menu is so huge, I don’t have a regular thing yet. The past couple of times, we’ve gotten pizza. Before that, I was making my way through the sandwiches. The Catahoula we had last time was SO GOOD.  I want to know the secret to the spicy tomato sauce.
  • Why I keep going back: Because I know it’s going to be an awesome meal! The beer selection is huge, so I know I’ll be able to get pizza and whatever beer I want. Or I’ll be able to find a unique sandwich. The one off of Columbia Road is a perfect meet-in-the-middle place for us with friends who live in Arlington. The menu is diverse enough that everyone can find something.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: About 90% of the menu. The pizza that caught my eye last time was the CHULITA’S MADNESS — Cheese pizza topped with homemade meatballs, oven roasted tomatoes, pineapple, and banana peppers. I’m totally going for that one next time. I also still need to get to The Stray Cat Cafe, by the same owners.
  • Fun things about this place: The owners have been rescuing stray dogs and cats for almost as long as they’ve been in business. How can you argue with a business that’s tied to animal rescue? I love my rescue cat as much as or maybe even more than I love pizza.

Arcuri (DC)

My best guy friend told me about Arcuri just a couple of weeks ago. He suggested we bottomless mimosa it there and then head to his roof deck once the weather got nice. The opportunity came sooner than expected, but this time because of bad weather. I found myself parked in front of his place ready to pick him up, just as our Sunday football game was being canceled. Since I was already there, we decided we might as well make the best of it and go to brunch! We collected as many teammates as were willing to head to Glover Park in the cold, pouring rain/sleet/snow and parked at Arcuri for a few hours.

I went bottomless (the whole table did) and started with a Bloody Mary. For food, I decided on the Lemon Ricotta pancakes with blueberries. When the food came, I switched to mimosas. Other dishes at the table included the brunch pizza, the eggs in purgatory, and the egg breakfast sub. Everything looked amazing, and the bite I had of the eggs in purgatory was pretty delightful. I’d order any of those dishes. The pancakes were delicious. They were extremely moist and light. And like pineapple, lemon is one of those things I LOVE. Add blueberries to it and I’m sold.

In the 7 seasons I’ve played in the football league, they’ve never cancelled a game. I was initially annoyed, but was pretty glad I didn’t have to be out in the mud and rain and cold. And really glad that I got to try a great new brunch spot.

  • Favorite thing I had: The pancakes! I have to figure out how to make ricotta pancakes at home. I think it might be a new favorite thing in general.
  • How was the service?: Really awesome. Our server was personable and didn’t seem to get annoyed with us the closer we got to the bottom of those drinks. The manager was also chatty and great. He overheard me talking about Momo’s and made some other Old Town suggestions.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pizza! The server told us all about it, but I was pretty set on those pancakes. The brunch pizza looked so good. They had a really great cocktail menu and beer selection too.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I think the lady will want to make a trip there soon since she wasn’t with me today. It will get added to our Summer Of Brunch list. Sometime in the next couple of months.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You’ll need to wander somewhere for a bit to sober up before you drive if you do bottomless (Glover Park is not terribly accessible). If you’re around long enough for your next meal, check out Surfside. If you just need to wander, Whole Foods is always a good bet.

Favorite Friday: Il Canale (DC)

IMG_2540 I’m not sure if I’ve really emphasized my love for pizza on the blog yet (I have just a little bit on the ole Twitter), but I love pizza. Actually, the word love doesn’t really do justice to how I feel about pizza. If I had a food soul mate, it would be pizza. We go way back. My working life didn’t start with pizza, but from age 16-22, I worked with pizza. It started the Pizza Hut while I was in high school. This was very much a coming of age time when I finally found other gay people in my small southern town and no longer felt so alone. That job was tied in very closely with that. Then in college, I worked for a little mom and pop Greek and Italian restaurant in Roanoke called Veranda Bistro. I was a server for most of my time there, but in the last 6 months, the owner pulled me off the floor to help in the kitchen. I was in charge of pizzas and calzones on those nights. It led to quite a few burns, I was always covered in flour, and my hands smelled like garlic for days, but it only deepened my love for pizza. Once I moved away, it took me a long time to find pizza I liked as much as there, but Il Canale comes about as close as you can get.

Il Canale  is one of the places that has convinced me that I WILL have a wood burning, stone oven in my back yard one day (Theirs is mosaic and is on display as soon as you walk in). You really can’t beat pizza cooked that way. It gets the crust crisp on the outside but still chewy on the inside. I originally wasn’t sure how to feel about Neapolitan pizza. So few toppings! The more, the better! But I’ve since learned, no, when the ingredients are delicious, you only need a couple.

  • What I usually order: The Sofia pizza. Bufala mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and basil. Olive oil instead of tomato sauce. Sometimes I branch out, but sometimes I also just HAVE to have that. Last time I went, my friend ordered a seafood stew that was amaaaazing. It had mussels, clams, fish, all in a tomato-based broth with pieces of day-old bread in the bottom to soak it all up. After a couple of tries with some very mediocre seafood earlier in the week (at a place I will not be reviewing because I was so disappointed), this stew was a winner.
  • Why I keep going back: The slightly crunchy, slightly chewy crust on the pizza, the super fresh ingredients, the location half a block from my office, the roof deck, even the iced tea.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: I haven’t tried any of the pasta. If it’s anywhere near the quality of the pizza, it has to be good.
  • Fun things about this place: The tiny roof deck! It’s so nice to sit outside on a warm day, enjoy a slight breeze, and forget about work for a while. They’re also expanding into the old fish market space next door, so the size of the dining room is about to increase significantly. Il Canale is one of very few places in DC with D.O.C status. Only certain ingredients are used and the pizza has to be cooked in a wood-burning oven. “The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association was established to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions.” Il Canale adheres to these standards and you’ll see the seal on the outside of their building. How can you not love pizza that is certified by the Italian government?

Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant (Old Town)

I had seen Bugsy’s in Old Town numerous times, but the siren song of Pizzeria Paradiso and their beer selection had me looking the other way. It wasn’t until I read this post at In A DC Minute, that I even gave the place a second thought. We’re always looking for cheap weekend lunch options, so this place, with a $9 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, was a must try.

The lady’s sister was in town over the weekend, so we figured this would be a solid, cheap choice. We made it there right around noon, and the place was pretty empty. Starving after a busy and productive morning I basically dropped my jacket on my chair and raced straight the buffet without even sitting down first. There was a quite large, fresh, and well-stocked and fresh salad bar to one side and about 4-5 pizzas on the other side. I loaded up and chowed down. It was not gourmet, but it sure was delicious. I was only able to eat some salad, 2 pieces of deep dish, and one regular crust before I was absolutely stuffed. I was sad I didn’t have room to try more, but we’ll definitely be back!

  • Favorite thing I had: There was a white pizza with artichokes, mushrooms, onions, etc. It was awesome. The iced tea, also pretty good!
  • Favorite thing she had: The pepperoni deep dish.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Different kinds of pizza. Next time I hope to catch a veggie one in rotation.
  • What makes this place stand out: How cheap it is! Three people stuffed for $30 is pretty excellent.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): This will definitely go into the Saturday lunch options rotation.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You’re right in the heart of King Street in Old Town. You could get some ice cream next door at Pop’s or go shopping at any of the number of shops nearby.