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American Flatbread, Broadlands - Closed

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American Flatbread at The Broadlands

From their website:

Coming soon: American Flatbread Kitchen in Ashburn, Virginia.

Slated to open May 2007, Ashburn Hearth in The Broadlands will offer our all-natural menu featuring local and organic ingredients grown in their community. Hello Virginia!

American Flatbread at The Broadlands

43170 Southern Walk Plaza

Ashburn, VA

(703) 723-7003

I've never been to one of their restaurants, but their frozen white pizza is delicious if you cook it just right. If I'm ever out that way, I'll have to check it out.

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They started up in Vermont as basically an add-on to a B&B/restaurant. The guy who does it, George, is part Native American (I think). He built his pizza oven with his bare hands with mud and rock from a nearby river. All the ingredients are high quality, delicious, and local. It is, if I may be so bold, the most perfect pizza in the universe.

The frozen versions are nothing compared to the real thing.

If the Ashburn location is anything like the original, I may die.

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Franchise: http://www.americanflatbread.com/restauran...ed_bakeries.htm

I've been to the original and while it's not Pepe's or Sally's it's still really, really good. There is a "feeling" to it, too. Their frozen is the best frozen pizza of anyone (on a pizza stone with olive oil drizzled on top) and I agree that it has nothing in common with Vermont. Still, "like minded people" are franchises and Ashburn ain't going to feel the same as the Green Mountains. And, I haven't said a word about crust.

American Flatbread may become the Five Guys of 2007, meaning sprouting everywhere with some much better than others.

And, THEY OPEN TOMORROW (Friday, June 1st) @4:30PM.

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American Flatbread at The Broadlands

From their website:

I've never been to one of their restaurants, but their frozen white pizza is delicious if you cook it just right. If I'm ever out that way, I'll have to check it out.

As with anyone that touts "all-natural menu featuring local and organic ingredients grown in their community", what do they do during the winter months to get ingredients? It will be interesting to see if this place can make it in Ashburn.

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If American Flatbread were at Wisconsin and Macomb it would have a line down the block waiting for it to open at 4:00PM. There would be long threads, replete with photographs of the pizza on websites like this, Chowhound and eGullet. And Sliceny would have already had numerous articles stoking excitement for the first real franchised outpost of the original Vermont landmark.

But it's not in Washington, neither Georgetown nor Dupont Circle nor Adams Morgan (where it should be). It's in a nondescript new strip shopping mall in the homogonized suburban outpost of Ashburn, Virginia (Ashburn!!!) where in the late afternoon vans outnumber cars in the parking lot four to one. One hundred and twenty four seats and one man made clay, wood burning pizza oven that bakes six pies at a time, moved several times to different spots in the oven over a five minute period.

On this, their opening weekend, most of the tables featured families, families almost all sharing one of three pies: pepperoni and peppers, sausage or tomato and three cheese. The six other pizzas they feature were nowhere to be seen. (i.e. sundried tomato and mushroom with caramelized onions and three cheeses, Kalamata olives with sweet red peppers, goat cheese, rosemary, red onions, mozzarella and garlic or pulled pork with chili bbq sauace and swiss chard with garlic and chives-among others).

This last is a special pie since virtually no one in Ashburn has taken the opportunity to taste it. It IS the single best pizza in the entire Washington, D. C. area and, yes, I am including MaComb street, the 5200 block of Connecticut and P street as well as M street. It is the signature of a truly great pie that has received virtually no fanfare from anyone-yet someone, somewhere should be on a rooftop with a trumpet blowing their lungs out to let the D. C. area take out a map and find their way to the hinterlands otherwise known as Ashburn.

It is a great pie, certainly more worthy of New Haven than the imposters on Connecticut avenue. The pepperoni and peppers is also very good, yet the pepperoni is quite oily and may actually detract a bit. Still very, very good but not on the level of the "bbq" pizza. As Pepe has become a legend for its clam pizza so should American Flatbread for its pulled pork with chili bbq sauce and swiss chard. It really is THAT good!

