A Wood-Stoked Kitchen, and a Pie for Elvis
From the team in Northern Virginia that brought us Faccia Luna and Boulevard Woodgrill comes another sibling: Overwood (220 N. Lee St., Alexandria; 703-535-3340), a casual American restaurant that erases the memory of the late Ecco Cafe and takes its name from the way much of Overwood's food is prepared: inside a wood-stoked oven or smoker, or over a wood-fired grill.
The simplicity of the name is echoed in the dining rooms, which are set off with clean lines, soothing colors and cozy wooden booths. Gracing the walls, photographs taken around Alexandria reinforce Overwood's pitch to its neighbors. "Our location off the main drag suits us," co-owner Ryan Duncan said when he announced plans to open another restaurant. "We want to serve the locals in Old Town."
At first glance, the menu (dinner entrees are $9.95-$21.95) appears to have been lifted from Boulevard. From the "Sea" come blackened swordfish and crab cakes; from the "Land" come tender pork ribs and meatloaf. But closer examination reveals that Overwood is no identical twin. Harissa and shaved lemon light up an appetizer of calamari, and cumin is among the seasonings in an entree of lamb shank. The man behind the accents: Boubker "Rami" Errami, a native of Morocco (and the former chef at Faccia Luna).
Errami certainly understands the American way. The portions at Overwood are bountiful, and at least one recipe elicits smiles all around. In a nod to one of his favorite singers, the 37-year-old chef combines chopped bananas with whipped peanut butter in an Oreo crust, then garnishes the dessert with shaved chocolate and whipped cream.
Behold: the Elvis Pie.