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.