What’s happening on the local food scene
Comings & Goings
Francis Namin, who owns local chainlet Fish Taco, will open Piccoli Piatti Pizzeria in the former Oakville Grille space in Bethesda’s Wildwood Shopping Center in 2020.
Local barbecue chain Red White & Blue closed its Gaithersburg outlet in July.
Fuddruckers on Rockville Pike and Tapp’d Bethesda closed in August.
Hiro Sushi in White Flint Plaza closed in September.
Bethesda restaurant Thelo Greek Grill closed in September to make way for a new building, but plans to reopen this winter in another location, as yet undisclosed.
Recently opened: Check out our Dining Guide for details on Locavino (Silver Spring), MOD Pizza (Rockville), PLNT Burger (Silver Spring), Poke Dojo (Bethesda), Silver Diner (Gaithersburg), Silver Strings (Silver Spring) and Sisters Thai (Potomac).
Eyes on the Pies
Stephanie Orantes, who has been the baker at Henry’s Sweet Retreat in Bethesda since it opened in October 2016, loves pies so much she can’t get enough of them. Sometimes she can’t make enough of them, either, because it gets so crazy busy at the holidays.
The 31-year-old Silver Spring resident grew up in Rockville and knew from an early age that she wanted to cook professionally. While attending Thomas Edison High School of Technology’s restaurant management and culinary arts program, she realized she wanted to specialize in pastry. Her next stop was Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, where she earned an associate of science degree in baking and pastry in 2008. Her resume includes stints at Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda and three places that are now closed (CakeLove in Tysons Corner, Ripple restaurant in Washington and Eventide in Arlington). She and her husband then moved to Philadelphia, where Orantes worked for Barbuzzo restaurant. Less than two years later, a job opportunity for her husband brought the couple back to Maryland. That’s when Orantes saw the ad for a baker at Henry’s and jumped at the opportunity.
“I’m the most comfortable here,” Orantes says. “I like being in a place where I can do a variety of things—like cookies, bars, cupcakes, pies, cakes—instead of being stuck doing the same thing over and over. [Co-owner Patty Craver] is always very open to what I want to do. We always come together with our ideas. I found a good place to be.”
She loves holiday time and loves making pies. For Thanksgiving, she’ll make at least 100. Apple brown Betty, pecan and pumpkin pies are bestsellers, but the baker’s personal favorite is gingerbread pie, a recipe she developed because she’s crazy for ginger. “It’s bold and distinctive and versatile and holds its own even if you pair it with something rich, like eggnog,” she says.
To make the pie, Orantes bakes her butter-based pie crust, then fills it with gingerbread mousse. She garnishes the pie with crushed gingersnaps and whipped cream. When she really wants to impress, she surrounds the pie with gingerbread people cookies. (The 9-inch pie serves eight and sells for $28.) One forkful and you’ll be impressed, too.