Pizzeria Orso, Falls Church, VA

(See the February, 19th, 2011 Review here.)

Having just had two very, very good dinners at 2 Amys, I was curious to try Pizzeria Orso again – I had not yet been after the (unceremonious) departures of Edan Macquaid and Adam Litchfield. The new pizzaiolo is Chris Nye, who came from 2941, and in fact, he was manning the oven went I went to pick up my carryout pizzas.

Surely, I thought, the pizzas here would be shadows of what they were.

I ordered a Margherita DOC ($13) with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil, and a Crudo ($15) with tomato, mozzarella, basil, arugula, Grana Padano, and prosciutto di Parma.

There has a been a lot of discussion on the internet about the demise of Pizzeria Orso since the departure of the brilliant Macquaid. Likewise, Tom Sietsema downgraded them to one star in his Spring, 2011 Dining Guide. So what was my opinion?

These pizzas were simply not good.

And the reason they weren’t good is because they were GREAT. Completely caught off-guard due to my preconceived notions, I sat there tearing into these beautiful pizzas, not believing the complexity of flavors and texture in the crust, how well- assembled and cooked they were, and how long they retained my interest. I ate both pizzas in one sitting.

Okay, now, I’ve had better pizzas here under the Macquaid regime than these, but I’ve also had worse ones. These were both better than the pizzas I had at 2 Amys, just days before, and I really liked the ones at 2 Amys.

Has Pizzeria Orso really instantly declined after Macquaid’s departure? It certainly hadn’t on this night, and that should be a testament to his abilities to teach and consult. Will there be a slow decline over time? There usually is, once the Master departs, but all I know right now is that Chris Nye made me two sensational pizzas on this particular evening.

(I’ll also add that I used a fake name and a different telephone when I ordered these pizzas, so there’s no possible way they knew I was coming.)

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