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Morning Notes

Pupatella Gets Millions for Expansion — “Arlington’s own Pupatella pizza restaurant chain has raised $7.5 million to continue its growth spurt, with plans to open more more than a dozen restaurants in the coming years. The round was fully subscribed and had participation from almost all of the investors who participated in the company’s first round in 2018, when it raised $3.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Steel from WTC Donated to Arlington — “Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center will now be on permanent display in D.C. and Virginia ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The words ‘never forget’ are written on the front of a piece of steel beam unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial on Sunday.” [WTOP]

Crystal City Getting Cooler? — “Nearly three years after Amazon announced it would be bringing its second headquarters to Arlington — and specifically to ‘National Landing,’ a name conjured by local officials to sell the area as a tech hub — its reputation may be changing.” [Washington Post]

Big Win for Fmr. Youth Soccer Star — “Congratulations to #TeamArlington alum [Eryk Williamson] and the @usmnt on winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.” [Twitter, ALXnow]

Food Scrap Caddy Being Delivered — “With Arlington’s weekly food scraps collection program launching next month, a County-provided countertop caddy, instructions and even introductory biodegradable bags will be delivered to curbside customer homes beginning this week.” [Arlington County]

Fire Engine Involved in Crash — “An Arlington fire engine was involved in a crash at the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street this morning around 9:30. No firefighters were injured. One person in the second vehicle involved was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay, per an ACFD spokesman.” [Twitter]

CPRO to Mark 35th Anniversary — “As the group’s 35th anniversary looms on the horizon this fall, the recent annual meeting of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) was a chance to take stock of tumultuous times and fly the organization’s flag in the march toward the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Poetry Book — “I picked up a copy of the ‘Written in Arlington: Poems of Arlington, Virginia’ edited by Katherine E. Young, our poet laureate emerita. Published quietly last fall during the pandemic, it showcases storytelling via 150 poems by 87 poets who ‘live, work, study, worship in or simply pass through… and in so doing, make Arlington their own,’ Young explains. She nodded to famous Arlington-based poets — George Washington Parke Custis, Doors singer Jim Morrison, and Zitkala-Sa.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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It appears that Rosslyn is getting a new fast-casual dining option.

A permit application was filed yesterday for a new &pizza location in the Central Place development at 1800 N. Lynn Street.

It was not immediately clear which storefront the pizzeria would occupy, though the former Little Beet space at the corner of N. Lynn Street and 19th Street N. seems to be a likely candidate. The New York-based vegetarian restaurant chain closed its Rosslyn location last year after about three years in business.

The new &pizza will have competition from Wiseguy Pizza, which is just across Lynn Street.

There are two existing &pizza locations in Arlington, in Ballston and at Reagan National Airport. Just across the Arlington border are a pair of &pizza locations in Alexandria: in Potomac Yard and in a just-opened storefront at the Bradlee Shopping Center near Fairlington.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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Arlington’s own Pupatella was recently named one of the best pizzas places in Virginia by Food & Wine Magazine.

“The only thing more authentically Neapolitan than the pillow-like pizzas practically flying from the oven at Pupatella in Arlington is [owner] Enzo Algarme himself,” reads part of the story’s blurb.

Reached by phone while visiting their parents in Naples, Italy, owners Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg tell ARLnow that they are “incredibly grateful” and “honored” for the distinction. In fact, they were not aware of the story until ARLnow reached out.

The married couple opened their first restaurant in 2010 on Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood — from which they nearly moved last year — after getting their start selling pizza from a food cart.

Since, they’ve opened four more locations including another in Arlington along S. Walter Reed Drive, one in Reston, one in D.C., and their most recent in Richmond.

Expansion is continuing, the owners confirm, with additional locations in the Mosaic District and Springfield planned for the coming months.

Laufenberg says they owe their popularity and the ability to grow, even after a rough pandemic year, to their customers. While it was a challenge those first months, says Laufenberg, they’ve been able to gain nearly all of their business back recently and have rehired staff they had to let go.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the neighborhood,” says Laufenberg. “Our customers didn’t forget about us and have left huge tips for our staff.”

