Nutella Pizza and More at Osteria Marzano

I ate a lot of good food over the past week. There was the banh mi at Bonmi and the tasty nibbles at Proof (including the amazing sticky toffee pudding cake) where I was volunteering during Jose Andres’ Dine-N-Dash fundraising event. I tried the Jersey Shore pizza with fried calamari at Graffiato for the first time and discovered Chef Sébastien Rondier’s new mediterranean inspired menu at Decanter. And of course all the July 4th weekend indulgences… Somewhere in there, I managed to make my way to newly opened Osteria Marzano at Metro Park VI building at 6361 Walker Lane in Alexandria. I must say, I’m glad I did! While I don’t seek out Italian food (or trips to Virginia), I definitely enjoy it when it’s good. And it was definitely good at OM! The 6,000 square feet, modern restaurant is owned by chef Carmine Marzano and his daughter Elena Pouchelon. I am a big fan of the wood oven pizzas at Famous Luigi on 19th street, which is also owned by the Marzano family, and Osteria Marzano’s features a number of great pizzas as well as antipasti, homemade pastas and traditional Italian main courses like ossobuco and veal scalloppine. In a “French-Girl-Gone-Wild” kinda moment, I ate my way through the tagliere di formaggi, a sample of different Italian cheeses. Le gasp right? They were actually really good, especially the fontina (I have a soft spot, literally, for soft cheese…) The juniper flavoured ham and wine cured dry salami were perfect pairings to the cheeses as we moved on to main courses.

Taglieri di formaggi with robiola due latti (soft cow and goat cheese), gorgonzola, fontina, pecorino toscano and parmesiano regianno served with homemade fig jam and Virginia honey.

Taglieri di formaggi with robiola due latti, gorgonzola, fontina, pecorino toscano and parmesiano regianno served with homemade fig jam and Virginia honey.

The charcuterie plate

The charcuterie plate

As far as pastas are concerned, the mezzalune di zucca, with a surprising sweet crunch added by the amaretto cookies was definitely my favourite though there are plenty I’d love to go back and try! Of course the dish I was the most eager to try was the Nutella pizza. That dish alone warrants a trip to VA! The crust is the same that is used for the savoury pizza but topped with a thin layer of hot chocolate-hazelnut sauce, whole pistachios and melted mini-marshmallows.

nutella pizza, nutella, dessert pizza

Save room for dessert, the Nutella pizza is only one of the many desserts options! I really enjoyed the OM Sorbet, made of lemon sorbet in a hollowed Sicilian lemon and the bonet.

Apparently Nutella pizza is pretty common on pizzerias’ menu, though I had never seen one. I don’t know why all Italian restaurants don’t offer it. It’s a simple dish and who doesn’t love Nutella? Oh well, more reason to go check out Osteria Marzano I guess 😉

ps: Osteria Marzano is open Monday-Saturday. Monday through Friday they have a pretty amazing $10 lunch combo for those of you who may work in the area…


Nutella Cheesecake Bites

No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just can’t get into American football. Okay, to be fair, I haven’t tried that hard — though I did go to a Redskins game once. But the husband loves the sport and since we received a few invitations to watch the Ravens-49ers showdown at friends’ houses, I looked for things I could get excited about during the Superbowl. The commercials? Sure, I was looking forward to seeing what advertisers came up with this year. Beyonce? She’s been rehearsing so much for the halftime time show that she didn’t have time to practice the National Anthem with the U.S. Marine Band ahead of the Inauguration. I admit, I was intrigued. But mainly, I was excited about the food. Wings, crab cake, pulled pork… our hosts were teasing me with the promise delectable offerings. I didn’t want to show up empty ended and with World Nutella Day (a much more exciting day than Superbowl Sunday if you ask me…) around the corner, I decided I’d experiment with some Nutella recipe I could bring over. The result worked out pretty well, so I’m glad to share it with you on this most glorious of holidays:

Nutella Cheesecake Bites
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
Makes 12 cupcake sized “bites”
3/4 cups chocolate graham crakers, finely ground in a food processor
2 tbsp melted butter
2 packages (8 oz each) softened cream cheese
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup Nutella

To make the crust, pulse the graham crackers together with the melted butter. Line a muffin tray with paper liners and spread 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture at the bottom of each liner. I used a  muddler to turn them into a crust-like, compact layer. The cheesecake mixture was very simple to make in a kitchen-aid, I’m sure it’s a little more work if you don’t have one… Use the paddle attachment to fluff the cream cheese into a smooth mixture, then add the sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Add the eggs one by one and mix thoroughly. Set aside one cup of the cream cheese batter and mix the Nutella with the rest. Once it is well blended, use it as the second layer of the cheesecake bites. The plain cheesecake will be the last layer, but should be smaller than the Nutella layer. Once the liners have been filled you can leave the layers as they are or use a toothpick to create a swirl effect. Either way, the mini cheesecakes should bake at 300°F for 22 minutes. Once they are cooked, refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 

Enjoy! And remember, World Nutella Day > Superbowl Sunday.