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New Irish Bar Coming to Columbia Pike?

by ARLnow.com | June 17, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 1,891 views | No Comments

Manee Thai restaurant on Columbia PikeManee Thai may be closing in the near future, and an Irish bar may take its place.

A restaurant called “The Celtic House,” from a company called “Green Brigade LLC,” has applied for a permit to serve wine, beer and mixed beverages at 2500 Columbia Pike, in the Arlington Village Shopping Center. That’s the current home of Manee Thai restaurant, which has been open for 13-14 years.

“Mo,” a man identifying himself as the owner of Manee Thai, told ARLnow.com today that he is in talks to sell the restaurant and retire. But he said nothing has been finalized.

“We have nothing going on yet,” he said. “We are still talking.”

No company phone number was listed for The Celtic House or Green Brigade LLC. The Virginia State Corporation Commission and Arlington County have no record of an LLC by the name of “Green Brigade.”

Another Irish-themed watering hole, P. Brennan’s Irish Pub (2910 Columbia Pike), has been open just down the street since 2010.

We, the Pizza Now Open in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | June 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm | 1,146 views | No Comments

We, The Pizza, the pizza shop launched by former Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn, is now open in Crystal City.

Located next to TechShop in the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive, the pizza shop has only been open “a couple of days” according to a manager in the store, and it was still crowded for lunch at 1:30 p.m. today. The shop has signs posted alerting customers “Staff is training (Be Gentle).”

The shop is open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily and serves slices of 16 custom pizzas, including a chicken poblano spicy Mexican pie, a Mortadella pico de gallo pie and a Cajun chicken and andouille pie. Slices of each pie cost $4 and a cheese slice costs $3. A medium full pizza of any style costs $18 and a large costs $20.

The restaurant also offers wings and salads, and boasts that many of its ingredients are sourced from local farms in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Mendelsohn also owns the Good Stuff Eatery burger shop two doors down from We, The Pizza.

Mediterranean Restaurant / Hoagie Shop Coming to Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | June 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm | 3,093 views | No Comments

Spice opening soon in Clarendon Spice opening soon in Clarendon

A combination Mediterranean restaurant and Italian hoagie shop could be opening at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Garfield Street in Clarendon as early as Friday.

“Spice” will occupy the same space that housed Le Sandwich for 10 days and previously was home to Cafe Wilson, Paciugo Gelato and Street Corner Cafe. Its owner, Yasser Mohamed, who also owns and operate Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream across the street, held the lease for Le Sandwich and said he saw “the store going downhill fast” and “didn’t like it,” so he decided to kick out Le Sandwich and its operator, Mehdi Ben, and give his wife the space for a restaurant.

“My wife is a great cook who always dreamed of opening her own store, so it was an opportunity for her,” Mohamed told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “She’s going to be making Mediterranean dishes and cold and hot hoagies.”

Mohamed said the hoagies will have meats shipped from different cities in Italy, as well as “apple hickory duck prosciutto,” which he described as “expensive, but very tasty.” He said the store will also have a salad bar, and most dishes will range from $7.50 to about $14.

“I think my price compared to my rent and expenses is very fair,” he said. “It’s been 24 years in the retail business, it’s all I know. We want to sell a lot and make a little. I’m not a greedy guy.”

Mohamed said some of the Mediterranean dishes will include rosemary lamb shanks, baked salmon and lemon ginger chicken, which will be served with rice and vegetables on the side. Spice will open at 11:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and Mohamed said he plans to stay open until 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

The restaurant will undergo a health inspection this week, according to Mohamed, after which it could open “by Friday or Saturday. That’s when we’re shooting for.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | June 9, 2014 at 9:30 am | 1,902 views | No Comments

Rosslyn skyline (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Graffiti Closes Powhatan Skatepark — Powhatan Springs Skatepark is temporarily closed after “graffiti containing vulgar language” was found. The park will be temporarily closed until park staff can remove the graffiti. No word yet on a reopening date.

