Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bowie Restaurant Project: (20) T. J. Elliott's

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

T.J. Elliott's, 6814 Laurel-Bowie Road
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/30/2011
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Maybe once in the 1990s
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I think I finally have the history straight. The Marcos family and another family opened Ledo Restaurant near College Park in the 1950s. Eventually the families parted ways, with the other family holding franchise rights to Ledo Pizza and the Marcos family running the original restaurant and, later, T.J. Elliott's in Bowie. That's why T.J. Elliott's features "Ledo pizza", but is not listed as a Ledo franchisee. There is actually an entertaining court opinion here which details a series of disputes between the two families.

All that's to say, if you like Ledo pizza, you might want to give T.J. Elliott's a look, but Christina's not a big fan, so we take our local pizza business elsewhere (the subject of a later review). I'm OK with that, because the Italian meals we've had at T.J. Elliott's have been some of the best food we've had in Bowie.

Our first visit there was after inspection on our house, where we still had the babysitter booked for a few hours. It was a nice place for a fairly casual dinner, and the clientèle seemed to be a diverse cross-section of Bowie. I tried to organize a dinner there later, but ended up at Uno Chicago Grill after finding out T.J. Elliott's only has two (or possibly three) high chairs. I organized a later dinner with eight adults and two children, and all the adults expressed satisfaction with the quality of food. My lasagna in particular was quite tasty.

The service was a little weak. ("Can I get you a refill on your drink?" 15 minutes later: "Oh, did you want a refill?") Christina attributes this to the inevitable turnover in waitstaff as the school year starts. I'm a little bit wary of adding it to my "places to take an interviewee" list for that reason -- but the food is so good, I think I will. I can now say, "What do you feel like, Chinese food, American food from a place that looks like it hasn't changed in 30 years, or Italian food?"

The only other negative I'd add is the location in a strip mall doesn't really give much atmosphere. I mean, look at the above picture. The inside is nice enough, but not spectacular. Still, it's Bowie -- how much more atmosphere are you going to get?

So four stars -- excellent food at a locally-owned business at a reasonable price. This is one of Bowie's best.

This doesn't really count as "Bowie restaurant news", since it's just an observation, but Christina and I stopped by the Crab Galley for dinner the other night to discover that it only does takeout. We're definitely going to try it some time, but -- not a restaurant. So that drops the count from 78 to 77.
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