Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall, located at 3811 N. Fairfax Drive, is offering a “pop-up” Chinese menu for lunch until Aug. 29.
The “Uncle Paul’s Kitchen” menu, named for Water & Wall co-owner Tim Ma’s uncle, debuted almost three weeks ago at the restaurant, Ma said. It includes Chinese-inspired dishes, like Kung Pao Pork Belly, and more traditional Chinese fare, like “Uncle Paul’s Zha Jiang,” with prices ranging from $6 to $10.
The Zha Jiang is like a Chinese ragu, which Ma said the Chinese community jokingly calls “Marco Polo noodles, because Marco Polo came to China and took the recipe back, and that’s where Italian pasta comes from.”
The dishes from Uncle Paul’s Kitchen are smaller than regular entrees, reminiscent of dim sum, which allow customers to order two or three at a time. The lunch menu is available daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
“We are essentially running two restaurants here,” Ma said. “We have the kitchen divided for the Chinese stuff and then the rest of the storage space and refrigeration is for the regular restaurant stuff.”
Water & Wall opened eight months ago for dinner, and served only its French-inspired dishes. In mid-June, Ma, his parents, their “old school Chinese” air conditioner repairman, and some Chinese cooks were having a Chinese dinner and had the idea for the pop-up menu, Ma said.
“We were joking around, saying ‘Well this is more like a Chinese restaurant than an American or French place,’” Ma said.
From the idea’s inception, it took Ma two weeks to create the menu, which drew from dishes that his uncle served at his traditional Shandong restaurant “Paul Ma’s Kitchen,” in New York in the 1980s, Ma said.
“He had incredible success there with these homemade recipes,” Ma said. “It was like impossible to get a reservation there.”
The food Paul Ma cooked for his nephew, while living with him at Tim’s Virginia home, also inspired Ma’s lunch menu for Water & Wall.
“He continues to tell me things that I should tweak and things that I should add,” Ma said.
Ma also owns a restaurant serving American food in Vienna called Maple Ave Restaurant. For now, Ma is not sure whether Water & Wall will debut its planned lunch menu of French fusion dishes at the end of the month, or create something else closer to the pop-up menu’s choices.
“This has been really well received thus far,” Ma said. “We have a better response with the dishes my uncle created back in the day.”
Silver Line Now Open for Business — Metro’s Silver Line opened Saturday, with local officials, reporters and curious residents crowding the new stations in Reston and Tysons to get a ride on the first Silver Line trains. So far this morning, on the first big commuting day of its debut, the Silver Line seems to be functioning normally, without incident. Over time, the Metrorail line is expected to bring further economic development to Tysons and Reston. [Reston Now, Washington Post, InsideNova]
Nation’s Oldest Female Vet Visits Arlington — The nation’s oldest female veteran, 108-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Lucy Coffey, visited the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery over the weekend. [Stars and Stripes]
Pizza Vinoteca Opening Delayed — Pizza Vinoteca, a New York City-based gourmet pizza restaurant, will not be opening in Ballston this month, as originally planned. The pizzeria is now expected to open at 800 N. Glebe Road by the end of August, according to a PR rep.
Lebanese Taverna, which began as a single storefront in Arlington operated by an immigrant couple and their five children, is celebrating its 35th anniversary with events and specials over the next two months.
On July 28 and 29 at the Westover location (5900 Washington Blvd) and Aug. 6 and 7 at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street), Lebanese Taverna will serve dishes from its 1979 menu with the original prices to commemorate the year the restaurant opened.
The restaurant is also currently taking submissions for a social media contest, in which longtime customers can email the restaurant their favorite Lebanese Taverna memory and then vote on their favorites by liking them on the restaurant’s Facebook page. A limousine will chauffeur the winners to different Lebanese Taverna locations for a five-to-six course meal, Shea said.
“We’re celebrating our uniqueness,” said Lebanese Taverna Vice President Grace Shea, the youngest child of founders Tanios and Marie Abi-Najm. “Thirty-five years is a long time for a restaurant to be open.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) will present a congressional proclamation of congratulations to the Abi-Najm family at a private event Friday evening, Shea said. The Westover restaurant will be open Friday at 6:30 p.m. for a kickoff event with the 1979 prices for invited guests from local civic associations and members of the public who happen to stop by.
“I’m proud of my family and what they’ve accomplished over the years,” Shea said. “When my parents came here they had five kids, $500 and spoke no English.”
The Abi-Najm family came to Arlington in 1976 to escape the civil war in Lebanon. Marie Abi-Najm worked as a teaching assistant and Tanios Abi-Najm did odd jobs and painted until they saved enough money to open their own restaurant in 1979, in the same storefront they still occupy just down the street from their house, Shea said.