American Flatbread celebrates local farmers and suppliers noting their sources for many food items on the menu. They note that their pies are made with "100% organically grown wheat milled in a white flour with restored wheat germ, filtered water and kosher salt and fresh year." Their pizza baker is young and genuinely stoked to spread the word of the Flatbread; a real credit to their spirit as well as a fine baker. And the hand made clay oven IS the best pizza oven in the D. C. area where the wood burns literally in the middle flanked by shelves on either side with space for three pies on each. For myself the crust actually approached Wooster street in New Haven, it was that good.

Curiously, most tables had three or four people. Almost without exception they were all sharing ONE pie. American Flatbread's pizzas are not cheap: they are probably the most expensive in the D. C. area. Perhaps even any area I have been to anywhere. The bbq pizza was $20, pepperoni and peppers $19 and sausage $19. The pies are big. They are filling. Still, a pie should be shared by two, not by four. The menu also had a salad and two desserts, apple pie and a homemade brownie. No Diet Coke or Coke but excellent root beer along with 15 or so wines by the glass from a short but interesting list.

In Ashburn families are into sharing. They are also not into trying the unfamiliar. And that is my concern. I sincerely hope that American Flatbread is successful where it is. The owners plan on opening next in Reston and closer in. But for now they are stuck with their first outpost in Ashburn, a town where families need to be "educated" what to try. My guess is that it is going to be a hard go despite how delicious their pizzas are, or how crunchy their charred crust is-far superior to Comet, by the way! I actually doubt that most in Ashburn know what they have in American Flatbread or that really funny looking wood burning oven in the middle of room is Mecca for those who include pizza in their Last Supper.

In the meantime if you beat a path to their door-and you should, even if you live in Old Town Alexandria, or Fairfax for that matter both of which ache for a place like this!!!), don't expect much in ambience either inside or outside the door. Just go for the pie which is truly great, even by Macomb street standards.

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I went yesterday and lucked into being able to carry out two pizzas. Apparently they aren't planning on doing carry out as I was turned away by the girls working the door, but a woman who appeared to be one of the owners said they'd be willing since I was there at a time that wasn't too busy. Two more people arrived in the next five minutes asking for take out too. They may want to reconsider the policy or they are likely to lose a lot more business than just the people they turn away. It is a way to get people to sample the goods in an area that I'm sure consumes more carry out pizzas than eat in.

The pizzas we had were very good - a mushroom with caramelized onion and one with the same mushrooms and onion with sundried tomatoes and a very good locally made maple and fennel pork sausage - sweet and smoky with a nice crust that could have had a little more "rise" in the edge of the crust that you can get from a really hot oven and maybe a little more salt in the dough.

I was tempted by the special Joe H described but even I (who has been known to throw money at food in the past) balked at the price of $22 for what was described as a 12 inch pizza. It turns out that the pizzas are oval and bigger than a standard small Domino's 12 incher but the prices range from $13 for a basic cheese to $19 for the sausage with most in the higher end. Joe's right - Loudoun County may have the highest median household income in the country, but of my neighbors, most have several kids and not a lot of extra disposible income. They are going to be scared off from buying 2 or 3 pizzas for their family and spending nearly $75 or more for pizzas a salad and drinks.

I hope they do well - I'm sure I'll be back regularly. This is already the best pizza in Loudoun County and could be the best restaurant in Ashburn.

Also as a post script - two doors down from AF a new place is set to open called Calallo Cuisine. I tried googling but couldn't find anything about it, although the signage promises Caribbean cooking. Looks interesting.

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"They may want to reconsider the policy or they are likely to lose a lot more business than just the people they turn away. It is a way to get people to sample the goods in an area that I'm sure consumes more carry out pizzas than eat in."

Bill, I think you are exactly on the mark with your observations: Two pizzas with four drinks, tax and tip IS $75 and this will buy pizza and Cokes from Domino's for probably every weeknight-not just one. I'm also surprised that they don't do carryout-even Sally's, Pepe's and Santarpio's (one of the owners grew up in Boston on their pizza) have carryout. Obviously, I really liked this place-a lot with one particular pie putting it well over the top for me. But I see this concept working better in a much more urban location that may be less dependent on what seems to be almost exclusively family dining.

