I have to admit only having been to Matchbox‘s original location a few times. Not because I didn’t enjoy it (I did) but more because it just didn’t occur to me that often. With their opening on 8th St. SE (Barracks Row) that is set to change.
The Hill/H St. area is sorely lacking in pizza places. The upscale pizza craze has largely ignored the area until now. Even the planned Radius at the Ohio on H St. seems to be tabled in favor of a Tonic. Apparently the city’s pizza purveyors don’t think we have any interest in their wares over here. (In fairness, I am a big fan of the very traditional pizza from Bistro Italiano on D St. NE behind Schneider’s, and Armand’s isn’t terrible. Regardless, there certainly isn’t a glut of options.)
Matchbox opened on Friday the 5th, and I made it over for dinner on Sunday night. My friend and I got there just before 6, and were seated right away, but about 10 minutes later, the place was packed and stayed that way until we left. Not bad for a cold Sunday night. People familiar with the Chinatown location will recognize the similarities. What my friend (formerly a Hill resident, now a denizen of Southwest) and I most noticed was the variety of patrons. Lots of families, lots of folks watching the Steelers’ fourth quarter victory over Dallas at the bar, young couples and groups of friends all patiently waited to be seated or dined leisurely on the pizzas and burgers (I saw so many trays of burgers go by, it almost made me question our choice to split a flat-iron steak pizza.) The food was excellent, the service was speedy, and despite the fact that there was clearly a wait, we didn’t feel rushed to leave. Continues after the jump.
With the recent closing of both Marty’s and Finn MacCool’s, the timing of Matchbox’s opening couldn’t be better. (Not sure what is to become of Marty’s, the eternally mediocre, but nevertheless reliably so, “American restaurant.” Finn’s was bought by the folks at Lola’s, which will expand into the space.) Barracks Row has always seemed to me like a place that just can’t quite find its groove and the constant opening and closing of spots there seems to bear that out. (Yet Banana Cafe remains despite having really not good food. Do they stay open on the basis of mango margaritas, mojitos and the White Ray Charles alone? I like a piano bar as much as the next girl, but I’m amazed that they stay open year after year.)
Matchbox is currently open for dinner and this morning started brunch. Next weekend they will be open for brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. They are not currently open for lunch, but will be soon. They also have happy hour specials, late night bites and take out. Overall it is great to have them in the neighborhood, and they seemed to really have it together even after only being open for 2 days. (One glitch – there was a piece of wood, that oddly resembled a matchstick, in her salad. She didn’t make a big deal out of it, it was more of an oddity than anything. Both the gentleman clearing our table and our server apologized, and we all just laughed it off, attributing to the construction that only just finished the day they opened.) I expect that it will remain pretty crowded for some time to come, but if you’re in the neighborhood (and despite what I say about it not quite finding its way, there are plenty of reasons to check it out, not the least of which is Backstage Costumes) you shouldn’t be deterred from stopping in for a bite.
Special thanks to Alicia G. for letting me poach her awesome pics! Mine didn’t turn out so well, and even on my best day, mine would never be as good as hers!