Pizza Vinoteca - A Brunch Worth Discovering
As I was perusing through my twitter feed one Sunday morning, a mouthwatering image of a runny egg on top of prosciutto and polenta caught my eye (and appetite) and that's how I ended up recently discovering the newest Italian/Pizzeria restaurant in the Ballston corridor - Pizza Vinoteca.
Now, if you are familiar with this area, more specifically North Glebe Road, you know that it is crawling with pizzerias (Vapiano, Rustico, Pizza Roma) but what distinguishes Pizza Vinoteca from the others is their pizza crust (hand tossed crust made with two different kinds of flour (barley and bread), barley malt syrup and red wine)), a vast wine list (an impressive list of 36 wines from Italy, France, Austria, Argentina the U.S. and all glasses (half and full pours) are all under $10)) unique topping combinations (like brussels sprouts, ricotta, walnuts and lemon or nduja meatballs, kale pesto, fontina and tomato) and now their brunch menu (every Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM).
Before I take you on my midday culinary adventure, let me briefly describe the decor. It's where high tech meets trendy chic. In the foyer is a super cool ambilight wine wall (that will beckon you to take a photo) which is juxtaposed by the massive 4,500 square foot 100-seat restaurant that's flanked by black and white stripes with interspersed red accents.
Head to the back of the restaurant, where you'll be transported to Italy via a collage of black and white photos of iconic Italian landmarks and preferred methods of Italian transportation. And in the middle of the restaurant, is a 30-seat circular bar great for game watching days where you can quench your thirst with a great choice of worldly wines from a specialized wine compressor and/or locally sourced beers.
Now back to the crust of this post ... the food ;-) Deep down I knew I was going to order the egg/prosciutto/polenta dish, but it was still nice to glance at the other brunch menu options (you know for future visits ;-) ). I can wholeheartedly tell you that any listed item will draw an appetite. There's a great variety of gourmet hot beverages, fun cocktails (if you are large group, opt for the brunch pitchers ... yes ... I said pitchers), diverse selection of breakfast pizzas, delicious brunch staples like bacon and roasted potatoes and incredible Italian desserts.
First up ... a nice libation was in order to get my taste buds moving. I, of course, chose one of my favorite brunch cocktails - the Bloody Mary - and this one did not disappoint. It was well-garnished and had a kick to it, which started off this brunch with my best friend Laetitia of French Twist DC on the right foot.
Now if there is ever an opportunity to enjoy more olives, you know, other than the ones that accompany drinks, I will always jump at the occasion. So you can only imagine how happy I was (high fives all around) when one of the appetizers was an assorted dish of warm green and purple olives. Basking in a orange vinaigrette with fresh herbs and olive oil, the kermit-green Castelvetrano olives were buttery and meaty while the small jewel-sized nicoise olives offered a burst of licorice.
For the main course, Laetitia ordered the Lorraine pizza. A great combination of a typical French and Italian pie. This 3-egg quiche with leeks and jowciale (smoked pork cheek - yum!) served on top of Pizza Vinoteca's signature grilled whole wheat red wine crust, was, in one word ... heavenly.
I decided on the dish that deliciously lured me to Pizza Vinoteca in the first place, the Polenta. And the egg, proscuitto and polenta were a perfect triumvirate of flavors. I think if I could have this every day, I would. Yes, it's that good!
To counter the salt-centric dishes (which I am not complaining about at all), we decided to be a little healthy and order one of the salads. Not only was the Roasted Beets aesthetically pleasing, but it was refreshingly good. The shaved persimmon added sweetness to the dish and complemented the red and gold beets, goat cheese and watercress perfectly.
Last but not least, the dessert! Let's just say that you can't leave this restaurant without trying the bombolonis. These tuscan-style donuts filled with goodness come in a variety of flavors and will satisfy any palate. If you are a choco-holic, go for the Milk Chocolate one and if you want something a little spicier, opt for the Mexican Chocolate. Now if you want something a little lighter and more fruity, go with the Raspberry or Lemon. And lastly, if caramel notes tempt you, then choose the Dulce de Leche. Either way, I can tell you right now that you won't be disappointed with any of these choices. ;-)
So next time you are in this burgeoning foodie area, make sure to drop by Pizza Vinoteca. You won't regret it!
A big thank you to Executive Chef Ben Nichols, Jill Collins and the entire staff for such a warm welcome. I'll definitely be back!