After working in family-owned restaurants in Italy for years, the chefs behind DiMeo's Pizzeria decided to open their own eatery in the States. Inventive specialty pizzas like the Philly Supreme (topped with rib-eye chopped steak) pop out of ovens before heading to tables alongside plates of veal parmigiana and lasagna bolognese.
While steak, seafood, salads, and wines share the spotlight, it's the fondue pot that transforms the dining experience at The Melting Pot into an interactive one. Bubbling at the center of the table, steel cauldrons steam with cheese blends such as aged cheddar and lager beer, or fontina, butterkase, and buttermilk blue. Diners spear slices of granny smith apples, artisan breads, and veggies, before dipping them into the thick, creamy cheese. While a wine and cheese fondue pairing may suit the evening on its own, a fresh salad followed by lobster and steak turns the experience in to a three-course event. Continue the dipping feast by adding one of nine velvety chocolate fondues and diners can gather around the table to dunk strawberries, marshmallows or chunks of cheesecake.
In the dead of night in 1976, the Abi-Najm family boarded a cargo ship bringing only what they could carry; an escape from Civil War in Lebanon called for a quick getaway. They traveled across the ocean to safety in Arlington, Virginia, where they were able to open a small restaurant in 1979. To save money, they changed the eatery’s name from “Athenian Taverna” to “Lebanese Taverna” so that they only had to update one word on the eatery’s marquee.
From these modest beginnings grew a series of eateries that today comprises of six restaurants and four quick-service cafés, all still operated by the Abi-Najm clan. One look at the menu explains the success: chicken shawarma, spicy hummus, lamb tartare—all Lebanese staples that helped the restaurant earn a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's list of 25 Iconic Eats. There's even kibbeh, or stuffed meatballs, which blend ground beef, lamb, almonds, and pine nuts into fried spheres suitable for felling miniature bowling pins on top of the table before entrees arrive. The decor is as striking as the cuisine; inside the Bethesda location, light filters through the colored glass lanterns that decorate the dining room.
Caffé Pronto is a wholesale roaster that stocks a variety of coffees, including all-natural decafs from more than 15 countries worldwide and a number of fair-trade, organic, bird-friendly, and Rainforest Alliance blends. Order a bag of beans online or slowly sip a cup of individually brewed coffee inside one of their brick-and-mortar cafés while snacking on a gourmet menu of paninis, breakfast sandwiches, pastries, parfaits, and desserts. A cup of coffee in the morning can mean the difference between hitting the ground running and hitting the snooze button relentlessly. Give your alarm clock time to let its bruises heal with today’s Groupon.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
The dark wood façade of Mezeh’s Mediterranean Grill creates a stylish, modern presence in the food court at Annapolis Mall. Patrons walk along the eatery’s glass case, first selecting a base for their meal—salad, rice, tortilla, or fresh-baked pita—to complement one of five fillings, including crisp rounds of falafel and morsels of chicken shawarma. Their dishes can be topped with tahini or spicy harissa sauce, along with vegetable blends such as red cabbage slaw or pickled turnips. All items on the menu are crafted without trans fats or preservatives, making them a healthy alternative to making ham sandwiches out of other ham sandwiches.