Arlington, VA

Ballston Quarter’s Zofia’s Kitchen (4238 Wilson Blvd) is cooking up a limited edition batch of Star Wars-themed snacks, and missing out would be a Wookie mistake.

The restaurant is operating with limited staff but said in a press release that they decided to go all in on “May the Fourth” — a sort of quasi-holiday for Star Wars fans on May 4 rooted in a “May the Force be with you” pun.

“Zofia’s has decided to embrace its inner culinary nerd by going all-out for the International Geek Holiday that is May the Fourth by offering limited edition pierogi made a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” the restaurant said. “Available 8 to an order, Steamed, sauteed, fried or frozen in carbonite by request.”

A half dozen special menu items are listed for the week.

  •  The Obi-Won Pierogi: Tatooine Tagine. Braised Chicken, Raisin, Almond, Tunisian Harissa and Couscous — $11.99
  • The Baby Yoda Pierogi: Peas, Mint, Midichlorians, Lemon and Ricotta — $11.99
  • The Vader Pierogi: Chorizo and Provolone. Note that the white cheese inside represents the good that must be in him still! The Vader pierogi comes with a mandatory force choking hazard warning of course.(please take your time groaning at this joke) — $12.99
  • The C-Threepierogi: Blanched multicolor vegetable pasta / standard Android wiring — $11.99
  • The Tauntaun Wonton: And you thought they smelled bad on the outside! Red-wine pear and stinky Gorgonzola — $12.99
  • Blue Milk Cocktail: In a pouch for Jedi on-the-go! — Price TBD

“This deal is available for a limited time,” the restaurant said. “We’ve altered the deal by offering it May 3-7. Pray that we don’t alter it further.”

The restaurant is open for dine-in, pick-up or delivery from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. If you’re trying to find it in Ballston Quarter: this is the way.

Photo via Zofia’s Kitchen/Facebook

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(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) After being cancelled last year, Ballston’s Quarterfest is back on next month.

The Ballston Business Improvement District and its charity BallstonGives is hosting the second annual Ballston Quarterfest Crawl — the event that replaced Taste of Arlington in 2019 — from 12-7 p.m on Saturday, May 15.

Attendees to the free event are being invited to explore the neighborhood, rain or shine, while enjoying live outdoor music, grabbing food and drink specials from local restaurants, and playing giant-sized games.

Plus, there’s going to be a neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt that will require teams to answer questions, bounce around Ballston, and win prizes, including for best costume, sponsored by Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.

A number of local restaurants have signed on to offer specials including Bronson Bierhall, Ted’s Bulletin, Copa Kitchen & Bar, Sidekick Bakery, Union Kitchen, bartaco, Jimmy John’s, Hot Lola’s, We the Pizza, Good Company Doughnuts & Café, and Ballston Service Station, according to a press release.

There will also be live performances from local musicians in locations across Ballston. As of April 15, participating artists include Justin Trawick, Columbia Pike Blues Festival vet Bobby Thompson, Karen Jonas, Jenny Langer, and Janine Wilson.

As with everything these days, there will be a number of safety precautions in place including social distancing, masks required, and constant cleaning of high-touch areas.

“We wanted to provide a distanced, family-friendly, and socially-responsible opportunity for our community, neighbors, and visitors to enjoy Ballston,” Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston BID, wrote in the press release. “We want everyone to feel safe and have fun while supporting our local businesses. We’re implementing social-distancing, sanitizing stations, and constant cleaning to ensure the safety of our attendees.”

“This year’s Quarterfest Crawl is open to the public, and is a free-flowing event across the neighborhood,” a BID spokesperson also noted. “It’s not concentrated in one particular location as it has been in the past.”

After a year of Arlington events being cancelled, some are looking to return as vaccine rates continue to rise through the spring and into the summer. The BID said locals should expect more Ballston events to return as the year goes on.

“We are excited to see our programs re-launch; we just opened our Farmer’s Market for the 2021 season and are looking forward to bringing back our Mega Markets beginning May 6,” the spokesperson said. “We’re actively collaborating with our neighborhood’s businesses, community partners, and Arlington County to create even more events and opportunities for people to safely visit and explore Ballston this year.”

Photo courtesy bartaco

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A pair of Arlington projects recently received national recognition for their unique design and use of steel.

The Top Steel Design Awards recognize — as the name might suggest — building architecture that incorporates steel in interesting and distinct ways.

The Merit Award went to the Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, which opened in 2019 after the original bridge was torn down in 2017. A judge in the Top Steel Design Awards credited the choice of frame and the walkway’s “visually captivating” quality.

