Filomena, 12 August 2012

I’ve had Filomena on my list for a bit.  I’d heard great things about this particular Italian restaurant, so on Sunday I went to Georgetown to check them out.

Upon entering the restaurant, take a look to the right before you go downstairs into the dining room.  You’ll see a small room that looks like the kitchen of a home, where the restaurant’s homemade pasta is created.  You can see some pictures of it here.

I started with three appetizers to get a taste of what Filomena had to offer:

  • La Torre di Melanzane – “Stacked Slices of Eggplant breaded and Pan fried when ordered. Layered with fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Tomato Sauce and Fresh Basil.”
  • Arancini – “Rice Balls– All time favorite of Little Italy’s Street Feast of San Gennaro and in scenes from “The Godfather”. Italian Arborio Rice rolled and stuffed with Mozzarella and Bolognese Meat, dusted with Bread Crumbs and quick fried. Served with Tomato Sauce.”
  • Burrata Mozzarella di Caprese – “Burrata—A ball of Buffalo Mozzarella with a Ricotta Cheese center. Served with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil Leaves and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.”

All three were great…our server, Nenad, recommended the Arancini and Burrata (and my entree below), so kudos to him for that.  If you have to choose just one starter, I’d go with the Arancini (although why just have one??)

La Torre Di Melanzane – a delicious tower of eggplant.

Arancini – fried balls of rice stuffed with meat and cheese.

Burrata Mozzarella di Caprese – can never go wrong with cheese, amirite?

Filomena has some large portions when it comes to their entrees.  I went with Bill Clinton’s favorite Filomena dish, the Linguini Cardinale (lobster meat in cardinale lobster sauce over pasta).  Loved it.  Apparently Filomena sees a lot of other celebs (see here and here).

My dinner companion got a special (the picture of which didn’t come out too well).  The Risotto alla Vitello consisted of two giant veal chops over a bed of mushroom-prosciutto risotto.  If I see this on the menu next time I go back, I’m getting it…delicious (and HUGE portions).

Along with dinner, we had a Falesco Umbria Merlot.  Worked well.  There’s plenty of other options as well.

Bill Clinton’s favorite, the Linguini Cardinale.

Although I was feeling pretty full at this point (I even had to get the rest of my food to go – never happens!), I had to try the desserts.  All of the cakes and tortes are on display opposite of the dining room, and the dessert menu displays pictures that will definitely sell you on that last course.  The Hazelnut Daquois was awesome.

Filomena’s Hazelnut Daquoise was excellent. All the other desserts looked great too (especially the Cookies ‘N Cream cake, which looks like a big Oreo). See more on their desserts page.

I thought I was finally done gorging after the dessert, but there was more.  Deposited on the table along with the bill were two decanters – amaretto and sambuca.  Was great post-dessert.

Amaretto and sambuca to finish things off. Served with coffee beans for the sambuca.

Apologies for the photos…the restaurant is dark and romantic…definite date night quality.  Great food as well, so you can go alone if you have to…worth it!

1063 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-8800 (and an entry on Wikipedia)

Book on OpenTable

Food Truck Tour, 25 May 2012

Determined to finally jump on the bandwagon of the DC-area food truck craze, on Friday I set out for the city armed with my handy Food Truck Fiesta tracker.

I arrived at the McPherson Square Metro Station and walked over to Franklin Park, conveniently just outside the station.  This is an outpost where a number of food trucks set up shop (see area highlighted in red on map below).

Food trucks set up in the area highlighted in red.

I arrived to the park at around 10:30 and watched the trucks park and set up.  Based on the trucks checked in on Food Truck Fiesta, I was expecting around six to eight total at this location, but by the time 11:00 rolled around there were seventeen around the park.  The people that work in the vicinity to Franklin Park have endless food options…I’m quite jealous (and I might start looking for gigs around this area just for this very fact!)

Food trucks on the east side of Franklin Park

What to choose, what to choose… These were the trucks on the east side of the park…

Food trucks on the north side of Franklin Park

…and these were the trucks on the north side of the park.

