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DC Restaurant Week begins in one week. Find participating restaurant menus here.

DC Restaurant WeekDC Restaurant Week is just one week away! The 16th Annual DC Restaurant week will celebrated by over 200 D.C. area restaurants from August 16 – 22, 2010. In addition, some DC area restaurants everywhere from Cleveland Park to Clifton, VA are extending their restaurant week promotions from one week to an entire month.  See here for a list of Summer 2010 Restaurant Week extensions. The prices are the same as Winter’s Restaurant Week: Lunch: $20.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal. Dinner: $35.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal; Beverages, gratuity and tax are not included. If you’re looking for a participating restaurant’s special DC Restaurant Week menu, click here for my roundup.

DC Restaurant Week occurs twice a year usually during the slow restaurant season in the winter (usually January) and the late summer (usually August) but now other cities around the DC area are jumping in on the action with their own restaurant weeks, such as Alexandria, VA August 20-29 and Bethesda and Chevy Chase , MD. Check out their special promotions.

Valentino’s Pizza: NoVa’s Best Kept Secret.

Valentino's storefront. Photo courtesy of Valentino's.com

I took my 6-year-old son, Alex today to Valentino’s Pizza (4813 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA) for lunch. It’s my duty, as a parent, to pass down my my coveted secrets, right? Well, this is one of them. In my opinion, Valentino’s pizzeria is the best pizza in Northern Virginia and possibly DC, although I don’t get to DC pizza joints that often. Ever since I was blind folded for a test taste for the Travel Channel’s Food Wars: Jumbo Slice, I’ve learned that people really do have strong preferences for pizza, just like everything else. I also learned mine: thin crust and tangy sauce. I’ve been going to Valentino’s for more than five years and although I considered keeping this best kept secret to myself, I just had to share. I’ve taken a dozen people to Valentino’s pizza, all who have never been before and now they rave about it.

Valentino’s is a family-owned and runned business. Co-owner and New York native Armando Afzali brings years of experience to the table — literally. He’s been making the dough and sauce at his family restaurants in NY for years but is now baking pies for hungry Virginians.

Valentino’s menu also offers a variety of specialty pizzas, both thin NY-style pizza and the thicker Sicilian crust. In addition, they offer many traditional Italian-American favorites such as lasagna, pasta e fagiole (pasta and bean soup), calzones, a littany of subs, baked ziti, lasagna, ravioli and manicotti. Veal and chicken Parmesan as well as veal pizziola. There are a variety of salads, including their signature “Italian Antipasto salad” — a garden salad topped with ham. salami, mozzarella & roasted peppers (I usually take off the peppers. I’m allergic). Also, the garlic knots are to die for! They’re small round dough balls baked to perfection and seasoned with garlic, herbs, spices & olive oil. Don’t even think about ordering them and not dipping them in the marinara sauce —Fagettaboutit!

I honestly haven’t tried anything else on their menu but their pizza. I admit it– but I keep coming back! Their no frills cheese pizza is definitely my favorite — with just thin layer of tangy sweet red sauce and gooey melted mozzarella. The slices are enormous. Each slice is about 12 inches and a slice of cheese is just $2.35. It’s a bargain! I’ve also tried a variety of their specialty pizzas. My favorite is the Papa Joe. It’s made with lots and lots of fresh plum tomatoes, red onions, and parsley marinated with special herbs & spices. It’s delish! I also like the chicken alla vodka and the Marguerita Pizza — so simple with fresh basil, plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese.

When you order, your slice from the counter is taken and re-heated in the large pizza oven for about 5 minutes. Each table is stocked with grated Parmesan, garlic powder, and oregano. I always sprinkle oregano on my cheese slice. You can sit at a table with your pizza or a server will come to your table if you order from the menu. It’s not fine dining.

Most of the time I order at the counter where there is a large spread of pizza pans showcasing their pizzas of the day — all made fresh with sauces made in-house using all natural spring water that they say makes the pizza dough smoother than true NY style pizza. There are always at least a dozen pies ranging from classic NY style cheese to buffalo chicken.

