Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Expensive Bike Parking Spaces — “Metro has spent nearly $20,000 per bike parking space at three bike facilities, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found. Metro has spent over $5.9 million on the construction of 304 bike spaces at the three facilities… located at the College Park, East Falls Church and Vienna Metro stations.” [NBC 4]

Short Waits to Vote in Arlington — “Eager to avoid waiting in line while casting an early ballot? Try to avoid peak times and you should be fine. ‘Wait times are minimal,’ said county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer, with the exception of early morning and occasionally at lunchtime. Other than that, voters have been experiencing waits of 10 minutes or less, and ‘most people are just walking straight in to vote,’ she said.” [InsideNova]

Voters Flocking to Ballot Drop-Boxes — “Arlington has set up nine dropboxes for the secure collection of ballots at points across the county, representing another option for those who neither want to vote in person nor wish to trust the U.S. Postal Service with their ballots. That network has proved ‘very popular,’ Arlington elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

Biden Leads in New Va. Poll — “Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among likely Virginia voters, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll — roughly double Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the state in 2016. Biden’s advantage cuts across most demographic groups, with regional strength in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area.” [Washington Post]

Local Nonprofit Featured on GMA — “Lights, camera, action! We had a wonderful experience filming with the Good Morning America team last week. The piece aired early this morning… We were thrilled by an unexpected and very generous gift from Amazon.com to help our residents weather the pandemic.” [Facebook, Vimeo]

Police Investigation Bill Signed into Law — “Gov. Northam has signed my bill (HB 5072) to empower the Atty Gen to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations of police forces that appear to be violating constitutional rights, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, or racially biased policing.” [@Lopez4VA/Twitter]

Pupatella Now Available for Delivery — “UBER EATS Now available at all locations – DC (Dupont Circle), both the Original Wilson Blvd spot and South Arlington, as well as Richmond too! We’ve partnered up with UberEats to bring you some of the best pizza around.” [@PupatellaPizza/Twitter]

Local Beer Biz Figure Dies — “Ben Tolkan, a popular figure in DC’s beer industry who was the subject of a Washingtonian feature story, died late Saturday night after a five-and-a half-year battle with cancer. He was 37.” Tolkan is survived by his wife, Abby, an Arlington County public school teacher. [Washingtonian]

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What was once beloved family dining spot Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta will soon be A Modo Mio.

The restaurant at 5555 Lee Highway says it’s planning to reopen in “a few weeks” with “a new look, chef and menu.”

New signs are already up, touting the new name and its focus on Neapolitan pizza, as well as the fact that the restaurant is now hiring. The renovated and repainted interior, sans the old Joe’s buffet, can now be seen through the windows.

The new menu, as posted online, includes higher-end Italian dishes at reasonable prices — nothing above $24. Wood-fired pizza appears to be the main attraction, alongside pasta dishes, meat and fish entrees, and appetizer-sized flatbreads.

After temporarily closing in April due to oven trouble, Joe’s reopened in May for takeout and delivery, as well as indoor and outdoor dining. It closed for renovations on Aug. 23. The long-time local restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018.

On Tuesday, the restaurant’s Facebook account posted a photo taken prior to the August closing, saying it was a celebration of “a new exciting beginning.” An exact reopening date was not given and the restaurant’s manager could not be reached for comment.

When our family gathered outside our beloved Joe's Place before we closed, it was not to say goodbye. We were…

Posted by Joe's Place Pizza and Pasta on Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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Today, 85 years after opening its first location in Connecticut, Colony Grill (2800 Clarendon Blvd) began serving Arlingtonians its famed thin-crust bar pie, sizzling with hot oil and topped with peppers known as “stingers.”

The location, three years in the making, is the first outside southern Connecticut and Port Chester, New York. Construction on the two-story establishment at Market Common Clarendon began in February and only lost a week or two to delays related to the pandemic, said co-owner Ken Martin.

He and his fellow co-owners, Paul Coniglio, Chris Drury and Cody Lee, began looking outside their home state because real estate there is limited. The childhood friends from Trumbull, Connecticut fell in love with the D.C. area “almost overnight,” he said.

