Friday, February 2, 2007

Meatball Madness at Matchbox

Matchbox is one of those cozy, cute yet certainly almost always busy restaurants where you can count on a good vibe, fun ambiance and tasty food. The restaurant opened up an expanded area several months ago, but the space is tall (three stories) but quite narrow, so it still can feel a little tight at least initially when you enter the venue in the bar area. Lighting is dim and the space is modern yet rustic - think exposed brick walls, visible metal beams. But, the ambiance still feels warm and comfortable. The bar area seats about 15 and has two flat-screen tv's to help occupy you during any wait time for a table. We actually got my favorite two seats at the bar - the two to the far end which are adjacent to the restaurant's wood-fired oven - so we decided to stay and eat there and watch pizzas being made while we enjoyed our own. Lee started with a glass of Steele Pinot Noir from Carneros. The texture was velvety smooth, and the taste earthy and slightly oaky. He thought it was very tasty. I opted for a recent and inexpensive favorite, D’arenberg “Stump Jump,” which is an Australian blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, and which exudes a hearty flavor of berries and earth tones. Lee really liked it so we ended up sharing a bottle of this with our dinner as well. We started with the Simple Salad, which is mixed greens with pear tomatoes, red onion, dried cherries, a generous handful of pecorino romano, and parmesan crisps all lightly dressed in a nice balsamic vinaigrette. It's a great combination of flavors as the crisp lettuce and onion is cut by the creamy cheese, and the cherries add a nice sweet note to every bite. We didn't order them this time, but another Matchbox favorite of mine is the mini burgers, of which you can order a plate of 3, 6 or 9, and which are rich, delicious angus beef on toasted brioche with pickles and tasty, crispy onion straws. It's a simple dish but it really works well, as is usually evidenced by the numerous plates of burgers you are likely to see folks enjoying. We decided to share a pizza for our main, and the Spicy Meatball Pizza is amazing so we ordered that. The wood-fired oven yields a crispy and delicious crust, which is topped with house-made spicy meatballs, crispy bacon, crushed red pepper, fresh garlic, zesty tomato sauce, and mozzarella. The meatballs are rich, succulent and just a bit spicy with notes of red pepper and oregano. The sauce is zesty and delicious and goes well with the strongly flavored meatballs and the gooey, delicious mozzerella. One of my favorite pizzas in the area for sure. If you haven't sampled the fare at Matchbox yet, I would highly recommend doing so.

713 H Street in NW DC

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