Local, Simple, Superb…

ArostoBrisket

There’s that old cliche that if you stop looking for things, they come to you.  I’m not articulating it as properly as I could, but I think you know what I’m saying.  Watching too many cheesy (ha) Christmas movies a little earlier than maybe one should will get one overly sentimental.  Oh my…

Well where am I going with all this?

I’m so blessed to live in an area that is close enough to many busy cities and towns (Baltimore, Annapolis, DC, Philadelphia, and many places in, between, and around the area) that I get more of a pick of pizzas places and for that matter, places to go in general then if I were living in somewhere more remote.  I should not take that for granted.  It’s significant now and it’s going to mean something that much bigger later.  Oh here I go being sentimental and dopey again…

Where did I end up earlier this week, that has gotten feeling so emotional?   I mean it’s only pizza right?  But how can become so invested in something if I don’t have passion for it?

This week my travels brought me to Vienna, Virginia, which is right outside Washington, DC.

First of all, I technically have not written about a pizzeria in Vienna, so any new location is easily going to get me excited.  Second, while there’s still historic, more authentic, and older parts of Vienna that are easily accessible, it’s becoming like many other towns, and many other cities across the country, lots of chains, lots of town centers that portray themselves as something they’re not, and lots of transient people.

So when I find a local place, that’s where I’m going first.  And remember, I wasn’t looking…

ArostoSign

This brings me to Arosto Pizza in Dunn Loring.  Which is now more than a metro station, it’s a conglomerate of things that I may or may not have ever been to.  There’s chains, a grocery store, and a bunch of things that all look the same, but within all that Arosto brings a much needed local face that we can never have enough of.

ArostoOven

The stone hearth pizza oven which heats up these gems is just that, a gem.  Some people may frown upon this kind of rapid fire pizza making, and I might have been one of those people, but I got over it.  The crusts on both of my orders tasted differently in a good way.  My taste buds got a doughy, buttery, and most importantly comforting feeling at times.  And as we approach the holidays, this is the kind of pizza and food you want.

Man this was fantastic.

I’m singing the praises before I even tell you what I ordered.  Yeah it was that fun.

I was going to go with the cheese, but since I’m only here every once in a while, I went with two distinctively different pies, the District White and, the Smoked Beef Brisket.  The latter seems to be appropriate for the time of year.

ArostoBrisket3

The Brisket looks like art.  The presentation is immaculate.  Upon first reading, I thought the slaw would be infused into the pie, which would be quite ambitious.  And when re-reading the menu, it would be easy to make that determination.  But they pile it on high on top of this already gorgeous array of brisket, cheddar cheese, onions, and scallions.  If I had one gripe is maybe a little more brisket would have been preferred.  There was just enough (which means not too much for me) barbecue sauce that everything is easily accessible, easy to be tasted, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

ArostoBrisketSlice

And like I said, that crust is tremendous.  I like saying that word a lot, ‘tremendous’.  It’s tremendous, stellar, awesome, and anything else awesome you want to add. Ha…

But even with that being said, the simplicity of the District White was my favorite of the two.

ArostoDistrictWhite

The combination of spinach ricotta sauce (I know right, yum!), mozzarella, romano, and fontina cheeses is already a winner.  And I’ve frowned upon some of the whites I’ve had in the past for being overdone, but this was creative, yet simple, and that’s all anyone can ask for.  It’s done just right without doing too much.  I think there’s an analogy in there somewhere.

ArostoDistrictWhiteSlice

I would be happy with that, but they drizzled on some fresh basil that puts this pie over the top after it was already over.  And believe me it’s all over after this.  The pizza never had a chance.  And the visual of the spinach ricotta by itself is visually mesmerizing.

I’m craving some right now.   Thankfully I have leftovers.

The prices are listed with the menu, and while there isn’t a lot of places to compare it too, I find them reasonable for their medium vs. large pies.  But again, no need to compare it to anyone or anything.   These are charming pies that avoid all the pretentiousness that you find in the DC and Northern Virginia areas.

They heat everything in front of you.  I was in and out in 10 minutes.  But there was no rush.  I relaxed a little bit in the small park right outside of one of my new favorite pizza places.

And maybe it’ll be one of yours.

ArostoMenu

Here’s their menu, their gallery, and contact/location info.

ArostoBox

I’m so grateful I made this discovery.  I hope to be back again.

