Melina, from the team behind the fast-casual Cava, is already one of Montgomery County’s best

Image courtesy of The Washington Post

From The Washington Post, December 21, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EST

By Tom Sietsema, Food critic

Unrated during the pandemic

Aris Tsekouras never had to audition for the top cooking slot at the new Melina in North Bethesda. His bread, which he promoted on Instagram, did the job for him. One taste of the chef’s koulouri, or sesame sourdough, was sufficient proof of talent for the restaurateur who ended up hiring him at the modern Greek establishment.

“So much love into something simple,” says Dimitri Moshovitis, among the founders of Cava, the Mediterranean fast-casual brand. “This is the guy I want to run this restaurant.”

Melina joins Julii, an upscale French-Mediterranean restaurant, also from the Cava creators, in the high-end Pike & Rose complex. The fresh face borrows the name of Moshovitis’s 12-year-old daughter and honors the influence of matriarchs in the owners’ business, says Moshovitis, whose co-founders include Ted Xenohristos and Ike Grigoropoulos. Created in 2011, Cava has grown to more than 150 stores. Introduced in November, Melina is already one of the best restaurants to alight in Montgomery County in recent memory.

You can taste what I mean by asking for the tuna tataki. Slices of raw tuna are nothing new, but they seem novel when they’re fanned over a base of crumbled cauliflower jump-started with pickled mustard seeds, enlivened with lemon dressing and ringed with shimmering chive oil. A quick encounter with a blow torch gives the tuna a rosy complexion.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen beef tartare on a menu. Is that a sea of hands going up? No appetizer has had more exposure during the pandemic, partly because it’s a smart use of meat trimmings when restaurants are trying to be as frugal as possible. Melina rewards takers with raw beef shot through with minced pickled cabbage, pickled mustard seeds, cured lemon — ingredients associated with Greece’s beloved stuffed cabbage, but topped off here with a crisp rice cracker.

Octopus makes almost as many appearances on restaurant menus as beef tartare. The version at Melina is Greek to the extent the grilled seafood arrives with balsamic vinegar and fava bean puree, along with luscious caramelized onions. The elusive floral note wafting from the dish, which is brightened with a parsley emulsion enriched with the octopus-braising liquid, turns out to be vanilla, which the chef adds as contrast to the salinity of the centerpiece.

Read the rest of this stupendous review at

Melina. 905 Rose Ave., North Bethesda. 301-818-9090. Open for indoor dining 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Prices: Mezze $12 to $20, main courses $20 to $44. Sound check: 70 decibels/Conversation is easy. Accessibility: No barriers at entrance; ADA-compliant restrooms.

State Bills to Make our Roads Safer

In 2020, although there were fewer cars on the road due to Covid-19 restrictions, pedestrian and cyclist deaths continued to climb. Last year alone, 130 Marylanders lost their lives while attempting to cross our streets and there were an additional 3,022 pedestrian-involved crashes which caused injury or property damage.

First up we have HOUSE BILL 254, the Safe Access for All (SAFE) Roads Act of 2022,.

This bill addresses the disconnect between MDOT response and the goals of the Vision Zero law stems from a lack of detailed plans to address the problem and insufficient dedicated resources.

The SAFE Roads Act

  1. necessitates pedestrian and bicyclist safety countermeasures be incorporated into new, preservation, and maintenance construction projects;
  2. requires SHA conduct a thorough crash analysis of all roadways to identify high-risk intersections and corridors with serious pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities by July, 2023;
  3. using this crash analysis, requires SHA to identify gaps in safe infrastructure and engineering improvements, and develop a budget estimate and timeline to implement these improvements;
  4. provides dedicated funding of nearly $170 million in FY24 with a 10% increase each subsequent year to be included in the MD state budget for fiscal years 2024-2028 to be used specifically by the SHA to address and improve the safety of Maryland’s roads for pedestrians and bicyclists, including ADA and bicycle retrofits, sidewalk program, traffic management and safety/spot improvements;
  5. identifies pedestrian and bicyclist project planning, implementation, and program management function as a SHA budget line to expedite vulnerable road user safety engineering improvements.

Nest we have the HB0254:  State Highway Administration – Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities – Infrastructure Review (Vision Zero Implementation Act of 2022)

HB0254 perfectly complements Delegate Charkoudian’s SAFE Roads Act; while the SAFE Roads Act requires a systemwide assessment to identify the most dangerous intersections and corridors using the most recent 5 years of crash data, as well as identify and implement corrective engineering countermeasures for these dangerous roadways, HB0254 requires a crash analysis of individual future fatal crashes and targeted engineering countermeasures to address specific gaps at the crash location. 

