Pizzeria Orso - originally posted on another website
If you like undercooked bland "pizza" this is the place for you.
Went on a Friday night at about 5:45 with my family. Seated promptly.
Ordered a couple glasses of wine, a half order of Frito Misto and the special fritters for appetizers and three pizzas. We should of known that things wouldn't be good when the server was explaining the sauce used on the pizzas and she described one as "San Mazino" (should of been "San Marzano") tomatoes which are "supposed to be good."
Service - substandard. We ordered our meal at about 6pm. The glass of wine I ordered had obviously gone bad - it had the consistency of motor oil and the smell of vinegar.
At 6:45 pm, we still hadn't received our appetizers. They finally showed up after inquiring about 5 minutes later. When our pizzas finally showed up (at about 7:15), my pizza was incorrect and my wife's pizza was cold. We sent them back. We noticed while waiting for our food that a number of other pizzas in the restaurant had been sent back as well.
Food Quality and Taste - bland.
The daily special potato and prosciutto fritters didn't contain any prosciutto at all - they were simply deep fried mashed potatoes. The Frito Misto was oil soaked, not a bit crispy. The aioli it was served with was simply Dijon mustard.
As stated earlier, two of the three pizzas we ordered were sent back. My wife ordered a pizza with ricotta cheese. When it arrived, the ricotta was ice cold on top of the pie. it was obvious that they had lopped a few scoops of ricotta on the pizza after it had come out of the oven and sitting around a while. My pizza was missing the sausage. The server acknowledged the error on the kitchen's behalf. When my pizza re-arrived, they had simply placed a few pieces of sausage on the previous pizza and placed it back in the oven. By the time it returned to the table, it was a burnt black char.
We insisted on two new pizzas. When we finally got what we ordered, we were disappointed. The dough was mushy despite being cooked in a wood burning oven and had no taste other than a weird taste that can only be described as lighter fluid. My pizza had three (I counted them) small pieces of sausage placed in the center. The sauce is bland, consisting of only a raw tomato puree.
To the management's credit, they removed the cost of the two messed-up pizzas from the bill. If they had been included, the total for two glasses of wine, two small appetizers, and three 12" pizzas would of been $75.
Maybe I just don't get it. I like Two Amy's, Fireworks, and other Neapolitan type pizza places. I've traveled throughout Italy and never had pizza this bad. I really think that this place is sub-par and is being bolstered by a few good reviews, including the Washington Post, which is inexplicable.
One of the charms of a wood burning oven should be a crisp crust, at least on the edges, with a nice char, which was absent in our experience.
Normally, I'd chalk this up to a bad night, but a coworker had a number of the same issues that we had a few nights before.
3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016
You don't say whether the Friday in question was before or after Sietsema's review appeared. This past Friday, the place was hammered -- much worse than our three previous visits. I'm assuming Sietsema's restaurant guide had something to do with the crowd. At 7:00 p.m. a huge crowd of people filled both the area around the hostess' table and the hall of the office building.
I estimate the wait for a table for two would have been one hour, although the hostess was estimating 35 minutes. We didn't even bother putting our name on the list. Instead, we headed to the Irish pub at the corner of Lee Hwy and Rte 7. (I think it's called Four Provinces.) I have no idea what the majority of their menu tastes like, but their fish and chips exhibit good frying skills and their Guiness burger is always cooked to the degree of doneness ordered. I'm happy because cider is available on tap although my husband is less so since Smithwick's is temporarily unavailable. Two managers circle constantly through the restaurant to visit and troubleshoot. Definitely a more civilized experience for a Friday night rather than dealing with Pizzaria Orso's popularity.
We've eaten at Pizzeria Orso twice now, and I have to rate it 'uneven'. Each time, we ordered 2 pies. Each time, one was done perfectly and one was underdone. Maybe they've got a cold spot in the oven, or maybe they are not moving the pizza's around in the oven enough. But even underdone the pizza was tasty and we'll go back again.
I had a different experience at Orso. I went about two weeks ago and like the poster before the 7:00 rush. Ordered the risotto balls as an appetizer and two pies for our small group. The timing on the items was good and the beer on tap selection was excellent.
The appetizer compared favorably to what I've eaten in Italy. I didn't think my pizza was undercooked but then again I hate burnt pizza. We ordered the mushroom pizza and a special that had fennel and red onion. Both were quite good renditions of very thin crust small pizza, neither were "red sauce" pizzas.
I'd love to get back there again to try more items. But I can understand why some folks might not like the pizza, everyone seems to have an opinion on what constitutes their perfect pizza. I sure hope that Tom Setsema's raves about the place won't overwhelm it. For me it is close to home and sorely needed in my neck of the woods as good pizza is quite rare in Northern VA.
My son and I just had lunch at Orso, and the pizzas were very good, the service excellent. I liked the charring on the crust and would wish for even more, since I was weaned on New Haven pies. Unfortunately, we'll not get back, since we did go miles out of our way to get to Falls Church (we live in Bethesda).