Now That’s A Pizza!

Being from New England originally, one of the things that I miss most living in the D.C. area is great New York-style pizza. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had pretty much resigned myself to living without it. Then one of my co-workers mentioned a place in Arlington called The Italian Store. She changed my world.

The Italian Store was founded in 1980 by the Tramonte family. Vincent Tramonte came to Virginia as a transplanted lawyer from New York City in the 1940’s. The son of Italian immigrants, he noticed the lack of good New York-style Italian food in Virginia as well as the great demand for it from other transplanted Northeasterners. Tramonte hatched a plan to open an Italian grocery, sub shop, and pizza parlour. The Italian Store was born a few years later based on that original business plan.

The plan has been a resounding success. The pizza is delicious and can be bought by the pie or by the slice. The ingredients are quality and the crust is thin. The subs are as close to New York as you will find in Northern Virginia, made with Italian meats and hard or soft Italian rolls. Better yet, The Italian Store has a large selection of Italian groceries and . . . wait for it . . . wine! The Store is filled with a wide variety of Italian red and whites. This place really does have all of the ingredients for a perfect dinner.

They don’t deliver, but they are worth the drive. I suggest that you call ahead.
4 Stars
Subs Appx. $7
Pizza from $15-$20

Published in: on September 20, 2006 at 2:01 am  Comments (8)  

Sweet, Sweet Wine: Two of Virginia’s Best Dessert Wines

Seeing as I live in the D.C. area, this blog will feature more than its fair share of Virginia wines. The wine industry is booming in Virginia, as grapes like Cabernet Franc and Viognier flourish in the Commonwealth’s climate. In this post I would like to focus on a couple of Virginia’s delicious dessert wines. First, I discuss perhaps my favorite red dessert-style wine, Tarara Winery’s Wild River Red. I then turn to a fantastic sweet white, Rockbridge Vineyard’s V d’or.

Wild River Red

Tarara Winery is located in Leesburg, Virginia, about an hour northwest of Washington, D.C., in the eastern portion of a northern cluster of wonderful Virginia wineries. The first time we went to Tarara, we stayed in their now closed B&B when a blizzard (by Virginia standards) descended upon us. Tarara was the only winery in the region that stayed open. When we went down to the tasting room after venturing out to find food, we found two or three other couples tasting wines offered by a Tarara employee named John. John was good to us and we had a great afternoon sampling all that Tarara had to offer. Of all the wines we tried, Tarara’s 2003 Wild River Red stood out, and we have been fans of it ever since.


Wild River Red is unique in that it is actually a semi-sweet wine. In spite of this, I think of it as a dessert wine because of its content and its food pairings. Wild River Red takes a standard red table wine and blends in blackberry wine produced from berries grown at Tarara’s Vineyard. Rob Warren, Tarara’s winemaker, tells me that the 2005 blend consists of 41% Chambourcin, 33% Vidal Blanc, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 6% blackberry wine. It has 4% residual sugar.

The result is fruity blackberry goodness with an off-dry finish different than that of a pure fruit wine. You’ll love it as a sipping wine, but if you think it can’t get any better just try it with Oreos. Be sure to serve it chiilled. According to marketer Marta Wallace, if you can’t make the hour drive to Leesburg, Wild River Red is usually available at Total Wine, Harris Teeter, some Giant stores, and a multitude of local wine shops. (If you can make it to Leesburg I will also tell you that, if you like dry red wine, the reserve tasting is worth the extra cost.)

5 Stars
$11.99 per bottle

V d’Or

Rockbridge Vineyard is located, appropriately, in Rockbridge County in the Shenandoah Valley. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting the winery, I got an opportunity to taste some of their wines at the 2004 D.C. Food and Wine Expo. I went to Total Wine the next day and bought a bottle of their 2003 V d’Or dessert white.

V d'Or

You know you have a high-quality wine when you serve it to a table of six and every person there enjoys it. This wine presents the aroma and flavor of honeysuckle with hints of peach and pear. It has a a lot of texture and a nice apple-juice color. While it is definitely sweet, the sugary taste is not as overpowering as you find in some northern ice wines. As I already mentioned, I have seen it at Total Wine. More sales information can be found on the Rockbridge website linked above. This one is definitely worth the search.

5 Stars
$20 per bottle

Published in: on September 2, 2006 at 7:21 pm  Comments (14)