By Kathleen Nixon
June 29, 2012
Falls Church Times Staff
As you may have heard there are some dramatic changes that have occurred over at Pizzeria Orso. The new team of chef, Will Artley, and manager, Jonathan Bentley, has elevated Pizzeria Orso to a destination restaurant in the City of Falls Church.
While still some of the best Napoletana pizza in the area, the rest of the menu has been seriously enhanced to create a wide variety of salads, pastas and other great “nosh” items that you might almost forget that you can get a really good pizza.
One of the many great additions to Pizzeria Orso is the Chef’s Bar. You now have the opportunity to sit right there, watch all the activity that goes on at the pizza oven, and if he has time, chat with Will. The second best addition to Pizzeria Orso is the tasting menu which is available at any table but seems to be the best way to enjoy the Chef’s bar. As each dish comes out, Will or one of his team will explain the dish to you, which is always a surprise and treat. (Caution: do share with the team if you are allergic to anything and they are more than happy to accommodate your dietary needs.)
On one evening I was joined by Christianna Sargent who was not only impressed with the wine selections but recounted several wonderful beers she has had at Pizzeria Orso including a Pumpkin Beer available again in the fall. We were joined by Claire McConnell who provides the wonderful recipes based on local Falls Church Farmers Market ingredients along with their cost.
We started with Baby Carrots and Beets with Ewes Cheese which was delightful in its tanginess as brightness in color. Next up, North Carolina Shrimp with grits which everyone enjoyed except me. I am highly allergic to shrimp, and after chef “reminded” me that when doing a tasting menu you are to alert the chef I was served a delicious Seared scallop with truffle crème and Israeli Cous Cous.
A favorite items of three ladies was the BLT Gnocchi which I had had on a previous trip with some young adults (11 and 13) who joined me on our monthly movie night date. It was definitely a hit with them as well. Our next courses included: Mussels with Bleu Cheese sauce; Romaine, sausage and tagliatelle; and Fava bean ravioli with mushrooms. Another seafood course included sweet corn agnolotti with baby corn and crab (again, I couldn’t savor) but which Christianna, Claire and the other members of the Chef’s bar all said was a “flavor taste combustion”.
While there are now many new favorites at Pizzeria Orso for me and my compatriots, two of particular stand out for me: Brussels Sprout chips which are flash fried and tossed with Parmesan Cheese and the signature dessert dish of lemon glazed doughnuts with Nutella mousse.
Throughout the meal we savored a variety of wines which Christianna was quite enamored with. First we had Volpetti Cesanese from Lazio, Italy which is right outside of Roma. Christianna shares that it was bright, fragrant, with a kiss of French oak and loaded with dark berry fruit, undertones of sapidity – which is Italy’s word for minerality and terroir expressed in a wine. Christianna felt that this was a great food pair with pizza and creamy pasta dishes like BLT gnocchi. Our second wine was Feudi di San Marzano Primitivo from Puglia which had intense aromas of plums and cherries that dominate the nose. On the palate, it has a spicy character with hints of rosemary and vanilla. Overall it is full of body, balanced and strong. We were there on a Wednesday evening, which is half price bottle night.
A restaurant may have great food but if it doesn’t have great service, you may sometimes never see the great food. My compliments to Chef Will Artley for his command and training of the wait staff at Orso. There is definite snap to the staff’s step and is a good complement to his great food.
I have been back several times because Pizzeria Orso has a lovely patio and it is a great spot to dine with your well behaved pooch. My well mannered Bentley (no relation to the manager) particularly likes the pizza crusts as a treat if he has behaved well throughout the evening.
We look forward to seeing more of Pizzeria Orso in the community and to Chef Will Artley’s demonstration at the Falls Church Market Chef on August 18th.
By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
June 27, 2012
Hillwood Avenue has reopened to traffic and police have released the name of the man who fired gunshots and refused to exit the house in Hillwood’s 600 block, just east of Cherry Street.