“My dad always loved food and it was a way for him to bring a piece of Lebanon here to us,” Shea said. Her mother came from Dfoun, Lebanon, a village famous for producing chefs.
At first, Lebanese Taverna served pizza and subs and operated under “Athenian Taverna,” the name used by the previous tenants. Shea’s parents and her four siblings in high school were the only employees during the first year, causing business to suffer, she said.
In 1979, the restaurant only offered shish kabob and hummus as menu specials because they were novelties for most Arlington residents. However, their traditional food starting piquing customers’ interests after their first year in business, inspiring the Abi-Najm’s to change the restaurant’s name and put Lebanese fare on half their menu, according to Shea.
“We’d sit down for our family dinners at the restaurant and customers would say, ‘Wow, what is that? We want some of that,’” Shea said. The restaurant kept its half-Italian menu until 1983.
Once the restaurant was officially Lebanese Taverna, a second location opened in 1990 on Connecticut Avenue in D.C. It later expanded to include the Lebanese Taverna Market in D.C., catering division, six restaurants and four cafés it has today.
A man was jabbed with a fork and a woman was punched in the face during a scuffle at the International House of Pancakes (935 N. Stafford Street) in Ballston late Sunday night.
Police say a verbal argument escalated into a physical confrontation at the restaurant around 11:45 p.m. The suspect, identified as 45-year-old Arlington resident Ernesto Juarez-Cabrera, allegedly jabbed another man in the hand with a fork, then punched a female family member in the face, according to police.
Neither victim required a trip to the hospital, although the fork broke the skin on the man’s hand, Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. The fight was broken up by an IHOP manager, who escorted the suspect outside. While outside, Juarez-Cabrera repeatedly punched a restaurant window, breaking it, according to Sternbeck.
The broken glass cut Juarez-Cabrera’s hand and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Juarez-Cabrera, who police say was intoxicated at the time of the incident, has been charged with malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding, felony destruction of property, and domestic assault and battery.
Pentagon Row Concert Series Starts Tonight — The summer concert series at Pentagon Row starts tonight with Philadelphia-based cover band Kristen and the Noise. The concerts are held every Thursday night from 7:00-9:00 p.m., through Aug. 21. [Pentagon Row]
District Taco Coming to Bethesda — Local, Arlington-based Mexican restaurant chain District Taco plans to open a location in Bethesda in 2016. The Bethesda location is expected to be District Taco’s first in Maryland. [Bethesda Now]
New Homes Coming to Cherrydale — Four new high-end homes are coming to the 4100 block of 18th Street N. in the Cherrydale neighborhood. The list price of the houses, built by Tradition Homes, is around $1.8 million. They’re expected to be ready for move-in by the spring of 2015. [Patch]
Tom Sarris Dies — Tom Sarris, proprietor of former Rosslyn restaurant staples like The Covered Wagon and Tom Sarris’ Orleans House, has died. Sarris died in Arlington on Saturday at the age of 89. [Dignity Memorial]
Sparket Launches Today — Crystal City’s arts and crafts market, dubbed the “Sparket,” launches today on the sidewalk in front of 1900 Crystal Drive. It will open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market is run by the same management company that runs the flea markets at Eastern Market and on U Street. [Crystal City]
Metro > NYC Subway? — When complaining about Metrorail, many critics like to compare it unfavorably to New York City’s Subway system. However, Arlington County’s Mobility Lab points out that there are at least five ways that Metro beats the MTA. [Mobility Lab]
Photo via Yelp
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Columbia Pike burrito spot Pedro and Vinny’s reopened yesterday after having its food establishment license revoked last month.
The restaurant reopened after re-applying for its food establishment license, as allowed by Arlington County Code. Arlington’s health department found Pedro and Vinny’s had “a pattern of repeated violations… that significantly increased the risk of foodborne illness to patrons including improper holding temperatures of foods,” according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
An inspector revoked its food license last month when the temperature problems were not fixed. Larrick said DHS approved its new license yesterday, and inspectors will check on the restaurant’s compliance within 30 days,.
“It’s been a lesson, and we’ve learned from our mistakes,” Pedro and Vinny’s manager Richard Arnez said. ”We’ve been doing a lot of remodeling, and a lot of the cleaning has been changed. It’s pretty much like brand new.”
The 13-day closure has not impacted the volume of customers patronizing Pedro and Vinny’s, Arnez said. ”People are excited to come in, like before,” Arnez said.
The 2599 Columbia Pike location, owned by the food truck of the same name, has not changed its menu or hours, and continues to serve the burritos that earned it a spot on the Five Thirty Eight Burrito Bracket the same month as its closure.
“Our food is great, fresh, everything is good,” Arnez said. “So we’re good to go.”
Pedro and Vinny’s, the popular burrito stand in the CVS parking lot at 2599 Columbia Pike, is closed indefinitely after having its health license revoked.