“The crossover segment at mid-span creatively addresses the offset entrances of the connected buildings, and the steel HSS frame is an ideal choice to resist the complex forces of this innovative bridge design,” Stephanie Hautzinger, associate vice president of  CannonDesign in Chicago, said in a press release. “The resulting structure has a sculptural quality that is visually captivating from both the exterior and interior.”

The project was designed by studioTECHNE architects in Cleveland.

A new Arlington Public School building was also among the ten winning projects from across the U.S., which were categorized by overall cost. The Heights, the new home to H-B Woodlawn and the Stratford Program at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, won the top award for the $75-200 million category.

The school was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group in Brooklyn and Leo A Daly in D.C.

Judges praised the unique structure of the building.

“The ambiguity of how this building is supported is one of the most fascinating features of the structure, and it is all due to the structural steel trusses behind the scene,” said Maysa Kantner, a structural steel specialist, in the press release. “Coordination and communication are required on every project but I imagine for this level of uniqueness, those two things had to be stepped up in a big way. It is so great to see what can be done with project teams when they all work together and think outside the typical box-shaped buildings!”

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Ballston games-and-drinks destination Punch Bowl Social is planning to reopen next Wednesday.

The “eatertainment” chain, which is emerging from bankruptcy, announced the news yesterday. ARLnow previously reported that the venue was in the midst of hiring for numerous positions.

“I’m excited to let you know that [on] Wednesday, April 21 Punch Bowl Social will be reopening its Arlington location,” a PR rep wrote. “Back and better than ever, Punch Bowl Social looks forward to welcoming guests again for food, drinks and entertainment!”

With vaccinations continuing at a record pace, Punch Bowl Social will be reopening its various games and activities, to let patrons “blow off steam.”

“Guests will be welcomed back to dine, drink and participate in available activities, including bowling, arcade games, ping pong, Bocce Ball and more,” the rep said. “Punch Bowl Social will host Happy Hour on Sunday and Wednesday-Friday from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. with drinks and bites for $3-$7 and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.”

According to Punch Bowl’s website, masks will be required except when seated at tables, and patrons are discouraged from congregating at bars or in open spaces.

Punch Bowl Social is located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, along the outside of Ballston Quarter mall.

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Ballston Quarter is getting several new businesses, a new art installation, and a weekly bingo night.

The “Beer and Bingo” nights are taking place at the Quarter Market food hall on Wednesdays through the end of May. Registration is free on the shopping center’s website. Individuals or small groups will be sat at tables spaced apart, for safety’s sake.

“Guests can expect a safe and socially distanced night full of fun and amazing prizes for those lucky bingo winners,” says a press release. “The free ticket will guarantee 6-8 rounds of bingo with a prize available for each round.”

Meanwhile, the “Prismatica Kaleidoscope Experience,” fresh from a stint in Richmond, is being installed in the outdoor mews near CVS. It will open May 1 and run until the end of that month.

The art installation is “composed of 25 pivoting prisms standing at more than 6 ft tall, that will make for a colorful photo op,” according to a press release. The “towering rainbow prisms” immerse visitors in “an infinite interplay of lights and reflections,” says the Ballston Quarter website.

In addition to the art, three new businesses are set to open.

Heart + Paw, a full service veterinary center, groomer and doggy daycare, is also opening in the shopping center in May. This is the company’s first location in the area, with most existing locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Large windows will face out as to “allow pet parents to watch their fur babies being groomed,” the press release says.

Also opening is REWILD, the popular and trendy D.C.-based flower and plant shop. That’s expected to open between July 1 and August 1, the shop tells ARLnow.

“We also hear a lot of our clients who visit us at our D.C. locations say they’ve traveled to see REWILD in person, and many of those clients are coming from Virgina,” owner Lily Cox wrote in an email to ARLnow. “We pride ourselves on our selection of unique houseplants, and find that there’s a space to fill in Virginia for a shop like ours. We have already received so much positive feedback from some of those Virginia-based residents, that we’re anticipating a very engaged community in Ballston.”

Beyond selling house plants, REWILD also does consultations and workshops.

Finally, after being first announced in August 2018, Art Whino appears to be planning to finally open soon.

The D.C.-based art gallery, which once had a presence at Tysons, is opening up a new 6,000 square foot venue that will bring “art, food, cocktails and events under one roof.”

There will be a seating area for more than 150 guests, three bars with “full immersion mural installations,” and an art retail space. The venue is being described as a “multidimensional experience.”

The opening date is listed as “late spring 2021.”

Two other Ballston Quarter businesses have reopened or appear poised to reopen soon.

