Rich Massabny is a theatre, arts, & food critic in the nation's capital. He has been quoted in the Washington Post and Washington Times. One of the most visible cable television personalities in the Washington, D.C. area, his celebrity chefs on cooking shows, his weekly reviews and his hour long talk show, reach over 1,000,000 homes.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


     When was the last time you were in Leesburg? Well, now is the time to go and have dinner at the Palio Ristorante Italiano, located right in the heart of Leesburg—it’s well worth the trip! Recently, I met Palio’s experienced general manager, David Saavedra and got a tour of this charming and first-class restaurant. David’s also the GM of the newly opened Virginia Diner around the corner which is a fun, first-rate diner. Both eateries are owned by the genial Michael O’Connor. Back to Palio. In my opinion, part of its success are the servers like Hugo, Bill and C4.The head chef is Ian Dieter whose menu is outstanding. For starters I had a delicious lobster bisque followed by a great beef carpaccio with truly thinly sliced beef, red onions, arugula, capers and shaved parmigiano cheese. My wife wanted to try a pasta appetizer and was served linguini with Bolognese sauce. A real winner! There are great entrée items to choose from and at Hugo’s suggestion I ordered frutti di mare which consisted of pasta, clams, scallops, calamari, shrimp and mussels in a garlic white wine sauce. Delicious! My wife had one of Palio’s favorite items, risotto ai funghi con Capesante which is pan seared scallops with wild mushroom risotto, truffle oil and asparagus. Outstanding! Some of the other entrees are roasted chicken stuffed with spinach, veal scallopini, filet mignon, herb crusted rack of lamb and more. I don’t think you could go wrong with any choice.  Give Palio a try. It’s located at 2 West Market Street, Leesburg. For more information, call 703-779-0060 and check the website at


Live Simulcast---Wagner’s “Die Mastersinger von Nürnberg”
It was live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York recently at the Regal Theater 12 at the Ballston Mall. Simulcast on the big screen was Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” With two intermissions, this was a long opera. But, in my opinion, what made this opera extra special was conductor James Levine, an authority on Wagner. Plus, the lovely Renĕe Fleming was host during the intermissions. Set in Nuremberg, Germany in the 16th Century, Walter von Stolzing (John Botha) is in love with Eva (Annette Dasch), daughter of Fritz Pogner (Martin Gantner). But, that’s not all. Karen Cargill (Magdalene) joins in the fun and deception. Well-known Carmen DeLavallade choreographed the show. Bring a snack. The next simulcast from the Met is “The Merry Widow.”  For more information, call 1-212-870-7388 and check the website at

Thursday, December 11, 2014

METRO STAGE - - “A Broadway Christmas Carol”

There are many fun ways to kickoff the Christmas season and for me, it’s with “A Broadway Christmas Carol,” at Metro Stage in Alexandria. Created by Kathy Feininger and produced by Metro Stage’s founder and artistic director, Carolyn Griffin, this is the show’s fifth season. Using the story of Charles Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol,” Feininger takes Broadway show tunes and substitutes her own lyrics in telling the story. The  results are so much fun and entertaining. Of course, it takes a trio of very talented singers, accompanied by pianist Howard Breithart, to really pull this off.  The cast is Peter Boyer as Scrooge plus Michael Sharp and Tracey Stephens playing all of the other roles.  Sharp is also the director choreographer. There are songs from “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Oklahoma,” “My Fair Lady,” “Sweeney Todd” and many more. “A Broadway Christmas Carol” runs through December 28 at Metro Stage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. For information and tickets, call 703-548-9044 and check the website at

GMU Center for the Arts—VIRGINIA OPERA “HMS Pinafore”

(Or: The Lass That Loved The Sailor)
The Virginia Opera is celebrating its 40th anniversary season and its 23rd season at George Mason University’s  Center for the Arts in Fairfax. Last weekend it was Gilbert and Sullivan’s, “HMS Pinafore.” What a great show! In the words of Russell Allen, president and CEO of Virginia Opera, “This is a fun show.”  And, indeed it was!  It takes place on the ship, HMS Pinafore, where Josephine (Shannon Jennings), daughter of  Captain Corcoran (Christopher Burchett), is in love with a lowly sailor, Ralph (Cullen Gandy). However, she is supposed to marry the older and pompous Sir. Joseph Porter (Jake Gardner). As the show unfolds, there are lots of twists and mischief. For more information about upcoming shows, including “Salome” and “La Traviata,” check the website at For other shows at the Center for the Arts call 703-993-2787 and check the website at

SYNETIC THEATER - - “Beauty and the Beast”

For those few who have not experienced the unique theatre company, Synetic Theater, here’s your chance to see one of their most innovative productions, “Beauty and the Beast.” Presented by the founders of Synetic, Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili and directed by company member Ben Cunis, this “Beauty and the Beast” production delves deeply into the Beast’s past. The Beast is played convincingly by Vato Tsikurishvili. The show is particularly innovative for Synetic with the addition of  narration by Witch Emmeranne (Renata Veberyte Loman)who originally placed a curse on the Beast. Belle, the Beauty (Irina Kavsadze) is forced to meet the Beast and after a while falls in love. Even though the relationship is complex,  the show has heart  Wonderful show! “Beauty and the Beast” runs  through January 11 in Crystal City at 1800 S. Bell Street. For more information and tickets, call 703-824-8060 and check the website at