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Lunch at Potenza in DC

I'm not going to lie to you--one of the joys of blogging is being invited to try out new (or new to me) restaurants for lunch and dinner. Earlier this week, I had a pleasure of joining Lindley who does PR for Potenza for lunch.

Although there were plenty of tempting cocktails on the menu, we both opted for sparkling lemonade--after all, we both had to go back to work.

As soon as we placed our orders, we received a plate of specialty olive oil with a basket of bread: a nice touch!

The menu included a 3 course meal, a variety of pastas, sandwiches, pizzas and entrees. The beauty of Potenza is that they have an onsite bakery, cure their own meats and make fresh pasta daily.

I started with a Chilled Golden Tomato Soup because if you know me, you know I love tomatoes. The soup had a smooth texture and a gorgeous gold color. It was a refreshing start to the meal, since the weather outside was nearly 90 degrees.

Lindley encouraged me to order at least one appetizer and promised to share. Who was I to say no? These were the best fried calamari I've had in a very long time. The batter was light and crispy; the calamari itself almost melted in your mouth.

For the main course I ordered a House Cured Salami Sub (finocchiona, spicy spressata, genoa & provolone romaine, red onions, sweet garlic & fresh oregano on Potenza's bakery's sesame baguette) that came with potato chips.

This was not your ordinary sandwich, and the chips were pretty special too. The baguette was hardy enough to withstand all of the fillings. The salami had a salty/cured taste and was nicely offset by the sweeter red onions.

The chips were extra thin and super crisp. If that wasn't enough, they were topped with cheese and fresh parsley. Needless to say, I could not finish the entire portion and took more than half back to work for lunch the following day.

Lindley had the pasta special that included Brussels sprouts, capers and tomatoes. The dish looked and tasted fresh and seasonal. It'd be a breeze to recreate at home.

After the meal, Ralph Rosenberg, Vice President of Operations and Partner of Stif Food Group, took me around the restaurant, explaining some of the architectural details, showing me the cold bar (oysters!!!), the station where salads and sandwiches are made and the bakery/cafe.

He also let me and Lindley taste a few gelatos and sorbets. Of course I had to try the mango one: success!

If you don't have time to sit down for a meal at Potenza, you can buy a few baked goods or prepared sandwiches to go. I especially liked the look of this Red Grape Foccacia because it reminded me of a Mini Grape Pie I made a while ago.

Turns out, Potenza also sells their own pickled vegetables and jarred Marinara Sauce. This brought back some memories of a pantry my family had in Russia filled with jars of canned goods my mom made: apricot jams, marinated tomatoes/peppers/carrots, sour cherries, strawberry preserves, etc.

And at the end Ralph twisted my hand and forced me to take a Nutella Bar to-go {I'm joking about twisting of the hand!!!}. I was happy to oblige and enjoyed this sweet treat the next day for breakfast.

This was a great leisurely lunch. I can't wait to check out another restaurant that is part of Stir Food: Zola Wine & Kitchen.

PS: did you notice my new header!? I am very thankful to Nicole for designing it: we bartered our skills: I taught her a knife skills lesson, she showed off her graphic design skills!


K said...

Oh wow- ok as if your meal descriptions on Twitter weren't enough to make me want to go here and eat, these photos are fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing- I love that they have so much crammed into one space (restaurant, take-out, gelato, desserts, bread, etc).

nicole said...

Potenza is one of our (boyfriend & my) favorite resties! The pizza here is delicious.

I've had some poor service here, but the margherita pizza w/ sausage is honestly the best rendition we've tried in the DC Metro area. It's also conveniently located to the metro, which is bonus points in my book.

I <3 the on-site bakery, and contemplated trying the nutella bar one time, but it didn't look like it had that much nutella in it. Please report back on how it tasted!!

Zola's on my list of places to try too~

Mark said...

Thanks for the post.

We went here for dinner a week ago and had a few really strange hiccups in service and ordering (a spinach gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts came to the table with cauliflower, olives and a meat instead of the gorgonzola and walnut-- so very odd..)

Our review:

Some of those pics look fantastic though. Maybe I'll have to head back for lunch. Perhaps sandwiches and baked goods is the way to go at Potenza.

♥peachkins♥ said...

I absolutely love the new lay out,Olga!

grace said...

one could certainly do worse than be forced to take a tasty nutella treat after a meal that was already delicious from start to finish! 'tis a hard life. :)

Unknown said...

Another good piece on buying influence with bloggers:

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Dear Patrick, whoever you are. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

I can do without your comments with links. And if you choose to leave mean comments, perhaps you should also enter your contact information instead of being anonymous.

Evan Halperin said...

Patrick just sounds like a coward

msdewberry said...

Your food descriptions have made me hungry!! And your pictures look good enough to eat.
It's a hard job to go out and enjoy good food but I could do it!!
I like the new blog format. I changed mine all around as well, and finally figured out how to make the pictures bigger. You sent me a suggestion once if you remember.
Now off to find some supper!!!

Sasha said...

Lovin' the new layout ; )

Quinn said...

Ummm, so jealous that you had a behind the scenes tour. So cool!

Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BlueToYou said...

you are so famous now, getting treated like a vip to lunch!! i'm so jealous!