A while back I tried afghan food for the first time and I LOVED it. I went to Faryab in Bethesda, which despite having no website and a hard to find location made it into the Washingtonian's top 100 restaurants. That was a fantastic place to try afghan food for the first time, but certainly a tough act to follow. A recent Washingtonian article mentioned Panjshir in Falls Church, which is much closer to me, so I was really excited to try it. I ordered a selection of dishes (for take-out), and while the food was not as good as the food at Faryab, it was still pretty decent and certainly much more convenient for me.
Neapolitan style pizza is my favorite kind of pizza, but it is sometimes difficult to find. Pizzeria Paradiso was my go-to place in DC, but it is a 40 minute trip for me, and I needed to find something closer. I read about the opening of a Neapolitan pizzeria in Falls Church but never managed to make it over there, until recently. Thank goodness I did! Because Pizzeria Orso is every bit as delicious as Paradiso and much, much closer.
I tried the Margherita DOC (more information on DOC), and it took me right back to Italy - thin, tender crust that was perfectly charred and puffy at the edges; fresh, flavorful tomato; creamy fresh mozzarella; fresh basil; and olive oil. I also tried a seasonal pizza, the Molla, with ricotta, garlic, ramps, and an egg. The ricotta was creamy and sweetened by the garlic, the ramps were mild and a little charred, and the egg had a perfectly runny and oozing yolk. It was a perfect spring pizza.
The menu also features antipasti. I tried the arancini - crispy spheres of risotto with a mild tomato flavor. They were fun to munch on, but nothing special - I preferred the calamari, which were very tender, coated in a light batter, and served with a basil aioli that I found slightly addictive. The desserts are classic Italian - gelato, tiramisu, cannoli. I tried a seasonal special - polenta cake flavored with rosemary, filled with mascarpone, and served with blackberries and an orange mascarpone creamy - sunny and delicious, like summer.
I got a craving for Indian food a couple of weeks ago, and Jasper suggested a place by his work that he had been to before, so we hoofed over there despite the snow. Haandi is in a shopping center, next to a Giant grocery. It's a tiny place, maybe 15 booths, with some traditional looking Indian designs including some interesting wall murals.
When talking about Indian food, I find that it is important to distinguish between spicy (hot) and spicy (flavorful), so I will make up a word for the latter - "spiceful". We ordered some Tandoori murgh (chicken) for an appetizer. It's marinated in yogurt and spices, cooked inside a big clay oven, and comes out this beautiful red color that I love. I have never been able to handle spicy food, and I was always afraid that the red color meant that it would be spicy and didn't discover that it was not until a few years ago. Anyway, Haandi's Tandoori chicken is really tender and flavorful with lots of smoke and paprika flavors. It comes on a platter with some big chunks of onion and green pepper. These were almost raw, so we basically ignored them.
For my main dish, I asked the waiter what I should order if I didn't like spicy food, and he said Murgh Makhini without a second of hesitation. Jasper ordered his favorite: chicken Tikka Masala. The dishes were brought out in these really cool handled pots that looked little - but neither of us could finish! Murgh Makhini means butter chicken, it is creamy and flavorful with big chunks of chicken and tons of spices - but not spicy! This is probably the best Indian dish that I have ever had! Jasper's Tikka Masala was really good too, "spiceful" and more tomato-y than creamy. He really loves spicy food, and usually Tikka Masala is really spicy - but not this time, which means that I got to try it! The dishes are served with rice, but it is a must to also order Naan bread (cooked on the side of the Tandoori ovens) - it was warm and pillowy, brushed with a little butter, just the way it should be! I always order a mango lassi (yogurt smoothie) when I eat Indian food - because it complements the spices, and cools and coats your mouth if the food is too spicy! The lassi at Haandi was very good - smooth and sweet with a little tang from the yogurt. I also ordered my favorite dessert - rice pudding. Haandi's rice pudding has a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg and is very creamy - yum!
The prices are pretty good - $15 for an entree that is enough for 2 people - but all the extra accompaniments can add up (naan, raita, etc...). This is definitely the place to go for Indian food in Falls Church!