UPDATE 5/10/2009: Stay away from this place if you can at all help it. After a couple recent visits, I have sworn never to return. How many times do people have to send pizzas back at this place for the chefs to realize that they're not cooking the pizzas long enough. I saw at least two other tables around us send their pizzas back. I felt like calling the manager over and asking him to pick up one of my slices to try to eat it. The pizza was a soggy mess and it was impossible to pick up a piece without all the cheese just sliding off. I had a caesar salad that had ONE crouton and was missing the parmesan cheese. The dressing had way too much acid in it and the cold chunks of chicken were like eating leather . Anyway, just a warning. Now on with the original review...
Back in May, on one of my numerous trips to Rockville Town Square, I noticed this new Neapolitan Pizza restaurant called Oro Pomodoro right by the fountain that my son likes to play in. People seemed to be enjoying the pizza and pasta they were eating and it peaked my curiosity right away as I'm always looking for a good Neapolitan pizza place. Up until now I've dined there five times, and I'll probably continue to go back, mostly out of convenience.
The first time I visited Oro Pomodoro, I instinctively ordered a pizza. A good Margherita is a tell tale sign of a good Neapolitan Pizza place and will quickly tell you if the restaurant you're at knows it's shit or is just another 2 Amys wannabe. The pizza was brought to our table and I immediately noticed a pool of water/oil/undersirableness in the center. Basically, there was too much cheese. There should not be a solid layer of cheese on a Neapolitan pizza, especially if they're using buffalo mozzarella.
In subsequent visits, despite ordering the pizza "well done", "extra crispy", "extra charred", "burnt", (I literally tried all of those ordering techniques) the pizzas have come out the same way. Now I'm no pizzaiola, but this says to me that the oven is just not hot enough or the kitchen isn't cooking the pizzas long enough.
The pizza's saving grace a basic flavorful sauce and the dough, a perfect combination of salty chewiness that I've come to expect in a pizza crust. For those of you that are crust fiends like me, it's as good if not better than 2 Amys. No joke. Unfortunately, the crust and sauce can't make up for the overloading of cheese and under cooking. I really think if the kitchen gets the cheese and cooking time/oven temperature correct, Oro Pomodoro will produce excellent pizzas.
Oro Pomodoro received big points for their delicate, yet rich eggplant parmesan (although they need to reduce the amount of sauce), saffron-flavored risotto balls, fresh yellow tomato salad, and plentiful cheese plate with a variety of Italian cheeses, but the rest of the menu, falls short of greatness.
While the mozzarella bar is a noble attempt to gather favor among cheese heads like me, the portions of cheese are too small. I once ordered a melon and burrata salad of the cheese bar menu that was loaded with melon but had 6 small clumps of burrata. When you're paying an extra $3 for the burrata, you expect a little more than that on the plate. The bites that I had with the cheese were phenomenal, but I can't ignore the portion size. I wish they'd take some cheese off the pizzas and put it on their salads.
Pastas are mixed too, so order carefully. A ziti with pancetta and fava beans was a greasy mess (actually wasn't on the menu that last time I went), but the pears and robiola cheese ravioli topped with mascarpone cream was original and flavorful. I also thought the homemade rigatoni with a veal ragu is one of the better pastas I've had in a while.
Last, but not least, something new for the DC-Metro restaurant scene...Charging For Olive Oil. BWAH?! You can get samples of olive oil from different regions of Italy, varying in richness for about $3 each or a sampler for $6. Oro Pomodoro is very generous with bread because you get it with just about every dish, but what happened to just putting a bottle of olive oil on every table?
From the front of the house to the bus people, everyone seems rushed, but also attentive. What that means is that you may wait a while for that glass of wine, but they'll also notice when you only eat half of your salad. Along those same lines, the servers seem very willing to do the right thing when something comes out miscooked or wrong.
I'll plan to keep returning to Oro Pomodoro with the deepest hopes that the pizza improves. In the mean time, I'll order carefully and carry a blow torch around with me.
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Plenty of parking in the town square parking garages. No valet.
Smoking: Not Allowed in Montgomery County
Closest Metro: Rockville
Reservations: Tables are first come, first serve. The bar is usually empty.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 3 out of 4 diapers. It's a pizza place in the 'burbs, so Oro Pomodoro is very kid friendly. I'd give it 4 diapers if it wasn't for that a couple times I've had to go and find my own child seat.