“Arlington resembles Fairfield County on steroids,” Martin said, noting that it has the same energy: a dense population of smart, eclectic people who are especially social.

If the Clarendon outpost does well, more D.C. area locations may follow, according to Martin.

“We hope to open more down here once we establish ourselves and are doing well,” Martin said, mentioning Bethesda and the District as possible destinations.

Irish immigrants opened Colony Grill in Stamford, Connecticut in 1935, two years after the end of the Great Depression and the Prohibition era. The owners served many dishes, but the Italian and Eastern European chefs devised the “bar pie” to be smaller and thinner than a traditional pizza, and fit on the bar top.

Today, the chain only serves this pizza, although the name and the Irish decor pay homage to the kitchen’s original menu and the restaurant’s origins.

After World War II, the owners began collecting framed pictures of those who fought to honor Connecticut’s contributions to the war effort. Today, locals to each new location are invited to bring pictures of their friends or family members in the service to be hung on the brick walls.

Arlington patrons can submit 8×10 inch photos of friends, family members or themselves, in their branch of the military uniform, to the restaurant’s collection.

Local antique pieces will join the familiar faces in sepia tones and in color, including three prominent astronauts with roots in the area, to make patrons feel at home.

Colony Grill’s designer visited flea markets, tag sales, and frequented libraries and historical societies to get a feel for Arlington’s neighborhoods. Folks will recognize some of the antiques on display, Martin said.

“We want to give people the feel that we understand the neighborhood as they come in,” he said.

Pizzas cost up to $13, and customers can choose standard toppings or the chain’s original offerings, including the salad pie and the breakfast pie.

Colony Grill also has 12 beers on top and wine bottles by the glass or bottle.

In response to the coronavirus, the company has spent nearly $100,000 at each location on glass partitions and a streamlined check platform for employees, according to the co-owners. The restaurant has also invested in an online app for contact-less ordering and payment.

Colony Grill is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until late closing, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Fillmore Street, for up to 170 people.

Photos courtesy Rey Lopez, as marked

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(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Colony Grill, a pizza restaurant imported from Connecticut and noted for its use of “hot oil” on its pies, is two weeks away from opening.

A spokeswoman for the chain, beloved in the Constitution State, says Colony Grill is now set to open on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

The 85-year-old restaurant brand with working-class, Irish-American roots decided to open in Arlington — at 2800 Clarendon Blvd, within the Market Common Clarendon development — after scouting out “dozens of cities and states.”

The two-level, 5,100 square foot restaurant will feature decor that includes “curated elements that celebrate the history of Arlington.” For safety during the pandemic, it also will have glass partitions between all booths and “a strict check platform for its all employees.”

Colony Grill will open daily from 11:30 a.m. until “late closing,” according to a press release. In addition to the famous pizza, with its pepper-infused oil, the restaurant will offer “12 beer selections on draft, with an emphasis on local breweries.”

Is Arlington hungry for pizza that’s popular in bedroom communities north of New York City? Perhaps. But a restaurant serving the local pizza of another Connecticut city along I-95 — Pete’s New Haven Apizza — closed last year, one block away from the new pizzeria.

More from the press release:

Colony Grill, an 85-year-old restaurant brand known for its family-friendly tavern settings, gracious hospitality, and famous “hot oil” bar-style pizzas, has announced a mid-October opening for its newest location, at 2800 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia 22201.

“Everyone at Colony Grill is extremely excited,” said Ken Martin, the company’s chief operating officer. “During our search, we travelled to dozens of cities and states and we just kept coming back to the greater Arlington area. We absolutely fell in love. It is simply a remarkable part of the country with diverse people who together celebrate their community and enjoy gathering for life’s special moments. We look forward to introducing our unique pizza to the neighborhood and becoming a part of that community fabric for years to come.”

The 5,100-square-foot space will be open daily, from 11:30 a.m. until late closing, offering seating for 170 diners in three distinct areas: 80 in the first-floor dining room, 50 in the bar/lounge, and 50 on the mezzanine level.

