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Feb 5, 2010 08:26 AM

The best restaurant in Olney closes

I know, there is not much competition there. Even most knowledgeable diners have never heard of it, but the best restaurant in Olney (maybe along with Mannequin Pis) has unfortunately closed. That's Aroma, located on Georgia Ave. near Rt 108. It featured good Peruvian food at very reasonable prices.
For those who never dined there, Aroma had terrific ceviche, tasty nice-sized apps (all at half price at happy hour), good cocktails ($4 for a nice pisco sour at happy hour), good main courses and great specials every day. It's sad that overrated overpriced places like Jaleo get such great press, while real chef-run restaurants are ignored. But I suppose there is little room for authentic ethnic places in some of the family-oriented burbs. Olney has every pizza franchise you can name and lots of mediocre restaurants serving standard American food that anyone can easily prepare at home. Taking over Aroma's space is the Olney Tavern, now featuring $8 hamburgers and your basic $16 chicken platters. Not progress.

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  1. I have to agree that Olney is ripe for some good restaurants. No good chinese, no great italian; The Thai place is good but primarily take-out; Wasabi Zen is good but very expensive; every other place I wouldnt waste my money at.....

    1. I couldn't agree with you more!
      Just when you think the dining scene is progressing you have a relapse back into mediocrity.
      I work in an Italian restaurant that prides itself on being authentic from the fresh baked breads, regional menus and house made pastas and sauces, yet we still get the "why don't you all have Veal Parmigana on the menu?." Or "don't you all have meatballs?" It amazes me how places like the Cheesake Factory are packed yet the chef run or family run places outside of the beltway are left wanting. I think traffic and house rich but cash poor families are the reason why people have no time to explore the culinary delights that crop occasionally out in the burbs. Living in Sterling Va is no treat either but at least we have a decent seafood sushi place that just opened called Get Hooked. Other than that it is a strip of corporate owned food factories with vibrating gizmos that light up when your table is ready...Oh boy what a treat!

      1 Reply
      1. re: keithlb1

        While I'm commenting on Olney, I should put in a pitch for a family-run authentic Italian restaurant called al Sospiro Trattoria at 18035 Georgia Avenue that is open for lunch and dinner. I have eaten there once and the food and service were pretty good, though I thought a little pricey at dinner. The pasta is probably the best deal, but they have an interesting overall menu. It has a bad location and is easily missed, so I hope it survives. The old-timer Ricciuti's is as good as Italian-American gets, particularly their wood-oven pizza. There are some other pretty bad Italian restaurants there as well.
        As another poster said, the food at Aroma was too "rich" for some. That's exactly the problem - it had a taste, which is too much for palates that like blandness, children who generally don't like spiced foods and older people who may have valid digestion and dietary difficulties. That cuts down on the family trade, which predominates in Olney, as well as older people.

      2. We only dined there once, and I really liked it. My wife was not as impressed, and felt the food was too rich for our diet requirements. I'm sad another venture has failed at that location.
        I honestly would be happiest if the original occupants of the space, Zio's, would return.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mdfoodlover

          I've eaten at Aroma several times, and liked it. However, I think its biggest problem was the location. That is not a good place for a restaurant. Lousy parking (unless you know, you couldn't tell there is parking behind the building) and hard to get into. Olney needs more restaurants of that class and price range, but there aren't many places to put one. It is one of those bedroom communities that just doesn't have a well thought out plan for shopping or other amenities.

          1. re: dinwiddie

            Im kind of suprised no restaurant chain hasnt scooped up the old Stained Glass Pub building on the corner of GA and 108.

            1. re: ciaoda

              The problem with that space is how large it is. And one would assume, the price. From what I've heard, the prices per square foot in Olney is higher than the market would dictate.

        2. I have to agree with the post regarding Aroma restaurant, however the other hidden jewel in Olney is al Sospiro (next to dominos) on Georgia avenue. The food is authentic, original and delicious. I felt the pricing was very reasonble compared to the other italian restaurants in town, however much more quaint atmosphere. Wine selection outstanding. Glad I finally found something more authentic locally.

          Al Sospirol Trattoria Romana
          18035 Georgia Ave, Olney, MD 20832

          3 Replies
          1. re: defibman

            I'd qualify that to say that the wine selection is outstanding considering that it is in Montgomery County. Actually, I was not at all impressed with the selection or price of the wines. However, it is not possible to get many great wines through the Montgomery County Store (which is the only place a restaruant in the county may buy wine to sell) so what they have is pretty much the best they can come up with given the circumstances.

            1. re: defibman

              I concur re al Sospiro - see my post above - though have eaten there only once.
              BTW, recently had pizza at Ricciuti's, and for the first time it was a disappointment.. Maybe just a bad night? Their 3 courses for $30 is a decent but not a great deal - some hits, some misses. Good wine list.

              1. re: defibman

                I agree 100% on al Sospiro. I love the food and the service is great. They have over 100 fans on Facebook now (, so hopefully that means things are going well for them.

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