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Chef Adam Hoffa (courtesy photo)

A local chef will appear on one of the nation’s most popular reality TV cooking shows later this month.

On Tuesday, April 16 at 8 p.m., Adam Hoffa, the executive chef at Pirouette Café & Wine Shop in Ballston, will go head-to-head with three other chefs in a high-stakes culinary showdown on Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Before joining Pirouette, the Falls Church resident worked at several renowned D.C. eateries, including Fiola and St. Anselm. Kat Petonito, a former colleague from St. Anselm and now the executive chef at Duck & Peach in Eastern Market, recommended Hoffa for the show.

After undergoing a series of interviews, the Chopped producers offered Hoffa a spot.

“I was overwhelmed and excited about the opportunity to compete on a show that I have watched since I was much younger with my mother,” Hoffa told ARLnow via email.

Chefs on the show are put to the test in a three-round culinary contest, in which they must transform mystery basket ingredients into appetizers, entrées and desserts. They aim to create innovative and flavorful dishes within a tight timeframe, impressing a panel of expert judges. With each round, one chef is “chopped” from the competition until the last standing chef wins a cash prize.

Apart from producing several short videos for a past employer, Hoffa said his experience in front of the camera is minimal.

The chef temporarily stepped back from his duties at Pirouette to shoot the show in New York late last year. Despite the logistical challenges of those three days, Pirouette co-owner Philippe Loustaunau says they managed to make it work.

“It was a tight three days and intense unique experience for Adam,” he told ARLnow. “From the restaurant side, all went smoothly. We had plenty of time to plan and our kitchen staff was excited and ready to continue service in his absence.”

Philippe Loustaunau and his wife and co-owner, Jackie, say they are grateful to the community for the unwavering support of Pirouette and Hoffa since the restaurant opened in 2022. The couple also shared their immense pride in Hoffa’s connection to Pirouette and his accomplishments.

“We’re so proud of and happy for Adam,” Philippe Loustaunau said. “He is a talented chef, and this attention is well-deserved. We are thrilled to cheer him on and even more thrilled to work with him at Pirouette.”

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Timber Pizza Co. in Ballston Quarter Market on March 22, 2024 (staff photo)

Turu’s by Timber Pizza Company is putting to rest the mystery around ‘Who is Turu?’ with a rebrand to simply “Timber Pizza Company.”

Launched in 2014 by Andrew Dana and Chris Brady from a ’67 Chevy pickup truck, Timber has three physical locations — including two in Arlington at Ballston Quarter Market and Reagan National Airport, and another in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood. Additionally, the company has a mobile wood-fired pizza oven catering to the D.C. area and Richmond.

Timber’s Chef Daniela Moreira — who came on board in 2016 as a co-owner — and Dana are also co-owners of the D.C.-based fast casual delicatessen chain Call Your Mother.

Although Yelp reviewers gave high marks to the Ballston outpost’s oversized pizza slices, CEO and co-owner Luke Watson says many still wondered, ‘Who is Turu?’

The “Turu’s” portion of the name, exclusive to the Quarter Market location, which opened in 2019, was a tribute to Moreira’s brother, Turu. However, the gesture confused customers, prompting the founders to rebrand the outpost.

“We’ve loved working in Arlington and building a community of fans in [Northern Virginia],” he said in a press release. “BUT, we’ve also realized because of the name, people are confused around what and who Turu is! To eliminate the confusion, Turu’s is now simply: Timber Pizza Co.”

When ARLnow went by the Quarter Market location today (Friday), a new sign was already on display.

The pizza shop’s rebranding is just one of several changes at Quarter Market. Rice Crook closed its doors quietly in January, but new additions are on the horizon. Japanese crêperie T-Swirl is expected to open this spring, followed by D.C.-based Dumpling District in the fall. Hal & Al’s BBQ, specializing in halal brisket sandwiches, ribs, and mac and cheese bowls, started serving customers in December.

Elsewhere in the mall, Korean BBQ restaurant Top Pot is preparing to welcome diners in a spot along Glebe Road, near Chick-fil-A. Additionally, Semper Laser, a laser hair removal business, plans to open this spring in the mews area close to Lenscrafters, we’re told.

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The Union on March 20, 2024 (staff photo by James Jarvis)

The Union in Virginia Square has shuttered, possibly for good.

It’s not clear when the McLean-based “casual fine dining” restaurant at 3811 Fairfax Drive last fired up the oven. Responding to reader tips, ARLnow stopped by the restaurant several times over the last two months to find the location closed during regular business hours each time.

There has been no update about the closure of the Arlington outpost on the restaurant’s various social media pages. However, Google lists the restaurant as “Temporarily Closed.” Meanwhile, its McLean location is still open, according to at least one employee who was manning the phones.