Valentino’s has dine in, carry out and delivery available. I only wish it were closer to home

For more info: See Valentino’s website. Address: 4813 Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA; Tel: 703.354.8383; Fax: 703.354.8384

Homemade Peeps at Restaurant 3.

This Easter, luscious melt-in-your-mouth marshmallow delights topped with a sweet sugar crust await customers at 3. Executive Chef, Brian Robinson is making his own version of the perennial crowd favorite- Peeps. The marshmallow confections are molded into creative shapes and rolled in colored sugar. The treats will be served complimentary to diners as part of 3’s Easter Sunday Low-Country Brunch from noon to 3 pm on Sunday, April 4, 2010 or try your hand at making your own at home (see the recipe below).

The Low-Country Brunch featuring an extensive selection of breakfast favorites including Babes in the Woods country sausage, asiago grits, breakfast muffins, cinnamon brown sugar French toast as well as a made-to-order omelet station. Low-Country favorites such as fried chicken & waffles, gumbo and shrimp & grits add southern flair. Traditional Easter dishes such as  Honey-glazed ham, Dijon-crusted leg of lamb and Slow-roasted prime rib are also offered. The Easter brunch is served buffet-style and is priced at $27 per person for adults and $12 per child, for children under 12.

3’s Homemade Peeps – By Executive Chef Brian Robinson
Powdered sugar, as needed
2/3 cups cold water, divided

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Colored sugar, fine granulated, as needed
Decorating icing, as needed
Oil the sides of a 13x9x2 inch pan and dust with powdered sugar.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add 1/3 cup cold water then sprinkle gelatin in water.
In a pot, add 1/3 cup water, the granulated sugar, the corn syrup, and salt, stir and cover until the syrup bubbles lightly. Use a candy thermometer to reduce the temperature to 240 degrees.
Slowly whisk the syrup into the gelatin and water mix. Mix on high for about 10 minutes. (It should look like white marshmallow). Add in the vanilla at the last minute.
Pour the marshmallow mix into the prepared pan, smooth out the top, and sprinkle with colored sugar.
Let sit to dry for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Cut peeps into the shapes you want and decorate.

3 is located at 2950 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington, VA, across the Clarendon Metro Station. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. and for dinner and brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., 3 is a neighborhood Clarendon eatery featuring Southern cuisine with imaginative twists, an impressive beer list and specialty cocktails.  For more information or reservations please call 703-524-4440 or visit the website at www.restaurantthree.com.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in DC

cinco_de_mayoIt’s almost time for Cinco de Mayo! Dining in DC is making it easy to celebrate all week long with this roundup of fiestas, margaritas, and music.

Pre-Cinco de Mayo Fiestas

May 1, 2, and 5
On Tap magazine’s Cinco de Mayo Mobile Mania offers participants a four-night five-bar tour of the Washington, DC Area. Tours happen on Thursday, April 30 in D.C.; Friday, May 1 in Arlington; Saturday, May 2 at National Harbor; Tuesday, May 5 in Fairfax (day tour starting at noont); and Tuesday, May 5 in D.C. (starts at 7 p.m.). The bus tour is free but in order to win a seat on the bus tour, you have to enter your name into an online contest . Winners will be notified via e-mail. To enter your chance to win a seat enter here

May 1-2;  4- 5

Ceiba is offering a week long promotion of $5 House Margaritas and $5 Select Appetizers (Hours 2:30 p.m. – close Friday-Tuesday). Enjoy specials: Guacamole de Molcajete, Baja Mexico Style Crispy Fish Tacos, “Bubbling Cast Iron Skillet” Queso Fundido, Yucatan Shrimp Ceviche “Cocktail”, and Shredded Chicken Mole Empanadas all just $5. (701 14th Street, NW)

May 3
The 18th annual Cinco de Mayo festival at the Sylvan Theater on the Mall will have food, live music, and dance performances, including one by the Maru Montero Dance Company. The event, which runs from noon to 6, will also have workshops and other activities for children.