James Vincent Rackowski, 57, is expected to be charged with discharging a firearm inside a building. He held police at bay for more than 24 hours before officers used a Taser, which incapacitated him as he came down a stairs at around 9 pm Tuesday, officials said.
Police and city officials say the incident began Monday afternoon around 4 when police received a call about a domestic disturbance. Arriving at the home, they were met by a woman who told them that her brother, Mr. Rackowski, had doused himself with gasoline and that he was going to set himself and the house on fire. She also said that her father, who is the homeowner, was in the house as well, a City statement said.
Officers approached the house to remove the father, but were threatened by Mr. Rackowski, who told them not to come closer and displayed a handgun. One officer distracted the subject with conversation and others successfully removed the father from the home, officials said.
The officers who had entered the house reported it smelled strongly of gasoline. Police attempted to talk to Mr. Rackowski, and at least three gunshots were heard coming from the house, officials said, but no one was hurt.
Police tried to negotiate a surrender, and used pepper spray and other chemicals. They also sent a recorded message from his family over a loudspeaker in an effort to get him to surrender.
When he came down the stairs around 9 pm Tuesday, the Taser was used and Mr. Rackowski was taken into custody.
Although officials have not released the exact address of the house in which Mr. Rackowski was holed up, it appears to be 603 Hillwood, which city records show is owned by the Henry and Helen Rackowski trust. The family has owned the 3,100 square foot home since 1959, records show.
By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
June 26, 2012
11:32 pm: The City has released the following account of the situation that developed yesterday on Hillwood Avenue.
The Falls Church City Police Department received a call for a domestic disturbance in the 600 block of Hillwood shortly after 4 p.m. on Monday, June 25.
City police responded to the scene and were met by a distraught male subject with a handgun. There were also reports that the subject had poured gasoline on himself and throughout the house. Two family members were in the house at the time but were swiftly extracted from the property by Falls Church Police. The subject subsequently barricaded himself in the house.
Falls Church Police activated the Falls Church Emergency Services Unit (ESU) and requested mutual aid from Fairfax County Police Department and the City of Falls Church Sheriff’s Office. The incident escalated as the subject became more agitated. Additional mutual aid units were called throughout the 28 hour standoff including the City of Alexandria Police Department, Arlington County Police Department, Arlington and Fairfax Fire and EMS, regional SWAT teams, and the continued efforts of Fairfax County Police.
Just before 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, the subject gave the Falls Church Police an opportunity for non-lethal use of force. The subject subsequently surrendered to authorities and was immediately treated and transported to Fairfax Hospital. Felony charges are pending and the investigation continues.
The Falls Church Police and the City thank the community for patience and support in a successful outcome of this event.
• Residents of Hillwood Ave. may return to their homes.
• Eastbound Hillwood Ave. will be open by the morning rush hour. The westbound lane will remain closed as the investigation continues.
• Washington Gas is on the scene and is in the process of restoring gas utilities to all homes that experienced disrupted service.
• Residents of the Hillwood neighborhood will have regularly scheduled trash and recycling collection on Wednesday, June 27.
10:33 pm: The City has announced that the stand-off on Hillwood Avenue has ended with the surrender of the individual involved. Roads remain closed due to ongoing police investigations, however residents in the affected area are allowed back to their homes. The eastbound lanes of Hillwood Avenue will be open by Wednesday morning’s rush hour. Any utilities that were impacted are also anticipated to be restored by tomorrow morning.
5:30 pm: During the 4 pm hour police officers temporarily lost contact with the man barricaded in a house in the 600 block of Hillwood Avenue. After tear gas cannisters were fired into the house the man again picked up the telephone. City spokesperson Susan Finarelli stated that officials continue to work for a peaceful resolution to the standoff, now over 24 hours old.
