Alexandria, VA – We’re in Phase III of reopening during the pandemic. As you probably know, many restaurants have chosen to continue to provide takeout, delivery, and/or patio seating. Why don’t they open seating inside? Reopening the interior seating creates a huge burden on restaurateurs. When asked about Pork Barrel BBQ, 2312 Mt. Vernon Ave., reopening for indoor seating, Bill Blackburn of the Homegrown Restaurant Group said, “It’s not economically feasible. I could maybe open four to six tables but I would need at least four more staff members to take care of those customers. We would like to be able to offer indoor dining but it just won’t work.” Many other restaurants are in the same position. Even adding outdoor tables incurs considerable costs. Be patient, if we all follow the rules to contain this infection, we will be able to come back to a semblance of normalcy. Hang in there. Chill out. And, don’t forget, tip, tip, and tip some more!
Where can you chill out? How about visiting Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen in the former location of Hank’s Pasta at 600 Montgomery St. Jamie Leeds has created a new dining experience while retaining many of your favorites from the previous menu. Per their Facebook page, “Hank & Mitzi’s is a come-as-you-are neighborhood restaurant and bar celebrating the Joy that is regional Italian cuisine. Our menu features an array of shareable plates, fresh pastas, and individuals pizzas alongside refreshing cocktails and Italian wines. Buono!”
Speaking of chilling out and cooling off, head over to Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats, 200 Commerce St. in the Ice House. Goodies was featured on “Top 5 Restaurants” on Food Network. Brandon Byrd had been selling his Wisconsin-style frozen custard out of a van for years when he decided it was time to open a brick and mortar store. The Ice House building had been vacant for over 20 years so there was quite a bit of remodeling and renovating to turn it into the treats delight opening soon. “Honestly, I’m excited to be part of the Alexandria Community,” Brandon told Zebra Press. “The Ice House’s original use and Goodie’s goes so well together. It’s exciting to see this building come to life after being vacant for so long and in such a communal way, to bring people together.” Byrd has been serving his custard from his van on Saturdays in front of the new location lately until he is ready to open – he could be open by the time the paper comes out in August. According to Byrd, “We may not know the secret to a longer life, but we found the secret to a happier one.”
Be cool and visit Piece Out Del Ray, 2419 Mt Vernon Ave. Larry Ponzi has brought his pizza expertise from Café Pizzaiolo, providing New York style pizza (yes you can fold it!) and Detroit style pizza. Detroit pizza? Yes, big chunky square pieces of pizza with a thick crust, whole milk mozzarella around the crust with tomato sauce, and dusted with oregano & grana parmesan. The menu ranges from appetizers such as a frito misto with calamari, cremini mushrooms, and zucchini to meatballs to baked wings. Entrees include a variety of pasta dishes. Lots of salads, sandwiches, and a variety of specialty pizzas round out the menu. Kids will love the snow cones while you adults enjoy your frosé. While we’re talking Del Ray, Boccato Gelatos, 2400 Mt. Vernon Ave., should be opening very soon. The sign is now up on the building and the paper on the windows and door is gone revealing an attractive interior and the promise of the same great products formerly offered at its former gelato and coffee shop in Clarendon. According to the sign in the window, expect homemade gelato, empanadas, pastries, and coffee.
Cool news in Old Town and the West End
Also new in Old Town is Thai Signature, 722 King St., formerly Geranio’s, featuring local Thai street food. Their website promises “fresh produce with quality meat to make better plates to our patrons.” Menu items include Thai favorites including Tom Kha and Tom You soups, papaya salad, Crispy Chive Dumplings made with fried garlic chive dough with vinegar, and black soy sauce. Street food dishes come with your choice of protein and include Pad Thai, Lad Na Mae Grob stir fry, and Khao Moo Dang – roasted pork with sweet sauce. Interesting offerings are Phuket Seafood with seafood stir-fried with onion, scallion, bell pepper, young pepper corn, sweet basil, and sweet roasted chili served with jasmine rice; and a variety of curries. While we’re talking Asian, have you been to Choong Man Chicken at 4686 King St.? Do you love Korean style chicken? Head over to this barely one-month-old Korean restaurant. Currently only offering carryout or delivery, you can try the fried chicken available as wings, tenders, and whole chicken comes in a variety of flavors including classic fried chicken, garlic soy, garlic spicy, red hot pepper, and curry chicken. Try the Snow Onion where the fried chicken is topped with sliced onions and smothered in your choice of flavors including snow onion, hot snow onion, or curry snow chicken. The Tikkudak is fried chicken which is then baked in a Tikku charcoal-grill oven which creates an extra crispy, crunchy, and smoky chicken flavor. There are lots of other dishes on the menu that I haven’t yet tried but plan to.
Another piece of cool news! Chewish Deli has signed a lease for the space that formerly housed the Pendleton Carry Out Company, 807 Pendleton St. Gregg Linzey, founder and owner of the Chewish Deli is over the moon. After a brief renovation, expect an expanded menu as he fills his new space. When asked about making bialys, he said, “It’s definitely on my list. I’m hoping to add challah on Fridays.” One more opening coming on Aug. 5 is Indochen in the former home of London Curry House at 4906 Brenman Park Dr. This reincarnation has been in the works since the restaurant opened with new ownership in 2018. Let me share the owner’s letter announcing the change. “We have felt a pull to bring a concept of our own to the Cameron Station neighborhood, which we are so proud to call home. We are thrilled to announce that we will be doing just that with Indochen, a neighborhood restaurant serving Indo-Chinese comfort food for all. This is a true passion project for our own Chef Ram, who began his culinary career in Nepal learning this cuisine and growing to love the food deeply. As he says, Indo-Chinese cuisine is Chinese food adapted using Indian flavors and spices. For him, it is a piece of home. Chef Ram’s impeccable Indian cooking leads me to believe this will become a local favorite.”
It’s so hard say goodbye
As Piece Out opens, Larry Ponzi has closed Café Pizzaiolo, 2800 S. Randolph St., in Shirlington. Larry Ponzi told ARLnow, “The pandemic has caused us to pivot and rethink all of our businesses.” Also closing is Sur la Table as they filed for Chapter 11, Reorganization. We are fortunate that both the Alexandria location on King St. remains open as well as the Arlington store at Pentagon Row.
To all of you, please stay safe, follow the rules for Phase III, wear a mask, and don’t forget to tip. And, as always, eat well and enjoy.
Do you have the inside scoop on some foody newz around town? Drop me a line at [email protected]
ICYMI: Foody Newz July 2020