They’ve also recovered by focusing on delivery and take-out, but additionally realizing the need to shift to more outdoor seating.

“One of the biggest ways the pandemic changed us…is our commitment to building out nice, large patios,” says Laufenberg. “People are still scared to eat inside, so having big outdoor patios is a way to help with that.”

Both the locations on Wilson Blvd and S. Walter Reed Drive now have expansive outdoor seating.

Last year, 90% of Pupatella’s sales were from delivery and take-out, she says, but now that ratio is closer to 50/50 with more folks dining outside.

Of course, Pupatella’s popularity is overwhelming due to the quality of its pizza, which has earned it numerous other awards and honors over the years.

“Every region, city in Italy has their own pizza, but everyone knows that Neapolitan pizza is the original,” says Laufenberg about their style of pizza. And that has a lot to do with the wood-fired oven used to them.

All of the ovens used at Pupatella restaurants are certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, meaning they adhere to two-century-old Neapolitan techniques.

The oven bricks are even built using volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944.

The ash provides the bricks the ability to retain heat very well, explains Laufenberg, which allows the oven to heat up fast and cook the pizza very quickly.

“There’s still ash left… we don’t know when it’s going to run out,” says Laufenberg.

Back in 2010 when they first contemplated opening their own business, Laufenberg admits she and Algarme were scared. Building a Neapolitan pizza business is expensive and very labor intensive, after all.

Even training staff to use the ovens is difficult and requires a steep learning curve — hence, why a number of employees have been with them since nearly the beginning. But more than a decade later, even with a pandemic, it is paying off.

“You always wonder ‘is it worth it to go the extra mile? Will people know the difference?” she rhetorically asks. “Well, that extra work is worth it and people have noticed.”

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In the short time that Colony Grill has been in Clarendon, the pizza place has garnered a lot of love.

The spot opened last October at 2800 Clarendon Blvd in The Crossing Clarendon (formerly known as Market Common). Colony Grill, a small Connecticut-based chain, is known for its short menu featuring one innovation to pizza: the thin-crust, hot-oil bar pie. On weekends, it becomes a breakfast pizza best served with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

Co-owner Ken Martin tells ARLnow that the company is as excited to be in Arlington now as it was a month before the opening.

“I think we’ve been well-received by local guests and the community, which has been great,” he said.

Small, out-of-town restaurant chains setting up shop in Arlington have not always found the county to be a fruitful place to pursue an expansion. What worked in one place often does not work here, for one reason or another.

But reviewers on Google and Yelp seem to agree with Martin that Colony Grill has found a good fit: “Finally a solid pizza place right in the heart of Clarendon! Place looks amazing on the inside,” said one.

A Stamford native who now lives in Arlington said she “had high expectations for this location,” given its Connecticut provenance, and was not disappointed, praising the service and the local addition of “a down-to-earth, inexpensive, quality pizza joint.”

But business could be better, Martin said. Back in the Constitution State, most sales are inside rather than take-out. In Clarendon, most sales are inside too, but Colony Grill is limited by booth spacing. Restrictions have been lifted faster in New York and Connecticut, allowing customers to be seated back-to-back in booths so long as a barrier is in place, he said.

“We certainly need more capacity,” Martin said.

Martin observed that people in Virginia seem more reluctant to dine out than those in Connecticut and New York, where the original restaurant and its four outposts are located.

“It seems like some of our guests in Virginia, they just want to be given permission to leave their house — they’ve tried to follow the rules and do their best,” he said. “We want to get through this. We’ve been fairly healthy because of the type of restaurant we are, but we’re so desperate to get more bodies into the restaurant.”

He said he hopes to see some additional restrictions lifted in the coming weeks and months, which Colony Grill will need “to remain healthy as a business.”

“Our dine-in business has been very strong but within a context that’s a bit limited,” he said. “Takeout has been okay, but typically, takeout business lags for a year or two until we establish ourselves.”