Chef and owner Giridhar Sastry did not respond to repeated inquiries.

Sastry opened the first The Union in February 2020 and expanded to Arlington a little under a year ago, moving into the former Burgerim space. The Arlington outpost served the same dishes as its sister restaurant in McLean, including Mumbai paninis, shrimp po-boys, beyond burgers, sorbet adas (Lebanese lentil soup) and chicken Milanese.

Originally from Calcutta, India, Sastray has worked as a chef throughout the region, including at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Mayflower Hotel in D.C., and several Northern Virginia restaurants, according to The Union’s website.

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Courthaus Social is adding to its space and its offerings, aiming to be an all-day spot for food and drink.

Best known for its outdoor beer garden, the restaurant at 2300 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse is expanding with the opening of “The Courtroom.”

The new interior space is designed to be a weekday breakfast spot, a casual work area, and “Arlington’s go-to private event” space, according to Julie Safa, Courthaus Social’s marketing director.

The expansion opened this past Friday and, as of today, is serving a new breakfast menu.

“On March 20th we will be launching our weekday full-service and carry-out friendly breakfast menu, served from 7:30 to 11 a.m.,” Safa said. “It features chef inspired dishes, including build your own omelets, handhelds and locally sourced baked goods by Baguette Republic.”

The Courtroom will serve as a “bistro-style” workspace for the laptop-and-coffee set and “will also be used for overflow on busy Wednesday Trivia nights through Saturday.” That’s in addition to hosting private events — “everything from corporate trainings to private celebrations,” Safa said.

Courthaus Social will have specials for the March Madness college basketball tournament, which will be shown throughout the venue, including in The Courtroom.

A grand opening is planned but the date has not yet been set. The announcement will be posted on the restaurant’s Instagram account, said Safa.

Photos via Courthaus Social

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Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill is permanently closed, and the landlord is looking for a new tenant.

Located at 2424 Wilson Blvd, the multi-story sports bar and restaurant opened in 2010 and became a popular destination thanks in large part to its open air rooftop deck and its ability to host events, including local and state political gatherings.

Despite its popularity, Arlington County police frequently visited the restaurant for noise complaints related to live music, according to a county staff report.

In 2021, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to revoke the restaurant’s live entertainment permit. The restaurant also closed temporarily in 2019 due to a zoning issue.

Raghav Dumera, one of the restaurant’s landlords, confirmed that its last day of operation was New Year’s Eve and it will not be reopening for the warmer weather season. The closure was not announced on the restaurant’s social media accounts.

Dumera, who also owns and operates several other restaurants in the same building — Takeshi Sushi, Delhi Dhaba and Ghost Kabob — gave few details about the closure except to say the venue’s owner did not renew the lease.

Dumera noted he is looking for a new tenant to fill the space as soon as possible.

“So, anyone that’s interested can definitely reach out,” he said.

Hat tip to Katie W.

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Colada Shop is set to open its first Arlington location on Monday, and the first 100 visitors will receive a free “Colada Clarendon” tote bag.

The Sterling-based Cuban cafe is moving into a 2,200-square-foot space next to Tatte and Seamore’s, at 2811 Clarendon Blvd.

The company originally announced the Clarendon opening last August. This will be the sixth Colada Shop to open in the D.C. area, including one that opened in the Mosaic District in 2021. The first location opened in Sterling in 2016 before quickly expanding to D.C.

“We’ve been blown away by the love and support from the Washington, D.C. community,” Founder and CEO Daniella Senior said in a press release. “Each Colada Shop has its own unique charm, and I’m thrilled to see the infectious energy this Clarendon spot will bring to our family. Clarendon has always been on our radar, and now, we’ve found the perfect spot to bring our Cuban coffee, cocktails, and culinary delights, amplifying the neighborhood’s spirit.”

ARLnow reported in December that a second Colada Shop is slated to open in Crystal City this year, along with a Tatte cafe and Van Leeuwen ice cream shop, among other businesses.

What sets the Clarendon location apart from its sister cafes is a bigger bar, which will be the largest among all its locations.

“Prepare to be dazzled by the spacious interior and cozy patio seating at the Clarendon store, but the real star is the bar — meticulously designed to foster a lively ambiance where guests can unwind, mingle, and indulge in an array of tantalizing Cuban-inspired libations,” the release said.

The restaurant will offer a menu that includes favorites like Cuban-style empanadas, croquetas, arroz con pollo and BBQ ribs, with vegetarian options including jackfruit dishes.

The cocktail menu offers a variety of rum-based drinks, including the traditional piña colada and mojito, among others. For patrons on the go, the shop will offer seasonal slushies and cocktail pouches.