3:30 pm: Hillwood Avenue remains closed between Roosevelt and Cherry Streets and negotiations between police and an armed man that began at 1 am continue. Officials report no progress, and traffic is heavy on alternate routes of East Broad Street and Annandale Road. Arlington County officials also are on the scene, as are multiple television stations.
The City of Falls Church Communications Office issued this statement:
“Hillwood Ave remains closed from S. Roosevelt St through Cherry St. Residents within the barricaded area should continue to use caution. If those residents need to leave their homes, they should call police dispatch at 703-241-5053. If residents need to enter their homes, they need to speak with officers stationed on Hillwood Ave at Flagmaker Dr. Not all requests can be accommodated. Ideally, residents should stay in their homes or stay out of the neighborhood.
The City of Falls Church Police Department thanks its jurisdictional partners for assistance during this event. City of Alexandria police are currently on-scene; Fairfax SWAT and Arlington County police also assisted through the night and remain on call for further help.
The City also thanks its residents and business owners affected by the street closures. The City and everyone involved hope this concludes in a peaceful way.”
June 25, 11 pm: For nearly seven hours local police have attempted to resolve a barricade situation in the 600 block of Hillwood Avenue. Shots reportedly were fired inside a house around 4:30 this afternoon, prompting an immediate response by City of Falls Church Police and Sheriff and Fairfax County Police. The entire block has been cordoned off and some nearby houses evacuated. Within the last hour police have inserted non-toxic gas into the residence but the gunman has not emerged.
A brunch reception will begin at 11 a.m when the doors open to the public, and the awards and winners will be announced at 12 noon. The Show and Sale will continue until 4 pm on Saturday, the show will run through August 5th. The event is free and everyone is invited.
After almost seven weeks of painters capturing “Scenes in the City,” the Third Annual Falls Church Arts Plein Air Festival competition will culminate in a free brunch opening with artists and the public awaiting the much anticipated cash awards. The Annual Don Beyer Volvo-KIA Plein Air Prize of $500 for Best in Show will be presented by June and Mike Beyer. The Tori McKinney, Rock-Star Realtor Plein Air Prize of $250 will be presented by Tori McKinney, and the President’s Prize of $250 will be presented by The Falls Church Arts Board. Kendall’s Cakes is donating a not-to-be-missed Tupelo honey cake, decorated by FCA artist Jacqlyn Sickler; and Galleria Florist owner, Carol Beales, another FCA member is donating a beautiful floral arts piece.
This year’s judge will be Meg Walsh, whose work has garnered numerous awards at juried exhibitions and national plein air competitions, including winning the Best in Show prize in the 2011 Falls Church Plein Air Festival. Her work is on sale at fine art galleries in three states, and Falls Church Arts is pleased to have Meg’s talent and experience for judging this year’s Falls Church Arts Plein Air Festival.
Plein Air, literally means “painting outside” and painters from around the area and as far away as Carlysle, Pennsylvania, have come to paint “Scenes in the City”. The outside paintings express the color, atmosphere, and temperature that is often lost in paintings that are made from photographs. Though painting outside is considered more common these days, it was a revolutionary development. It is associated with Impressionism, capturing natural light and fleeting moments on the canvas. It was made possible by the innovations of the paint tube and portable easels, and plein air paintings are considered to have a special natural charm. Falls Church Arts would love to see City residents view the artist’s renditions of “Scenes in the City”.
Aurora House, a residential counseling center for girls ages 13-17 managed by the City of Falls Church Juvenile and Domestic Court Services, is holding a fundraiser Yard Sale this Saturday, June 23, at 420 S. Maple Ave. Proceeds will go towards activities and outings for the residents. Item donations are being accepted; call 703-237-6622 for details.
In any business there are the folks you know you can count on. In the local restaurant community, it is commonly agreed that Steve Mannino is one of the folks you can count on. Recently, a local culinary program cancelled for the Farmers Market Chef demonstration, and even though Steve had just taken over the culinary helm at American Tap Room, when called he stepped up.
