“Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella’s first restaurant venture in Arlington is finally opening its doors tomorrow (Tuesday).
Kapnos Taverna was announced September 2013 and planned for summer 2014. As most openings in the local restaurant industry go, delays pushed Kapnos Taverna’s debut back significantly — Isabella said they were waiting for the building at 4000 Wilson Blvd to finish construction.
The two-story 165-seat restaurant will feature small plates of largely southern and coastal Greek food. (Kapnos in the District, sister eatery to the new Ballston location, specializes in northern Greek fare.)
Isabella said he wants people to think beyond gyros and souvlaki when they think of Greek food.
“My goal is to tell people what Greek food is,” he told ARLnow.com while taste-testing dishes last week. “I want to show people aspects of the cuisine people aren’t aware of. There’s so much more to it than people think.”
The menu for Kapnos Taverna includes shellfish “platters” and “towers” for $75 and $125, respectively, and Isabella said the sauces and spreads are being brought over from Kapnos. The small plates range in price from $6 to $15 and tables can also order spit-roasted chickens — one of Isabella’s favorite menu items, along with the swordfish kebabs — and full lamb shoulders.
There will be a full cocktail program, four beers on tap as well as a moschofilero white wine on tap.
Two more Isabella-owned restaurants in Kapnos Taverna’s building will soon be opening. Pepita, the Mexican cantina that Isabella calls more “drink-centric” is in the pipeline for this spring. Yona, a restaurant that will specialize in ramen, won’t have Isabella behind the menu and plans to open this summer.
“We’re going to focus on these three concepts for a while,” Isabella said. “This is going to be our hub, and after opening these, we’re probably done in Arlington for a while.”
Whole wheat bakery and cafe Spring Mill Bread Co. might be the latest local retail chain to make the Pershing Drive section of Lyon Park its new home.
Spring Mill Bread has locations on Capitol Hill and in Bethesda and Gaithersburg. It’s in discussions to move into a vacant retail space at 2209 Pershing Drive, ARLnow.com has learned.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)
Kona Grill, an Arizona-based sushi and seafood restaurant chain, is planning to open its next location in Rosslyn, across from the Colonial Village Shopping Center.
Building permit applications were filed in November and are undergoing review by county planning staff. If it opens as planned, the location could be Kona’s second in Virginia and first in the D.C. area. The chain has one restaurant near Richmond and one in Baltimore.
Kona’s menu features its sushi and cocktails, but also has gluten-free, vegan and “skinny” options, as well as fusion dishes like beef bulgogi tacos, Hawaiian ribeye steak and, for “Pulp Fiction” fans, a Big Kahuna cheeseburger.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)
The Board is scheduled to vote on the lease at its Saturday meeting. The lease calls for rent of the 1,875 square foot restaurant space inside the community center to start at $43,200 annually, or $23.04 per square foot. That will rise to more than $30 per square foot by the end of the lease.
The tenant is Alami Abderrahim, a former manager at Lebanese Taverna and owner of the now-closed Moroccan restaurant Souk on H Street NE in D.C.
“Mr. Abderrahim is a cooking enthusiast and has a cooking channel on YouTube,” county staff note in a report to the Board. “He currently owns and operates a women’s clothing store in the District, Tangerine Boutique, which he plans to continue operating.”
At Arlington Mill, Abderrahim plans to open a cafe called “Root,” which will serve “fresh and healthy Mediterranean cuisine” along with “coffee and coffee-based drinks, tea, soup, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, juices, breakfast, various entrees, and a small selection of pastries.”
The coffee, breakfast and lunch/dinner menus for Root have already been posted online. The restaurant will front Columbia Pike on the Dinwiddie Street level of the building.
The lease calls for Abderrahim to pay utility costs and real estate taxes, but the county will foot the bill for $290,000 worth of necessary construction, including a new HVAC system, vents and utility equipment.
The county estimates the restaurant will open at some point during the latter half of 2015.
The former tenant of the space, Pan American Bakery and Cafe, was released from its lease last year. The county said the owners backed out of the lease “because of personal and family health problems.”