Also, when we were first served the bbq pizza a family of four walked by our table and the mother asked me which pizza it was-"it really looks good!" Later, with half of the pie left, I walked over to her table where she and her three children were sharing one pepperoni and pepper pizza and asked if she would like to try a slice. She said yes and offered the first bite to her 9 or 10 year old son. He quickly asked what it was. She said it was a pulled pork bbq pizza. He made a face and pushed it away! My point is that I don't think a lot of families are adventurous to try something like this. My wife suggested to the owners that with the restaurant half full, perhaps they could bake a bbq pizza and, with fifteen or so small slices, give them out to each table. She said they had discussed this the first night since no one was ordering it.

The real shame is that it is a special and may not be offered much longer if it doesn't sell. For me, this is their signature pie. My other concern is that excepting a salad and two desserts there is nothing else but nine pizzas offered.

My hope is that Sietsema visits it and writes about it. People have to find out about American Flatbread-it has to become a destination. Unfortunately, it is in an extremely difficult to find brand new shopping center which almost nobody in Ashburn even knew existed (we stopped in three gas stations asking for directions and were given the WRONG directions by a person who answered the phone at AF. I also discovered that not all Loudoun county maps have all of the streets printed on them; such as the street AF is on! The shopping center is still under construction with paving ongoing in the parking lot.) For anyone going there take the Toll road past Dulles airport and when you come to exit six (about four or five miles past Dulles) turn left. The shopping center is several blocks away and fronted by a 75,000 square foot Harris Teeter. American Flatbread is in a second, separate smaller center about a quarter mile beyond it.

As a side note I suspect that this Harris Teeter and perhaps several other new grocery stores are impacting the Dulles Wegman's. Recent weekend visits have found what I believe are somewhat smaller crowds in Wegmans. The Ashburn Harris Teeter is a really nice store.

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You're changing the topic. I wrote about an extraordinary pizza restaurant which I believe has the best crust (because of its oven) in the entire D. C. area. I offered specific reasons for why I believe there are problems unique to starting a store like this in the outer suburb of Ashburn, VA. As Bill mentioned there ARE differences between Ashburn and Glover Park or elsewhere in a city like Washington. I am not taking a shot at Ashburn; rather, I am talking about ALL similar suburbs. You can replace Ashburn with Manassas, St. Charles City, Millersville or Frederick. It may be wealthier and perhaps more educated but it is still populated with a majority of chain outposts similar to other outer suburban neighborhoods around the United States. Typically, these are family and typically familiar.

American Flatbread was opened in Ashburn because, in the owners' words, they live there. Obviously, I wouldn't have done this. Obviously, I would have opened in D. C. or in Old Town, Bethesda, close in Arlington or anywhere which has a somewhat different demographic.

Regardless of all this, I sincerely and deeply hope that the problems I anticipate do not happen. I honestly hope that I am truly wrong and this restaurant proves wildly successful and enduring.

But I want to move this digression back to the purpose of what I wrote: there is, indeed, a great pizza in the Washington area that has gone unnoticed, unmentioned and even this morning with no mention on Chowhound, still undiscovered by most who frequent boards like this or food blogs. Talk about the personal implications of demographic value judgments elsewhere. The purpose of this board and this post is to talk about pizza and the unique problems to opening a very personal and eclectic but limited restaurant in what I think is an unlikely location.

Thank you.

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Remember, 2 Amy's has a FULL menu. There are appetizers and alternatives to pizza. AF has a total of 9 pizzas, one salad and two desserts. There is NO Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola. Only Dominion Root Beer. No carry out. They open after 4:00 on weekdays and after 3:00 on weekends. 2 Amy's is open for lunch, sells Coke and has carry out. You can walk to 2 Amy's, there's a bus stop within steps and you can hail a cab on the street. None of these are options for AF. 2 Amy's is considerably less expensive.

But, for me, American Flatbread's pulled pork pizza is a better pie than even the pizza margherita at 2 Amy's.

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But, for me, American Flatbread's pulled pork pizza is a better pie than even the pizza margherita at 2 Amy's.

<perk>

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But I want to move this digression back to the purpose of what I wrote: there is, indeed, a great pizza in the Washington area that has gone unnoticed, unmentioned and even this morning with no mention on Chowhound, still undiscovered by most who frequent boards like this or food blogs. Talk about the personal implications of demographic value judgments elsewhere. The purpose of this board and this post is to talk about pizza and the unique problems to opening a very personal and eclectic but limited restaurant in what I think is an unlikely location.

