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Jun 8, 2010 10:30 AM

Pizzeria Orso

I just returned from here. I had the arrostocini (lamb skewer) and a crudo (prosciutto, arugula and a parm like cheese). It was good. The crust was a little chewy and the toppings were fresh and tasty. The lamb had a good char and was cooked medium. It was not really seasoned, but a wedge of lemon zested it up a bit.

I am thinking that I was underwhelmed due to the fact that I just am not a fan of this kind of pizza. Maybe it is my food-nerd blind spot, but I ate at Pupatella and Orso now in the last week and I doubt I would go back to either. Maybe I would try a sandwich at Orso, they sounded good.

The service at Orso was outstanding by the way. (Unlike the snappy, curt pizza making guy at Pupatella.) The owner (maybe manager, a tall blond woman) walked around to each table and greeted and then asked how everything was afterward. A rare bit of excellence in my opinion. The waitress replaced my silverware after my appetizer. That was also a nice touch.

5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

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  1. Pizzeria Orso is definitely in the tradition of Pizzeria Paradiso, Mia's (in Bethesda) and 2Amy's. All are better at this point, though I give Pizzeria Orso a bit of a break, as they are new. The fact that they're just opened is the only reason we would give it another chance.

    We got three items for takeout - the Mixed Greens Salad, the Eggplant Parm appetizer and the Tricolore stuffed pizza.

    The salad was uneventful - good lettuce, "Wicked" croutons (not sure what was "Wicked" - that they passed off what could have been store-bought, bagged croutons as something special?) and a nice vinaigrette. It was fine, nothing special. The eggplant parm was an embarrassment, an unattractive blob of a mess with what looked like a burnt top. One taste confirmed I was right - burnt, bitter, barely edible cheese. Avoid the stuffed Tricolore pizza at all costs, as about three inches of an eight-inch long pizza didn't have any stuffing. It needed it to distract from the burnt top - they clearly haven't gotten the hang of the wood-burning oven yet. I never tasted the promised pesto on the one side, but the salami side had potential. You could definitely taste the delicious saltiness of the salami, what little there was.

    For the price, they are going to need to step it up. If they're trying to attract the patrons that would normally go to Paradiso or 2Amy's, they're not going to do it with this quality. If they're trying to attract the locals that have many other pizza options, the bang for buck just isn't there.

    As my wife said, "I'd try it again, but after a long wait. Let them work out the kinks."

    Pizzeria Paradiso
    3282 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

    4 Replies
    1. re: bolson68

      Wow, where do I start. I cant beleive how bad this restaurant was. Living in Falls Church, we are desperate for new places, but this was probably the worst restaurant I think I have been to.

      We checked in for a 45 minute wait (fine, new place, I get it), however there were constantly several tables that were open during our wait. After an hour, I went to check on our number on the list (still even more tables open). I and several other, had to wait over 15 minutes for the hostess to get off the phone. A man even asked her, when she didnt have her back to us, if he could just write his own name down on the list.

      OK, finally seated. Our waiter Bruno, the only good thing about the place, gave us the specials, and answered all our questions. We ordered the Bruschetta which was greasy, and the Arancini which was good. We also order a custom pizza with Salami and ham, there was hardly any cheese or sauce, and the Ripieno Salame, which came out so under cooked, and cold that the cheese inside was still in cubes. We asked that they reheat it, and we got the worst burnt unedible mess I have ever seen.

      Top to bottom, I have eaten a better meal at a truck stop. Poor Bruno our waiter, was the only good thing about this place. Too bad, since Falls Chuch is in great need of new restaurants.

      1. re: Cher55ox

        My husband and I ate dinner at Pizzeria Orso last Thursday and our experience was quite positive. We arrived about 8:15 and were seated immediately. The evening's meal service was clearly winding down; I don't believe more than three or four parties show up after our arrival.

        We shared an order of mussels marinara, a platter of mixed salumi, and a Margherita pizza with added fresh tomatoes. We really enjoyed our meal: superb meats, plump and juicy mussels in nicely flavored marinara sauce, and, above all, quality pizza.

        Orso's pizza is the closest to Neapolitan pizza we've eaten in the DC area. I assume Neapolitan pizzerias use a starter that dates back to the birth of pizza. The result is a heavenly crust that is slightly sour. Orso's dough isn't quite as tangy, but the crust meets the Neapolitan standard in terms of lightness and spring. And char! Orso's pie had just the right amount of charred bitterness that is a wonderful counter point to the mildness of the cheese and the sweetness of the tomatoes.