Target Eyes Rosslyn — A vacant storefront at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn may become home to the D.C. region’s first TargetExpress, a smaller, grocery-oriented version of the big box retailer’s stores. So far, Target has not confirmed the news. The storefront has previously hosted Rosslyn BID-sponsored pop-up market events. [Washington Business Journal]
Key Bridge Rehab Planned — The D.C. Department of Transportation is planning to begin a two-year rehabilitation project on the Key Bridge this spring. Most of the work will focus on the bridge’s substructure so traffic impacts will be limited. Other planned work includes new LED streetlights, stronger barriers between the road and the sidewalk, and a new paint job for the bridge’s fence. [Georgetown Dish]
Sub $2 Gas in Arlington — The average price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in Virginia fell to $1.99 over the weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s the lowest statewide average price since May 2009. So far in Arlington, only one gas station is reported to have $1.99 gas: the Arlington Auto Service station at 5200 Columbia Pike. [VirginiaGasPrices]
AYD to Hold SOTU Watch Party — Arlington Young Democrats will be holding a watch party for tonight’s State of the Union address. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd). President Obama’s address is scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. For those looking for an ostensibly non-partisan watch party, Busboys and Poets in Shirlington (4251 S. Campbell Ave) is holding a “community watch event” starting at 8:00 p.m. [Arlington Young Democrats]
Blind Woman’s Luggage Returned Thanks to TV Station — WJLA’s “7 On Your Side” segment helped a blind Arlington resident retrieve her lost luggage at Reagan National Airport. The bag, reportedly containing all of Jessica Kyriazis’ winter clothes, was lost for several days by American Airlines due to circumstances arising from “bad weather.” [WJLA]
Taylor Gourmet Now Open at DCA — A Taylor Gourmet is now open at Reagan National Airport. It’s the latest in a line of trendy local restaurants that are opening at the airport this year, including Cava Grill, &pizza, Bracket Room, Lebanese Taverna Grill, Kapnos Taverna, and El Centro D.F. [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Brixx Pizza is planning on opening its second location in the D.C. area in a new building next to the alleyway behind CVS. The site is owned by Gene Roberts, who also owns the CVS, and is already under lease to Brixx Pizza.
The restaurant will be the building’s sole occupant and take up 3,700 square feet of space, Roberts told ARLnow.com this afternoon. Roberst is looking at a mid-summer opening.
“I was very impressed with [the owners] when I met them last year,” Roberts said. “It’s good pizza.”
The business offers carryout but not delivery, and its focus is on sit-down customers at the restaurant. The location is expected to serve beer and wine, and, according to the chain’s website, it has a “Masters of Beer Appreciation” loyalty program and offers several craft beer options.
Brixx hopes to distinguish itself from the Clarendon pizza scene already occupied by Goody’s, Pete’s Apizza and Bronx N.Y. Pizza.
Sweet Leaf Cafe is preparing to open its second location in Arlington next month in the county’s most popular spot for new restaurants.
The location, at 650 N. Quincy Street, will be one building over from 4000 Wilson Blvd, which houses Taylor Gourmet, which opened in July, and upcoming restaurants Kapnos Taverna, Pepita Cantina and ramen restaurant Yona.
Sweet Leaf’s fourth cafe will have the same menu as the others — the original was in Vienna and there’s another in McLean — but owner Arita Matini said the menu for all of her restaurants will change next week.
Matini has been planning on opening in Ballston for a while — the Courthouse location surprised her with how quickly it became a popular lunch destination — and is excited about the other restaurants coming in.
“We welcome the competition,” she told ARLnow.com today. “It’s crazy, the whole area is really changing. The more that’s there, the more that people will be attracted to the area.”
Matini said she’s exploring opening more locations in Great Falls or potentially D.C.
A permit has been filed for a new restaurant — “Texas Jack’s Barbecue” — at 2761 Washington Blvd. That’s the former address of Tallula and EatBar, which closed in October after the owner was “unable to reach an agreement with the landlord on renewing Tallula’s lease.”
Texas Jack’s co-owner Steve Roberts talked to ARLnow.com Tuesday afternoon and said he hopes to open the restaurant by April or May. Roberts said Texas Jack’s will be a neighborhood-centric restaurant serving “classic central Texas barbecue.” Roberts noted that he has no plans for making Texas Jack’s a franchise — rather, he and his business partner plan on treating it as their “second home.”
Roberts, a Montana native who describes himself as a restaurant veteran and a long-time Virginia resident, says Texas Jack’s is named after Texas Jack, a famous Virginia-born Texas cowboy who also served as a courier and scout during the Civil War.