The pizza joint is still working to establish itself as a member of the community. A “Wall of Heroes” features photos of those who have served in uniform as first responders or members of the military. For Veteran’s Day, Colony Grill offered free pizza to current and former military members.

This year, Colony Grill is sponsoring the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, which was canceled last year. The races through Crystal City and Clarendon are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, respectively — pending final permit approval and an easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings.

“We’ve tried to be a good partner for our size of business,” he said of the sponsorship.

Although uncertainty exists, Martin said his restaurant will continue its focus on its thin-crust pizza, hospitality and a wecoming atmosphere.

“That’s going to get us returning customers over the long haul,” he said.

Remember the Stamford native? She later updated her review to say she’s “been going consistently once a week.” Her one pro-tip: “Ask for your pizza on the well-done side, it’s my favorite.”

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For 64 years, Mario’s Pizza House on Wilson Blvd has served up slices and memories.

From late night pizza runs to Little League baseball, for many Arlingtonians Mario’s has remained one of the only constants in a county where change is the norm. And, according to its current owner Tuhin Ahmed, Mario’s Pizza is not going anywhere, despite some of the change happening around it.

“Mario’s Pizza is going to be here forever,” says Ahmed. “It’s an Arlington institution.”

Howard Levine and his wife, Norma opened Mario’s Pizza House in 1957.

Their son, Alan Levine, tells ARLnow that his dad was a criminal defense attorney but saw a need for a quick bite type of restaurant on Wilson Blvd, which was a very busy road at the time.

“At that time, you didn’t have [Interstate] 66,” says Levine. “So, the main thoroughfare in the D.C. was Wilson Boulevard.”

So, Levine took an old flower shop and converted it to a pizza shop, one that sold ten cent slices.

As to why his father named it Mario’s, Alan laughs.

“Because not many people would have gone to a place called ‘Levine’s Pizza House’ in the 50s.”

Instantly, Mario’s became a community gathering spot. But there was one group that Howard Levine refused to serve.

“The American Nazi Party,” says Alan, of the group led by George Lincoln Rockwell, notoriously had its headquarters nearby. “If they had a swastika, he wasn’t going to serve them.”

Unsurprisingly, the Nazis didn’t take too fondly to a Jewish business owner who refused to serve them but who served slices to the Black community. They protested the pizza shop, holding signs that said things like “Mario the Jew.” But Levine was not intimidated.

“My father was a big son of a bitch,” recalls Alan. “He knew how to handle himself.”

According to Alan, the protest ended when Howard doused the Nazis with a power washer.

Howard and Norma divorced in 1962, says Alan, and his father left the restaurant to his mother as part of the settlement.

“He ran away with the au pair girl,” says Alan, “He ended up crashing a boat in Antigua and staying there forever.” 

From that point on and for more than two decades, Norma Levine was the hand at the register exchanging pizza for dollars.

She always worked the register at lunch, Alan says, and that’s how she got to know everyone. When asked if his mother enjoyed the running Mario’s, Alan pauses.

“It supported the family,” he says. “She enjoyed that.”

Thanks to the Levines, Mario’s was a pillar in the community.

Countless Arlingtonians have memories of Mario’s, from sponsoring Little League teams to the donuts to a miniature golf course with a monkey that bit kids.

“My father [initially] purchased the entire block and there was a miniature golf course where the Highlander is now,” says Levine. “There was a macaw that only cussed and a monkey that [had] a hatred of little girls. [We] had to get rid of the monkey.”

Willie “Lefty” Lindsay started working the grill at Mario’s in 1965 and did so for the next five decades. He only stopped grilling up steak and cheese sandwiches (the most popular thing on the menu, he says) last year, when the pandemic hit.

He remembers Norma Levine as a good boss and someone who was great to the customers.

“She was such a fine person to work around, customers loved her,” 85-year-old Lindsay tells ARLnow. “If you did a good job, she’d reward you for it.”

He believes the key to Mario’s longevity is that the menu and the recipes have hardly changed since it first opened. The customers and the employees have not changed much, either.