In 1935, Colony Grill opened in an Irish immigrant neighborhood in Stamford, Connecticut. Since then, Colony Grill has become famous for what is now its only menu offering: a one-of-a-kind, thin-crust pizza that is best served with its signature “hot oil” topping – a spicy, full-of-flavor, pepper-infused creation which can be ordered with any other combination of toppings.

The original owners of Colony Grill were Irish American, but they employed Italian and Eastern European chefs throughout the Great Depression. These men proudly wanted bar patrons to try the pizza recipes of their homelands but needed a way to fit a pizza tray on Colony Grill’s narrow bar top. The solution: the “Bar Pie,” a thin crust pizza that is smaller in diameter than a traditional pizza with a thin layer of cheese and sauce so slices can be easily managed with one hand. The local Irish crowd — and anyone else who visited Colony Grill — seemingly could not get enough of this unique pizza. Eventually, across the decades, the hot oil bar pie became so popular that all the other Colony menu items faded away, as did the need for a grill. But the name Colony Grill remains as a link to their heritage.

In 2020, Colony Grill was named one of “56 Greatest Old-School Pizzeria’s in America” by The Daily Meal and has consistently been named one of the “Top 101 Pizzas in America” by TripAdvisor.

Pricing for Colony Grill’s pies will range from $9.50 to $12.95 with options for adding additional toppings or gluten-free crust. A Salad Pie will also available for guests and includes Colony Grill’s signature crust baked with a touch of olive oil and sea salt, topped with hearty mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. Breakfast lovers will appreciate the restaurant’s Breakfast Pie available exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which features a choice of bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese.

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A restaurateur and chef who both hail from Italy are planning to open a new pizzeria in Shirlington.

Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini will be opening an Arlington outpost of their “modern, fast-casual pizza concept, Stellina Pizzeria,” which offers a “modern interpretation of the classic pizza counter,” according to an announcement this morning.

It is expected to open by the end of the year in the now-former Cafe Pizzaiolo space at 2800 S. Randolph Street.

“Stellina will open its first Northern Virginia location later this year in the Shirlington neighborhood,” a spokeswoman said. “The menu will offer Stellina’s signature style of neo-Neapolitan pizzas, along with handmade pastas, panini, and other Italian street food. A new feature will be a deli-style counter serving fresh pasta by the pound, homemade sauces, and DIY pizza and pasta kits for guests to recreate Stellina dishes at home.”

Shirlington will be an easy commute for Matarazzo, who lives in South Arlington.

Stellina will offer takeout and delivery, in addition a covered and heated outdoor patio with seating for 20, and limited indoor seating in a 48-seat dining room. The restaurant, which is also opening a new D.C. location next year, has received accolades including a 2020 Michelin Bib Gourmand designation, and inclusion in Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurants list and a Washington Post list of the 10 best pizzas in D.C.

More from a press release, below.

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Morning Notes

Parent Group Calls Out APS — From the Black Parents of Arlington: “In addition to tracking incidents of racism, APS needs to implement mandatory anti-racism and implicit bias training for all teachers and staff throughout the system on a regular basis. Moreover, APS must begin to track incidents of racial and ethnic hostility and make these findings public. The time is now. We will no longer wait. Arlington’s Black children deserve better.” [Facebook]

Pizzeria to Open Next Month in Clarendon — “A storied Connecticut pizza shop is making one of its biggest moves, opening a new location in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood next month. Colony Grill is gearing up to debut Oct. 13 with a 5,200-square-foot space, taking over at 2800 Clarendon Blvd. for the Gallery Clarendon art installation pop-up that shuttered in February. The restaurant offers seating for 170 guests in three different areas.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Potomac Bridge Moving Forward — “With the state budget in tatters and commuter levels at record lows, now might hardly seem the right moment for Virginia to embark upon a $1.9 billion rail project. However, the recent conclusion of the Long Bridge’s environmental impact study has cleared the way for the commonwealth to do just that.” [Virginia Mercury]

