Pizzeria Orso Review–A Great Addition to the Falls Church Restaurant Scene

June 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I had a chance to visit Falls Church’s newest restaurant, Pizzeria Orso, which specializes in wood fired Neapolitan pizza from pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid of Pizzeria Paradiso and 2 Amys fame.  Though it’s clear that there were some opening week kinks still being worked out, it was worth the long wait on Friday night, and worth another trip soon.

We arrived at the height of dinner rush hour and so weren’t surprised when we were told it would be an hour and a half wait.  There is plenty of seating, but this opening was much anticipated and so potential diners spilled out from the small waiting area and into the plaza out front.

Every seat at the bar was taken by diners (I assume bar seats are first come, first served, but didn’t ask.)  We enjoyed the fantastic weather and waited outside for about 30 minutes, then went inside as it looked like some waiting area seats had opened up and we wanted to grab a drink while we waited.  I hope some patio tables (and maybe outside bar service?) are on the horizon…the large lovely patio area seemed to be wasted space.

Close to the bar area is some old school entertainment: Pac Man and pinball. We only saw a handful of kids there but I imagine there must have been more earlier in the evening, as we were now pushing into the 8:30-ish timeframe.

When a couple came in and was told it was only a 20 minute wait, we asked how much longer it would be for us, since the math didn’t add up, and we were seated promptly thereafter.  I’m not sure how we went from a 90 minute wait to 45, but we were happy.  Maybe a number of people were scared off by the 90 minute estimate?

Once we were seated, round 2 of waiting began.  The couple at the table next to us said they’d been waiting an hour for their food, but all the diners seemed to be taking the waits in stride, knowing it was opening week, and several times we were engaged in conversation with fellow diners.   No less than 3 times the restaurant filled with the distinct odor of burning dough, which made us a little nervous (perhaps some burned pizzas contributed to long waits for food?)

My companion ordered an IPA which he didn’t care for, and the manager promptly swapped it out for a glass of wine at his request.  The De Angelis wine recommended at the bar was excellent, and we ordered a bottle from the waitress at the table (though she clearly was unfamiliar with the wine list, she promptly brought a menu back so we could be sure we were ordering the bottle we wanted.)

We started with the arancini (fried risotto balls) which seemed a tad dry, but nonetheless satisfied our hunger while we waited for the real stars–pizza.  We tried the traditional Margherita DOC and the Orso (presumably the house specialty, though the menu page labeled “Specials” was sadly empty).  DOC stands for ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’ and is a special designation for Marinara and Margherita pizzas made using special techniques, with special ingredients, in a wood fired oven, like the one shown below at Pizzeria Orso.

Pizzas are served uncut but the sharp knife that comes with does the trick.  Both pizzas were, in a word, excellent. There was just a bit of char along the bottoms of each (remnants in the oven from our previously mentioned “something’s burning” odors?).  The Orso, which has no tomato sauce but has ricotta, mozzarella, grana, fontina,
pecorino, garlic (definitely a lot of garlic), and prosciutto, was light and crisp, which was surprising given the amount of cheese.  The Margerita was obviously much simpler–tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil–but a very well done pizza.  The ingredients all around tasted fresh and delicious.  This thin crusted pizza is very light, so you can enjoy slice after slice of flavor without having that uncomfortably full feeling at the end of the meal.

The staff was attentive, and very apologetic for the waits. Oddly at the end of the meal we felt a bit rushed, having been asked if we were ready for the check while there was still pizza on our plates, but I got the sense that the staff has finally just ‘caught up’ and were just covering their bases, unsure how long any one particular party had been there.  Our sense was that the kitchen was probably short staffed.  Nonetheless, the dining room staff and manager who came to visit our table were all very friendly and service-oriented.

At the end of the meal, we chatted for a few moments with the manager about how the opening week had gone and she shared with us that Friday was better than Thursday, Thursday was worse than Wednesday, but the restaurant was certainly getting into the swing of things. She compared it to having a baby: you prepare as much as you can and then just do it and when things happen you deal with them.  Based on our experience, this baby is worth visiting often.

Pizzeria Orso, 400 South Maple Ave., Falls Church; 703-226-3460.  It does not currently take reservations.  You can view the Pizzeria Orso menu here.

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