Thursday, July 29, 2010

What If We Went to Italy?

Welcome to our first guest post at This review comes from my good friend Abby Horowitz who was the first person I met upon arriving at college. Please leave a comment or email me at if you are interested in contributing a guest post.

No denial here - I am a child of the drive-thru. As such, the thought of my office's proximity to downtown Silver Spring is enough to make my heart rate quicken. With Moby Dick, Chik-fil-a, Chipotle, and Potbelly (and so! many! others!) lined up all in a row, jockeying for my attention, it may be just one Burger King short of my fast food Eden.

My first day at the job, before I even got my chance to frolic through this quick service jungle, a coworker steered me to door on a drab patch of Georgia Avenue. Olazzo the sign said. Italian? Really? Lackluster location or not, there's something so bougie and overindulgent, I thought, about ordering table service Italian in the middle of a Monday at the office. Please mark me down as pleasantly mistaken.It would take something pretty special to drag me away from that strip.

In food and in atmosphere, Olazzo delivers an expertly crafted balance between casual and upscale. The air of nonchalant classiness is contagious, and all feelings of indulgence are comfortable ones.

On that initial visit, I gravitated toward the Shrimp Rose. Two bites in, I knew I'd be back. At lunch two, the dish called to me again. By trip three, despite some initial separation anxiety, I decided it was time to start seeing other people. (But honestly Olazzo, that creamy tomato sauce concoction you’re serving up. Do you bottle it maybe? In the privacy of my own home, I would probably drink it straight.)

And when my time came to branch out, my server was there, armed with freshly baked bread, an unrequested drink refill and a battery of solid recommendations. The Salmon Mango Salad is a nice break from the carbier (yes, I did just invent a word) menu items. The Steak Milanese is another winner. And as someone who regularly takes personal offense to any dish not comprised predominantly of meat, Olazzo’s Eggplant Parmesan, well, it's pretty excellent.

With a noticeable void of solid independent eateries in the neighborhood, Silver Spring patrons would have definitely settled for less. But Olazzo bypasses the opportunity to cut corners. The food is fresh. The prices are reasonable. The service is sharp, but not pushy.

One caveat however: Olazzo has been known on at least one occasion to overwhelm the patron’s lunchtime thoughts so fervently that it only dawned on her months later, over a dish of lasagna alla Bolognese, that though she passed it five days a week, she hadn’t even set foot in Chik-fil-a yet.

image: courtesy of guest blogger

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