I am so completely psyched that Matchbox (of Chinatown and Capitol Hill fame) has opened a new location in Rockville. It's right in Congressional Plaza as a stand-alone building which is conveniently located not far from my work or home! Lookie there.
Being Friday, we headed there for a long lunch to check out the new digs. I am so impressed with the looks of it both outside and in. Sure, it matches the rest of the shopping center from the outside, but that particular shopping center is quite nice-looking anyway. When we walked up, the first thing we noticed was a large outdoor area that is currently under construction. Large heat lamps hang above the whole area which includes a large stone firepit encircled by a standing bar ledge, and a separate outdoor bar. Can't wait for that to open!!
The inside has an open floor-plan except for a separate cozy bar area off to the right. When you walk in the first thing you see is the pizza oven. There is seating in front of the oven in case you want to watch the pros in action. There are metal stairs that lead to the second floor, which is a row of booths and tables that overlook the rest of the restaurant. The ceilings are exposed and the front and back walls have old recycled wood slats nailed to them, creating a log cabin-industrial-chic look. Yes, I just made that up, let's go with it. One unfortunate thing we noted on the second floor, where we sat, is the heat. In fact, we overheard a fellow diner say "man, it's a sauna up here!" as he walked past. It's probably a combination of the open floor plan and the midday sun beating in through the windows with inadequate shading. It wasn't the end of the world and probably wouldn't be too hot at night.
Food! I was keeping my expectations low for the food and service departments, since they just opened this week. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the service was fast and friendly, if not friendlier than the Chinatown Matchbox. The food was also just as good as any I'd had in Chinatown. I didn't order the pizzas, but my fellow diners seemed to enjoy every last bite of the ones they ordered (sopressata and wild mushroom, veggie, and Q special). They looked nice and crispy-charred and fresh from the oven. I ordered the Chicken Muffeletta with a side salad instead of chips. The sandwich contained chicken, serrano ham, provolone, spinach, and olive tapenade on focaccia bread. I was nervous that the tapenede would be overpowering to the rest of the components, but it wasn't at all. The whole thing was a bit greasy, but that's my only complaint. The side salad was fresh and delicious. No one left hungry, that's for sure.
I can't wait to go back for happy hour or dinner to see what the nightlife is like there. There were a decent amount of people there for lunch so it looks like their reputation has preceded them. Viva la Matchbox!
1699 Congressional Pike (@ Congressional Plaza)
Rockville, MD 20852