Alongside Lindsay for most of those years was Joe Williams, who made the pizza.

Williams worked at Mario’s as well for more than five decades, often side-by-side Lindsay.

“We were like brothers,” says Lindsay. “We never had an argument.”

Williams died in October 2019.

“Joe was an amazing man. He worked seven days a week,” Levine says about Williams. “He never missed a day of work. Except for his wife’s funeral.”

In the mid-1980s, Norma Levine retired and left the restaurant to her kids. She died in 1990. Alan Levine ran day-to-day operations for the next several decades.

“A lot of famous people would come through [to get pizza],” says Levine. “Bill Clinton was a big fan.”

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(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Mom’s Pizza Restaurant at Westmont Shopping Center is closing this summer after 32 years, the owners tell ARLnow.

Owner John Hosein says the property manager recently informed the long-running restaurant that they would have to vacate their space along Columbia Pike for a planned redevelopment.

“They need the space,” says Hosein. “They want to… demolish the whole shopping center.”

He says it’s likely that they’ll close in June.

The County Board approved the shopping center’s redevelopment in September 2019. The plan is to replace the aging shopping center and surface parking lot with 250 market rate apartments and new retail. A small-format grocery store may be among the new retail options.

Demolition will likely happen shortly after the shopping center closes in June, a spokesperson for the property management company tells ARLnow. Construction is currently targeted to begin in late 2021, Jessica Margarit of Arlington’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development says.

The project would likely wrap up by 2024, though an exact timeline could not be immediately confirmed.

Hosein says the news wasn’t a total surprise, since their lease was up at the end of the year. While he says the agreement does allow the property owner to do this, he wishes there was more time to say goodbye.

Mom’s has always been a family affair and a showcase for their multi-cultural heritage.

Hosein was born in Jordan, where his mother — who was from Athens, Greece — first met his dad. They all immigrated to the United States, to New York initially, in the 1970s for the economic opportunities.

Hosein attended George Mason University, but opening a restaurant was “my dream,” he says. In 1989, he partnered with his mom, Rahma, and brother to open Mom’s.

“My mom was a really great chef. So, we named it [after her] and have continued calling it that since,” says Hosein, who now owns the restaurant with his wife Manal. Their daughter, Areen, also helps with the restaurant too, including running their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

“If you watched [the movie] ‘Our Big Fat Greek Wedding,’ that’s exactly us,” Areen laughs.

The restaurant’s menu is influenced by Hosein’s upbringing, featuring Greek specialities like spanakopita, and pastitsio (Greek lasagna) as well as traditional Middle Eastern fare like hummus and gyros.

There’s also, of course, pizza and pasta. Hosein notes that many dishes are made from scratch, including the pastitsio and the pizza dough. Hosein says he still cooks at the restaurant almost every day.

“I like to make the sauce,” he says. “It’s tricky. If you miss a little bit with it, it’s no good.”

When asked what dish they’d recommend to new customers, Manal Hosein says “everything.”

John Hosein says what he loves the most about owning a restaurant are the challenges everyday and that he “just loves to see people happy.” While the pandemic, like for so many Arlington restaurants, has been a challenge, cutting hours and other expenses — in combination with a loyal customer base — have kept Mom’s “above water.”

They’ve recently started informing some customers of their closing, leaving a few in tears, says Hosein. He said the family is deeply grateful for the community’s support over the years.

The couple, despite losing their restaurant, is not planning to retire — but they don’t know what comes next.

“I’m still only 58 and we need income,” says Hosein. “We were left in limbo. We don’t know what to do.”

