Sunday, July 18, 2010

2Amys and Pizzeria Orso Matchup

It is no surprise that we are big fans of 2Amys, but when friends suggested we hit up Pizzeria Orso last night we were excited to get a taste of Edan MacQuaid's pizza making skills.

Both restaurants are pizzerias, but it is also clear that they are restaurants with different aims, so it is probably unfair to compare the two. Orso feels firmly focused on the pizza and 2Amys, where pizza is the main attraction, is also interested in exploring other flavors of Italy through its charcuterie
and ever changing small plates. Even if it isn't fair to do this comparison...I will shall embark upon it anyway, in what I hope is a just the facts approach. I also caveat this entry by noting that I have only been to Orso once and have been to 2Amys more times than I can count.

Ambiance: Orso has a nice new space with a great looking bar area. I appreciated that they didn't seem to cram too many tables into the space. If the wait gets too long at Orso they seem to have some good overflow space, unlike 2Amys which can get crowded around the bar if the weather is bad. Like 2Amys, Orso is loud and for our party of 6 it was a bit hard to hear what was going on at the other end of the table.

Service: Service at Orso was appropriately attentive and friendly. It was also nice to see some old 2Amys faces there who recognized us and were friendly. We are always treated right at 2Amys so obviously no complaints there either.

Wine/Beer Selection: The wine menu at Orso is significantly truncated in comparison to 2Amys, but it has the appropriate Italian standbys. JFW thought the beer selection was fair, but perhaps not as ambitious as it should be given the large number of restaurants in the area with solid beer programs.

Antipasti/Small Plates: As noted above, this doesn't seem to be the focus at Orso, and I thought it showed, or maybe I have just undergone full indoctrination at 2Amys. We tried the suppli (fried risotto rice balls) at Orso and they just didn't have a strong tomato and cheese flavor and one of JFW's was missing the cheese inside. Don't get me wrong the suppli wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as 2Amys' offering. Another favorite of ours is the crositini at 2Amys (english pea and prosciutto), and here again Orso came close but didn't quite hit the mark. The morel mushroom crostini should have been a slam dunk for us, but the bread felt overly saturated with olive oil making it a little unappetizing to me.

Pizza: Here I think Orso and 2Amys are well matched. Our table ordered some of Orso's special stuffed pizzas and a more traditional pizza and we were all pleased. Of course, one has to like traditional Italian style crust at both places or one risks disappointment. So congrats to Orso for going toe to toe with 2Amys on this front. My one caution here is the price. The most expensive pizza at 2Amys is $13.95, whereas the Vesuvius stuffed pizza at Orso ran $19.00. While the cost of ingredients might justify the upcharge, I think this is something they'll need to watch.

So that's the run down. No surprise I still prefer 2Amys since one of my favorite things about going there is the small plates, but I think Orso made a solid showing and wish the MacQuaid's success.

Tastes of Montana

JFW is taking a break for the summer from his blog...actually he has taken a break for a long time and I thought it was high time to reinvigorate things. So I am trying my hand at a few food related entries.

JFW and I just got back from vacation in Montana. While the food scene in Montana might not be what it is here in DC, we had some amazing meals.

First, let me say that hands down I continue to think that Red Bird Restaurant in Missoula, MT has the best creme brulee I have ever had. Thanks to chef Jim Tracey for cooking it up special for me since it is no longer regularly on the menu. Red Bird is also remarkable for their amazing beer list. JFW found an Belgian oude gueze that we last had on vacation in Belgium and haven't seen since. The food of course was also remarkable the highlights including some Alaskan spot prawns, a morel mushroom and asparagus soup, and the bison filet.

We also headed up to Holland Lake, which is situated between the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the east and the Mission Mountains to the west. It was beautiful and a great few days away. While the scenery, I think, made everything taste good, the food at Holland Lake Lodge stood on its own and was worth the trip. Most notable were the dinners. My favorite meal was our first dinner. I started with a black bean soup with a mango salsa, followed by the beef filet for my main, and finished it off with a homemade coconut cake. JFW had a roasted beet salad, pistachio encrusted halibut, and frozen key lime pie for dessert. As a native Floridian, JFW was impressed that the key lime pie flavors were spot on, but I think he was less enthusiastic about the frozen pie format. What was most impressive about the food at Holland Lake was the consistency. All meals are eaten in the main Lodge because there really is no where else for miles around to eat, so the consistency in the kitchen was greatly appreciated.

Finally, the kitchen at my sister's place shouldn't be overlooked. Thanks to their enormous garden we enjoyed some amazing fresh produce - most notably the lettuce.