The Two Places to Eat in Brookland
s it any wonder that the section of town secretly referred to as Little Rome (because it’s the home of Catholic University, Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Franciscan Monastery, St. Anselm’s Abbey, and more!), has pizza atop the list of eats? What Brookland, the food desert, lacks in white tablecloth dining, its cup runneth over in pizza places. They are primarily door-flyer pizza joints, but there is one standout: Menomalé.
Aaaaah, that crust, gently patted out by skilled pizzaiolos and blistered in thousands of degrees of a wood-burning oven, is crisp, tender, and always fresh (vegan and gluten free options available). But it’s the toppings that sing here; I’m looking at you, Aragosta ($19). I mean where else in Brookland can you get lobster on a pizza? Sure, it’s mostly tail meat (don’t expect a claw on top for your camera-phone picture) but this crustacean stands out in flavor profile.
The cherry tomato, basil, and Fior di Latte mozzarella hold their own. Also, true to Neapolitan style, you cut your own pizza with a spanking-clean pair of shears delivered to your table. Nice touch.
Next, the di Ettore ($16), is a mountain of fresh arugula, prosciutto di Parma, and grana padano and EVOO atop Fior di Latte mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. I’d gladly spend a lifetime in purgatory for a slice of this mountain of cool greens and meat. Speaking of greens, the Semplice salad ($4) is righteous on its own.
It seems like it took back channel negotiations to open Little Ricky’s in Brookland. This paladar and rum bar, which opened in 2011, is not subject to government limitations concerning the amount and type of products it can offer, or the number of seats it may have (like paladars were back in the day), but it is small, well cozy, and I like it.
This neighborhood gem celebrates the cuisine of the tiny island nation of Cuba, but a seafood dish was not my first choice here. masas de puerco ($15.75) have called out to me since my University of Miami days. Little Ricky’s answered the call. Just as the name suggests, these massive hunks of pork are slow-roasted and flash-fried to perfection. Served with white rice and black beans, this dish is totally worth the possible need for an AED.
The congri ($4.75) or Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) is traditional west side with white rice, black beans, and seasoned pork. The gambas al ajillo ($16.95), black tiger shrimp sautéed in garlic and white wine, also served with black beans and white rice will have you dreaming of an island sunset.
So, while the name of this article will certainly change by 2014 when the Brookland business district is scheduled for completion, I certainly hope that these two gems remain cozy and friendly. The new places will probably bring commercial kitchens, cyberlebrity chefs with gastronomic molecularities, PR teams, and downtown prices. Until then, you should absolutely risk the ride on Metro’s Red Line and head directly to these two places before Brookland implodes under the traffic trauma of its own popularity.
Photos: Kelly Greene