Photo (bottom) courtesy of Mom’s Pizza Restaurant

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Morning Notes

Board Advertises Property Tax Rates — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to advertise no increase in the Calendar Year 2021 base real estate property tax rate, citing the toll the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is taking on residents. The Board also voted to advertise a proposed Stormwater tax rate of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed real property value to fund the full cost of operations and planned capital improvements to the County’s stormwater infrastructure and flood mitigation… The estimated annual impact for the average household with an assessed home value of $724,400 is $123.” [Arlington County]

Snow Falling in ArlingtonUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — Snow is falling in Arlington, which is just outside of a newly-expanded expanded Winter Weather Advisory. Be careful out there! [Twitter]

Business Owners Talk About Burglaries — “Metry describes the Bluemont neighborhood where his business was burglarized as safe. He doesn’t understand why his business was targeted. ‘The whole register, the iPad, the square scan, all of this was missing,’ Metry said. Surveillance footage captured at neighboring restaurant La Union shows the burglars wearing dark clothing, hoodies, masks and gloves. Jose Zelaya has owned the Mexican restaurant La Union for 21 years. Aside from a random car break-in, he said he’s never experienced any crime like this.” [WUSA 9]

St. Patrick’s Pie at Clarendon Pizzeria — “Colony Grill, Clarendon’s new family-friendly tavern, known for its gracious hospitality and famous ‘hot oil’ bar-style pizzas, will serve a special corned beef & cabbage “Bar Pie”… [f]rom Friday, March 12 through Wednesday, March 17.” [Press Release]

Reminder: Trash Collection Delayed a Day — Due to ice and snow last week, Friday’s residential waste collection will be completed today, shifting this week’s collection schedule by one day. [ARLnow]

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Patrons of the novelty pasta vending machine in Shirlington rejoice: the restaurant behind the dinner dispenser, Stellina Pizzeria and Market, opens this afternoon (Friday).

After some holiday-season delays set the opening back two months, the pizza shop in the Village at Shirlington will start serving customers at 4 p.m.

The Arlington eatery and market is an outpost of the Michelin-recognized pizzeria in D.C. and is located in the former Cafe Pizzaiolo space at 2800 S. Randolph Street. But those who venture to Union Market for Stellina pizzas — heralded by the Washington Post and Washingtonian — will find a few variations on the flagship restaurant.

“We want to bring the Stellina experience to our guests in the region, while also being mindful of their specific needs and preferences,” said restaurateur and co-owner Antonio Matarazzo. “Knowing the South Arlington community as a resident here with my family, I thought that a retail element for prepared foods and ingredients to cook at home would be a nice addition to our curbside pick-up, delivery, and outdoor dining offerings.”

For now, guests can only dine outside in the heated, 20-seat patio; once the indoor dining room opens, the restaurant will seat 75 inside. Starting today, customers can also shop Stellina’s market, stocked with Italian pantry goods, deli counter offerings and frozen lasagne and pizza.

The Shirlington menu focuses on Chef Matteo Venini’s signature “neo-Neapolitan” pizzas. Customers can order the traditional Margherita pizza, the celebrated Cacio e Pepe pizza, or pies with any seasonal toppings. The menu also offers other Southern Italian street food, paninis, homemade pasta, classic desserts and coffee.

Both Matarazzo and Venini are natives of Italy who worked together at a trio of upscale Italian restaurants in D.C. before striking out on their own.

The Shirlington outpost is their first location to have a deli counter that offers fresh pasta by-the-pound, homemade sauces, pizza dough, cured meats, cheeses, olives and desserts such as panna cotta and tiramisu. Decorative details inside Stellina include tiles from the Amalfi Coast and murals of beloved Italian actors by D.C. artists No Kings Collective.

Unlike its D.C. sibling, the Shirlington location will not have a bar, but diners can still imbibe a glass of red wine or a Negroni with dinner. Bottled cocktails will be served tableside and Italian wines and beers will also be available.

Those who prefer a vending machine’s convenience and lack of human interaction can frequent it until the end of spring. Then, it moves to 508 K Street NW to preview Stellina’s third location.

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Locals can now buy handmade pasta and sauces from a vending machine outside the future home of Stellina Pizzeria, a soon-to-open Italian restaurant and market in Shirlington.

The machine delivers food in a pandemic-friendly way and helps preview the opening of the restaurant in the former Cafe Pizzaiolo space at 2800 S. Randolph Street, co-owner Antonio Matarazzo said.