Eagle Scout Project at Fire Station 5 — “A special project is taking shape to honor the victims of September 11th.
A piece of steel from the World Trade Center was brought to the Arlington County Fire Department nearly ten years ago. Now, a local high school senior and aspiring Eagle Scout wants to transform the area into a place where people can gather.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington Man Jailed in Belarus — “A U.S. diplomat warns that her Belarusian American husband’s health is in ‘immediate danger’ following his late-July arrest by security forces of the authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Vitali Shkliarov, a political analyst and dual citizen who worked on the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, was detained while visiting his parents in his hometown of Gomel, Belarus, in the runup to the country’s Aug. 9 presidential elections.” [NPR]

County Reaffirms Fair Housing Commitment — “Arlington will continue to follow the federal government’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, despite the federal government’s July 2020 action to rescind that rule within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the County Board said in a resolution approved at its September 15 Recessed Meeting.” [Arlington County]

Local Historian Dies — “It is our sad duty to announce the passing of beloved historian Ed Bearss, one of the legends of the battlefield preservation movement and a long-time member of the American Battlefield Trust board.” [National Parks TravelerTwitter]

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Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta at 5555 Lee Highway is closed for painting and, reportedly, some major changes.

A sign on one of the restaurant’s doors said it closed August 23 for painting and will reopen in a few weeks.

Buzz on the local Nextdoor social network suggests that the restaurant will be ditching its buffet — something that’s falling out of favor during the COVID era — and changing the menu, perhaps serving more upscale Italian cuisine.

Manager Rosario Farruggio told ARLnow today that the restaurant is not yet ready to publicly discuss the changes, but said some of the rumors on Nextdoor are “wrong.” He added that operating and now making changes to the restaurant during the pandemic has been especially difficult.

As of last week, a work crew could be seen inside the space. One worker told ARLnow the crew is painting the restaurant’s floors and walls and will be done in a month.

Joe’s Place previously closed in mid-April after its main oven broke down. It reopened in May for takeout and delivery, and its website says it has opened indoor dining as well as patio seating for “dining al fresco.”

The long-time local restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018.

Joseph Ramos contributed to this report

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Update on 8/18/20 — The &pizza in Ballston is now open, but will be closed again next Monday. Darien Bates, head of technology at &pizza, explained that the location had been closed Monday and would be closed again next Monday to make changes to accommodate the store’s increased takeout demand.

Earlier: The &pizza at 3924 Wilson Blvd has been closed for more than a week, with company representatives saying the closure is temporary.

“[The Ballston location] is temporarily shut down due to operational changes,” an &pizza representative told ARLnow.

The fast-casual pizzeria opened near the intersection with N. Quincy Street in late 2017. The &pizza rep said there is no additional information on when the regional pizza chain will reopen the Ballston outpost.

The pandemic has caused financial pain for many local restaurants, including those that serve lunchtime office crowds like &pizza. A number of restaurants and local businesses in Arlington have closed permanently since the epidemic started in March.

Though an &pizza rep said the Ballston location was still closed today, a couple of readers tell us they dined there over the weekend.

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(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters battled a blaze at the Domino’s Pizza on Lee Highway Friday night.

The fire broke out just before 7:45 p.m. at the pizzeria on the 4800 block of Lee Highway, which serves much of residential north Arlington. Flames could be seen coming from the roof, before being extinguished by arriving firefighters.

Lee Highway was still blocked by the emergency response. The road reopened around 9:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy @Lt_Dan123/Twitter

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After asking customers for suggestions of places to move, Pupatella says it will be staying in Bluemont after all.

The Neapolitan pizzeria said today via social media that its landlord has agreed to not raise the rent — after initially trying to hike it by 40% — and Pupatella will thus be staying put at its original 5104 Wilson Blvd location.

The June 9 Facebook post asking customers to “help us to spread the word and find a new perfect spot” received 350 comments, suggesting a variety of new locations and tactics for negotiating rent. Pupatella today credited the community for helping convince the landlord to keep the rent steady.