May 5 – Cinco de Mayo

In Washington, DC

  • Alero: U Streets, Alero celebrates with Grand Margarita tastings (Jose Cuervo Margarita with Grand Marnier), $4 Cuervo Margaritas, $6 Cadillac Margaritas, Nuvo body painted ladies in the Nuvo VIP section, free samples of Nuvo, tons of giveaways, food specials, etc. 4 p.m. to close.  (1301 U St. NW)citron
  • Cafe Citron: Win $100 cash for being the sexiest or funniest Mexican around in Citron’s costume contest. Compete at 8 p.m. and midnight for the prize. From 5-7 p.m. enjoy tasting samples of Jose Cuervo margaritas topped with Grand Marnier from 5 to 7 p.m. with lots of free giveaways and prizes. Hurnito tequila shots for $5, $6 cuervo margaritas, $4 megro modelos, Coronas, and Dos Equis, and half-priced appetizers from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (1343 Connecticut Ave NW; pictured on right)
  • Cantina Marina: Enjoy free samples of Jose Cuervo Margaritas topped with Grand Marnier, lots of giveaways; 5-7 p.m. (600 Water St., SW)
  • Ceiba: $5 Marguerita’s & $5 appetizers all day from 11:30 a.m. – close (701 14th Street, NW)
  • Chi-Cha Lounge: Hope House, an organization that helps children and families with imprisoned fathers, is holding a Cinco de Mayo happy hour at Chi Cha Lounge. The event will feature a silent auction. $15 suggested donation; 6 PM. (1624 U St. NW)
  • Lauriol Plaza: Three floors of activites. Opening at 11a.m., Lauriol Plaza will have several promotions from Dos Equis and Cointreau with free giveaways and some live music. For a more low key approach you can check out their sister establishment on Wisconsin Avenue, Cactus Cantina. (1835 18th St. N.W. – Washington)
  • Lima: Latin-inspired restaurant and lounge offers a modern Hispanic menu, mojitos and margaritas. Cinco de Mayo is one of their busiest days and they plan to roll out their new summer drink menu on May 5. Regular Happy Hour offers open bar 5-6 p.m. with complimentary hors d’oeuvres til 7 p.m.  Now open: outdoor patio on the sidewalk. (1401 K St. N.W)
  • Lucky Stripe: Dos Equis at Lucky Strike, Gallery Place for just $4 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. 701 7th St., NW
  • Mackey’s Public House: From 4 to 11 p.m. for $5 cover, enjoy Jose Cuervo girls passing our free drinks, free sombreros to the first 100 people and a break the pinata contest. The winner gets a $50 bar tab. Enjoy drink specials that include $3.05 Coors Light and Miller Chill; $4.05 Jose Cuervo Margaritas; $6.05 Jose Cuervo Grand Margaritas; and $8 chicken soft taco platter. (L St. NW between 18th and 19th Streets).
  • Madhatter:  $3 Coronas and Mexican specialties all day and night. Starting at 8 p.m., participate in the jalapeno eating contest and have fun with the pinata filled with t-shirts, tickets for various events in town, and lots of other goodies. (1831 M Street NW)
  • Mate: Arrive early for free Dos Equis beers from 8 to 9, plus $5 sushi rolls. The night continues with a number of drink specials, including $3 Dos Equis and $6 1800 tequila shots, house pina coladas and raspberry mojitos.
    DJ Ivan spins Latin rock, house, pop, salsa and Top 40. (3101 K St. NW)
  • 51st State Tavern: 10 cent wings from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and $4 Coronas all nigth long. Try “Mangoritas” for just $5 from 8 p.m. to close. Giveaways and fun all night long. (: 2512 L Street NW)
  • The Park at 14th: DC’s Hispanic Bar Association is sponsoring a party with an open bar from 5-6 p.m. and Free buffet from 5-7 p.m. After 6 p.m. enjoy all night specials like $2 Corona’s and Dos Equis.  To get more details, click here.
  • Rosa Mexicano: Enjoy a Cinco de Mayo masquerade party with live music and a special menu. Patrons who show up in costume will be entered in a contest, and the first 200 to arrive at the restaurant will receive a shot of tequila in a collectible glass.
  • Tonic: Eat tacos all night for just fifty cents! (6 taco order minimum) 8 p.m. (3155 Mt. Pleasant Street)
  • Tortilla Coast: This Capitol Hill favorite has a great happy hour selection with great tex-mex food and pitchers of specialty margaritas. They will have their 75 cent Tuesday taco special, a live mariachi band, and several drink promotions. (400 1st St. S.E.)