The second outpost of the Michelin-recognized pizzeria in D.C.’s Union Market was set to open at the end of 2020, but the holiday season delayed equipment and furniture shipments. It’s now slated to open “in a couple of weeks,” Matarazzo said.

Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini, both Italian transplants, got the idea for the vending machine in March. The pandemic had just hit the East Coast, and they were trying to find ways to deliver food to their guests.

“We did not want to just tape up a hole, but do something that could be good for the future,” Matarazzo said.

While vending machines in the U.S. just offer snacks and bottled drinks, Matarazzo said he has seen Prosecco vending machines in Europe and in Japan, “you can buy everything you want in a vending machine there,”

Granted, he said he has “never seen a pasta vending machine before.”

Like the restaurant, the vending machine was also delayed. It arrived from California — where it was custom-made — a few weeks ago, and six months late.

“It’s a tough time for everybody,” he said. “You have to be more patient these days.”

The machine will stay in Arlington until the end of spring. Then, it will move to 508 K Street NW to preview Stellina’s second location in D.C. Its flagship location opened in April 2019 at 399 Morse Street NE.

Right now, the machine has three kinds of pasta, sauces, dessert, merchandise and coffee.

Matarazzo recommends pairing the paccheri — a large, smooth tube-shaped pasta — with a bolognese sauce; the fusilli goes with ragus made with lamb and wild boar; and the tonnarelli pairs with a cacio e pepe sauce, literally, “cheese and pepper” sauce.

“That is a typical sauce from Rome, and a perfect dish for today’s weather,” Matarazzo said, referencing the recent snowfall.

For dessert, people can choose babà al rum, a 400-year-old dessert from France via Naples, or tiramisu. The coffee comes from Ready Set! Coffee Roasters, a Cleveland-based roaster run by some friends.

“This is just the start,” he said. “We’ll see what else we can put in there.”

After the pandemic, Matarazzo plans on installing 10 more in select office buildings.

He keeps tabs on the products through his phone, and said it seems like he has to restock the pasta and sauces “every two minutes.”

“People are excited about it,” he said.

Update at 10:20 a.m. — Stellina is planning to open on Friday, Feb. 12, the restaurant just announced.

Photos courtesy Rey Lopez

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When Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse delivered food to the security personnel in the District on Monday, it took two-and-a-half hours and many phone calls — even to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser — to pass each checkpoint. 

“When I arrived the Commander of that unit and the policeman literally cheered, [saying] ‘Bayou Bakery is here,'” Guas tells ARLnow.

Bayou Bakery and Arlington-founded District Taco are helping nourish the 25,000 servicemen and women, along with law enforcement, deployed to protect the nation’s capital during the 59th Inauguration.

The homegrown Mexican chain donated 2,000 burritos to the National Guard on Monday. The day before, Guas said he and his crew worked into the night to prepare biscuits and sandwich lunches for the Monday delivery.

The two join about 30 D.C.-area restaurants distributing meals to the multitudes, hailing from Maine to Guam. The heightened security is in response to the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.  

District Taco donated burritos that were pledged during a “Buy One, Give One Burrito” campaign in December.

On Monday, CEO and co-founder Osiris Hoil cashed in all 2,000 BOGO burritos to feed the National Guard. He said they were so popular that supplies ran out long before the lunch hours ended.

“When I saw the brave servicemen and women protecting the Capitol building, I knew exactly where I wanted those pledged burritos to go,” Hoil said in a press release. 

District Taco also donated hundreds of burritos to essential workers in hospitals and food banks last October and November. Hoil said he is proud to continue this longstanding tradition of giving back.

“Thanks to the support of our community, our restaurants are still open,” Hoil said. 

Guas also uses his food for good. He co-founded Chefs Feeding Families during the pandemic and has cooked for the annual awards dinner put on by Blue Star Families.

“Not having served in the military myself — but having grandparents that did — I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to help our men and women in uniform who protect our freedom,” he said.

