When we moved to Alexandria almost four years ago, the biggest factor we weighed when choosing where to live was proximity to my new office. While convenient, this ended up landing us in a strange semi-residential, mostly-business community just outside of Old Town. Back then, this area was chain restaurant hell—a since-closed Ruby Tuesday, an always average Ted’s Montana Grill, and a California Tortilla were our only options within a short walk from our apartment.
There was one local restaurant nearby, however, that people seemed to like called Delia’s Brick Oven Pizza. A regional mini-chain with a few locations in Northern Virginia, this place seemed like just the kind of neighborhood restaurant you’d want within a short walk from home. Unfortunately, our first meal at Delia’s was so bad, we didn’t return there for nearly three years.
Our first time at Delia’s, I ordered a pasta dish, and, to this day, I still can’t remember exactly what made me hate it so much. It’s like I’d completely blocked the unpleasant experience from my memory. Whatever the cause, I became unreasonable in my resistance to trying this restaurant a second time, despite it being less than a five minute walk away.
Thankfully, Kathleen recently prevailed upon me to give it another try. We’ve eaten there twice over the last month and both meals were fantastic. I avoided the pasta, but this still left plenty from which to choose.
Delia’s menu features pizza, obviously, but their Mediterranean seafood offerings really steal the show. The fried calamari, lightly topped with lemon aioli, is some of the best we’ve ever had.
Even more impressive is their grilled octopus. Tender, thick, and beautifully seasoned with lots of olive oil, oregano, and some other delicious Mediterranean spices, it’s hard to believe you’re eating this amazing seafood dish in Virginia and not on some remote Mediterranean island.
Their pizza is also very enjoyable, if just shy of great. We particularly like the Classico, which comes loaded with hot pepperoni, sausage, and a spicy tomato sauce. Their wine list is surprisingly deep and especially inviting on Wednesdays, when all bottles are half price.
I don’t know what went so wrong when we first dined at Delia’s a couple years ago, but returning there has really proven that you can’t always judge a restaurant by just one meal. Sometimes, it takes a little effort to determine where a restaurant excels (in Delia’s case, it’s seafood). Not all second chances will result in success—some restaurants inevitably just suck. Other times, though, you might just get lucky like we did, and you’ll discover a new favorite hidden somewhere you’d previously overlooked.