Cooking school Cookology “has finally reopened its doors to welcome those who want to learn everything about cooking in-person,” according to the press release.

“They will be hosting teen nights every Friday night and CRAVE @Cookology which will be a series of culinary experiences allowing visitors to drop in and participate in fun activities like making their own sushi & sake or competing in cake decorating competitions,” the press release notes. “CRAVE will begin April 3 and will be open Wednesday-Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 1-9 p.m.”

As ARLnow reported last week, three-story food, drink and entertainment complex Punch Bowl Social is also expected to reopen in the coming weeks or months. The company recently started hiring ahead of an expected reopening, after remaining closed during much of the pandemic and going through bankruptcy.

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It looks like Punch Bowl Social in Ballston will be reopening, after all.

The Arlington location of the national “eatertainment” chain recently posted hiring announcements on Facebook and on its front door, though it remains temporarily closed for now.

Located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the three-story entertainment, dining and drinking complex — featuring bowling, shuffleboard and other beer-friendly social games — closed at the outset of the pandemic, reopened in October, then closed again just before Christmas.

The closure followed the Denver-based chain declaring bankruptcy. It said at the time that it was closing most of its locations to conserve cash, after having its once-high-flying business devastated by the pandemic.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Punch Bowl Social is poised for “a smooth Chapter 11 exit” after a court settlement with a key lender. Earlier last month, the CEO of the chain’s new owner said he was focused on reopening locations, confident that customers would return as more people get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, however, the Washington Business Journal reported that a previously-planned location in D.C. is unlikely to move forward due to the company’s financial challenges, making the Ballston location the only Punch Bowl Social in the Washington area. The next closest Punch Bowl outpost is in Cleveland.

So far, there’s no word on an opening date for the Ballston location. The company’s website only says it will be “reopening soon.”

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Mi & Yu Noodle Bar at Ballston Quarter is now closed permanently, owner Edward Kim confirms to ARLnow.

The eatery was the first to open at Ballston Quarter’s “Quarter Market” food hall in March 2019. It was the establishment’s only location outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

The reason for the shuttering is simple, Kim says.

“Sales and COVID,” he tells ARLnow in a short phone call. “It’s pretty straight-forward.”

There are no plans to open any additional locations of the raman, noodle, and bao restaurant in Arlington, Kim said.

In general, the Ballston food hall has seen thinning crowds due to the pandemic. That hasn’t stopped a number of high profile openings in recent months, however.

In the fall, sandwich shop Superette opened along with a new pierogi stand in December. In 2021, Quarter Market has also welcomed taco and tequila spot Bartaco and fast casual Indian restaurant Bollywood Bistro Express.

It’s also been tough sledding for others at Ballston Quarter over the last year, including Mi & Yu Noodle Bar. Punch Bowl Social filed for bankruptcy in December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

The Regal movie theater at Ballston Quarter remains temporarily closed.

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National taco and tequila chain Bartaco is opening its new Ballston Quarter location today.

The restaurant, which serves “fresh, upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment,” will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is opening after a year of construction.

Positioned along the outdoor patio at the mall’s food hall, Bartaco is for the time being only offering takeout and delivery.

“While the restaurant is expected to open for dine-in this spring, guests can also enjoy bartaco in the Quarter Market food hall,” the company noted today in a press release.

More from Bartaco:

On the menu are hand-held foods that are perfectly paired with specialty crafted cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices, as well as beer out of a bottle. Highlights include bartaco’s pork belly taco and falafel taco, guacamole, taco packs for groups + bartaco’s notoriously delicious margarita served for one or two.

In the restaurant, rustic design infused with a neighborhood feel complements the spirited bold + bright flavors of bartaco’s eclectic menu. Once open for dine-in, the stylish ambience, cocktails + freshly prepared tacos + “not tacos” will create an unforgettable experience for guests.

Photo courtesy Bartaco

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A new fast-casual Indian cuisine spot has just opened in Ballston Quarter’s food hall.

Bollywood Bistro Express turned on the stove on January 1 in Quarter Market, joining other fast casual concepts like Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque and Turu’s by Timber Pizza in the mall’s lower level.

This is the third concept regionally from Bollywood Bistro and owner Pankaj Sharma, but the first fast-casual establishment. The company has sit-down restaurants in Fairfax’s Old Town Plaza (opened in 2010) and Great Falls (opened in 2014). Those restaurants were included in Washingtonian magazine as one of the “best bargain restaurants” in 2011 and 2012.

The menu includes Indian cuisine mainstays like Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Vindaloo, and Veggie Korma. The new spot also serves butter and garlic naan and Gulab Jamun, fried dessert balls soaked in a syrup.

