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Pizzeria Orso and the art of pizzamaking

Pizzeria Orso and the art of pizzamaking
Pizzeria Orso and the art of pizzamaking
James George

“Orso” is the Italian name for bear. Why would one name a pizzeria after a bear?

Pizzeria Orso
James George

Back in Italy, the motherland for pizza, bears are nearly extinct.

“The marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) got extinct in the territory of Monti Sibillini National Park in the middle of the 19th century. The comeback of roaming individuals has been registered in the past 15 years from the retrieval of different signs. Since 2006 the presence of one male bear has been confirmed.”

The answer is that kids and people like bears. Virginians like bears and there are many bears still living here. Falls Church didn’t have any remaining bears until Pizzeria Orso arrived.

Much has been written about executive chef Will Artley who is in solid command at the Milano-style oven. Last evening he was the pizza baker, but he was quick to say that he just traded places with the pizza maker for a change. He normally makes them himself.

Having excellent pizza makers and bakers is essential, of course, in a pizzeria because in addition to the recipe, pizza making is an art.

It gets into your blood even if you are not Italian. When I was a teen, I was taught how to make pizza’s at a shop called “Bella.” Nick DeSantis owned the building that was operated by Bill Russell. DeSantis insisted that the pizzas be made to his standard, which was authentic. He lived next door and ordered pizza's a lot, for quality control.

Chef’s secret: The sauce -- not too much, and made with Italian tomatoes. Another secret: The dough and thin crispy crust. Another one: make the pizza by hand, no rollers. Still more: Use a Milano oven, wood-fired. OK, that’s what you get at Orso.

The chef looks like a tattooed bear too.

The artwork at Pizzeria Orso includes a tile motif of a bear eating pizza. There are paintings with bears, and a wood-carved bear at the cash register.

Best surprise: They serve Brussel sprout appetizers that are flash fried and taste better than Kale chips.

Pizzeria Orso is located on Maple Street real close to the Falls Church Arts gallery.

Pizzeria Orso
(703) 226-3460
400 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046