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Italian in Silver Spring-Olazzo vs. De Marco?

We are having dinner with folks training for the marathon, and they want old school red sauce Italian for dinner. We're thinking of hitting either De Marcos (across the AFI) or the new Silver Spring outpost of Olazzo. (Has it opened? It's on GA Ave just south of "Downtown") Thoughts?

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  1. I was disappointed in Da Marco, (typical Washingtonian mag hype). While it is homey, the pastas were just fair, and portions small. Also, menu is limited, with no pizza ( no oven). I like Bethesda's Olazzo, although frankly, for old school Italian, the Pines of Rome is my favorite. ( I know this will engender much debate) Vicino, a Pines of Rome menu-alike is on Sligo Avenue. Poor service, but definitely "old school red sauce."

    1 Reply
    1. re: nickdanger

      I disagree with you on Vicino's service. It is friendly and good even when the place fills up.

    2. I'd put in a plug for Da Marco awhile ago & was surprised to see some negative reaction, the kind exemplified by nickdanger's post above. I really like the Da Marco . . . the food is really superior, I've never had anything there that wasn't first rate. At the same time, it is a storefront kind of place that was a deli but is gradually reinventing itself as a restaurant. (Hence, no pizza oven.) I've met the owners; they';re a ``mom and pop'' couple, only they're in their 30s & have a year-old kid. Mom is from Rome & they make all their own pastas. On the other hand, haven't been there in awhile and am planning to go their this weekend & look at it with a fresh eye (and tastebuds). Will report back. But for now, I respectfully disagree with the negative commentary. It's good to have an original Italian in Silver Spring, especially in this era where places like AV Ristorante (in DC) are closing and places like Maggiano's Little Italy are passing themselves off as authentic.
      BTW, I walked by Olazzo in Silver Spring early last week and it was still a construction site.

      5 Replies
      1. re: dan f.

        according to Zagat Olazzo opens this week.

        1. re: dan f.

          I wanted really badly to love Da Marco. I went there all the time when it was a store and deli. But when we went for dinner we were sorely disappointed. I forget what my husband had, but I had lasagna - thinking this was exactly the kind of thing they'd do well - and it tasted of almost nothing but salt. I do have very particular opinions because I grew up red-sauce Italian, but I swear this was not just me being nitpicky.

          I'd love to hear a recent update that would convince me to go again, though.

          1. re: wombat

            We went to Da Marco on Saturday night and to be brutally honest, I can see why it's the subject of such criticism. I really want to see to see the place do well, especially as a non-chain original that preceeded the redo of downtown Silver Spring. One of our party had the pasta with porcini mushrooms & said it was as good as always. My life liked her spaghetti & meatballs. I tasted a meatball & didn't think it was homemade (tho I could be wrong). My eggplant parm was good, not stellar. I think the thing to do here is stick to pasta dishes. I plan to try Olazzo in the near future. If anyone has any rex on what to order at Olazzo, would love to hear about it.

            1. re: dan f.

              Just went to Olazzo and found it as disappointing as Da Marco and equally oversalted (or lacking in other flavor to counterbalance). I had eggplant parm and the eggplant had what I think of as an industrial fried taste, like in a sub shop - cheap oil or maybe even frozen breaded eggplant? The bread was bizarre - spongy texture - maybe frozen dough that they finish baking? Nothing at all like what you'd think of as Italian of either the traditional Italian-American or the fancy artisan style. The olive oil served with the bread was completely tasteless - I guess they figured it would be drowned out by the balsamic vinegar (vinegar with bread, yuck, where did this idea start?)

              Also, it's so dark you can't read the menu - they offer you LED lights if you want - why not just turn up the lights a bit???

              I swear we are going back to Sergio's very soon.

              1. re: wombat

                Thanks for the field work, Wombat. I had held off going to Olazzo for fear of this very reaction. The search continues, I guess, tho I'll go back to Da Marco on occasion for the pasta. Would like to find a place in B'More Little Italy for ``red sauce Italian'' but C-hound commentary is all over the lot. One place I have tried (in B'more but not LI) is Matthew's Pizza. Really good!

        2. There's also Sergio's in the basement of the Hilton. Nicer than Vicino but you need to reserve.

          2 Replies
          1. re: shellymck

            Yes! We used to go to Sergio's all the time and got out of the habit for no good reason. It has some red-sauce things but also a lot of other choices. I think I just got tired of the basement room with no windows - I always liked, and sometimes loved, the food.

            1. re: wombat

              I have been to Sergio's twice and thought the food was great but the ambiance was like you were in a bunker underground.

          2. Olazzo open already and I will definitely recommend Olazzo, better portions, better food and the place looks amazing.

            1. In eighties, we raised our kids in Tacoma Park, and their choice for report card dinners was always Sergios. Is the fish soup still wonderful? Nice to know its still open, hope its still good.