Tejada: Three Dems on County Board — At the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner over the weekend, Walter Tejada said pointedly that he is “one of three Democratic county board members,” presumably excluding Libby Garvey. Garvey was also not listed as an “Arlington Democratic Elected Official” in the program. [Blue Virginia]

Dominion Planning New Underground Power Line — Dominion Virginia Power is planning on building an underground power transmission line from Arlington to Alexandria. The $160 million project is intended to address “a local reliability load issue… that could potentially impact neighbors by 2018.” Alexandria officials are expressing objections to the project. [Washington Post]

AYDs Eye South Arlington — Arlington Young Democrats are trying to increase their outreach to women, minorities and to residents of south Arlington. The organization has appointed a new “outreach chair and communications director” who will be in charge of recruiting individuals in targeted groups and “mak[ing] them feel welcome.” [InsideNova]

We, The Pizza Finally Open — It appears that We, The Pizza in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive) finally opened over the weekend. [Twitter]

Flickr pool by Brian Allen

New Pizza Restaurant Coming to Rosslyn

by Ethan Rothstein | June 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,688 views | No Comments

Spinfire Pizza coming to Rosslyn Spinfire Pizza coming to Rosslyn

A new restaurant that boasts serving pizzas “freshly-baked in 90 seconds” appears to be moving to Rosslyn at 1501 Wilson Blvd, next door to Roti.

Spinfire Pizza is planning on opening one of its first two locations in Rosslyn — the other is expected to open in Ashburn, Va. — but there’s no indication of when the restaurant will open its doors.

The signage on the restaurants window indicate that the pizzas will be Neopolitan-style, made-to-order, and customers will be able to choose from 50 toppings. It appears Spinfire will also offer salads, beer and wine.

A virtual tour online of the concept gives the restaurant the look of a “fast casual,” assembly line-style of eatery, which is burgeoning in Rosslyn with Roti, Chipotle, Chop’t and Tom Yum District.

Casita Declared Restaurant Challenge Winner as Albisu Withdraws

by Ethan Rothstein | June 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm | 2,194 views | No Comments

Restaurant Challenge finalists Victor Albisu, left, and Christiana Campos (photo courtesy Ballston BID)The Ballston Business Improvement District’s Restaurant Challenge is over before its long-promoted “Top Chef”-style cookoff could begin.

Del Campo and Taco Bamba chef Victor Albisu has withdrawn his concept, a Mexican restaurant called Bombazo, leaving Christiana Campos and her Spanish restaurant, Casita, as the winner.

Campos will now get to open up shop in the former Red Parrot space at 1110 N. Glebe Road, next to The Melting Pot with a year of free rent, an 11-year lease and a $245,000, interest-free loan from the building’s owner, Brookfield Properties.

Campos and Albisu were selected as the two finalists to compete in a final cookoff this Wednesday evening in the restaurant space that will now become Casita. They were selected from a pool of eight semi-finalists who competed in a judging panel during Taste of Arlington last month, and the two finalists’ selection generated some controversy because of confusion over the selection process.

The restaurant concept that won the most votes from Taste of Arlington attendees, Kristen Robinson’s Laurel, was not named a finalist. Despite Albisu dropping out this morning, Ballston BID CEO said Campos was declared the winner instead of Robinson being invited to the challenge.

“We decided that Casita and Christiana and her team thought they were going up against Victor, and to change that midway and say, ‘Oh we’re not going to award it to you’ and give a chance to someone else, we didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” Leone told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “They have a great plan, team and concept for that location. All the elements were there for a successful venture. We thought that was the best thing to do to award it to her.”

Albisu declined comment on dropping out of the Restaurant Challenge through his publicist. Restaurant Challenge judge and Top Chef alumnus Mike Isabella announced last week that he’d be opening a Mexican cantina, called Pepita, in Ballston, at 4000 Wilson Blvd, last week. Leone alluded to the fact that Isabella’s new venture, expected to open early next year, might have chased Albisu off.

“There were restaurant wars going on, it wasn’t quite the challenge we were putting on,” Leone said. “Things don’t always work out exactly the way you want, but we think this turned out pretty great. It’s a win for Ballston. We’re getting a Mexican restaurant and a Spanish restaurant.”

Campos described Casita on the Restaurant Challenge website as “inspired from the timeless taverns that over generations have been offering very unique, yet typical, classic comfort foods from Spain featuring top-quality and seasonal ingredients. These taverns are known for their hearty dishes and “menus del dia” (a three course meal at a reasonable cost), as well as “pintxos” (essentially snacks on a skewer).”

The Restaurant Challenge was a kind of sequel to last year’s Launchpad Challenge for startup technology companies. While Launchpad was seen as a success, Leone said there’s no certainty that another challenge is in the offing for Ballston. She also pointed out that Restaurant Challenge was the brainchild of Brookfield Properties looking to entice restaurants to its space, not an idea the BID hatched on its own.

There’s no word on when Casita plans to open. Campos will be officially announced as the winner at the BID’s annual meeting on June 23, when she will prepare an array of food as a preview for the restaurant.

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser. Photo courtesy Ballston BID.

