Last week at the annual Karen Cathey CrabCake competition sponsored by the AIWF, we had the pleasure of meeting Chef Will Artley of Pizzeria ORSO in Falls Church, who had one of the best cakes in the bunch!
ORSO opened quietly and has been getting local crowds in is homey quiet street just off the main drag in downtown Falls Church (400 South Maple Ave-www.pizzeriaorso.com).
The decor is simple with super accents on the opaque white blown glass chandeliers that are Chilouly-like but wonderfully squid-like! The open kitchen is highlighted by a huge wood-fired pizza oven called "Sophie" and she, with the aid of Chef Artley and his team, make indeed what we all decided were the best pizzas in the region!
When we arrived for Sunday lunch before a show nearby with Samuel, our server Edloe told us that it was "happy hour" and that the Colli Senesi "La Marronaia" Chianti that normally sells for $7/glass was marked down to $5. It was perfect for the pizza, but they also offer a happy hour price on white if you want. There are deals here regularly, so be sure to check the website; beware that they are closed on Mondays.
Several appetizers appeared and we were blown away by each and every one full of the intense flavors that we got to know from Chef Artley's crabcakes just two weeks before.
Seared SCALLOP with CousCous and Tomato Jam is a gorgeous presentation and does the mollusk great justice, but my tummy yearns for the Grilled OCTOPUS with White Beans and Artichokes. The tender tentacles are salted but when combined with the sauce it blends perfection in taste and seasoning.
If you like mussels head for the $8 (yes just $8!!!) starter of PEI MUSSELS in a divine rich Smoked Blue Cheese Broth. This neat change on the traditional will wow and fill you at the same time, and I guarantee those two huge slabs of perfectly frilled bread atop the dish will be savored with the amazing sauce.
Seeking a novel but tasty salad? Don't miss the PEAR & GORGONZOLA Salad with baby greens, candied pecans and a divine mustard vinaigrette.
Well, after all that. don't miss those pizzas. Samuel, as he is wont to do, went for the Bambino Pizza which is virtually an adult size full plate, six-piece portion and you can see each fresh ingredient down to the slabs of superb mozzarella which at $7 is a bargain. The regular pizzas start in the $12 zone and unquestionably include the freshest ingredients around. Will's CAPRICCIOSA came with piles of artichoke hearts, crimini mushrooms, ham, olives and basil while my CRUDO had a huge super-thin slice of prosciutto covering each piece of the pizza (so 6 huge slices in all) as well as Arugula, and shaved fresh Grana. Each bite was like a garden salad with that superb Parman prosciutto!
I have to say that Orso also has many salads, pastas and main courses so this is a place we will definitely head back to for a full sampling sometime soon!