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Take Advantage of these Restaurant Week Deals
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Take Advantage of these Restaurant Week Deals

— Alexandria’s winter Restaurant Week returns for another year from Feb. 17-26, allowing diners to experience special menus and special deals from a passel of the city’s best restaurants. Here are a few must-trys that are off the beaten path.

Café Pizzaiolo, 1623 Fern St.

This pizza purveyor near Fairlington doesn’t need a Restaurant Week stint to boost its popularity, but a $35-for-two menu doesn’t hurt all the same. While the prix-fixe menu doesn’t offer all of Pizzaiolo’s favorites, it does highlight some of the restaurant’s hallmarks and just might introduce you to an item you haven’t tried before.

The eponymous Pizzaiolo Salad, for instance, is worth your time on or off the week’s special menu. With peppers and tomato caprese atop a bed of mixed greens and finished off with some Parmesan, the salad is an interesting number bite for bite and one that you’ll want to come back for on its own as an entrée another time. For an entrée, choose between the salmon with risotto or a Neapolitan-style pizza topped with sausage — and honestly, as a party of two, why not try both?

Finish off the meal with some gelato or tiramisu and you’ve hit all the major food groups for the evening – and have perhaps found some new go-tos along the way.

Bastille, 606 N. Fayette St.

Walk into Bastille and there’s a near-instant feeling of upper-echelon French dining in a comfortable, unpretentious atmosphere. Add in the celebratory feelings of Restaurant Week and you’ve got an evening to remember.

Unlike other Restaurant Week participants, Bastille offers up an extensive version of a prix-fixe menu for its dinnertime selection. Rather than choosing from a couple of options, the café hosts a wide array of favorites to mix and match. For an appetizer, try the cheese board or the beignets de crevettes (savory breaded shrimp “beignets”). The main course offers an array of options for nearly every palate, ranging from French standard Coq au Vin in a deep red wine sauce to an Angus beef hangar steak with – what else? – French fries alongside. Vegetarians won’t be left out, either; a sunchoke and spinach risotto seems sure to hit the spot.

Bastille’s dessert menu is extensive, but you could do worse than the crème caramel with bourbon raisin compote. Bon appetit!

Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, 401 E. Braddock Road

While dinnertime options often get top billing during Restaurant Week, many participants offer a prix-fixe lunch, as well – for a lower price. This helps diners maximize their tasting menus for a more reasonable price – and maybe stretch their dollar across several eateries, too.

It’s safe to say that Lena’s lunchtime menu rivals its dinnertime selection and in a few cases even edges out the latter. The polenta fries alone put a point in the luncheon column; the light-and-airy yet substantive-and-hearty polenta cakes are a mainstay at Lena’s, and to omit them from your plate would be a crime. (Note also that said polenta fries aren’t offered on the dinner Restaurant Week menu – choose your timing wisely.)

Dive into a half-panini with soup or salad for a main course; the meatball Panini stars Lena’s famous giant meatball, which is as advertised, and served with marinara sauce and provolone on a hoagie roll. Or for something less protein-heavy, go with the vegetable Panini, which sports an array of roasted veggies such as eggplant, portabella, sweet peppers, and more accompanied by pesto and mozzarella and nestled in focaccia bread.

Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at hope@kitchenrecessionista.com.

Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at hope@kitchenrecessionista.com.