Ballston Quarter has seen a mix of openings and closings in recent months.

In December, a new pierogi stand opened. However, Punch Bowl Social — a combo bar and entertainment venue that opened in late 2018 — filed for bankruptcy in late December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

Photos courtesy Bollywood Bistro Express

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Just four months after chef Ed Hardy started making pierogies for pickup and delivery, his operation, Zofia’s Kitchen, has a brick-and-mortar shop in Ballston Quarter.

“We were really fast going from a ghost kitchen to a store front,” Hardy told ARLnow. “We are going to be looking for a second location, probably, if we can do well through January.”

His pierogi shop — in the former Cucina Al Volo spot inside the Quarter Market food hall — will hold its grand opening tomorrow (Friday). The first 30 customers will receive a 15 Zofia’s Kitchen e-gift card. To promote social distancing, both in-person and delivery orders are eligible.

Hardy blends New York City’s Jewish and Chicago’s Polish flavors with a dash of Old Bay and Southern barbecue to round out the vast geographical expanse that his humble dumplings cover.

Signature pierogies include loaded baked potato, house-cured and smoked pastrami and provolone, crab rangoon, and everything bagel with cream cheese and lox.

For a side, customers can choose from seasonal sides and soups, or try Hardy’s latke doughnut: shredded potato and onion formed into a ring and fried, served with lemon-dill sour cream.

If they still have room for dessert, customers can stick with sweet pierogies, like the seasonal brown sugar-spiked pumpkin “pie-rogi,” or take a break from the dumpling and opt for confections such as truffles or rugelach.

Before coming to Northern Virginia, Hardy had a career in some of New York City’s most famous restaurants. He worked for three Michelin-Starred restaurants, The ModernGramercy Tavern, and Aquavit, as well as the comfort food destination Red Rooster Harlem.

Locally, Hardy led the kitchen at Bistro Vivant in McLean and Quench in Rockville, Md. Then he hung up his apron and started driving Bacon N’ Eds food truck.

Hardy was teaching classes at Cookology Culinary School when it shut down and switched to virtual learning due to the pandemic.

“COVID-19 hit Cookology hard,” said Hardy, who looked for other ways to keep cooking.

He came to pierogies after being asked to cater them for a socially distanced party. It went so well that he and the host, Nate Reynolds, decided to take the idea public.

Hardy went to Cookology to ask if he could operate a ghost kitchen from there, knowing the owner would be on board.

“I think she had advertised that she would be open to being a potential concept incubator,” Hardy said.

By mid-September, Hardy and his team, two former students of his and two other recently laid-off chefs, moved into the ghost kitchen at Cookology. Two and a half weeks ago, they had a soft opening in the Ballston Quarter food court while they prepared the space for the grand opening.

“Honestly, I was surprised by the enthusiastic response to the humble pierogi,” Hardy said. “I think we’ve tapped into a need for another different, yet familiar, comfort food. Zofia’s is like the Polish grandmother you didn’t know you missed.”

For a limited time, Zofia’s is offering three festive platters of pierogis, with flavors inspired by the familiar tastes of Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s.

Cooked or frozen pierogies are available for pick-up at Ballston Quarter and for delivery via Postmates on the Zofia’s Kitchen website or through UberEats and DoorDash.

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The Arlington County Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive returns tonight, and after a tough year.

The sixth annual Fill The Cruiser toy drive will help make the holiday season merry for vulnerable kids, police say. New health protocols, including contactless drop-offs, are intended to make sure the event can continue safely as coronavirus cases rise.

“This year, with families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for donations may be greater than ever and your generosity helps ensure the holidays are bright for some of our most vulnerable community members — children in need,” notes an ACPD release.

The fundraiser begins tonight (Nov. 20) at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Three additional events will be held over the next couple of weeks.

According to ACPD:

Officers will collect new, unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to 17 at the following locations:

  • Friday, November 20, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. — Lee Harrison Shopping Center — 2425 N. Harrison Street
  • Monday, November 23, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Ballston Quarter — 4238 Wilson Boulevard — A cruiser will be located between Ted’s Bulletin and True Food Kitchen
  • Tuesday December 1, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church — 830 23rd Street S.
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Arlington Assembly of God — 4501 N. Pershing Drive

Upon arrival, participants should stay in their vehicle until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot.

Due to COVID-19 considerations, we will only be accepting toys at these predetermined dates and locations.

Toy Distribution

Toys will be distributed by the Police Department to community organizations throughout the month of December. Due to the ongoing pandemic, ACPD will not host pop-up distribution events in the community.

File photo

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