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The Dish: Fried green tomatoes
The Location: Overwood, 220 N. Lee St., Alexandria, (703) 535-3340
The Price: $6.95
The Skinny: Executive chef B. “Rami” Errami hails from Morocco. He’s studied at the Culinary Institute of America, cooked in Belgium and other spots overseas, and has led the kitchen at Faccia Luna in Clarendon for years. So what the hell is he doing cooking up a Southern staple like fried green tomatoes at Overwood, the latest restaurant from the folks who brought us the Boulevard Woodgrill and Faccia Luna? Who knows, but if his tower of toothsome, golden-fried green tomatoes was any richer, it’d need to start its own charitable foundation. Errami begins with four very green (read: unripe and meaty) green tomato slices. He dips them in a coarse batter, fries ’em, sandwiches the crispy slices between thick layers of aged Vermont cheddar studded with Spanish piquillo peppers, places the entire leaning tower of tomatoes on a white plane flooded with jalapeno aioli, tops the architectural wonder with a tempura-fried Gulf shrimp, and then drizzles the entire concoction with balsamic vinegar. A clash of cultures never tasted so good; the dish balances tartness with creaminess and heat with enough fat to suffocate any raging fire. The balsamic vinegar lends the appetizer just the right touch of acidic sweetness to tie all the flavors together. And if you can’t find something in that neat tangle of ingredients to satisfy your pampered palate, then perhaps the tempura shrimp will do the trick. It is among the best fried crustaceans I’ve ever eaten—-crispy, nutty, firm, and fleshy. It’s a garnish with serious ambition. Perhaps ambition enough to be an entree of its own one day.