Guas credits his involvement to Micheline Mendelsohn Luhn and Spike Mendelsohn, his friends and two of the family members behind We, The Pizza. The duo told ABC News that D.C. restaurants — despite struggles during the pandemic — are pitching in to provide fresh food to upwards of 5,000 people, who might otherwise have to rely on pre-packaged military meals, each day.

Photos (1) via District Taco, (2-3) via Bayou Bakery

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Pentagon Row is no more. Now, it’s “Westpost at National Landing.”

The Pentagon City shopping center has rebranded as Amazon’s new HQ2 rises a few blocks away. The goal, according to a press release, is to create a “fresh vision” for the retail strip, which first opened in 1999.

In announcing the new branding, “Westpost” owner Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) also announced a new tenant: Nighthawk Pizza.

Nighthawk is a partnership of Arlington nightlife (and grooming) kingpin Scott Parker; Northern Virginia brewer Aslin Beer Co.; and buzzy local chef Johnny Spero, of Reverie and Netflix fame.

The restaurant, expected to open next fall, will feature “approachable low ABV beers, that will be reminiscent of old-world styles for the working class,” along with “Spero’s innovative approach towards pizza, sandwiches.” It will also sport a 90s vibe and a beer hall-like atmosphere.

Though Spero’s food will give Nighthawk culinary cred, we’re told it will be more of a social destination — an after-work watering hole for future HQ2 employees and others who live and work in the area.

Nighthawk will be located in the sizable former Champps space. The shuttered sports bar had been struggling for months when the pandemic dealt a final blow in March.

Leading up to the “Westpost” rebranding, Pentagon Row added a trio of other restaurants helmed by notable local chefs and restaurateurs: Scott Chung’s Bun’d Up, Chung and Kevin Tien’s Wild Tiger BBQ pop-up, and, more recently, Antonio Ferraro’s Napoli Salumeria. Nighthawk “compliments the current mix and offers a look into the future of Westpost at National Landing,” FRIT says.

More from a press release, below.

The dynamic partnership of popular local chef Johnny Spero, Aslin Beer Co., Scott Parker and The Wave Group have created a new fun brand, Nighthawk Pizza. The restaurant is scheduled to arrive to the newly named Westpost in fall 2021.

Nighthawk Pizza will focus exclusively on making approachable low ABV beers, that will be reminiscent of old-world styles for the working class, with the innovation that Aslin is known for. Paired with Johnny Spero’s innovative approach towards pizza, sandwiches, and more, and The Wave Group’s ability to build brands with and through the community, the team plans to make a lasting impact in the DMV area and beyond.

“The team behind Nighthawk are thrilled to bring something special to Westpost at National Landing. We’re excited to add our experience in the Arlington bar scene to Johnny’s incredible food, and the Aslin team’s best-in-class beer-making abilities to create a new beer hall experience that pays homage to the 90’s in its design elements. Nighthawk will be a beer brand of its own, and will brew beer on-site for consumption and to-go,” says Scott Parker.

For Federal Realty, to create a fresh vision for Westpost, formerly known as Pentagon Row, couldn’t have happened at a better time. “With the impending arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 to the newly formed National Landing, our team has set out to deliver a true destination, an outpost, if you will, for the long-time residents and the new-comers that call National Landing, and the greater Arlington area, home, work, and all things in between,” says James Milam of Federal. “Westpost is ideally located just a short walk west from Amazon’s campus, but a world away as far as amenities and offerings. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from work, while staying connected with friends, great food and unique drinks, in a comfortable, relaxed environment,” Milam continues. The neighborhood is equally convenient to Arlington and points south, via Rt. 1, and D.C. via 395/Metro/Rideshare.

New additions to the neighborhood over the past year (Scott Chung’s Bun’d Up, Antonio Ferraro’s Napoli Salumeria, led by Chef Andy Clark and Wild Tiger, a partnership with Chung, and Chef Kevin Tien, formerly of Himitsu and Emilie’s and now Moon Rabbit) have delivered great buzz met with serious culinary innovation. Nighthawk Pizza compliments the current mix and offers a look into the future of Westpost at National Landing.

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