‘Secret Chopsticks’ Chinese Restaurant Coming to Rosslyn

by Ethan Rothstein | May 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm | 1,639 views | No Comments

A Chinese restaurant that bills itself as “Healthy. Tasty. Fancy,” appears to be coming soon to Rosslyn.

Secret Chopsticks has posted signs all over the windows of the ground floor space along N. Fort Myer Drive of the Turnberry Tower luxury condominium building. The signs point interested passers-by to a website that is empty, other than the restaurant’s logo and the description “contemporary Chinese cuisine.”

The signs say “coming soon Summer 2014.” The business was registered with Arlington County in February. Its domain name and Facebook page were registered in 2012.

No one from the restaurant could be immediately reached for comment.

Hat tip to Chris Junior

Jimmy John’s Coming to Clarendon, Wine Bar Next?

by Ethan Rothstein | May 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 2,917 views | No Comments

Beacon at Clarendon West constructionNational sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is planning on opening another Arlington location in Clarendon in the coming months.

Jimmy John’s, which has locations in Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City, has signed a lease to move into the Beacon at Clarendon West apartment project, at the corner of Washington Blvd, Wilson Blvd and N. Irving Street, according to Asadoorian Retail Solutions, which is managing the retail leasing for the development.

Asadoorian’s Jeff Handler told ARLnow.com that the company is also looking to fill the apartment building’s ground floor with a fitness business and a wine bar, among other retail options. Handler also said he’s “in conversation with a number of restaurants.”

The building’s ground floor is planned to open in June and the two-tower, 187-unit facility is on track for completion this fall.

Black Squirrel Coming to Rosslyn?

by ARLnow.com | May 15, 2014 at 9:55 am | 1,969 views | No Comments

Adams Morgan watering hole Black Squirrel may be coming to Rosslyn.

Leasing agents at the Sedona Slate apartment complex, on the 1500 block of Clarendon Blvd, have been telling prospective residents that Black Squirrel will be opening in a ground floor space at the building.

Black Squirrel bills itself as an “old-school neighborhood gastropub.” It boasts an extensive draft beer selection and a food menu that includes spruced-up versions of standard pub fare.

So far, no building permits can be seen on the windows of the would-be bar space. Reached by phone, Black Squirrel co-owner Tom Knott declined comment.

One business that’s confirmed to be coming soon to the Sedona Slate ground floor is Lava Barre, which was formerly located near Clarendon. Interior construction is underway on the future Lava Barre space and “coming soon” signs are posted on the windows. No word yet on an opening date.

Nicecream Factory Now Open in Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | May 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm | 3,613 views | No Comments

Nicecream Factory, an ice cream shop that features the frozen confection made-to-order using liquid nitrogen, is now open at 2831 Clarendon Blvd.

The shop opened last Wednesday in the former Red Mango space. The shop was “packed” this weekend, according to co-owner Sandra Tran. Many customers read about the shop on ARLnow.com last month, she said, but a few others had been clamoring for her to open when they walked by during the shop’s buildout, which she said took less than a month.

“People were super excited,” Tran said. “There was a mix of families and young people coming in.”

Nicecream sells small cups for $5, regular cups (pictured) for $6 and pints for $10. Monday afternoon she offered flavors like pistachio, lemon jenny, honey lavender and spiced vanilla.

“All but three people who walked in here today ordered pistachio,” she said. “We make it from pistachio butter instead of artificial pistachio flavoring, so it’s really ‘pistachio-y.’”

Bonefish Grill Plans August Opening

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2014 at 11:35 am | 1,062 views | No Comments

Bonefish Grill in Pentagon CityBonefish Grill is planning to open its new Pentagon Row location later this summer.

The seafood restaurant is coming to the 5,350-square-foot former Desi Innovations space, at 1101 S. Joyce Street. Bonefish Grill is a national chain specializing in market-fresh fish and other wood-grilled specialties.

It appears that some construction has already started, although we’re told the groundbreaking for the project is planned for June. According to a spokeswoman for Pentagon Row owner Federal Realty Investment Trust, Bonefish Grill expects to open in August.

Mazagan on Columbia Pike Opens Tonight

by Ethan Rothstein | May 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 2,036 views | No Comments

Mazagan Restaurant, the Moroccan eatery and hookah bar next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, is open to the public starting at 4:00 p.m. today.

The restaurant replaced the quirky electronics store Venus Stereos & TVs at 2901 Columbia Pike, and the interior has completely been redone with wood floors, stone wall and a glass-enclosed, “privately insulated” hookah bar, which owner Riyad Bouizar said allows hookah smokers to still feel like they’re part of the restaurant without their smoke disturbing those simply there to eat and drink.

