Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Taste: Ovvio Osteria

By:  Jennifer Duff
Capital Cooking Contributor

The Northern Virginia dining scene keeps getting better and better.  First, we had the Mosaic District offering fantastic meats (Red Apron Butcher) and delicious sweets (Artisan Confections).  And now joining the scene is the Halstead Square area, showcasing new, specialty restaurants like Ovvio Osteria.

Ovvio Osteria features simple and authentic Italian cuisine that highlights the flavors of seasonal ingredients.  The culinary team is led by Chef Chris Watson, formerly of Wiedmaier’s acclaimed Brabo and pastry chef, Jennifer Short, another Brabo alum.  Talented and creative chefs with an eye towards simple, authentic flavors results in a delicious dishes like seasonal eggplant Parmesan.

The decor in Ovvio Osteria is cozy and relaxed, with rustic communal tables adorned with fresh vegetables and the soft glow of tea light candles.  The space is designed such that it creates the feeling of home and the sharing of food with family and friends.  

There are some fantastic smaller dishes to enjoy at Ovvio such as the meatballs, which are juicy and thick with beef and pork, housemade burrata featuring tender and seasonal zucchini, the home-made brined olives, the Penn Cove mussels with salted pancetta, and the star of any antipasta offering, dried meats on a charcuterie plate.

For a lighter dinner (or lunch), Ovvio serves delicious thin crust-type pizza with fresh toppings like basil, eggplant and cherry tomatoes.  My favorite was the Margherita pizza, simple and flavorful.  Other dinner options include pappardelle bolognese, with light and tender pasta that melts in your mouth.

And my favorite of the evening, the sweet corn and wild mushroom risotto that is creamy and rich with a light thyme finish. 

If you have room in your tummy (and if you come from an Italian family, I'm sure you know that "no" isn't an option), the deserts are outstanding.  The little-known gem in the dessert menu is the honey pine nut tart which is sweetly chewy and crunchy, absolutely amazing.

For those not willing to make the trip outside the "dessert comfort zone," go with the ricotta zeppoli, light dough balls served with chocolate and orange crema.  Whichever you decide, you will not be disappointed.

A wonderful restaurant serving fresh, simple authentic Italian dishes in Northern Virginia.  A most delicious, long-awaited alternative to Macaroni Grill -- and No Va diners couldn't be happier.

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