Mishap after mishap plagued the launching of the demonstration on a gorgeous summer morning, but Steve and his team are well versed in turning things around. Steve was recruited to the American Tap Room collection of restaurants to build a team and take the restaurants to the next level. After watching Steve acknowledge, and embrace each challenge of the morning which looked more like a reality show gone badly or Candid Camera and turn the entire event around on a dime, you know he will do a spectacular job with American Tap Room.
Though the plan was to prepare two recipes- fried green tomatoes and watermelon, fennel and feta salad- another glitch prevented the fried green tomatoes demonstration, which was fine as there was plenty of salad for everyone. In fact the salad was quite a hit with the crowd. Many were surprised at the crisp, freshness of the texture and taste of the salad and looked forward to using it all summer. Quite a few customers were seen later in the morning over at Homestead Farms picking up fennel to give the recipe a try.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that has fallen out of our regular diet but is making a comeback in the gourmet circles. It has a light licorice smell and taste, and compliments many types of cooking including Mediterranean cuisine. Fennel is actually praised for its high Vitamin C content and having many anti-inflammatory and immune support system benefits. Fennel will be available for a few more weeks in the Falls Church Farmers Market and you can try many recipes with it including the Watermelon, Fennel and Feta salad presented by Steve Mannino of American Tap Room.
By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
June 21, 2012
The 20th season of Summer Concerts in Cherry Hill Park opens at 7pm tonight, Thursday, June 21. Sponsored by the Village Preservation and Improvement Society and the City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department, the concerts take place at 7pm on seven Thursdays throughout the summer, featuring bands with a local connection.
The line up for 2012 summer concerts is:
June 21 – Falls Church Concert Band. Falls Church’s own Concert Band will continue its tradition of opening the summer season featuring a theme and finishing with favorite marches.
June 28 – Mama Tried (Randy Barrett and Dede Wyland). WAMMIE award winner Mr. Barrett teams up with Dede Wyland. Bluegrass.
July 5 – The Tony Martucci Quartet. Falls Church’s Tony Martucci and his friends bring jazz back to Cherry Hill Park. Sit back and enjoy!
July 12 – Andrew Acosta the New Old Time String Band. Andrew and his pickers entertain Cherry Hill Park every summer featuring American roots music and Falls Church themes.
July 19 – Apple Core. All Beatles! Apple Core is a very popular local band recreating music from the Beatles’ beginning to their final performance.
July 26 – Billy Coulter Band. Multiple WAMMIE award winner for album, song, vocalist and songwriter, Billy returns to Cherry Hill with his rock and pop sound
August 2 – Tom Principato. Tom’s band travels extensively and has won multiple WAMMIE awards, featuring rock and blues, with emphasis on Tom’s guitar skills.
For additional information, please visit www.vpis.org.
Widely acclaimed portrait artist Seth Haverkamp will appear again this week at ArtSpace Falls Church for two days only. Seth will do a special program at 7:30 pm on Wednesday June 20 and Thursday June 21 at ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 S. Maple Avenue, Falls Church City.
Seth has just finished a life-size portrait measuring 6.5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, which will be shown this week before it is delivered to the client. He will also exhibit other recent works. Seth will give a presentation with the exhibit on the topic “Life Size Portraiture, Challenges and Solutions”, followed by a Q & A session with guests. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
Seth Haverkamp, who lives in Falls Church with his artist wife, Katherine Haverkamp, and their four children, has studied at The Cleveland Institute of Art, The Memphis School of Art, and at Nelson Shanks Studio Incamminati School in Philadelphia. Seth has won many awards including “Best in Show” in the International Portrait Competition. M. Steven Doherty, editor of American Artist magazine called Seth, “one of the most promising artists I have met in recent years”.
Come see for yourself the wonderful work of this fine young artist Wednesday and Thursday at ArtSpace Falls Church.