HB0254 requires SHA to:

  1. Assess each individual fatal pedestrian and bicyclist fatality occurring on SHA roadways within 6 months after the crash;
  2. Identify engineering countermeasures consistent with Safe System approach; 
  3. Consider the countermeasures that are appropriate for the highway context (e.g., urban, rural, modes of travel)
  4. Publicly post the assessment to SHA web site

To advocate for these bills, please send an email supporting HB254 and HB0254 to the following people:

Senator William C. Smith, Jr.D20Montgomery Chair
Senator Jeff WaldstreicherD18Montgomery Vice Chair
Senator Susan C. LeeD16Montgomery Member
Delegate BarveD17Montgomery Chair
Delegate David Fraser-HidalgoD15Montgomery Member (MV&T-Chair)
Delegate Sara LoveD16Montgomery Member (MV&T)
Delegate CharkoudianD20Montgomery Roads bill sponsor

Resolution to Require Proof of Vaccinations at Restaurants, Bars, and Gyms to be Introduced at Today’s County Council Meeting

At the request of County Executive Elrich, Council President Albornoz will introduce a resolution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the County. The resolution would approve a Board of Health regulation to require restaurants, bars, fitness centers and other establishments and facilities to require patrons to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering indoor areas.

In addition, the resolution would exempt certain establishments and facilities from the requirement, including those providing essential government services and social services. It would exempt certain individuals from the requirement, including individuals who enter the facility for a quick and limited purpose and individuals who are entitled to medical or religious accommodations.

Under the proposed regulation, the vaccination requirement would be phased-in according to the following schedule: effective Jan. 22, 2022, proof of one dose of the vaccine would be required for patrons 12 years and older; effective Feb. 15, proof of all doses (excluding boosters) would be required for patrons 12 years and older; and effective Mar. 1 proof of all doses (excluding boosters) would be required for patrons five years-and-one month and older.

Those expected to attend and provide information include Dr. James Bridgers, acting chief health officer, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS); Dr. Earl Stoddard, assistant chief administrative officer, Montgomery County Government; and Dr. Raymond Crowel, director, DHHS.

A public hearing and Council worksession is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Take home rapid Covid test kits distributed at libraries

Here is a list of libraries that will start distributing COVID-19 take-home rapid test kits, beginning on today.

According to a news release, the following libraries will distribute kits from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., from Monday to Saturday, beginning Jan. 10:

  • Aspen Hill
  • Chevy Chase
  • Damascus
  • Davis
  • Gaithersburg
  • Little Falls
  • Potomac
  • Silver Spring
  • White Oak

More kits will be distributed from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the following locations:

  • Connie Morella (Bethesda)
  • Germantown
  • Kensington Park
  • Long Branch
  • Marilyn Praisner (Burtonsville)
  • Olney
  • Quince Orchard
  • Rockville
  • Twinbrook
  • Wheaton 

The kits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Residents will be limited to two kits each, for a total of four tests.

Two closings at Pike & Rose


Pike & Rose gift shop checks out

Gift shop Olive & Loom will close its doors in the next few weeks after nearly three years at Pike & Rose. Owner Ferzan Jaeger says she’s moving the business to Kensington, where it will share space with her candle-making company Kin & Care

Goodbye Taylor Gourmet… again

This week we also bid adieu to Taylor Gourmet at Pike & Rose, a restaurant that’s been cursed with some truly terrible timing. This location opened in May 2018 and closed just four months later, after its parent company went out of business (more here). The restaurant reopened under new ownership in October 2019, just a few months before the start of the pandemic.

Montgomery Co. announces delay in completion of North Bethesda homeless shelter

From Channel 7 WJLA-TV

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Montgomery County’s Department of General Service has announced the expected project completion date for the Nebel Street Homeless Shelter will be delayed several weeks.

The new expected completion date allows a street utility project to be wrapped up. The utility project must be completed by the utility company to allow DGS to be able to access the gas and water main lines.

The Nebel Street facility is a critical project that will provide temporary shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness and will provide associated services which are insufficient for the current population and future projections. DGS purchased the two-story building located at 11600 Nebel Street in North Bethesda to provide sleeping quarters, meals, and medical and case management services. This new facility will enable the county to implement its new emergency shelter policy for the unhoused population so that they have access to year-round shelter and a temporary place to spend their days until they are connected to permanent housing.

“The Nebel shelter project had been progressing as planned, but the project delay due to the utility work and supply chain issues is unfortunate,” said DGS Director David Dise. “We are sourcing other suppliers and are in regular contact with senior management of Pepco, Washington Gas and WSSC, all of whom are expediting the street utility work. While it is good news there is permanent place for the shelter and a project design that will more effectively serve those in need of shelter, the project delay impacts those who reside in the temporary shelter, the Recreation Department and community members who have waited for their community recreation center and senior center to be reopened.”