Flor de Luna

I don’t love trying out new restaurants right after they open all that often. But when it’s a family-owned restaurant that serves Latin-American cuisine, I’m there. It’s also great when it’s very close to where I live.

So, my friend and I checked out Flor de Luna in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD recently. If you know that area, it’s 1/2 block from Whole Foods. So, we called to make a reservation and we could only get in at 6:30pm (I think vs 6:00). Basically I say that because they made it sound like they were packed and it was empty in there (and it wasn’t getting busier). I think there were 2 other tables filled.

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The menu said that Happy Hour went until 7 so we ordered some margaritas and mentioned that it was great that HH was on Sundays. He said, well, oh no, it’s not on weekends. We mentioned that nowhere did it mention that, either on the menu, signs, or website. He just sort of shook his head. Not good advertising and way to mention things. The waiter also said with all this they don’t serve margaritas on Sundays because as of right now the bartender isn’t there (just opened) so they can’t make the drink. He said he could try, we mentioned we would really appreciate that, happy hour price didn’t matter.

Note, when it did eventually come, service was slow, it was an awesome margarita! Nice work non-bartender!

We started looking over the menu, this was while enjoying a very unique opaque dip (no picture). It looked like a cheese dip but I was guaranteed there was no cheese/dairy in it. It was just so emulsified, but it was all good.

While skimming the menu we noticed several mistakes for the new venue…lots of typos, such as a staple for this type of restaurant, you could get ‘guacamole deep.’

Moving on, it was a cold night and I decided to get the Seafood Soup — Fish, mussels, squid, shrimp, and scallops in fish broth. I was about $16 or so, and was sure hoping it was going to have a good amount of seafood in it. That was an understatement when I got the bowl. This picture does it no justice at all. So much good stuff in here. Absolutely amazing.

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My friend opted for the Carne Asada — New York stake (*another typo, I copied and pasted) served with rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. My friend quite enjoyed it, all tasted very good.

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During the meal, the owner of the restaurant came out to meet us, very nice. I unfortunately can’t remember where she is originally from but it was great to see who cooked our delicious food. We eventually finished everything and asked for our check. Our waiter delivered it and did make the margaritas the happy hour price as he mentioned they should be based on what was advertised/mentioned. Thanks and nice work for ‘saving’ yourself.

Very nice dinner and will definitely go back and try several other choices from the menu. I also hope their business starts to pick up. I think I went in the first week or two from when they opened so it’s very likely this will be the case.

Carluccio’s

Yet another new restaurant has been added to one of the growing areas just north of Washington, DC on the red line.  In Pike & Rose, the latest restaurant to open its doors is Carluccio’s.  They are so new that they haven’t even added this location to their website.  Went during their soft opening and you could tell things were still getting worked on/staff trained.  Took awhile to get service at some points, when waiters were just standing there chatting with each other or doing nothing.  But overall a good experience.

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You have to pay for bread at this Italian place.  I was not impressed with that.  Tried a bellini and it was nice.

Also ordered some Caponata which was very tasty!

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For dinner, I opted for the Insalata al Abruzzese – an Italian-style Nicoise. Per the menu it was albacore tuna, green beans, sweet peppers, vine tomatoes, new potatoes, anchovy fillets, salad leaves and soft boiled eggs with olive oil vinaigrette. I was disappointed when it arrived and the tuna was albacore tuna from a can.  I expected it to be a grilled steak.  Nonetheless, it was good.  The anchovies added a nice taste.

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My friend ordered a basic Spaghetti con Polpette, with their house-made meatballs served with spaghetti and tomato basil sauce.  Exactly what it was labeled.

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Will totally check this place out again and see how it progresses as it gets a little ‘older’.

Stella Barra, North Bethesda

North Bethesda/Rockville (whatever the Postal Service decides to truly name it) is growing.  In Pike & Rose there are several new restaurants and I checked out Stella Barra last week.  It’s a pizzeria with several other options on the menu.

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My friend and I decided to split a pizza, but after being told it takes at least 20 minutes for pizza to be ready, we opted for an appetizer, as well.

For the first course, we decided on the Cauliflower Hummus.

IMG_3448It was delicious, and loved that it came with both pita and veggies.  But, I will say, $14…for hummus…really?  I would rather make it at home or go to the store and buy something similar. They know people will try a place and order whatever in this area and just want to be out (and I am guilty of it this time).  Will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

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For the pizza, we opted for their special of the night, with beets and goat cheese as the prime toppings, with the Grana nixed. Interesting how they can make a whole pizza for $3 more than hummus.  I sweet talked the waiter to into giving us arugula since I can’t do the ‘regular’ cheese.  We got it.

IMG_3446It was delicious!  Perfectly cooked and amazing flavors all around.  All the food was paired with beer and red wine, too.

IMG_3451Totally worth checking this place out, despite the price, because all the restaurants in the area are about the same.