Did they do much to advertise the opening? They just opened in May 2007. How much more on top of things could anyone be? If it wasn't for Al Dente's original post I would have never heard about it.

I look forward to trying it, but Asbhurn at dinner time is not even close to convenient.

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Did they do much to advertise the opening? They just opened in May 2007. How much more on top of things could anyone be? If it wasn't for Al Dente's original post I would have never heard about it.

I wouldn't have heard about it either and I live five minutes away. And they actually didn't even open in May - Friday was their first day of business.

Not offering anything but root beer might be strike against too.

They do offer other canned sodas other than the Root Beer, but at something like $2 a can.

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Bill, they don't have any Coke or Pepsi products. I asked and the answer I was given is that they only want "natural" or "organic" suppliers and national soft drink brands don't seem to fit this standard. Of course, they don't at Whole Foods either but in this environment I think a lot of kids may influence a family decision just on the basis of the availability of a soft drink.

For pre-opening publicity I would direct anyone to the thread on Comet and the numerous posts long before their opening. I also thank Al Dente because without his first post I wouldn't have known about this either-and I've been to and loved the original in Vermont. I'm just suggesting that given the kind of "cult" status of frozen American Flatbread and its infrequent availability at Whole Foods there would have been a buildup, perhaps a buildup similar to Comet if it had opened in D. C.

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I also thank Al Dente because without his first post I wouldn't have known about this either-and I've been to and loved the original in Vermont. I'm just suggesting that given the kind of "cult" status of frozen American Flatbread and its infrequent availability at Whole Foods there would have been a buildup, perhaps a buildup similar to Comet if it had opened in D. C.

Hey, my pleasure. I look forward to trying it (of course I'm a bit afraid of going out to Ashburn-- I always seem to hear that banjo from Deliverance when I go ;) ). The only reason I knew of it was because one of Whole Foods' buyers told me about it.

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Riiiiight -- that would explain why an Indian restaurant featuring that very bland, boring Indian-Chinese cuisine just opened in Ashburn.

Must be that out west county envy creeping up. S ;) I don't think it was put there because the general populous of Ashburn wanted it. Here is a quote from the Post that pretty much sums it up.

Mirchi (Hindi for chili pepper) is one of several new ethnic eateries in booming Loudoun County, where the number of Indian immigrants more than tripled between 2000 and 2005, according to the latest Census Bureau figures.
For pre-opening publicity I would direct anyone to the thread on Comet and the numerous posts long before their opening. I also thank Al Dente because without his first post I wouldn't have known about this either-and I've been to and loved the original in Vermont. I'm just suggesting that given the kind of "cult" status of frozen American Flatbread and its infrequent availability at Whole Foods there would have been a buildup, perhaps a buildup similar to Comet if it had opened in D. C.

You are proving my point. There were a ton of posts about Comet because the owners had an existing restaurant and people heard about it there, not to mention other news sources. How could there be a build up if no advanced PR was done? This place is in an out of the way strip mall in Ashburn that was hard enough for you to find with a map and calling them on the phone. It appears that this place did not do much to advertise things before they opened. Their choice? Who knows? I am sure that if the Post, City Paper, some random food blog, or someone would have written about it ahead of time this board and others would have commented. I also think that there has been a pretty good deal of press for a small family run place that just opened 3 days ago!

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I hope that all of this doesn't distract from my original post #6 where I raved about the bbq pizza which I feel would alone be cause for a very long thread.

Of course, now, if someone drives from say, La Plata or Fredericksburg to eat pizza in Ashburn it's going to REALLY have to be a damn good pie. I'm suggesting that the one pie-the pulled pork bbq pizza-would be worth a drive from, say, at least Waldorf (perhaps not La Plata) and Dumfries (perhaps not Fredericksburg).

But this is from someone who has driven from Reston to New Haven and back in one day just for a good pizza. Or Trenton. Or Brooklyn. Or....

