Two: Nicholas Restaurant
Whenever I go to Nicholas, which is not nearly often enough, I have a spinach pie (from the pizza menu) and a bowl of lentil soup. In the past, I’ve experimented with various kabobs and mezza platters (you can have vegan, vegetarian, or meaty) and they’ve all been great, but now I’ve settled on the tangy spinach pie (filled with chopped spinach, onions, pinenuts, and sumac) and the subtle lentil soup (great for dunking all that warm, fluffy pita in). Go early in the day or expect to wait; this little spot in SE Grand is always busy.
Four: Miss Delta
The last time I suggested Mississippi Avenue’s Miss Delta to a friend, I was asked if the food was “South Carolina-Southern” or “Cajun-Southern” and I was rather at a loss to answer. I thought of the blackened cajun snapper and red beans over rice, and then of the crispy herbed fried chicken and vegan collard greens. I still don’t know how to classify the food at this fantastic little place, and I don’t particularly care. From the buttered brussels sprouts to the personal-sized pies to the 40-ounce PBR served over ice in a paint can, I love Miss Delta and I’ll call it whatever you want, so long as you go there.
I had the margherita pizza with housemade mozzarella when I ate at Nostrana. I asked for fresh arugula on it too, applied right when the pizza came out of the wood-burning oven so the greens wilted just a little under the drizzle of olive oil. The sweet basil, creamy cheese and tangy rocket sang glorious notes atop perfect tomato sauce and a bubbly, crispy crust. Pizza will never be the same again. The meal was capped by Cathy’s four-ingredient gelato: the pistachio flavor tasted more like toasted pistachios than the nut itself. I don’t know how she does it but, oh my, she does it well.