In the words of ’80s fem rocker Pat Benatar, “Brunch is a battlefield.”
OK, OK. While she may have actually used the word “love,” we all know that love and brunch are easily interchangeable. On Sunday morning, I rolled out of bed and donned my brunching battle gear: a pair of Wayfarer sunnies, bright red lipstick, and the will to eat as many carbs as my body could handle.
I made my way to the adorable Halstead Square shopping center in Merrifield, Virginia, to brunch with my Bitches from Linda Roth Associates, who were nice enough to invite me to try Ovvio Osteria, the newest addition to the shopping center.
“We could see your bright red lipstick from across the parking lot!” Morgan shrieked upon my arrival. Good, I thought, the lipstick is doing its job by distracting them from the fact that I was slightly hungover.
We made our way into the restaurant and opted for a seat by the large windows, instead of the large patio, due to my aforementioned mental state. The restaurant has a farm-like chic ambiance about it. The hardwood tables and stained concrete flooring are offset by hounds tooth high-backed chairs and dark quilted leather booths.
I felt as if I was in an upscale Southern restaurant in the country, instead of an Italian restaurant in the middle of Merrifield. I had been to dinner at Ovvio Osteria prior to our brunch date and had thought the same thing. My dinner experience was rather mediocre, however, and I was hoping that brunch would surpass my expectations.
We barely had a chance to mull over the menu because we were too busy gabbing about our weekends, our love lives, and everything in between when our server arrived. Brunching with Kelsey and Morgan was similar to brunching with Mary-Kate and Ashley, if they had been triplets. We had established at the beginning of the meal that we each had to order something different, but every time we had decided on something and revealed it to the others we always all came to the same dish conclusion.
When we first gave our drink orders we all had something different. I was decided on an unsweetened tea, Kelsey was insistent on staying with water, and Morgan decided to ask further about their selections. By the time the server had listed off their whole brunch selection all three of us in unison said we wanted the Bellini. So much for ordering different things!
The server continued to list off the specials of the day after our drinks had been ordered. Before she could continue, Kelsey made the executive decision that we needed the stuffed squash blossoms and the watermelon topped with soft cheese and a balsamic reduction.
We continued to gossip until our Bellinis touched the table and then instantaneously Morgan and I began snapping pictures with our smart phones. “My boyfriend always says ‘Food is for eating, NOT for tweeting!’” said Morgan as she got a particularly artsy angle of our drinks. The time had finally come to order our main meal.
Morgan opted for the Pork Milanese Benedict composed of house-made biscuits, sausage gravy, zabaglione, and poached eggs. Kelsey went for the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. I decided on panic with a side of indecisive considering they chose my first and second choice dishes, those Bitches.
I looked up to the server with a look of sheer cluelessness and asked for her expert opinion on what I should order. She recommended the ricotta zeppoli, i.e.doughnut holes covered in sugar served with chocolate sauce and orange crème. Obviously I readily agreed to this option and ordered a side of potato cakes, just in case we didn’t have enough carbs.
As the server stepped away, our appetizers arrived. We eagerly scooped a serving of each onto our plates and consumed them in total silence. The squash was cooked to absolute perfection. Each squash blossom was lightly breaded, fried, and coated with marinara sauce and ricotta cheese. For a fried dish, it was delicate, light, and absolutely delicious.
The watermelon dish was unreal. The watermelon was incredibly fresh, crisp, and sweet. The balsamic and cheese topping balanced the sweetness of the watermelon and resulted in each of us fighting for the last bite.
After we stuffed ourselves silly from these delectable appetizers, our main dishes arrived. I could tell you all day that we each ordered a dish, but after they touched the table and we had snapped pictures of them all, it was every woman for herself. Forks were flying from every which-way and from dish to dish.
My doughnuts were delicious and sugar laden, although a bit heavy for my liking. The sauces that accompanied the dish were light and the perfect pairing, although my favorite was a side order of house-made plum jam. The tartness of the jam cut through the sugariness of the dough to give it a well-balanced flavor.
Morgan’s eggs benny with a twist was by far my favorite dish on the table. It was a unique take on traditional Eggs Benedict with a biscuit instead of an English muffin, and a slab of pork instead of Canadian bacon. It was savory, tasty, and the perfect heaviness.
Kelsey’s Lemon Ricotta Pancakes were a close second. They weren’t as light and fluffy as Brickside’s, but the blueberry compote complimented them perfectly and had me coming back bite after bite.
One thing that stood out about Ovvio Osteria than other brunches I have been to in the past, was that quality was of paramount importance for the eatery. Their dishes and drinks are made with quality, fresh ingredients, and although it takes a little longer it is absolutely worth it.
The Bitches say: B+ For a unique take on brunch, an adorable atmosphere, and a pet-friendly patio. But my sub-par dinner experience makes me ponder if it would be consistent.
2727 Merrilee Drive
Ovvio Osteria serves brunch on Sundays.