The restaurant opened in 2011 in what was once an Ollie’s Trolley. It has since served hungry Pike residents, Pentagon employees, and even members of Congress. Earlier this month it was included in the prestigious Five Thirty Eight Burrito Bracket.
Arlington County Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick says the health department placed Pedro and Vinny’s on a one-year probation in February due to repeated food safety violations that “significantly increased the risk of foodborne illness.”
The violations were mostly centered around improper food holding temperatures: the cheese and sour cream were too warm in the refrigerator and the chicken and beef were not hot enough in the countertop well, according to health inspection records. As part of the probation, the restaurant was informed that its food service license would be revoked if they were found not in compliance again, according to Larrick.
Yesterday (Wednesday), an inspector again found “improper hot and cold holding temperatures,” Larrick said. The license was immediately revoked and Pedro and Vinny’s was closed.
Last night, handwritten signs posted on the restaurant’s doors stated that it was “closed for a few days due [to] a kitchen problem.” Larrick said that Pedro and Vinny’s may submit an application for a new license, but will “need to meet all applicable requirements of… Arlington County Code” in order to receive it.
Lingering Campaign Signs Annoy Arlington Dems — Uncollected campaign signs from the June 10 Democratic congressional primary are irking local Democratic leadership. Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Kip Malinosky says the party has contacted certain candidates multiple times to let them know their signs were still cluttering up local medians. By Arlington ordinance, signs can only be removed by those who put them up. [InsideNova]
Blue Line Crunch Coming — When the Silver Line opens next month, the average headway for rush hour Blue Line trains will increase from 8.5 minutes to 12 minutes. Metro says Blue Line riders can consider taking buses instead of trains to, in some cases, speed up their trip. [PlanItMetro]
Sietsema Reviews Mazagan — Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema has reviewed Mazagan, the new Moroccan eatery and hookah bar on Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Sietsema gave the restaurant 1.5 stars, saying the music was too loud and the dishes hit-or-miss. [Washington Post]
New Iwo Jima Bikeshare Station — A new Capital Bikeshare station near the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima memorial, has been enjoying heavy use. The station can hold nineteen bikes but only three were parked there Wednesday morning. [Ode Street Tribune]
The New York-based burger, hot dog and milkshake chain opened its fourth D.C. location yesterday, at Union Station.
At the opening, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti told Eater.com that he’s considering a future location in Pentagon City.
Eater’s Missy Frederick reports:
“I’d like to someday be further outside the city,” he said, though there are no concrete plans to open any locations there yet. Garutti could see such markets as Bethesda, Reston and Pentagon City responding well to a location.
While Crystal City has a Good Stuff Eatery, the only fast food burger option of note in Pentagon City is the McDonald’s in Pentagon City mall.
Photo via Wikipedia/Beyond My Ken
Arlington Wages, Employment Falling — The average weekly wage in Arlington was $1,588 in the fourth quarter of 2013, the eighth-highest wage among large U.S. counties. However, the average wage was down 2.4 percent compared to one year prior, and the number of people employed in Arlington was down 1.1 percent. [InsideNova]
No Arlington Winners at RAMMY Awards — Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington held its annual RAMMY awards gala at the D.C. convention center last night. No Arlington restaurants were among the winners, although three were among the nominees: Bayou Bakery, The Curious Grape, and Lyon Hall. Water and Wall’s Tim Ma was nominated for Rising Culinary Star of the Year.
Flickr pool photo by ArlingtonPhotos
Update at 12:00 a.m. — Following a half hour of public comments both for and against A-Town, and some tongue lashings from Board members, the Arlington County Board voted Tuesday night to renew A-Town’s live entertainment permit for three months, as recommended by county staff..
Earlier: A-Town Bar and Grill is facing scrutiny over noise and crime as it seeks to renew its live entertainment permit tonight (Tuesday).
The restaurant, located at 4100 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, has been drawing the ire of neighbors who complain about loud, drunken patrons. It’s also the subject of an investigation by Arlington County police and the Virginia Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), over a violent episode at an employee-only party on Feb. 12.
“The Arlington Police Department considers A-Town to be the most troublesome establishment in Ballston,” according to a report by county staff.
The Arlington County Board will decide tonight whether to renew A-Town’s live entertainment and dancing permit. County staff is recommending that it be renewed for three months, with additional restrictions on the establishment’s outdoor cafe area.
“Late night disturbances make it an unpleasant community experience and thus directly impact the value of all our homes,” said Roger Lindberg, president of the condominium association for the nearby Berkeley building, in December. “Late night outdoor partying even on weekends, is not a reasonable expectation of any homeowner.”
To help combat that, A-Town has voluntarily agreed to close the patio at 9:00 p.m. on Sundays, 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Previously, the restaurant had only agreed to close the outdoor bar early — at 10:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Those provisions will be overwritten by the new patio closing times.