The building housing Colada Shop dates back to 1941 and is part of The Crossing Clarendon development, which has been renovated and rebranded in recent years.

The restaurant joins other new openings in Clarendon including as Chip City. There have also been several closures in the area, including clothier Jos. A Bank, outdoor outfitter Orvis, bar/restaurant Chicken + Whiskey, Mediterranean restaurant Cava Mezze and international bakery Le Pain Quotidien.

More changes could be on the horizon at The Crossing in the coming months as the property manager aims to “modernize” its retail offerings.

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An event at BABA, the speakeasy-style bar underneath Ambar in Clarendon (courtesy of Ambar)

Clarendon’s newest comedy venue is in the basement of a Balkan restaurant.

Starting next Thursday, the speakeasy-style bar underneath Ambar, called BABA, will host free bi-weekly comedy shows.

The “Elite 11 Closed Mic” show with the Savage Gentleman Club will feature seven local comics performing 11-minute skits. For the inaugural show next week, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

The comedy show is free but BABA will offer Ambar’s unlimited Balkan dinner menu for $49.99 per person, with the small plates available à la carte as well, and discounted wines. Registration is recommended but not required.

Comedy is not the only way that BABA has been blending dining and experiences, in an effort to maximize use of the restaurant’s basement space. It also hosts “Dine in the Dark,” a blindfolded dining experience in which guests eat relying solely on their taste and smell.

Guests are given a secret three-course menu that caters to their preferred source of protein. This sensory-based experience occurs on most Tuesday evenings but an updated schedule can be found on the website. Registration for this dining experience is required before attending.

Then on Fridays, BABA opens up the dining area for live music from 8-10 p.m.

While Ambar tests out different ways to attract potential patrons to its subterranean space, several other restaurants and nightlife spots in the neighborhood have struggled to stay open.

Over the last year, Clarendon saw the closures of new arrivals Bar Ivy and Chicken + Whiskey as well as more established destinations, including Pamplona, Cava Mezze and The Pinemoor.

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Rustico is closing its doors in Ballston.

The craft-beer-centric restaurant serving “artisan pizza” and “creative American cuisine” at 4075 Wilson Blvd plans to welcome its last customers on Sunday, March 10.

The Old Town Alexandria location of Rustico will remain open.

From a message posted on social media last night:

After 14 great years, Rustico Ballston’s last day of service will be Sunday March 10th. We love the Ballston neighborhood and we’re grateful for the opportunity we have had to get to know and serve our amazing community.

We especially want to thank all members of the Rustico staff, past and present, for their dedication, service, and camaraderie throughout the years. While the individual team members have changed over nearly a decade and a half, the spirit they delivered never did.

Please join us one more time (or two! or three!!) over the next two weeks as we say goodbye to Ballston in style. Of course, Rustico Alexandria continues to bring the best craft beer and pizza to Northern Virginia—we would love to see you there!

Rustico opened in October 2010, in an expansive restaurant space that also featured a sizable outdoor patio area, complete with artificial turf and picnic bench-style seating.

From our coverage at the time:

With about 200 indoor seats and 100 outdoor seats (which will stay in storage until next year), Rustico is trying to become the premiere lunch, dinner, happy hour and sophisticated night spot in Ballston.

It will certainly have the largest beer selection in Ballston, if not in all of Northern Virginia: 400 bottles, 40 drafts and 3 cask ales (the casks will be installed next week). By comparison, the original Rustico, in Alexandria, has 300 bottles, 30 drafts and 2 cask ales.

The bottles are displayed prominently behind the bar in two bright display cases. The taps, however, form the bar’s centerpiece — two dense horizontal arrays of colorful tap handles in a cut-out nook between the display cases.

It is unclear what, if anything, might fill the space once Rustico leaves.

Hat tip to @HawkeyeKevin

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Bonefish Grill in Pentagon City is permanently closed.

Situated at 1101 S. Joyce Street in the Westpost shopping center (formerly Pentagon Row), the seafood restaurant — known for its wood-grilled fish, steaks, and signature “bang bang shrimp” appetizer — has placed several “closed” notices at its entrance, directing patrons to its closest branch in Fairfax County.

Google has listed the restaurant as “permanently closed.”

When ARLnow visited the site to verify the closure, an employee was removing the “Bonefish Grill” lettering from the revolving door. The employee declined to comment when asked about the reason for the closure.

The Pentagon City outpost, which opened in 2014, isn’t the only casualty. The Burn reported that the Ashburn location has also shut down. Last week, Bonefish Grill’s parent company, Bloomin’ Brands, announced it will be shuttering 41 underperforming restaurants nationwide.