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This is the link to American Flatbread's outpost in CA: http://www.foodremembers.com/restaurant/menupage.html They have a bakery there which services West Coast Whole Foods and Wild Oats markets as well as a restaurant which is open Friday and Saturday from 5 until 10 to serve pizza. Curiously they have two sizes of pizza with the smaller very fairly priced AND they also have soft drinks! REAL Diet Coke and Coke!!!

This is Fodor's take on the Waitsfield, VT location: http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/mgresults...operty_id=46009 This, by the way, has take out and is open for lunch!

In Vermont American Flatbread is known as much for beer as for pizza. Serious. This is a really interesting thread discussing both:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/9784/?view=beerfly

This is the Burlington, VT location which also has two sizes of pizzas including the smaller but much more reasonably priced: http://www.flatbreadhearth.com/intro.shtml

I predict: within one month Ashburn will have a smaller and less expensive pizza as well as Coke and Diet Coke and, yes, take out!

...there is precedent!

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I had dinner at American Flatbread on Sunday night. They'd only been open for three days, so I think it's too early to draw too many conclusions, but a few initial impressions:

--They do 'half-n-half' pizzas--we did a half punctuated equilibrium, half Virginia sausage. The punctuated equilibrium is the much-vaunted olives/red peppers/goat cheese/mozzarella/red onion flatbread. The Virginia sausage is pretty self-explanatory, but also had caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms. Both halves were good.

--In my opinion, this was not the best pizza that I've had in the area--2 Amys is better, and Comet may be as well--but again, they've only been open for three days. I was impressed with the some of the flavors--particularly, the herbs, sausage, and sun-dried tomatoes on the VA sausage flatbread were very good. I was less impressed with the mozzarella, and the organic tomato sauce was lacking in punch.

--I do wish that they would have left the flatbread in the oven for another few minutes. I didn't ask anything about cooking times or temps in their big clay oven, but I would have loved to see a bit more char on the crust of my flatbread. It appeared that all of the flatbreads were cooked similarly, so this is their style.

--As has been mentioned, for now (and perhaps into the future) they are pretty dogmatic about beverages. I didn't look too closely at their wine offerings, but the beer menu was pretty limited, and the non-alcoholic beverages seemed to be limited to cans of 'natural' (whatever that means) and organic sodas and spritzers. I had a Dominion Oak Barrel on tap, and was happy with that.

--Coming from DC, I thought that the prices were not outrageous and the flatbread was decent-sized. Our flatbread fed two of us comfortably, and cost us $19. That's not horrible by any means for quality ingredients, and when we go to 2 Amys, we pay more for two pizzas that feed us the same amount.

--The place is big! When we were there, there were maybe 4-5 other tables occupied. I'd be interested to see how the flatbreads change when the oven is really cranking them out, 2 Amys-style.

--If we are out in the area, we'd go again.

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If you go again please consider the unlikely special: pulled pork with mild bbq sauce and Swiss chard w/ garlic and chives. That is the pizza that I think is better than 2 Amys Margherita. I should also note that we have slices of that and the pepperoni left over and when I look at the char on the bottom of both pies the "bbq" pizza does have quite a bit more. This is the crust that I thought approached Pepe's and Sally's.

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the non-alcoholic beverages seemed to be limited to cans of 'natural' (whatever that means)

It means cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

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It means cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

Not to split hairs, but doesn't the FDA consider HFCS to be natural as well (at least for now)?

Regardless, the beverage selection at American Flatbread was very limited, given the current choices of natural and organic beverages that are available. Perhaps this will also change as they continue to grow.

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Not to split hairs, but doesn't the FDA consider HFCS to be natural as well (at least for now)?

The FDA does many ridiculous things...

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I'm no statistician, but I would venture a guess that most of the populace would consider a $19 pizza a luxury item. I cannot wait to try it (and I'll get the BBQ pizza, too), but in order for a minimal service restaurant to succeed (six pizzas, $2 can sodas, draught root beer, some beer/wine, no take-out, dinner only), they're going to need a lot of volume. I wish them well.

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But, for me, American Flatbread's pulled pork pizza is a better pie than even the pizza margherita at 2 Amy's.

Intriguing report, Joe. How sweet/tangy/copious is the sauce? Because the sauce is the thing that typically turns me off about bbq pizzas, even at otherwise great pizzerias.

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