Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Where to eat in Montgomery County (MD): Ricciuti's at The Olney House

As I mentioned the other day, family visits these days increasingly seem to involve culinary escapades--a tradition that was upheld during my recent trip to Maryland to visit the in-laws. Sasha and I offered to treat everyone to dinner as a thank-you for putting us up for a few days (and also for tolerating such long absences between visits). After much deliberation, we selected Ricciuti's, a fairly new restaurant in Olney, MD. Although our family had heard good things about the restaurant, nobody had eaten there yet, so it was a big experiment we could all conduct together.

Ricciuti's at The Olney House, Olney, Maryland
The restaurant is located in the historic Olney House, built in 1800 and named after the hometown of English poet William Cowpers. It is a really lovely old building that has either been well taken care of over the years, or nicely restored. Like many places that old, it was a bit dark inside, but, luckily, we were seated right next to a large, bright window overlooking the patio.

As per usual when I explore a new restaurant, I'd tried to eat a very light lunch so that I would have room for as many courses as I wanted at dinnertime. As a result, I was absolutely famished by the time we were shown to our table. I was very relieved that the waiter quickly brought us a loaf of warm, freshly baked bread to nibble on while we contemplated the menus.

Who can say no to fresh bread--particularly when it comes with butter?

I was also able to fill my stomach with some delicious homemade lemonade. I'd been tempted to order the artisanal root beer--that's my favorite type of pop and it's difficult, if not impossible, to find in the UK--but ultimately I had to choose the lemonade because it is the quintessential beverage of summer.

Homemade lemonade--tangy, with only a hint of sugar. Yum.

I started off my evening with a fruity version of an insalata caprese. This one was made with grilled peaches, mozzarella, and pea tendrils all covered in a drizzle of basil balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was amazing, mostly because the peaches were perfectly ripe; the grilling process had only served to heighten their flavor and make them even more melt-in-your-mouth-able.

Insalata caprese made with peaches instead of tomatoes. The fruit was supplied by Falcon Ridge Farm.

For my entree, I selected the sesame miso stir fry. The only real drawback of this option was that it involved a massive amount of food. There was easily enough on my plate to serve two people; even if I hadn't eaten an appetizer, there was no way I could have made my way through the entire portion on my own.

Stir fry made with Carolina gold rice, seasonal veggies, toasted cashews, and organic kale chips

A part of me (the one that's still only 8 years old) had wanted to order the macaroni and cheese, but I just couldn't reconcile myself to the sheer number of calories this would involve. Luckily, my step-brother-in-law is not concerned with such things, so I was able to live vicariously through him.

Macaroni and cheese made with smoked Gouda, Parmesan, apple wood bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and shitake mushrooms. Another reason I didn't order this dish was that I hate sun-dried tomatoes, but...cheese! and mushrooms! and...bacon!

Elsewhere around the table, my father-in-law was eating the Chesapeake rockfish filet...

Chesapeake rockfish filet with Carolina gold rice, zucchini gratin, and charred jalapeno vinaigrette

...while my mother-in-law tried the chicken Saltimbocca:

Chicken Saltimbocca with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fettucini, sundried tomatoes, and pan sauces

...and Sasha was enjoying the grilled BBQ meatloaf:

BBQ meatloaf off the grill, made from local beef, and served with chive mashed potatoes, braised collards with bacon and onions, and espresso BBQ sauce. You really can't get much more American than that.

As you can see, the restaurant has quite a variety of styles and flavors, though one consistent theme was that many of the ingredients (particularly the produce) were sourced locally. In fact, the menu included a long list of all the farmers, growers, vintners, fishermen, and so on affiliated with the restaurant. Knowing that my food was "green" helped me enjoy it all the more.

Despite the fact that I was rather stuffed and hadn't even managed to clean my dinner plate, I decided to go ahead an indulge in dessert. What the heck. I rarely eat dessert, but sometimes I am tempted to give it a try when I go out to a particularly nice restaurant and find something fruity on the sweets menu. Lots of places only have dishes with chocolate, caramel, and other intense and heavy flavors that do not entice me. Ricciuti's, however, offered several fruity concoctions--including a very unusual one that I just had to try:

Grilled fruit pound cake with strawberry ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a tuile
I forget now whether the pound cake was peach-flavored or lemon flavored. Either way, it was very nice, and I love the idea of grilling it. However, pound cake can be a bit dry, so I either needed a smaller piece of cake or a bigger scoop of ice cream in order to create a better moisture balance. (For this same reason, the tuile was a bit superfluous.) Despite this problem, the dessert was still enjoyable because the flavors were very light and summery.

Everyone else at the table also indulged in dessert. My step-brother-in-law tried the blueberry pie:

Blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream.
...while my father-in-law had the tiramisu (also with a tuile--tuiles galore at Ricciuti's!):

Tiramisu with unnecessary, and unnecessarily giant, tuile
...and both Sasha and my mother-in-law ordered the peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream:

Peach cobbler (with some apples thrown in for good measure) and vanilla ice cream

As you can see, we are a family that does not hold back when it comes to gastronomic experiences. 

There are, of course, many other restaurants vying for your attention in the DC area, but a combination of good location, historical charm, locally-sourced ingredients, and good flavors makes Ricciuti's well worth the visit. To top it all off, our bill was very reasonable despite our many courses, so your excellent culinary experience will also be an affordable one.

Ricciuti's is located at 3308 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Maryland, 20832. Phone: 301-570-3388.

No comments:

Post a Comment