Pizzeria Orso, Falls Church, VA

(See the April 30, 2011 Review here.)

Uh oh.

“It” happened.

If you click on that April 30th review, you’ll see in the penultimate paragraph that I expressed a concern about a possible future decline at Pizzeria Orso, but in no way did I see one on that evening.

Well …

A Beet Salad ($8) with pickled beets, dandelion greens, yogurt, local honey and pistachios sounds good, but I didn’t pay close enough attention to the word “pickled” – this salad was shrill to eat, and needed plain old farmer’s market-quality roasted beets that saw no pickling.

The Torino ($14) was the worst pizza I’ve ever had at Pizzeria Orso. Made with cream, fontina, ham, crimini mushrooms, and oregano, it was unevenly cooked – way over-charred in parts – and the crust was dense and ponderous which is something I’ve never before encountered here.

And yet, two of theĀ Crudo ($15) were both good – not outstanding, but good. Made with tomato, mozzarella, basil, arugula, Grana Padano, and prosciutto di Parma, they were both cooked evenly all the way around, and as bizarre as it may sound, the crust was spongier (a good thing) and had more flavor. I have no idea what can account for two such different crusts in essentially the same firing.

The “whisper number” on Christopher Nye is that he’s a terrific cook, but has not spent a lot of time as an apprentice making pizzas – from everything I’ve read, being a great pizzaiolo is not something that sprouts from genius; it’s a product of hard work, repetition, and painstaking attention to detail. When da Vinci died, his studio probably excelled for a time afterwards, but when it came time to call upon the master, there was no one there to answer.

Nye made me two phenomenal pizzas at the end of April, so he’s got it in him. Consistency will be the key here – I’m not optimistic, but I’m hopeful.

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