National Hamburger Week Day 5: Pizzeria Orso, Falls Church


If there's one food out there that makes us all antsy in our pantsy as much as burgers do, it's gotta be pizza. Practically the only thing that breaks up our day-to-day burger consumption is a slice or five of a pie (Pizza Days anyone??). So when the stars and planets aligned and Eater DC declared this past week Pizza Week --the SAME week as National Hamburger Week.... well, hell, we just about passed out. (Granted, that may have been a preemptive strike by our bodies to prevent a cholesterol OD, but whatever, we'll Lipitor that shit.)

When Will Artley came in as chef at Falls Church's Pizzeria Orso and added a burger to the menu, the joint immediately blipped up on the Burger Days radar. We had feasted on Orso's Neapolitan pies before, but now with a burger in the mix, there was another task at hand.

"I added the burger to the menu because I love the quality of local meat that is available right now," Artley told us, "and I love burgers." Right on, Will. Right on.

Now, the burger's menu description won't jump out at you-- it's actually pretty boring. The "Certified Black Angus Burger" comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and cheddar for ten bucks. Yawn. But, since some of the best burgers we've ever had (including from Orso's sister restaurant 2941) were nothing but cheeseburgers, we were hopeful about this one.

Our Orso burger experience got off to a rocky start when the burgs came out to us missing their cheese. Now, you can forget the pickle, you can forget the onion, but when you forget such a key ingredient as the cheese, you're playing with our bellies and, therefore, playing with our emotions. It was a quick fix, however, as the missing cheese dilemma was solved by a refire of the burgers and they returned with melted white cheddar atop the patties.

One of the first things we noticed with the burg (aside from the lack of cheese) was the bun. It was toasted nicely, but it looked big and hard and we were worried it might get in the way of the burger. And in fact, it did take center stage here, but not for the reasons we feared. The house-made roll was a yeasty sucker but we really, really liked it. 

As for the beef, an 8 oz. patty of 80/20 Black Angus, well maybe it was because of the refire, but our medium rare-ordered patty came out much more on the medium side of the spectrum and unfortunately that affected the juiciness. While there was a significant and tasty char to the outside of the beef, the middle was left drier than our liking. The lettuce, tomato and onion hooked up a nice crunch and bite, but there was also just something missing here. Fortunately for our return trips, Artley tells us that anything they put on a pizza they can put on a burger, so there's no doubt we'll be doing our best mad-scientist impressions as we search for the perfect combination of toppings.

The accompanying fries were a standout from the meal, best described as Five Guys-like but with a bit more crunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the fresh-cut spuds.

Now, for all those saying "yeah, but you don't go to a pizza place and order a burger, well screw you, because you know what, yes WE do. We completely understand that pizza is the specialty here, but if you put a burger on the menu, then it's fair game and we're going to eat it. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

And who said we didn't get any pizza?

Being pizza week and all, Chef Artley hooked up with Eater DC to offer up a special limited-time pie and of course we snagged ourselves one. Artley went Big Lebowski with the special, hooking up Da Dude which comes topped with smoked ewes blue cheese, mozzarella, olli speck and the ingredient of the season, ramps. And good Lord, is this thing is good. We're a big fan of Neapolitan pies in general and this one does Naples proud. Da Dude is available through the end of the week for $14.

Back to the burgers, Artley tells us he's got plans for two additional signature burgers which will be featured on his upcoming brunch menu, so as soon as that's released, we'll come at you with the scoop on them.

Pizzeria Orso | 400 South Maple Avenue | Falls Church | | @pizzeriaorso

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