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 cafe 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 cafes and four quick-service caf?s, 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.
At Stella Restaurant, head chef Ray Niederhausen uses the techniques he honed at Stratford University's School of Culinary Arts to showcase a menu built around the use of fresh fish and local, seasonal ingredients. Seafood is the house specialty, making an appearance in everything from a signature lobster guacamole to a spinach-and-artichoke dip made richer with crab, and all fish arrives fresh each day and is never frozen or allowed to watch TV. While his grills sear savory lines into swordfish steaks or grouper fillets, Chef Ray is hard at work satisfying the meat-eating masses by braising tender lamb shanks or hand cutting steaks from slabs of certified Angus beef. To pair with their chef's culinary creations, owners George and Stratton Liapis have curated a collection of wines from around the world, and tastefully showcase many of the colorful empty bottles in elegant and whimsical wall sconces. Guests enjoy the artful plating of each selection in the streamlined waiting room, where silvery schools of painted fish dance by the light of hanging globe lamps and the sounds of the rapping wait staff.
Though they sound like names for Paul Bunyan's fists, redwood and burlap are two of the key components for crafting bagels at Ize's Deli & Bagelry. When Angie and Lee Greenberg move their bagels from a broiling kettle to a stone oven, the two materials work to form a pleasantly crispy bagel exterior. Angie and Lee also prepare handmade spreads and cream cheeses to schmear their doughy creations in flavors like strawberry and scallion. This process is a family endeavor—Angie's parents assist in the kitchen to ensure that all bagels are prepared in small, fresh batches.
Guests seated in the cozy dining area reap the benefits of the Greenbergs' lunch and breakfast labors. In addition to their New York–style bagels, the owners serve up omelets, knishes, soups, and deli sandwiches stacked with savory meats. On some of the sandwiches, they swap bread for the venue's namesake: the Empire, for example, features layers of hot roast beef, cheddar, and horseradish mayonnaise on an onion bagel.
Though the staff delights in passing out meals to their countertop customers, they also arrange artful platters for catered events. The gourmet smoked-fish platter nestles lox, whitefish, and tuna salad amid lettuce and imported cheeses, and party servings of bagels and subs accommodate feasting groups.
While the bakers at The Cakery at King Farm are known for the beautiful designs of their wedding cakes, that’s not their main focus. Armed with only fresh fruits, natural butter, and fresh whipping cream, they put most of their effort into crafting treats that taste even better than they look. They can fashion custom cakes that embody multitiered decadence or craft dozens of cupcakes ready for immediate sharing. The shop’s bakers are skilled at creating a range of classic and seasonal flavors, including options like chocolate mint, rum cake, and mandarin orange that can be accented with fresh fruit and buttercream fillings.
As a natural complement to the cakes, the store offers ice cream by the scoop and the carton, selling brand name options in a range of changing flavors. As a courtesy to allergen-sensitive clients, the bakers also keep all of the shop’s baked goods free from nut products and packing peanuts, allowing every customer to eagerly bite into their dessert.
It's a big leap from the bustle of an athletic field to the solitude of a darkroom, but Calumet Photographic made the transition seamlessly more than 70 years ago. From its origins as a Chicago sporting-goods store, the company evolved into a one-stop shop for cameras and darkroom equipment and eventually into an innovator of photographic technology. In the 1960s, Calumet's most brilliant minds were behind the development of the Caltar large-format-lens line and nitrogen burst film.
Today, Calumet Photographic continues to manufacture and sell professional photographic products and software across the globe, boasting more than 25 retail stores throughout the US and Europe. Their shops abound with both new and used high-quality cameras and equipment, rental gear, and knowledgeable technicians eager to help customers find the right equipment for the job. The company’s extensive online catalog enables shoppers to purchase equipment from around the world and have it shipped directly to their home, studio, or mall photo booth they’ve claimed as a studio.
Potomac Pizza?s chefs toss and stretch fluffy, nonfat, and cholesterol-free dough into pizzas lauded by the Washington Post for ?returning pizza to its good name? in a world of national chains. The DC-area pizzerias create each pie with freshly-made sauce and a selection of 24 toppings, such as grilled chicken, eggplant, feta cheese, and Canadian bacon. Potomac Pizza?s kitchens also whip up calzones, and other Italian specialties such as lasagna and veal parmesan, served in Potomac?s dining rooms or nestled into boxes for takeout and delivery orders.