Texas Jack’s will be open for lunch, dinner and late night bar service (until 2:00 a.m.). The original Whitey’s bar, used by EatBar, will remain.
Roberts said he an his management team have a “love and a passion for barbecue.” He anticipates utilizing Southern Pride barbecue smokers, which will be in use “all day long.”
“We want to do it right,” he said.
Flickr pool photo by Dan Brown
Rosslyn is finally getting a restaurant that serves pizza by the slice.
Wiseguy NY Pizza is opening a location, at 1735 N. Lynn Street, in the former Quiznos Subs location. In October, Wiseguy owner Tony Errol told Eater.com that the shop should open “in about three months or so.” So far, Wiseguy has not replied to a request for comment from ARLnow.com.
The pizza place’s first location is on 3rd Street and Massachusetts Ave. NW in the District, where it has received plaudits for coming close to replicating authentic New York-style pizza. It claims to make its pizza with “New Yorkinized water” thanks to a “special filter system.”
The eatery also offers garlic knots — a rare sight in the District — and cheesecake from New York staple Junior’s Cheesecake.
The bar applied for a live entertainment and dancing permit, which the Arlington County Board is set to review on Saturday, laying out plans for “musical ensembles, solo performers, deejays, karaoke, and comedians” to perform nightly until 2:00 a.m. County staff has recommended approving the permit with conditions that amplified music be limited to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when all windows and doors to the outside are closed.
Highline conducted open job interviews last week, and co-owner Peter Bayne told ARLnow.com “we had a lot of people show up, more than we ever expected.” The stack of applications is pretty full, but the bar “isn’t going to turn away a rock star,” he said.
The picture of the offerings for patrons is also starting to become a little clearer. Highline will have side-by-side pop-a-shot games as well as a “full shelf” of board games old and new. There will also be arcade games and, a month or two after opening, a new, high-tech gaming table.
“It’s an interactive game table with an LCD TV as the surface and Xbox Kinect cameras overhead,” Bayne said. “You can play games like tic-tac-toe or air hockey just by moving your hands above the table.”
The bar will also have 36 beers, a few wines and a “pre-mixed cocktail” on tap. Bayne also plans to incorporate some barrel-aging and other creative ideas around the libations. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with the beer program,” he said.
“This is definitely one of the more beautiful bars we built,” he said. His company, Bedrock Bars, co-owned with Geoffrey Dawson, owns 24 bars and restaurants, largely in the D.C. area. “I think Crystal City is going to love it.”
File photo (left) courtesy Robert Mandle
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Pizza Vinoteca, the latest restaurant flocking to Ballston, is planning to open next Thursday, Dec. 11.
The restaurant, at 800 N. Glebe Road, is still waiting for its liquor license — it expects it to arrive early next week — but CEO Ari Malcolm of the New York-based business was able to give ARLnow.com a tour of Pizza Vinoteca’s second location.
“The concept is trying to elevate fast-casual,” he said. “We’re first and foremost a dine-in restaurant, but it’s pizza — we want people be relaxed and have fun here.”
The pizzas are grilled, Providence, Rhode Island-style, made for one and cost between $10 and $14.50. There are 36 wines, all available by the glass and mostly on tap in their custom-designed system, which uses argon gas to keep wines fresh. All of the glasses cost $10 or less and are available in half-glasses. There will also be seven craft beers available and house cocktails, include a frozen vodka, prosecco and lemon sorbet creation.
Pizza Vinoteca will also deliver and offers takeout.
Malcolm got his start working his way up from server to the business side of the restaurant industry, and the native New Yorker said he takes his restaurant “very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” He said his favorite item on the menu is the jowlciale pizza, which is a smoked, cured pork cheek from a Virginia farm accompanied by spicy chili pesto, fontina cheese, pistachio and honey.
“Composed thought goes into all our pizza,” he said. “I wanted to hate our Hawaiian pizza because I think canned pineapple and ham. But ours has fresh pineapple, prosciutto and peppers. It’s unfortunately really tasty.”
The pizzas are made on a grill that Malcolm helped design, which uses three kinds of heat, including infrared, to grill the whole wheat flatbread pizzas in less than three minutes. The grill can get as hot as 800 degrees when fully cooking, Malcolm said.
