The February 2016 issue of Washingtonian magazine features their ever-popular list of the 100 very best restaurants in the region, which is led by Fiola Mare, Komi, and Little Serow. The full list—which is ranked from 1 to 100 and includes reviews, favorite dishes of the year, and more—is on newsstands now. It also includes several restaurants in or near Rockville, all moderately priced:
#97. Black Market Bistro, 4600 Waverly Avenue in Garrett Park. American. “Jeff and Barbara Black’s bistro isn’t far from Bethesda, but it has an out-in-the-country vibe. And though it’s a neighborhood gathering spot, it’s also a destination for those seeking a tete-a-tete rather than a scene, along with easy-to-like food. Crackly-crust pizzas (the mushroom-pecorino is terrific) share space with Modern American plates such as a chew-in-a-good-way hanger steak with chimichurri. Cake lovers will find their happy place—especially if the blackout cake is on the menu. Even though it’s mated with Chantilly cream and chocolate sauce, we amp it up with ice cream.” If you miss Addie’s, here’s the next closest restaurant owned by the same family.
#44. Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, 12207 Darnestown Road in Gaithersburg. Italian. “What’s a three-star chef doing running a pizza joint in a Gaithersburg shopping plaza? Having a blast. Tony Conte may have abandoned his post at the Oval Room, but he hasn’t ditched his commitment to top-quality ingredients, nor has he tossed aside his essential approach, which is to create intricate dishes of varying textures and popping flavors. His sunchoke appetizer is deserving of white glove presentation—the vegetables roasted until they take on the softness of baked potatoes, then hit with Parmesan sauce and toasted hazelnuts. He brings this same care to his thin-crust pizzas. A version with soft egg and truffles is both indulgent and made for quick devouring.”
#87. La Limena, 765-B Rockville Pike in Rockville. Peruvian. “Sure, you can find a very good lomo saltado, that happy pileup of marinated tri-tip, onions, and tomatoes over a mound of French fries, and the pollo a la brasa is good, too, but do yourself a favor and suspend your meat-centered menu gazing when you drop by Emma Perz’s strip-mall storefront. The measure of any good Peruvian restaurant—and this is one—is not in the meats; it’s in its preparation of seafood and potatoes. The best reason to come here is to sup on ceviches and tiraditos—bright, clean treatments of fish and shellfish cooked only with lime juice so as to emphasize the freshness and texture of the product. As befits a culinary culture with more than 700 kinds of potato, the humble spud is well represented, from causa, a kind of potato napoleon, to the papa rellena, an oblong ball of mashed potatoes encasing an empanada-like filling.” The restaurant can be hard to find because it’s in the back corner of the strip mall; arrive early because there’s often a line. La Limena is adding a second restaurant in September further south on the Rockville Pike in the former Potomac Grille location and it was reviewed by Tom Sietsema in October 2015.
#74. Peter Chang, 20-A Maryland Avenue (Rockville Town Square) in Rockville. Chinese. “The Szechuan master chef who inspired a Deadhead-like following as he hopscotched from restaurant to restaurant in the American South has settled down and built an empire. These two dining rooms (the other in Arlington) represent his incursion into the DC market. Chang’s greatness is not in doubt but with expansion comes a streamlined menu for easy replication and a fleet of chefs who lack his deftness. Will you taste the magic that turned Change into a kind of culinary folk hero? Some nights yes, some nights no. Stick to the greatest hits—the bamboo fish, cumin-scented and tucked into a woven basket; the mapo tofu—and you improve your odds of getting a Szechuan meal of unparalleled lightness, depth, and punch.” The restaurant can be hard to find because it doesn’t face the square; it’s at the end of the side street near the library and Gold’s Gym.
#78. Trapezaria, 11 North Washington Street in Rockville. Greek. “In an unabashedly white-collar city like Washington, there aren’t a whole lot of blue-collar restaurants of worth—places with good food, moderate prices, and little pretense. The appeal of Trapezaria is that it occupies a point on the spectrum almost equidistant from fine dining and diner. Tablecloths grace the tables but none of the plates that find their way to those tables is particularly pretty. And that’s as it should be be—you’re here for rib-sticking satisfaction, not style. The dips, such as the taramasalata, all pop; the ovgolemono is lemony and comforting; and the bigger plates, including the marvelous fried cod with skordalia—a kind of Greek fish and chips—has assured simplicity.” Easy to spot on the corner of Washington and Middle Lane in downtown Rockville, but parking is not obvious. You can park across the street (I recommend Town Square) or in the validated parking lot behind the restaurant next to M&T Bank.