I always joke that, as a Southern Connecticut kid, upscale Italian is my native cuisine. But honestly, so is downscale Italian. When I’m craving comfort, if it’s not bulgogi, it’s probably chicken Parmigiana or an Alfredo dish. And it’s a deft balance of the high and low that’s recently made Pazzo Pomodoro a regular haunt for me.
Pazzo Pomodoro (which also has a location in Vienna) is a homey spot, with plenty of families gathering for occasions, but the quality of the food belies the casual feel. It’s one of a small handful of eateries in NoVA turning out Neapolitan-style pizzas and although it’s not a member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, I think the pies are pretty darn verace indeed. The cheese-dotted pizzas are cooked in a tile-covered oven made in Naples that quickly singes their edges just right. Toppings range from classic (my go-to Margherita) to the only Neapolitan Hawaiian pizza I’ve seen.
Pastas are fresh, cooked al dente, and sized for leftovers. I’m a fan of the pappardelle Bolognese with its wide noodles that capture savory clumps of the meaty ragú. Alfredo isn’t on the menu, but it’s always available nonetheless. They recently made a garlicky, creamy version for me that, while it doesn’t owe much to Alfredo di Lelio’s original concoction of pure butter and cheese, satisfied profoundly.
And on the upscale side? I recently tried the involtini di vitello, a trio of veal slices rolled with prosciutto around fontina cheese. They’re topped with wild mushrooms in a Marsala sauce. At only $22, it seemed like more of a caloric indulgence than a financial one. My only complaint was the pile of motley chopped veggies on the side, including tiny cubes of squash, peppers and celery. Next time, I’ll ask for the pasta on the side instead. But there’s no doubt that the next time is in the near future. // 19825 Belmont Chase Drive, Ashburn and 118 Branch Road SE, Vienna
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