Around Town

Seven restaurants with Arlington ties are up for RAMMY awards this year

A number of Arlington restaurants were served good news yesterday when the finalists for 2022 RAMMY Awards were announced.

Northside Social, Queen Mother’s, Bayou Bakery, and Ruthie’s All-Day were among the finalists for various awards celebrating the D.C. region’s restaurants over the last year. Stellina Pizzeria and the restaurateurs behind CHIKO, both with Shirlington outposts, as well as Mark Bucher of Medium Rare (which has a Virginia Square location) were also named award finalists.

The RAMMY Awards are handed out by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the region’s restaurant industry trade association. It’s intended to honor restaurants for its work over the last year (from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021). An in-person gala is set to be held in July, when the winners will be announced.

In total, seven finalists this year have Arlington ties, which is pretty much on par with other recent years. It’s a far cry from more than a decade ago when local restaurants were routinely given few accolades, further proof how far the reputation of Arlington’s food scene has come.

Last year’s awards were, understandably, altered, with more of a spotlight on how local restaurants adapted to pandemic conditions. For example, David Guas of Bayou Bakery was recognized with a “Good Neighbor Award” for his Chefs Feeding Families initiative. That category is no longer part of the ceremony this year.

This 2022 edition is, more or less, back to what it was in 2019, though “Hottest Sandwich Spot,” “Splendid Holidays at Home,” and “Outstanding Pop-up Concept” were new categories from 2021 that are being held over.

Four Arlington-based restaurants are finalists this year for an award.

Bayou Bakery in Courthouse is being recognized in the “Splendid Holidays at Home” category.

“Restaurants have a way of making special occasions feel extra special, and this year they continued to meet customers at their comfort level as Covid (and other interruptions during the year) uprooted holidays for many,” says the award description.”This nominee went all out to create celebratory menus with all the bells and whistles to help guests have memorable holidays at home.”

Chef David Guas, who’s back from Poland where he was helping to feed Ukrainian refugees, tells ARLnow that it is an honor that Bayou Bakery’s efforts in making Mardi Gras special despite challenges are being recognized.

“It was a nice surprise to be honored and a warm welcome home upon returning from an intense and rigorous two weeks in Poland assisting with World Central Kitchen. This nomination is the result of something our team created during the pandemic to help keep us afloat,” he says. “The cliche — ‘It’s a team effort’ really holds true in this scenario. I value my team everyday, and especially during the pandemic, which was such a peculiar time for us all. It was fun and rewarding to find new ideas to bring people together — that’s the New Orleans way!”

Clarendon’s Northside Social, which now has a satellite location in Falls Church, is a finalist for its wine program.

Ruthie’s All Day, which opened in October 2020 in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, is up for “casual restaurant of the year.”

Ruthie’s All-Day’s Instagram post celebrating RAMMY nomination (image via screenshot/Instagram)

Queen Mother’s, located in the restaurant incubator Cafe by La Cocina alongColumbia Pike, is honored in the “Hottest Sandwich Spot” category. Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper and the eatery are known for their fried chicken sandwiches.

Three other restaurants that were nominated have Arlington ties.

Stellina Pizzeria, which opened a location in Shirlington a year ago, is also nominated in the “Splendid Holidays at Home” category.

“We are honored to be nominated for the Splendid Holidays at Home RAMMY. The pandemic has brought a shift in dining behavior, so we were thrilled to be able to bring the Stellina experience into people’s homes during these times,” a restaurant spokesperson told ARLnow. “All of the support means the world to us. It’s great that a Shirlington restaurant is being recognized. We focus a lot on our quality and experience and we love bringing that to the Arlington restaurant scene.”

Scott Drewno and Danny Lee, known as “The Fried Rice Collective,” are up for a big one — “restaurateur of the year.” They own CHIKO, which also opened a Shirlington location recently.

“We are honored to be nominated for this award, especially considering the talent surrounding us not only with our fellow nominees but in the DMV area in general. All credit goes to our teams, and we could not be more proud to share this recognition with them,” they wrote. “We are thrilled to finally have a presence in Virginia with our new Shirlington location. Virginia has always been an incredible dining destination and we hope to see more restaurants being recognized for their great work in the future.”

Mark Bucher of Medium Rare steakhouse — which has a Virginia Square outpost — is also competing in the same “restaurateur of the year” category.