Prima brings health and variety to downtown Bethesda


Prima recently opened in downtown Bethesda. The fast-casual restaurant serves a variety of bowls, all gluten-free.

A drifting aroma of fresh produce. Potted plants set on lightly stained wooden tables. Dark green vines lining the ceiling. A warm breeze. All combine to form a scene of undeniable natural appeal at downtown Bethesda’s newest food spot: Prima

Prima, an Italian restaurant that opened last May, provides a gluten-free, nutritious, fast-casual option. Similar to the increasingly popular style of Chipotle and Cava, customers can either order preset meals or assemble their own for the moderate price of $12. Assembly includes six choice groups: a base, a dressing, four vegetables, a protein, a spread and toppings. While dining at Prima, we ordered one preset option and assembled two others.

Preset Option: Salmon & Quinoa

The salmon and quinoa bowl is made with tri-color quinoa, which includes white, black and red quinoa, along with herb pesto, sweet peas, roasted baby carrots, Tuscan white beans, super greens, salmon and white bean puree. The sweet peas and roasted baby carrots added a sugary flavor that integrated well with the savory white beans, super greens and salmon. The salmon itself was the most impressive part of the dish; a lemon and fresh herb seasoning added just the right amount of acidity to compliment the beautifully cooked fish. However, one part that brought the fish down was the herb pesto; it clashed with other flavors and gave the quinoa an off-putting soggy texture.

Assembly One

Our first assembly included brown rice, herb pesto, English cucumber, black lentils, broccoli, Tuscan white beans, chicken, artichoke and spinach spread and frico chips—crispy flakes of cheese. The pesto and spinach spread added natural freshness to the bowl, while the beans, lentils and chicken created a rich, hearty flavor; this bowl was a balancing act, each flavor perfectly offsetting the others to create an overall outstanding meal. The chicken — which was tender and seasoned with lemon, garlic and rosemary — was the highlight of the dish. My one complaint would be the brown rice, which was slightly undercooked and stiff.

Assembly Two

For the second assembly, we chose quinoa, spicy tomato-basil vinaigrette, cauliflower, corn, green beans, tomato and salmon. The colorful concoction blended a variety of flavors: the cauliflower introduced a bitter taste, while the corn, tomato and vinaigrette provided sweet, tangy bursts. Though this was our most visually pleasing meal of the night, the green beans and salmon were somewhat out of place among the other ingredients. Overall, the individual ingredients were tasty; however, the combination of flavors didn’t mix as well as in our previous assembly.


Of the three dishes, our first assembly tasted the best. Its fresh and rich flavors overshadowed the dish’s only flaw — slightly undercooked rice.

 If you’re interested in making your own assembly, here were our favorite choices from each ingredient section:

Base: tri-color quinoa

Dressing: spicy tomato-basil vinaigrette

Vegetables: Tuscan white beans, roasted baby carrots or black lentils

Protein: slow-roasted salmon

Spread: artichoke and spinach spread

Toppings: frico chips

For anyone looking for a quick and healthy meal, stop by Prima and enjoy the fresh food and refreshingly natural atmosphere.

Prima is located at 7280 Woodmont Ave in downtown Bethesda, and is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm.