Pienza Italian Market – 3 stars

My parents came to town this last weekend and since it was Mother’s Day I made brunch reservations at Pienza Italian Market.  Pienza Italian Market is located in the Gaylord National Hotel at the National Harbor.  They have a large outdoor dining area that is located underneath the giant atrium in the hotel.  That way no matter what you always have good weather. 

When we arrived they took us through the buffet and described each section.  The buffet stretched a couple hundred feet and included everything that one could think of.  Fresh fruits, salads, bread, italian fare, breakfast food and desserts.  The breakfast food included omlets made to order, fresh made waffles and bacon.  The bacon was glorious.  It was thick cut and cooked till crispy.  MMM. 

After walking through the buffet they sat us down at our table that was situated in the outdoor setting underneath the atrium.  The views were grand as they included the whole atrium and views of the potomac river.  Once seated we waited for out waiter to take our drink order.  By waited I mean we waited 10 minutes to talk to the waiter.  I should have known that this would have been and common theme throughout the meal.  We were at the buffet for an hour and saw our waiter 5 times.  Remember the only way to get drinks at this buffet is through your waiter.  Needless to say our glasses were empty for most of the meal.  At times we had to flag down other waitstaff to fill our drinks. 

Not all of the staff was as bad as the waitstaff.  The chefs were friendly and schmoozed with the diners.  The waffle chef stopped what he was doing to go find my mother a clean plate.  This was nice as this wasn’t his job but he wanted us to have a great experience.  The omlet chef was kind and took my request to add ingredients in my omlet that were not in front of him.  I brought over some smoked salmon to add to my cheese, spinach and mushroom omlet. 

The selection of fresh fruits, salads, and italian anti-pasta was excellent.  They offered a variety of breakfast foods including eggs benedict.   A sign of a good breakfast place is if they can make an eggs benedict.  They made it, although mediocre and no made to order it was pretty darn tasty.  They also offered a pretty good selection of italian dishes including meatballs, lasagna, white sauced pasta and various other meat dishes.  The carved meat station included ham and turkey.  They noted that the meat selection and italian dishes vary from day to day.  They are based on what ingredients are fresh and not on a set menu.

The desserts were amazing.  They had an ice cream bar with fresh Hagan Daz ice cream.  They also had tea cakes, cheesecake, tres leches cake, layered chocolate cakes and various vanilla cakes layered with fruit.  The tres leches cake was amazing.

If it wasn’t for the waitstaff this restaurant would have recieved a better score.  At times we wondered if our waiter had quit as we could not find him.  At the end of the meal he was right on time with giving us our check though.  I guess he was eager to get a tip. 

Overall the food was fantastic, the cooking staff was excellent and despite the waitstaff, I will be going back.  The buffet is one of the best, if not the best in the DC area.  I recommend that you give it a try. 

Pienza Italian Market – $42 per person for brunch

For Reservations call  (301) 965-2000 – 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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