Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse and Salad Bar - Tysons Corner, VA

1775 Tysons Blvd, Suite 50
Tysons, VA 22102
Telephone: (703) 556-0200

Hidden away amidst tall modern office and apartment buildings in the new Tysons Corner, VA (now known simply as Tysons, VA), Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse is a new upscale eatery with high ceilings, wide open spaces and an amazingly delectable selection of meats and salads. 

It is both an entertainment / business venue as well as a family restaurant that can satisfy a broad range of gastronomical preferences. 

If you have never experienced the hospitality and the flavors of South Brazil's churrasco grilling, this is the place to come.

Meats are seasoned and roasted to perfection by the very same gauchos who bring them around to the tables. The salad and soup buffet that spreads as far as the eye can see, offers a colorful extensive array of traditional, as well as exotic, flavors guaranteed to inspire anyone to return for seconds and thirds. 

Vegetarians will definitely be happy here with the array of options that are flavorful and welcoming. 

Those whose taste buds that crave stronger flavors like jalapenos and pungent cheeses - Fogo does not shy away from those! 

We could not get enough of the Chimichurri sauce that accompanies the meal, along with the warm fresh cheese rolls. 

The a la carte menu has some great choices. We picked the Salmon, which was a tad too salty, but nonetheless very tasty, complementing the bed of asparagus on which it was served. The dessert is not to be missed. The chocolate mousse cake, fried plantains, and basically anything you choose from the dessert menu will not disappoint. 

Keep the Caipirinhas, coming! The bartender Lisa makes a killer drink!

The overall experience at Fogo de Chao will leave you feeling like royalty. Not surprisingly, it comes with a hefty price tag. Lunch will run you about $37.00 per person. No complimentary parking, either, it's all valet. But heck, gosh almighty... don't you deserve to be pampered? 

 Two of the fabulous Gauchos

Open kitchen where you can watch the Gauchos work their magic

 Pineapple Old Fashioned ($16.00), medley of Brazilian desserts, including fried plantain, and a medley of sauces STARRING THE MOUTHWATERING CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

 A La Carte Salmon ($18) with a delicious Cucumber Mint Smash cocktail ($15) from the bar

Brazilian Lemonade ($4.75)

 Stars of the awesome Fogo de Chao Tysons team: Marinho, Shannon, Lisa the Master Bartender, and Brittany our smiling waitress

Sweet ending to a top-notch meal - Chocolate Mousse Cake ($9.75) & a Cappuccino ($5.50) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria Fast Casual - Arlington, VA

3400 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204
Tel: (703) 920-9000

Everyone knows that when pizza originates in New Jersey, it's gonna be good. Nuff said. 

Straight out of Bridgewater, NJ, the brainchild of an Italian American, the first Northern Virginia storefront of 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria opened in Arlington about a month ago.  It is only the third one in the State of Virginia. 

We went for a Sunday lunch.  Here is what we thought. 

If you are from the New York - New Jersey area, like we are, you undoubtedly appreciate good pizza and lament its lack outside the Empire and Garden States. Our favorite go-to in this area for just under a decade has been The Italian Store.  While 1000 Degrees Pizza is very different from The Italian Store pizza, it was definitely a pleasant surprise. 

To be clear, 1000 Degrees Pizzeria doesn't claim the New Jersey taste or make lofty promises of tri-state authenticity. But both in its concept and its execution it's definitely New York - New Jersey. How? Easy. First, it offers a ton of topping choices - all for a flat price, depending on one of two crust sizes. Have you ever taken the subway in NYC? If so, you know that for one flat price you can go anywhere you like in any of the boroughs. Same with this pizza. There is literally no limit to how many toppings you can put on your pizza. All the sauces, all the cheeses, all the meats, and all the veggies combined in any quantity any way you like. Split the pizza in half, or even in quarters, if you choose to do so. It's all up to you - no extra charge.

The second way this pizza demonstrates its tri-state origins is speed - it's ready in TWO MINUTES. Yes, you read that right. The pizza with ALL your toppings goes into the oven and comes out fresh and delicious in two minutes, thanks to the high heat of the brick oven.

Even though the restaurant is "Fast" Casual, there is a lot of preparation done by the friendly staff ahead of time to make every part of the dining experience pleasant and speedy. Staff mix and bake the dough on premises two days ahead of baking it. There are no trucks that drop off frozen crusts that have sat on dry ice for many miles. Ingredients are fresh and numerous. The crust is not thick, it is not thin - it is just right. You can customize every aspect of the pizza toppings - about 6 or 7 sauces, 6 or 7 cheeses, and even more meats and veggies. Note - the jalapenos are not for the wimpy at heart. They are goooood.

You can get a 10" or a 14" pie and either eat-in or carry-out. As you move down from the sauces to the cheeses to the meats to the veggies, the staff assembles your pizza exactly how you tell them.  If you choose from the menu of pre-selected combinations, like The Classic New Yorker, The Philly, or The Trenton Tomato Pie, you simply can't go wrong. But you can also tap into your own creativity and design any kind of pie you want. Then watch the whole thing come together right in front of your eyes from start to finish.

Getting there and parking is easy. The newly-opened restaurant is on the first floor of a brand-spankin'-new residential building. The spacious modern dining room is shiny and clean with large ceiling-to-floor windows. Parking in the building is free and relatively plentiful, or at least it was relatively plentiful on Sunday at lunch time, when we went. So, the logistics are great.  

And for the added bonus - they serve wine AND beer.  AND ice cream. Seriously, how can you go wrong here?

Below are pictures of the restaurant and the food we had, all of which was fresh and delicious. We will definitely be back.


 Sauce Choices

Cheese Choices
 Meat Choices

Veggie Choices

Dough gets mixed by hand on premises.... 

 .... and crusts wait for about 48 hours to be baked

Pizza assembly in progress

Sunny. our pizza artist!





 Brick-oven where it all comes together

 Our own creation half and half with marinara sauce, mozarella and veggies

 Half Athenian Half and Smokey Pollo (hold the bacon)

 Half The Meatza and Half The White Out

 Wine and Beer Menu

Save room for the Ice Cream Bar

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Halal Guys - Middle Eastern Fast-Casual food in Springfield, VA

6304 Springfield Blvd
Springfield, VA 22150
Tel: (571) 282-3444

A true American success story - The Halal Guys - a mid-town Manhattan hot dog cart launched by three Egyptian immigrants in 1990 is now a successful franchise with 30+ locations, many of which are brick and mortar around the country, as well as Canada and Asia. Three of these have kicked off in Northern Virginia (Springfield and Vienna are now open, Fairfax coming soon).  

Each opening of The Halal Guys' locations is celebrated by hundreds of eager eaters waiting in long lines around the corner to be the first to get in. The food is basic Middle Eastern fare in a fast-casual setting with an assembly line of smiling servers compiling your choice of protein, starch and veggies. 

The idea is simple, wonderful and efficient. Once-upon-a-decade, it was pioneered by McDonald's: a limited basic menu that appeals to the entire multi-generational family. Our readers will recall that Northern Virginia was home to the original Five Guys, which built on that very idea and has become a national success. Incidentally, The Halal Guys are in good hands. They have tapped into the expertise of the same franchising company Fransmart that helped spur Five Guys' expansion.

The efficiency of this approach cannot be understated. You can see The Halal Guys food cart in action in this YouTube link. While New Yorkers always appreciate the direct communication and speedy pace of service without sacrificing quality, the simplicity of the limited choice and assembly line compilation clearly lends itself to pushing the frontiers of all ethnic cuisines and offering fast and good food across the country. Teriyaki Madness launched the first Northern Virginia location recently with fast-casual Asian food, and there are many more examples.

This recent Bloomberg article points out the rapid rise of the Halal market in the U.S., making it a $20 billion industry in 2016, up by one-third since 2010.  But in the spirit of catering to the North American market, the typical Middle Eastern meat staple - lamb - has been taken off The Halal Guys' menu, focusing instead on the more popular North American meats - chicken and beef.

The Halal Guys' mid-town Manhattan food truck actually has its own website 53rd and 6th. After running highly successful food trucks in New York for over 15 years, they decided to open up their first storefront. You can see the YouTube video here posted by Sameer's Eats about the first brick and mortar location on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan in the neighborhood of my alma mater New York University. One of the main menu additions with the opening of the storefront was a variety of vegetarian options.  

The halal aspect of the food is what got the business started nearly 26 years ago in New York City. The objective was to fill a then-void of catering to the Muslim cab drivers who wanted to grab a meal on the go. It is the wide appeal and popularity of The Halal Guys' food that clearly transcends ethnic boundaries today.  

 Springfield, VA location in a local strip mall

 Ready to serve up

 Servers compiling a fresh Shwarma platter

 Entertainment built in - you can watch the cooks cut up the Shwarma behind the serving counter

 Decor takes you back to The Halal Guys' original digs in NYC

 French Fries

 While sitting at the counter, you can see photos of the original The Halal Guys NYC street cart, where it all began almost 26 years ago

 Hummus, Babaghanouj and Fresh Pita

 Chicken Shwarma Platter with The Halal Guys' White Sauce, which is a house recipe

 The Halal Guys' signature sauces - very very HOT sauce and a mild White sauce

 Crispy falafel

Delicious Baklava