Any chance I get back to Alexandria, VA, I’m all about it. I live closer to Baltimore now. And even though Alexandria is 90 minutes away it still feels like a road trip or vacation.
I was born here. It’s not something I always bring up to the world or make it a focal point of conversation. None of us have any control over where we’re born. It’s just one of those things that happens, literally. But even though I didn’t grow up here, it’s something I’m happy here and believe there’s a reason it happened.
More of those reasons will be presented to me over time and when the time is right. One was made available to me earlier this week with a visit to Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza & Tap.
Now this isn’t in Old Town like my one previous pizza dining experience around Christmas (link can be found here), but the location, on the outskirts of Old Town, near had a charm and aura all its own.
Braddock Road may not sound glamorous but the area where this new pizza restaurant sits still feels has the older feeling of Northern Virginia houses built decades ago, and while more development is coming, the neighborhoods nearby look like they won’t be going anywhere for a while.
Why do I mention this? Because on first glimpse the newness of the building that houses Lena’s may look like the sign of the times. More things starting to look the same and a lessening of the character of what made these small towns so charming in the first place. Lena’s is part of a bigger restaurant group called Alexandria Restaurant Partners that extends outside the state.
Now just because a restaurant is a part of a growing chain or restaurant conglomerate doesn’t mean I will alter my opinion. My goal is always to support local business and give all the love to mom and pops, independents, and stand alone pizzerias, restaurants, and similar establishments. With that being said, how was the pizza?
Well there was more than pizza. I want to first give a huge thanks to my server, Francesca, who was absolutely first class in every sense of the word. She was helpful with all aspects of my meal. I almost ordered a glass of wine or a similar libation, but this was not the day for that.
I usually just have water with my meal. But what a pleasant surprise to hear that they had fresh and hot apple cider on tap. I mean, how often is this available in a restaurant? And it’s Spring. Is this the season for it? I said the heck with it. I want some hot apple cider. It was presented to me with a cinnamon stick and all around good vibes. It was delicious. I already liked where this was going.
Now Francesca had to steer me right when it comes to a pie. I was presented the option of getting a half and half as long as the sauces were the same.
She recommended the Diavola and the Meatball. The latter is made in-house and thinly sliced to look appropriate on the pizza. The former is somewhat of an anomaly for me. First of all, I love kale and it’s one of those en vogue vegetables that we’re going to hear about till the end times. I’ve had it on pizza before and it just didn’t work for me. This time it did. But first…
The meatball was just kind of standard. It was just kind of there. It wasn’t that it was bad. It was just a lot less than what I was expecting. The ricotta cheese was fine but I really didn’t get a lot of flavor from this pizza at all. But with the both, the pizza crust was cooked perfectly. I like a good wood-fired dough.
The Diavola was tremendous. Like last week, honey on a pizza is a tricky thing. But when it works it really works. And that salami was absolutely terrific. I had to sneak a couple of pieces of it on its lonesome just to see how good it truly tasted. And it was wonderful. Yet with all that goodness, the kale really was the stand-out. And they really piled it on to perfection.
I’m a big fan of kale and now an even bigger fan of kale on pizza. Delicious.
And just when I thought it was over, I was convinced to order their house made donuts to go. By the way, this pizza lasted me 2 1/2 meals. It was an individual pizza but quite filling.
I was told the donuts would be good for a day or two, so I savored them. I did sneak in a couple of bites before and they tasted like the holidays. Just like that cider. This entire meal was all over the place. Kind of like this experience. I’m getting a kick out of this by the way.
I’ll be back. I just don’t know when. This was an even more endearing experience than I remember. And to be all nostalgic just a few days post-meal is the point of all this. It’s corny, overly sentimental, and happy-go-lucky but that’s the point of all this.
For more about Lena’s, read this. This is interesting. And here is their contact information.
I love Alexandria and I really enjoyed this visit. This makes it two for two.
This is what I hope most of my visits during this Spring and beyond will be like. I like the unpredictability of the locations, pizzas, other foods, drinks, service, and all the other details. They’re all significant.
I can’t wait to see where I end up next.