The Best Thing on the Menu at RAMMY Finalist Restaurants

Photo credit: David Claypool

Representatives from New Restaurant of the Year finalists. Photo credit: David Claypool.

The finalists for the 2015 RAMMY awards are out. See who received nods advancing them as contenders to win a RAMMY on June 7. As a reminder, only members of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) are eligible, and some categories disqualify those who’ve won in the past five years. Click on the links to see the Best Thing on the Menu!

New Restaurant of the Year: 

·       Crane & Turtle 

·       Fiola Mare

·       The Partisan

·       Republic

·       TICO 

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year:

·       Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

·       minibar by José Andrés

·       Rasika 

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

·       Trummer’s on Main

Chef of the Year:

·       Victor Albisu – Del Campo

·       Nathan Anda and Ed Witt – The Partisan

·       Cedric Maupillier – Mintwood Place

·       Marjorie Meek-Bradley – Ripple, Roofers Union

·       Johnny Spero  – minibar by José Andrés

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:

·       Bar Pilar

·       Cashion’s Eat Place

·       ChurchKey

·       Et Voila!

·       Evening Star Café

Upscale Casual Brunch: 

·       Birch & Barley

·       Kapnos – DC

·       Le Diplomate

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

·       Seasons at The Four Seasons

Everyday Casual Brunch:

·       Beuchert’s Saloon

·       The Daily Dish

·       DGS Delicatessen

·       Duke’s Grocery

·       The Liberty Tavern

Favorite Fast Bites: 

·       Cava Grill – Bethesda Row

·       DCity Smokehouse

·       G by Mike Isabella

·       Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza – Friendship Heights

·       Red Apron Butcher – Union Market

Cocktail Program of the Year: 

·       2 Birds, 1 Stone

·       barmini by José Andrés

·       Bourbon Steak

·       Iron Gate

·       Trummer’s on Main

Beer Program of the Year:

·       The Arsenal at Bluejacket

·       Brasserie Beck

·       Granville Moore’s

·       Mad Fox Brewing Company

·       Pizzeria Paradiso – Georgetown

Wine Program of the Year: 

·       Charlie Palmer Steak

·       Fiola

·       Iron Gate

·       Proof

·       The Red Hen

Service Program of the Year: 

·       Bourbon Steak

·       Fiola

·       Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

·       Rasika 

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Pastry Chef of the Year: 

·       Agnes Chin – The Grill Room, Capella Hotel

·       Naomi Gallego – Blue Duck Tavern

·       Kendra Grieco – Fiola

·       Michelle Poteaux – Bastille

·       Susan Wallace – BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: 

·       Austin Fausett – Trummer’s on Main

·       Tim Ma – Maple Ave Restaurant, Water & Wall

·       Harper McClure – BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier

·       George Pagonis – Kapnos DC

·       Danny Wells – Republic

Everyday Casual Restaurant of the Year:

·       DGS Delicatessen

·       Granville Moore’s

·       Hank’s Oyster Bar – Capitol Hill

·       Hill Country Barbecue Market

·       Ted’s Bulletin – Capitol Hill

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year:

·       Birch & Barley

·       Maple Ave Restaurant

·       Mintwood Place

·       Proof

·       Vermilion

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: 

·       Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

·       DC Brau Brewing Company

·       Dolci Gelati

·       Early Mountain Vineyards

·       New Columbia Distillers

Restaurateur of the Year: 

·       José Andrés and Rob Wilder – ThinkFoodGroup

·       Mike Isabella – Mike Isabella Concepts

·       Fabio and Maria Trabocchi – Fiola, Casa Luca, Fiola Mare

·       Jeff Tunks, David Wizenberg, Gus DiMillo – Passion Food Hospitality

·       Robert Wiedmaier, Brian McBride, Frank Shull, and Joe Lively – RW Restaurant Group

Pizza Vinoteca: The Hawaiian (CLOSED)

The Hawaiian

Say aloha to Ballston’s new pizza and wine mecca because The Best Thing on the Menu will change your perspective on Hawaiian pizza. Pizza Vinoteca’s take on the pie that typically gets left behind at parties boasts mozzarella, prosciutto, pineapple and spicy Fresno peppers. Tropical paradise, however, comes from a secret weapon not listed on the menu: a vanilla sherry glaze. The sugary addition can point out a cavity in your mouth though, so arugula is added for a tempering, peppery bite.


The pizza at Pizza Vinoteca is unique for other reasons too. It’s cooked to completion in near minutes thanks to an 800 degree grill. In fact, a trip into the kitchen leaves you covering your eyebrows for fear they’ll burn right off. In order to ensure the dough can stand up to such high temps, the team in the kitchen adds red wine to the dough. They certainly have enough of it on hand (we’ll get to that). See if you can decipher a slight purple hue before you dig in to The Hawaiian or any of their other eight speciality pizzas.

Wines by the Glass

Pair any of Pizza Vinoteca’s fare with 36 wines offered by the glass. It gets better. They’re available by 3oz or 5oz pours and none surpass a price tag of $10. Because of CEO Ari Malcolm’s goal to make wine more accessible (read: affordable), you won’t find a lot of recognizable wine labels or even wine regions. Take this as an opportunity to explore. We like the Grüner Veltliner and Zweigelt from Austria.


Dessert is a must because, well, bombolonis. These Tuscan-style doughnuts come in five flavors like Mexican chocolate, and are only $2 each.

Pizza Vinoteca is located at 800 N Glebe Road in Arlington, and they deliver within a three-mile radius. 

The Hawaiian not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Kapnos Taverna: Seafood Tower

Seafood Tower

When someone says Mike Isabella you likely think of pepperoni sauce, killer pizza, maybe even spit-roasted meat. But, thanks to the addition of Kapnos Taverna, Mike can add seafood to his growing list of culinary sorties.

The biggest differentiator between Ballston’s shiny new Kapnos Taverna and the 14th Street original, Kapnos, is the addition of a raw bar that cranks out seafood towers and platters that can compete with the likes of Fiola Mare and Le Diplomate (yea, we said it). For reasons that will soon become obvious, the magnanimous seafood tower with its bounty of ocean critters and house made condiments is the Best Thing on the Menu. It’s so impressive that we’re breaking it down by tier.


Warm up on the first floor where things are pretty familiar: shrimp that have been sexed up by some kind of tangy yogurt sauce and an array of oysters divided by West Coast and East Coast. Boost their briny flavor with harissa hot sauce, tomato-ouzo cocktail sauce, lemon yogurt, mignonette or fresh horseradish.

Tier Two

The Taylor Bay scallops made zippy by apple and grapefruit steal the show in tier two, though the marinated mussels accompanied by celery, preserved lemon and pomegranate bring competition. Also served in small metal vats are king salmon tartare with purple potatoes, mustard and cucumber as well as tender octopus with eggplant, red pepper and olive.

Tier Three

Finally, like a lady wearing a whacky hat at a horse race, lobster and crab form the dramatic crown of the tower daring you to take on the work that goes into cracking those crab legs.

The whole thing weighs in at $125, but if you bring a team of four it won’t break the bank. All you’ll need to leave feeling full is a few dips and spreads that come with flatbread or maybe some vegetable mezze like Greek spiced potato fries or fried burssels with lemon, pomegranate, dill and garlic yogurt (reminiscent of he Best Thing on the Menu at Zaytinya).

Kapnos Tavern is located at 4000 Wilson Blvd.

Seafood tower not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.