Thanks so much, happy holidays, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

With All The Trimmings

rusticatrios1

This is a Thanksgiving Special two months in the making.   And the holidays means roads trips, leaving town, going to see family, and all the other stuff that makes this overly busy holiday that much busier.  But what would the fun be if it were otherwise?

For this particular trip, I was on my own.  A visit to one of my favorite cities, Philadelphia, led me to one of the more unique and creative pizzeria experiences I’ve had in some time.

Rustica in the Northern Liberties part of town, looks very welcoming, approachable, and unassuming all at the same time.  It has a neighborhood feel to it that my pictures may not do it justice.  It feels like a corner bar or restaurant that I would frequent on a regular basis if I lived close by.  I’m heaping a lot of praise before I even walk inside.  As I always tells myself, I hope I’m not setting myself for disappointment.   This would not be the case.  Rustica is awesome.

rusticafront2As their story says, they’ve been a part of the growth of the neighborhood since its inception back in 2001.  Before I knew anything about this place, (other than the fact they served creative slices)  I got a sense when I was driving through and then walked through the neighborhood, that Northern Liberties has really developed.   It had been many years since I last set food in this part of Philly.  I did recall it was less populous and less busy than it is today.  And there’s room for more.  It still feels like a hidden gem within such a hectic and ever-growing city.

Ok now onto the pizza.

Through my limited knowledge, I did know they had some creative slices but I didn’t know how inspired they really were.  In hindsight I’m even more happy with my three slices. Yes I got three.  I would have had more if my stomach could handle it.  It could barely handle two.  Yes they were thick, rich, full of life, and inspiration.  Yes I said inspiration again. There was a lot of soul and effort to make these pies

I’ll start with the simplest and work my way to my holiday special.

rusticacheese

Do you see that cheese slice?  I know right.  It has the look of what a thick and hearty cheese slice should look like.  This would be considered an extra cheese in most places but not here.  If you like your dairy and you like your dough than this is the equivalent of heaven on earth.  Wow this was something else.

rusticajambalaya

On almost any other day I would talk about the Jambalaya last.  I feel bad putting it in the middle with the two bookends.  However, that doesn’t discount how incredibly good this was.   The andouille sausage, the fresh and smoked chicken,  red peppers and those carrots are a wondrous and mesmerizing combination.   These are the freshest toppings.  They cut no corners and spared no expense.  Oh by the way, I honestly forgot there were clams on the pizza.  Not that it wasn’t memorable.  It’s more that the other toppings stood out more.  White as the base seems a bit understated with all the other players involved.  And that’s saying a lot.  This was a visual and palatable achievement.

rusticabrisket

Now serendipitously we go to our holiday feast special  I didn’t realize at the time I was celebrating Thanksgiving early. but the Brisket with mashed potatoes, and gravy is one of those slices that may not be for the faint of heart.  It’s not quite turkey but this is the perfect protein to go with mashed taters, gravy, and thick bread.   And as rich, hearty and intimidating as it may sound, it’s a creative masterpiece.  I tend to throw that word around a lot but this was a special one.

rusticatrios3

This visit took place couple of months ago but I might as well have been celebrating Thanksgiving then.  And little did I realize I was.   I’m so relieved I waited until now to talk them up.   And they deserve all of the praise and accolades you can throw at them.

All the good that they do for their community makes me even more grateful I supported a business that represents strong support for local and national organizations.  That’s what the holidays and life is all about.

Because they do so much good, the energy levels are much higher.  The pizza is automically heightened to taste even that much better.  So if the pizza was only average it would turn into good, but because this pizza was already great,  that makes it near perfect.

If you live in Philadelphia chances are you’ve at least heard about them.  If you’re visiting or planning to, make this a part of your holiday plans or whatever plans you like.   I intend to be back and intend to try some more outside-the-box slices.   Their prices may turn some folks off and I certainly understand that, but you’re paying for quality.  I’ll gladly pay a few dollars extra for world class anything versus the norm.  We pay for what we get.  And you can always get a slice or two at around $5 per if that’s more within your budget.

I’ll gladly make it a part of my budget.

Next time I’m in town you know I’ll be stopping by here.

It’s the holidays  It’s about indulging, over-eating; and making everything bigger, larger than life, and out of this world.  These slices cover all those bullet points and then some.

rusticabox1

Thanks Rustica for being a gem in a city full of them.

Happy Early Thanksgiving,

Ideen