Pupatella has been expanding: a second Arlington location opened on S. Walter Reed Drive in December and more outposts are coming to Reston, the Mosaic District and Dupont Circle in D.C.

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This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

It’s hard to go wrong with a great slice of pizza — but where can you find the best pizza in Arlington?

In this week’s Neighborhood Spotlight, we wanted to take a culinary tour of some of the best slices in the area. So join three of our amazing agents — Drew Carpenter, Elisa Seth, and Peter Applegate — as they take you on a journey to find the top pie around!

As always, we are looking for more places to highlight in our Spotlight series. So if you have a favorite restaurant or nightlife spot that you’d like to see us share, just let us know down in the comments — we’d love to check it out!

Without further ado, here are our top 3 favorite pizza spots in Arlington.

Wiseguy Pizza

Located just across the street from the Rosslyn Metro stop, Wiseguy Pizza is a premier place to grab a classic New York slice. Although inside dining is on hold during the COVID-19 regulations, customers can still get pizza for carryout, either by the slice or by the pie.

One of the best things about Wiseguy Pizza is the opportunity to mix-and-match your selection. The Rosslyn eatery offers 16 varieties of pre-made pies, including both classic choices like Pepperoni and Margherita and more out-there combinations such as a Penne Alla Vodka pizza. Alternatively, if you are feeling creative, choose your own toppings for a custom ‘za!

So if you are in the mood to get a taste of the Big Apple without leaving the Washington D.C. area, you can’t do better than Wiseguy Pizza!

Pupatella Pizza

There are a lot of places that claim to serve up Neapolitan pizza — but many of them aren’t selling true Naples-style ‘za. The recipe and baking style of Neapolitan pizza are on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list due to the meal’s immense cultural and historical significance. Because of this, pizzerias who want to whip up an authentic Neapolitan pie can have their process certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).

So, where are you supposed to get authentic Neapolitan pizza in Arlington? Look no further than Pupatella Pizza! This fantastic pizzeria has two locations in Arlington, with one just a few blocks away from the Ballston Metro Station and the other near the National Cemetery in South Arlington.

Like everything else at the pizzeria, the oven is the pinnacle of authenticity — the owner commissioned this culinary crucible from a Neapolitan forge, and the bricks are even made using volcanic ash from the famous Mt. Vesuvius!

Fireworks Pizza

Rounding out our tour of Arlington’s top pizzerias is Fireworks Pizza, conveniently located in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington — just a short walk from the nearby metro station.

As the name implies, Fireworks specializes in artisanal wood-fired pies. Customers can build their own pizza or order one of the house suggestions, from traditional margherita ‘za to the award winning “Rise & Shine DC” — a pizza pie topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, and shredded potatoes.

Of course, few things pair better with a piping-hot pizza than a stiff drink — and Fireworks Pizza has plenty to offer from behind the bar! Beer lovers are sure to go gaga over the extensive menu of drafts. If beer isn’t your libation of choice, you can always accompany your ‘za with one of Fireworks’s signature cocktails!

Due to the continuing COVID-19 regulations, customers can dine inside of the storefront, but the indoor bar is not serving any drinks. However, their patio is open for service, complete with a fully stocked bar! In addition, Fireworks is offering curbside pick up of their meals, so you can enjoy one of the best takeout options in Arlington without having to even leave the car.

The Verdict

Each of these 3 pizzerias offers a wildly different flavor experience — and all of them are top-class in their fields!

No matter which of these 3 pizzerias you choose to visit next, however, you are sure to have a great experience — that’s because they are built on years of experience and innovation from the experts! Working with the experts is vitally important for getting a great pizza pie — but it’s even more important when you are trying to decide if you should sell your house now!

If you want to learn more about how Arlington’s best real estate team can help you buy or sell a home faster, for a better price, and with absolutely zero stress, then you need to contact the Keri Shull Team! All you have to do is click here to schedule a time for a free, no-hassle real estate Consultation today!

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