“Our product is so different from what the people in this neighborhood are doing,” he said. “We like the competition, because it just means more people are coming to Ballston to eat.”
El Encanto Grocery Store, which has doubled as a Colombian restaurant, closed three days ago but is planning to reopen.
Going in its place at 85 N. Glebe Road, according to workers at the storefront this afternoon, will be a Mexican and Salvadorian restaurant. A sign hanging where the El Encanto sign used to be says “Jarochita #2 Mexican Grill, Panadería & Carnecería Coming Soon.”
The new shop will still have a grocery store and is not changing ownership, the workers said. They could not provide an estimate as to when the storefront would reopen.
Hat tip @TheMadameMeow
The restaurant will be called Yona, and unlike the under-construction Kapnos Taverna and Pepita, Isabella won’t be found anywhere near the kitchen. Instead, Jonah Kim — formerly the executive chef at PABU Izakaya, now closed, in Baltimore — will bring his take on the traditional noodle dish to Ballston, with a planned opening in spring 2015.
“The restaurant is going to focus around ramen,” Kim told ARLnow.com today. “It’s like Asian comfort food. Noodles and broth, it’s the Asian spaghetti and meatballs. The perception of ramen is like the cheap college kid, that’s what you’re surviving on, but ramen is such a huge tradition in Japan.”
During the lunch hour — which Kim expects to be busy, based on the number of offices in the surrounding area — the menu will feature quick dishes and takeout. In the evening, the 1,500-square-foot space will become more of a sitdown restaurant. Kim said the number of ramen dishes on the menu will shrink and there will be more small plates available.
The restaurant will also have a full bar, with sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey, along with cusotm cocktails, Kim said.
While ramen has become a trendy restaurant specialty in New York, the District and even border jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, when it opens, Yona is believed to be the first ramen-focused restaurant in Arlington. Kim says Ballston is the perfect spot for it.
“I think the dining scene is definitely growing with everything else,” Kim said. “We’re about offering more choices to the neighborhood. I think the demographic there works for this kind of concept as well. I think that whole area is dying for more food, more dining options.”
Isabella is now highly invested in the area, and in a press release he said that Yona will be another component of bringing Ballston to the forefront of the restaurant scene in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“The Ballston food scene is growing as fast as its business district,” he said in the release. “By the time we’re done, Ballston will be the next dining destination for Northern Virginia and D.C.”
Photo (top) via Google Maps. Photo (bottom) by Greg Powers.
Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is now open to the public in its newest Arlington location, on N. Irving Street in Clarendon.
According to the shop’s employees, yesterday was its first day in business. The store is the chain’s fourth in Arlington: it also owns storefronts in Rosslyn, Crystal City and Ballston.
Japanese Noodle Bar Coming to Ballston — Yona, a new Japanese noodle bar and Korean-inspired small plates restaurant, is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. It will be the third restaurant from restaurateur Mike Isabella in the building. Isabella’s Kapnos Tavern is expected to open there next month and his Pepita cantina is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washington Post]
Leonsis Praises Ballston — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a big fan of Ballston, where the Capitals have their Kettler Capitals Iceplex practice facility. In a blog post responding to reports about the Wizards looking for a practice facility in either D.C. or Arlington, Leonsis wrote that “we feel fortunate that [the Capitals] ended up in the welcoming community of Ballston.” [Ted's Take]
Wakefield Wins First Playoff Game — The Wakefield Warriors football squad celebrated its first-ever playoff victory on Friday. Wakefield will next face undefeated Tuscarora in the second round of the 5A North Region playoffs. Washington-Lee and Yorktown both lost their first-round playoff games. [InsideNova]
‘State of Affairs’ Producer Lives in Arlington — Rodney Faraon, a father of three whose 14 years as a CIA analyst helped inspire the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” is an Arlington resident. Faraon serves as an executive producer on the show, which premiered last night. [Washingtonian, WNEW]
Plane Complaints Explained? — Over the past couple of years, numerous Arlington residents have made occasional complaints about hearing what sounded like a single-engine plane flying overhead for an extended period of time. At the time, there was no ready explanation for who or what might be flying around Arlington. However, some now think those planes might have been flying for a recently-revealed Justice Department cell phone spying program.
Soccer Tourney For At-Risk Kids — A 9th annual soccer tournament for at-risk kids was held in Arlington on Sunday. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf