Reopening Restaurants Favorites and Welcoming Newcomers!

Food is the staff of life. What would we do without it? Read about the reopening of restaurant favorites and new restaurants!

Offerings include focaccia, meatballs, and octopus Photo courtesy of Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen

Alexandria, VA – Food is the staff of life. What would we do without it. May as well stop breathing, right? So, given the opportunities available in today’s world, we must continue to carefully make our way. Wear a mask and follow the rules set out by the restaurant as they must follow the rules set out for them to remain open. It is fairly common to forget to re-mask when a server approaches or when casually chatting at the table. If you’re sitting in a restaurant not eating or drinking, wear your mask. I felt very unsettled recently as I had to pass a couple sitting next to the doorway who were not wearing masks while they waiting for their check. It’s difficult, it’s not what you may want to do, but put your mask back on.

What’s News Around Town?

Welcome back to Jamie Leeds and her new Hank and Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen in the space formerly occupied by Hank’s Pasta Bar. The new space is bright and airy and offers “hand-crafted pastas, oven-fresh pizzas, and an assortment of shareable plates using traditional Italian recipes and techniques.” There is an excellent wine list featuring Italian wines, seasonal beers featuring both local and Italian offerings, and cocktails including Italian classics. By the way, you’ll recognize General Manager Massimo Giannetti who managed Hank’s Pasta.

Photo courtesy of Silver Diner

Silver Diner is now open at 4630 King St. The location is brand new, and features safety procedures including the newest, state-of-the-art UV lighting and air-purification system. The interior is bright, open, and airy, seating over 230 patrons. There is also a large outdoor patio that seats 60. The menu features many of the items you know and love like those rich and thick milkshakes and all-day breakfast in addition to many healthy items! I had the opportunity to try several menu items. The Kickin’ Crab & Corn Chowder lives up to its name and is a great way to start your meal. The Local Flat Iron Steak travels well and is topped with bleu cheese butter and crispy onion straws, and is served with mashed potatoes, scallions, sautéed garlic spinach. The Tarragon Crab Cake Platter is a must order with two crab cakes, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and choice of Old Bay crispy fries or veggie. Vegans are not forgotten as the menu features four main dishes that suit your needs. The desserts are top notch too. Try the Double Chocolate Triple-Layer Cake drizzled with vanilla and dark chocolate. It’s wonderful! The restaurant is open seven days per week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night and offers indoor and outdoor seating, delivery, and takeout.

Silver Diner is offering a contest for Real Food for Kids: Chefs Feeding Families, “a joint project with Washington, D.C. metro-area restaurants to provide nourishing grab-and-go meals to school children and their families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-founded by Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Va. and Real Food for Kids, Chefs Feeding Families provides funding for food, supplies, and restaurant staff to feed as many families as possible and create employment opportunities within the restaurant community also impacted by COVID-19 closures.“ Enter the contest by September 20.

Photo courtesy of Trademark

Another welcome reopening is happening. Trademark, 2080 Jamieson, is reopening with reduced seating, curb-side pickup, and delivery. The menu, as with many reopening restaurants, is smaller than in the past. A quick look did not show pig candy as one of the offerings but their phenomenal corn chowder and crab cakes are back.

Coming Soon to a Space near You

Boccato Gelatos, 2400 Mt. Vernon Ave., hopes to be opening the week of September 12. A quick look inside found a comfortable and attractive interior and an incredible list of gelatos and other offerings. An espresso machine from Italy should be ready to go by the time they open. Also opening very soon is the Chewish Deli at 807 Pendleton St. Gregg Linzey says the baking oven should have arrived and been installed by the time you are reading this. The promise of bagels, bialys, and other great items makes my heart beat faster. In the meantime, you can get your bagel fix at the Old Town North Farmer’s Market on Thursdays.

The architect’s rendition of the interior of Barkhaus. Photo by KUBE Architecture

Alexandria will soon be getting a dog bar from owners Alex Benbassat and Justin LeGore called Brewski’s Barkhaus, 529 East Howell Ave. According to their website, “ Barkhaus has collaborated with the incredible Laughing Pig for their unique and thoughtfully crafted menu with a locally sourced collection of beer and wine. Barkhaus aims to create a space where guests will be able to enjoy a beverage or bite to eat while their dogs make new friends.” Plans are afoot (or should I say, apaw) for an off-leash indoor and outdoor park for both owners and their furry pals. According to their press release, “These animals are a great way to break the ice and help bring the community together.” Membership will be required. The goal is to be open early this fall. Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, 515 Mount Vernon Ave., has applied for a SUP to expand Lena’s into the second floor of the building to provide 180 more seats to the restaurant.

Changing Scenes

The new Dunkin Iced Oatmilk Latte Photo courtesy of Dunkin

Dunkin now has oat milk for its coffee drinks. They are pouring Planet Oat oat milk at all of their locations. Ask for the new Iced Oatmilk Latte. According to Jill Nelson, Vice President, Marketing Strategy at Dunkin, “Bringing Planet Oat Oatmilk to Dunkin’ locations across the country is another way we are reinforcing our commitment to providing guests with more choices to customize their favorite coffee and espresso drinks.”

There will be no James Beard awards through 2021. The James Beard Foundation explained: “The choice comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of COVID-19, and as substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle. The Awards’ usual positive impact on restaurants and chefs’ businesses will likely not be fully realized due to the current state of the industry, with many restaurants closed permanently or temporarily or operating at minimal capacity.” Those chefs, restaurants, and other nominees are still winners in our book.

Did you know?

There is an onion recall that started in August and applies to multiple stores including Trader Joe’s, Food Lion, and Walmart. The list of related products includes different kinds of dips, spreads, and other prepared foods that may contain recalled onions. You can find more information on the CDC website.

To all of you, please stay safe, follow the rules for Phase III, wear a mask, and don’t forget to tip, tip, tip, and tip some more. 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]

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