The restaurant will only be open for dinner and late night for the next month, Bouizar said, before opening for lunch. It will be open until midnight Monday through Wednesday, 1:00 a.m. Thursday nights and 2:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It will also be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., including brunch, on Sundays.

The restaurant specializes in Moroccan food with a “contemporary twist,” and includes tajines, food that is cooked over a wood fire and ordered ahead of time. All food and drink will also be served to those partaking in the hookah lounge.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | May 6, 2014 at 9:05 am | 1,884 views | No Comments

Friday evening in Ballston (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Sweet Leaf Cafe Coming to Ballston – Sweet Leaf Cafe will be opening a second Arlington location. In addition to the existing Courthouse location, the local salad and sandwich chain will be opening a new cafe at 650 N. Quincy Street in Ballston, on the ground floor of the Residence Inn hotel. [Washington Business Journal]

Businesses Optimistic About County Ombudsman – Local businesses and developers hope that the appointment of assistant county manager Shannon Flanagan-Watson as Arlington County’s “business ombudsman” is another sign that that the county is serious about cutting red tape and being friendlier to business interests. [InsideNoVa]

GGW Blasts Streetcar Referendum Idea – Greater Greater Washington writer Canaan Merchant says that the Columbia Pike streetcar referendum proposal floated last week by Congressional candidate Del. Patrick Hope and County Board candidate Alan Howze is “pointless and possibly destructive.” [Greater Greater Washington]

TSA Opens Pre-Check Office in DCA – The Transportation Security Administration has opened a Pre-Check enrollment center at Reagan National Airport. The Pre-Check program allows “known travelers” who sign up to go through expedited screening lines at the airport. [Washington Post]

County to Provide Super Stop Update – County officials this afternoon will be holding a media briefing to provide an update into the comprehensive review into the $1 million “Super Stop” bus stop. Construction of the other 23 planned Super Stops is on hold while the county reviews cost and functionality concerns associated with the first Super Stop.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

Pizza Vinoteca Coming to Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | May 5, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,802 views | No Comments

800 N. Glebe RoadPizza Vinoteca, a recently-opened gourmet pizza shop in New York City, will open a second location in Ballston at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd this summer.

The restaurant is expected to open at 800 N. Glebe Road, next to Mussel Bar, this July. It will have table seating for 100, a 28-seat bar and seating for 36 at its outdoor patio.

“The restaurant’s menu is grounded in gourmet grilled pizzas with toppings that have been responsibly sourced from an array of American producers,” said spokeswoman Robin Insley. “Its wine menu features a sommelier-created list of about 36 wines designed to be paired with each pizza.”

Each wine will cost less than $10 a glass, Insley said, and be available in tasting pours and flights. The New York location features gelato, gelato floats and gelato paninis, with the Italian-style ice cream wrapped in vanilla cake and served warm.

Located in New York City’s Union Square, Pizza Vinoteca first opened its doors this past March.

Hat tip to Tony Zuccaro

Mocha Cafe & Pastry Opens in Lyon Park

by Ethan Rothstein | May 2, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,546 views | No Comments

A new cafe is now open in Lyon Park, the only coffee shop in the mostly residential neighborhood.

Mocha Cafe & Pastry, at 2720 Washington Blvd, opened April 19, serving fresh baked goods from owner Minoo Taheri and her daughter, Fojan, as well as several types of cold and hot coffee drinks, including Turkish coffee — which Minoo Taheri said is one of her most popular items — and café glacé, a coffee, milk and ice cream drink.

Taheri’s full-time job is working for Fairfax County, but she said she would bake almost every day and bring the results into work. Eventually, she heard enough coworkers tell her to open a bakery that she decided to go through with it.

“I would bake because I was happy, but I would also bake because I was sad,” she said in her café yesterday afternoon. “It really comes from the soul for me.”

Mocha opens at  7:00 a.m. daily and closes at 9:00 p.m. It serves breakfast fare like bacon, egg and cheese croissants, and sandwiches like the Persian chicken salad — an homage to Taheri’s home country of Iran — and pesto turkey panini.

The community has already responded positively, Taheri said, and she even has a couple of customers who come in every day, use the free WiFi and drink Turkish coffee. Soon, her customers will be able to try her true specialty: eclairs. When she gets the proper fridge, she plans on serving eclairs stuffed with pistachios, caramel, mango and coffee flavors.

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