In Northern, Virginia

  • Buffalo Wing University: Start your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta early in Fairfax. Starting at noon get free chips and salsa all day, Chill out with the DJ music in the background or get out and break the pinatas and win great prizes. (10312 Willard Way)
  • El Paso Cafe: Margarita tastings from 7-10 p.m. Sample featured flavors for half price.  Free live music. Sponsored by www.bluereves.com (4235 N Pershing Dr, Arlington, VA)
  • Front Page – Ballston: The party starts at happy hour with a mariachi band, and continues through the night with $3 drink specials, $1 tacos from the taco bar and half-price quesadillas. (4201 Wilson Blvd.)la-sandia-mexican-kitchen-and-bar
  • La Sandía Mexican Kitchen & Bar: Beginning Monday, May 4, enjoy Chef Richard Sandoval’s modern Mexican three-course menu for $29. This special menu will be available through May 7.  On Tuesday, May 5 enjoy live latin music from 4- 8 p.m. (7852 Tysons Corner Center); For Reservations go to Opentable.com (Inside of dining room pictured to the right).
  • McFadden’s: The Dos Diablos Party  is named in honor of a drink that combines Dos Equis beer with a shot of Two Fingers tequila. The drink will be available for $5 all night; other specials include $2 Coronas and $3 margaritas. For $10, there will be an all-you-can-eat taco bar at 8 p.m. (2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
  • Mister Days: Salsa lessons and Free taco bar from 4-7 p.m. (3100 Clarendon Boulevard)
  • Rock Bottom Brewery – Arlington: Free nachos while you enjoy drink specials (Ballston location; (4238 Wilson Blvd.)


  • Austin Grill:  The center of Silver Spring’s shopping district, Ellsworth Drive, will be closed to make room for a stage that will host mariachi music, Latin jazz and dancers. Austin Grill is expanding its patio to create a “Mexican beer garden,” with $2 Mexican Flag shooters and $5 margaritas and beers. A kids area will be reserved for face painting and arts and crafts. Kids eat free at Austin Grill until 8 when you spend $20. Enter a cincodemeow-headraffle to win prizes, including a guitar.
  • The Montgomery County Humane Society’s Cinco de Meow party at the MCHS Private Rescue will feature live music, prizes, margaritas, and cats available for adoption. The party runs from 7 to 9; $25 mandatory donation ($40 for couples). All proceeds benefit Joey’s Friends’ Fund for special needs animals and victims of cruelty and neglect. Fetch! Pet Care will be there handing out coupons for pet sitting services and Liora Robinson from Whole Pet Central will talk about healthy feeding for optimum health and wellness. (607 South Stonestreet Ave.) 

Morton’s Invitation back!

A few days after I posted my review of Morton’s in Tysons Corner where my husband and I went to dine for Valentine’s Dinner  (see archived post here: https://diningindc.wordpress.com/archive/mortons-on-valentines-day)

General Manager, Maura Delaney (complete with a very cool native Irish accent) called me. We had a lengthy conversation about my dining review and she invited me to return to Morton’s insisting that my not-so-good experience that evening was an exception, not the usual. Although I feel that I may not be able to be as objective when reviewing my experience this time around, it’s really hard to turn down a free meal at Morton’s! I spoke to Maura this afternoon and we have a reservation tomorrow night!

Stay tuned for the “Re-Do Review“! 😉