For my first stop, I decided to go with Ball or Nothing.  This truck specializes in meatballs of various types, and from what I can tell from their twitter feed (@theballtruck), they get pretty creative (I wouldn’t mind trying out the Tsukune – chicken meatballs in coconut rice that they were serving up on Wednesday).  I’d just like to point out to the uninitiated that these food trucks are not the typical “roach coaches” that you might be familiar with.  This scene has gone gourmet.

Ball or Nothing

Trendy branding and tasty menu on the Ball or Nothing truck.

I tried Ball or Nothing’s Meatball Platter ($9), which consisted of their meatballs on a bed of Mac & Cheese and Yukon Gold Potato, and topped with ghost chili tomato sauce, bitter greens, and local asparagus.  There was a fruit salad on the side, with pineapple, pomegranate seeds, grapes, and strawberries.  The tastes all worked together really well…I was definitely happy with my first food truck meal choice, and I’d hit them again.

Ball or Nothing Meatball Platter

The Meatball Platter in all its glory.

The Meatball Platter was definitely filling.  Normally I wouldn’t need anything else, but since I was doing a food tour, and there are so many food trucks available, I decided to hit one more.  Wanting to see more options (as if I needed to – seventeen in one place not enough?), I walked over to Metro Center, which according to my handy food truck app was another hang out for the trucks (mostly along 12th St NW at the G St entrance to Metro Center Station).  There is a courtyard next to the Metro Center escalators with plenty of seating for those that want to enjoy some time outside while eating their food truck lunches.

Metro Center Food Trucks

Plenty of choices at Metro Center too, and they certainly know how to brand. There’s even Spanish tapas available…that ain’t no “roach coach.”

I decided to go with Mojo Truck (@mojotruck), which specializes in chivito sandwiches (a popular dish in Uruguay).  When ordering from Mojo Truck, you pick a meat (steak, chicken, pork, or vegetarian), and choose the style of sandwich toppings (Classic [$7] – lettuce, tomato, mozzerella, fried egg; Canadian [$8] – same as Classic, but with ham and sauteed onions added; Special [$9] – Same as Canadian, but also includes bacon and avocado).

I went with the Chicken Special Chivito this time around.  Really tasty.  The chicken in mojo sauce, the mozzerella cheese, the egg, and the avocado, and the nice and buttery grilled bread really did it for me.  The sandwich isn’t small either…you’ll definitely be full from this.

It took a little longer to get my food at Mojo Truck, but that’s because 1) it was noon by this point, 2) they seemed like a popular food truck and had a pretty large line, and 3) they grill your sandwich to order.

Mojo Truck and Chivito Sandwich

The Mojo Truck with helpful ordering directions, and the Chivito sandwich before I dug into it.

I have to say that I’m impressed with this food truck explosion, and based on the number of options available, clearly it’s got a decent market in the city.

The mobile kitchen industry faces some issues though.  Apparently, DC police harass the food trucks, and the city has been too slow to change the applicable regulations to take into account this burgeoning market.  Some of this might be attributed to pressure from brick-and-mortar establishments, however the smart and enterprising ones (Pi, sâuçá, among others) recognize that there are different eaters at different locations in the city, interested in different cuisine at any given particular meal.  Some of these food trucks also act as incubator businesses that develop into restaurants, as has been seen in other parts of the country (see here, and here).  Food carts are a cheap way for start-up chefs and gastronomists to test out their cuisine ideas and make cash to fund future hard-walled restaurants.  Overall, the food trucks are probably providing a boost to the economy rather than taking away from it, and DC bureaucrats should recognize this and get on board.

Next, I really want to try TaKorean (Korean tacos?  Yes please!), a shawarma truck (saw quite a few), and an Afghan one (I saw one at McPherson that had some good stuff on their menu…Mmm mantu).  DC is going to be seeing a lot more of me around lunchtime.