        Next standard: quantity ingredients. Neapolitan pizza is primarily about the crust. Some of the most revered pizza places will only make two types of pies: one with marinara sauce and water buffalo mozzarella cheese and the other with tomato puree, basil, garlic, and water buffalo mozz. With those limited ingredients, each one must be good quality. Orso straddles the fence on authenticity: the quality of ingredients is high, but it offers lots of toppings to please the local markets. Neapolitan pizzerias that offer toppings apply those add-ons sparingly. Orso follows that model. A thin veil of tomato puree covered the dough of our pie and about 1/3 of the surface was covered with cheese . We ordered our Margherita with the addition of fresh tomatoes and this translated into a scattering of halved cherry tomatoes. The fresh tomatoes added an acidic brightness to the dish.

        I don't know the temperature of Orso's pizza oven, but I know that they bake their pies somewhat longer than is typical in Naples. I was happy with this deviation from traditional procedure. I had problems with the characteristic wetness in the center that comes from very short cooking times in Naples, and I liked Orso's drier center better. (There's great debate about the length of cooking time in Naples. I've heard estimates of as little as 90 seconds with four minutes the absolute max!)

        After the meal, we had a pleasant conversation with the chef who had been manning the pizza oven all evening.

        Bottom line: We had an excellent meal and we'll happily go back.

        1. re: Indy 67

          Edan baked a pie of mine a few weeks back for about 45 seconds -- at a temperature that he said must have approached 1000 degrees.

          1. re: Marty L.

            We chatted with MacQuaid about pizzerias in Naples each of us had sampled. I wish I had asked about temps and baking time when we chatted. Whatever, Orso's temp/baking time, I liked the results.


    2. I actually had a great dinner at Pizzeria Orso. I found the crusts fantastic with really wonderful flavor, a little char, but not enough that I wasn't happy. We had about 8 different pizzas and what I like to refer to as meat lovers was great, white pizza with garlic was great, proscuitto and margherita. All of them were good, though. The real highlight were the clam appetizers in a beautiful broth of wine and olive oil.

      I thought the wine and beer list were well thought out. Service was fine, I didn't wait for a table.

      But I value crust on my pizza more than most other parts of it.

      1. I went to Pizzeria Orso last Wednesday 21, it was nice to see the same waitress who has taken care of me at 2Amys now she works for Orso. The GM of 2Amys moved to Orso and her husband is the Chef as far as I know.

        My experience, 3 people we ordered Suppli, cold, uncooked rice, flavorless sauce, cheese wasn't even melted, it didn't seem fresh and I am not expecting to be the same suppli as 2Amys, I just wanted it to be great or good at least and it wasn't.

        I ordered the special Pizza, chanterelle, garlic & grana... the dough is great, the next time I do need melty chewey mozzarella, but that was my fault ha!

        Other person order the Pizza Bianca and the other person order the Pepperoni, they were both happy but wishing their pizzas would have stay a few secs longer, but taste wise delicious.

        I will try it again when feel like going for a drink or a big group to hang out since their service is really friendly! and have some Grote sel Sol wine which I love... but for now I will stay with Pupatella because it is closer a drive, or 2Amys just because their Suppli are the best!


        5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

        1. I went on Saturday night and opted to sit at the bar instead of waiting for a table. The bartender and staff were attentive and helpful. The menu was decent. We started with the fried mussels and fennel salad. The mussels were excellent. Salad was good enough.

          As for the pizza we split an Orso - lots of cheese - and the broccoli rabe and sausage one - to which we added tomato puree. The pizzas should've and would've been great. However, there was so much burnt flour on the bottom-side of the crust that it completely overwhelmed the rapini and sausage pie (not subtle flavors) and mostly overwhelmed the Orso with an acrid, bitter taste. A little disappointing, but of course, it didn't keep us from completely polishing off everything.

          2 Replies
          1. re: theyawns

            First trip to Pizzeria Orso and I have only good things to say. Really glad I finally tried it at the invitation of a friend who goes there often. Started with the brussels chips and they were fantastic. Addictive. Followed by the pizza crudo which was fantastic - a yeasty, flavorful crust, perfectly cooked with a bit of char. Very thinly sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, arugula, basil and shaved grana padano. Very well-balanced though the sauce was hard to discern. But since red sauce is usually too acidic and overwhelms everything else, this was a good thing in my opinion. I haven't tried some of the other current pizza hot spots so I can't compare, but this was a terrific meal and I definitely plan to return.

            1. re: Just Visiting

              Just FYI - they are between chefs right now. After Edan Macquaid left (the pizzaiolo named above) Will Artley was chef for the last few years, but he left about a month or so ago.

              They are owned by 2941, so Bertrand Chemel (the chef at 2941) is nominally in charge of the Orso kitchen for now. I'm sure the staff there is capable (for a while) of executing what Artley left behind, but the jury is out until there's a permanent chef in place.