Bonefish Grill has not been the only eatery to shutter in Pentagon City recently. A location of New York-based Mexican restaurant chain Rosa Mexicano closed its doors earlier this month after just over a year in operation.

Hat tip to two tipsters

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For Five Coffee Roasters’ Rosslyn location was already bustling with activity just hours after opening its doors for the first time on Friday.

“I’m so excited!” customer Laura Durie exclaimed to a companion as she looked at the coffee shop’s menu. “Look, they have an omelet!”

Durie has been walking past the 1735 N. Lynn Street location every day for work, eagerly awaiting its opening. But she didn’t know the spacious, two-story café sold food until she walked in.

“We have a lot of coffee shops, but this is just gorgeous,” she told ARLnow as she waited for her drip coffee.

The café, which replaces the Chopt that occupied the location after a Starbucks closed in early 2021, sells pastries, stuffed cookies and breakfast and lunch items in addition to coffee. Additionally, unlike other For Five locations, it will transform on the weekends into a bar with beer, wine and cocktails.

Dusan Sokica, director of operations at For Five, said customers were waiting outside the coffee shop when it opened at 7 a.m. on Friday. He was doing the payroll at another location when the business’s owner called him that morning.

“’Where are you?’” he recalled the owner asking him. “’Why are you not here? The line is out of the door, man!’”

By around 10 a.m., customers had begun to occupy many of the booths in the coffee shop’s upper floor. Sokica expects even bigger crowds on other days of the week, when more people go to work in person.

“This was supposed to be, today, a little, soft opening, but it seems more like it’s a grand opening,” the operations director said.

At 4,316 square feet, the Rosslyn café is the biggest location yet for the New York City-based coffee company. Initially predicted to open in early 2022, the business is about a mile from For Five’s Courthouse location, which opened in 2020.

Asked for his coffee recommendations, Sokica encouraged customers to try the shop’s signature blend. Also popular are the freddo cappuccino and freddo espresso — nods to the founders’ Greek heritage that Sokica thinks will be especially in demand in the spring and summer.

Meanwhile, Durie, who grew up in Texas, is excited to try a dish that reminds her of home.

“I’m definitely going to be back and I’m definitely going to get the huevos rancheros,” she said.

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A food hall in Rosslyn will soon undergo a major transformation.

Assembly, the food hall at Rosslyn City Center (1700 N. Moore Street), will be closing on Friday, March 1, a PR rep tells ARLnow. In its place will rise a new food hall called Upside on Moore.

All of the existing concepts at Assembly — from the Fog Point oyster bar to Charo’s Taqueria to Big Day Coffee — will close, we’re told. They are set to replaced by GhostburgerStellina PizzeriaLaoban DumplingsLucky Danger,  Kam and 46, La Michoacana and another coffee shop.

An opening of the revamped food hall is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19.

More from a media advisory:

Treat yourself to President Biden and Vice President Harris’ favorite burger for lunch or grab a Michelin-rated Margherita pizza before hopping on the metro. Meet a few friends for a happy hour of Chef Tim Ma’s famous dumplings or spring rolls and some nostalgic Filipino nachos or host your birthday on the terrace with all your favorite tacos.

The Bar at Upside on Moore will feature wines, beers, and specialty cocktails curated and created by Elli Benchimol of Georgetown darling Apéro. […]

The 30,000 square foot space is operated by DMV born and bred Mothersauce Partners, the hospitality group behind Thompson ItalianCity-State Brewing Company, and other favorites in the DC area and beyond. The space features both indoor seating, an outdoor terrace, bar seating, and several conference rooms. The space is fully customizable for private events of all sizes and occasions. The space is fully customizable for private events of all sizes and occasions.

A website and Instagram account for Upside on Moore are expected to launch soon.

Mothersauce Partners was founded by local restaurant and nightlife vet Nick Freshman, who was also behind the recently closed Crystal City cafe The Freshman.

The Washington Business Journal reported in December that the owner of the Metro-adjacent Rosslyn City Center building had tapped Mothersauce Partners “to freshen up the design, branding and concept curation at the food hall.”

The change comes as the lunchtime and happy hour crowd in Rosslyn is expected to swell, with the arrival of another major corporate headquarters. CoStar Group is set to eventually have 650 employees working four-day-a-week in person, in the Central Place building across the street from the food hall.

Before the pandemic, it looked like Rosslyn would be home to three separate food halls. In addition to Assembly, which was opened in 2021 by Chicago-based DMK Restaurants, the neighborhood was slated to get Common Ground and Happy Endings Eatery, both in the Central Place development.

The former never opened and the latter has rebranded as The Happy Eatery, de-emphasizing the food hall concept.

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