County staff noted that noise complaints to the police department declined from 25 between August and November, 2013, to nine between January and April, 2014. However, staff opined that “the long unusually cold winter (when the outdoor patio was not used and patrons refrained from lingering outside the establishment) may be at least partially responsible for a decline in noise-related calls.”
Non-noise police calls to A-Town declined by one — from 25 to 24 — during the same period. The 24 non-noise calls from January to April included four calls for fights, one for an assault, and one for a stabbing (the Feb. 12 incident). Separately, there were eight arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) from January to April where the suspect reported coming from A-Town, according to county staff.
County staff says that A-Town should remain on thin ice even should the live entertainment permit be renewed.
“Staff recommends a three month County Board review in order to monitor progress with these issues, and if there is no substantial reduction in the number of police calls or reduction in the evidence of over serving patrons, staff is not likely to recommend renewal of the use permit for live entertainment and dancing,” the staff report says.
A-Town is facing possible disciplinary action from Virginia ABC pending the outcome of the Feb. 12 malicious wounding case. After the incident an ABC agent “issued an administrative charge to A-Town stating that ‘[t]he Licensee has failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the licensed premises… from becoming a place where patrons of the establishment commit criminal violations… and such violations lead to arrests that are so frequent and serious as to be reasonably deemed… a continuing threat to public safety.’”
The disciplinary action could range from a fine to suspension or revocation of its beer, wine and liquor license.
Sen. Kaine Speaks to RAFOM — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke to the Radnor – Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, near Rosslyn, on Monday. The meeting was RAFOM’s 15th anniversary. Kaine spoke about budget issues, defense issues, foreign policy issues, and broad issues of working together politically. He said that ”we as a nation are in a period of significant soul searching.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Pedro and Vinny’s Makes ‘Best Burrito’ Bracket — Pedro and Vinny’s, the acclaimed burrito stand at 2599 Columbia Pike, has made the south region bracket in data website Five Thirty Eight’s methodical search for America’s Best Burrito. Five Thirty Eight founder Nate Silver “felt strongly” that Pedro and Vinny’s should be on the list since it had the second-highest VORB (Value Over Replacement Burrito) score in the south. [Five Thirty Eight]
Tysons Wants to Be Arlington — Fairfax County officials are trying to emulate Clarendon and Ballston in remaking Tysons Corner into a vibrant, walkable, transit-accessible community. The plan is getting a boost from the expected summer opening of the Silver Line, for which Metro has added 460 new employees in recent weeks. [Citylab, Reston Now]
Beyer Again Leads Fundraising Race — Former Va. lieutenant governor Don Beyer is still at the top of the fundraising heap in the race to succeed Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). Beyer, one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s nod on June 10, has raised $1.1 million so far, according to the latest Federal Election Commission finance report. Beyer’s campaign has $351,371 on hand for the remainder of the primary. The only other primary candidate to have more than $100,000 cash on hand is Mark Levine, who has loaned his campaign $400,000 and has $292,753 on hand. [Washington Post]
Hazing Film to Be Shown to Parents — The Arlington READY Coalition will be screening a film on college hazing for parents Monday night. The screening will take place from :007-8:30 at the Lyon Village Community Center (1920 N. Highland Street). It tells the story of a “preventable tragedy” caused by college hazing. [Arlington Public Schools]
Ballston Restaurant Challenge Dustup — The final round of competition in the Ballston Restaurant Challenge will be held this coming Wednesday, but one competitor who did not advance to the finals is upset that they won the public vote in the last round and yet was not chosen to advance. Another passed-over competitor is upset that established restaurateurs were allowed to compete in the contest. [Washington City Paper]
Disclosure: Ballston BID, organizer of the Restaurant Challenge, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
McAuliffe: I-66 Widening Outside the Beltway — Speaking to the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he will press for more lanes on I-66, but only outside the Beltway. The governor “noted ruefully” that the Arlington County Board strongly opposes the widening of I-66 through the county. [InsideNova]
Flags In at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Soldiers from the Old Guard helped to place more than 220,000 American flags in front of gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. The annual event has taken place every year for four decades. On Monday the cemetery will host the annual Memorial Day observance and wreath-laying ceremony. [WJLA]
Confusing Metro Maps — New strip maps that incorporate the Silver Line are too complicated, says a writer for the blog Greater Greater Washington. “They confuse many riders with labels that line up in a misleading way, and try to cram too much information on the maps,” the writer opines. [Greater Greater Washington]
Rosslyn, the Brooklyn of Washington – A 1889 real estate ad in the Washington Post describes Rosslyn as “the Brooklyn of Washington.” Editor’s note: This item previously appeared in a previous Morning Notes post. Its inclusion today was inadvertent. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman