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Taste of McLean Satisfies Variety of Appetites

He raised his arms in victory, like a boxer who just landed a knockout punch.

"You blew everyone else out of the water," a Taste of McLean patron said as she returned for seconds. "It was just out of this world."

Rez Choudhury, restaurateur and caterer of Ledo Pizza at Tysons Station, emphasized his detachment from ratings earlier.

"You see my rating," he said, referring to the stranger's testimony. "I don't need that star anymore."

At the sixth annual Taste of McLean last Saturday, 20 businesses showcased booths to help establish community presence and win something maybe just as valuable as four stars: word of mouth promotion from McLean's affluent diners.

"[McLean residents] are well-traveled and know food," Mazen Iskandar of Listrani's Italian Gourmet & Pizzeria said. "[They're] willing to pay for quality."

He opened on Old Dominion Drive a year and a half ago, and the location has exceeded Iskandar's expectations, as customers drive as far as 15 minutes for "the best pizza," according to patrons.

Apparently Taste of McLean participants had similar thoughts about the food, as Iskandar kept reassuring ticket holders with empty plates that more food was on the way. He had just called his chef for the third time.

"We offer gourmet carry-out and delivery," Iskandar said. "Not Velveeta."

Around the corner and to the right of Listrani's, Mary C. Barkes of O'Malley's Pub in Tysons served Lobster Florentine soup and Guinness beef stew.

She hoped to promote two of the restaurant’s staples in preparation for St. Patrick's Day, which she advertised with fliers and billboards.

Opening in McLean a little over a year ago, StarNut Gourmet also intended to capitalize on the holidays, displaying Easter baskets filled with Belgian chocolate and a variety of nuts.

"[McLean] has been very receptive to our Belgian chocolate," employee Joe Shehadeh said. "We had a terrific Christmas season and are looking forward to Easter."

After filling up on the variety of appetizers and entrees, many participants looked to Amerigo's vanilla bean Bavarian cheesecake and Moorenko's Italian ice creams for dessert.

Participants also took part in free culinary workshops on napkin folding, presentation of meals, knife sharpening and healthy dieting.