WHEW. What a day it has already been. My feelings can be summed up in just this one e-card.
Some days, I just want to scream, go on a random punchy spree and jump out the window. And, yes, you guessed it! Today is one of those days. Just a few more days and then I’m free to my own devices. Free to cook, eat, write and pet my little furry man’s face all day, which has been proven to reduce stress and homicidal tendencies.
However, my post today is not to rant. In fact, it’s to do a bit of a restaurant review! Seriously, how cool would it be to get paid to eat, drink and review? I’m pretty sure that’d be a dream job. New York Times, I’m for hire. I’m witty, snarky and sarcastic, love to eat and drink and can be pretty darn honest. And, I love eating. Did I mention that?
Anyway, for my birthday dinner, my darling husband and I went to the Italian Cafè last night, a local Italian eatery less than a mile from our house. The allure is definitely not on the outward appearance. In fact, it looks like the kind of place the mob visits and holds their “secret” meetings in the back. With that, I asked for a seat not near the windows.
What I’ve learned through being a “foodie” is that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Some of the best food in the world is served out of dives and shabby looking diners. So, we went in and were pleasantly surprised by the interior. It had a vintage, old Italian feel and smelled like fresh marinara sauce simmering on the stove top.
But, I’m not here to discuss decor. I’m here to talk food! When we got the menu, we were shocked to see how long it’s been around, since 1978! In this tough economic climate, it’s hard for restaurants to survive a year, better yet 30. If it’s been around that long, there’s got to be a reason for that, right?
I was starving (partly because I hadn’t eaten since noon and partly because of the tantalizing aroma engulfing my nose) so we immediately dug into the bread basket. They had two varieties, a softer, sweeter bread and a traditional Italian.
My favorite was the sweeter kind! It almost tasted like Hawaiian sweet bread. Yum. We polished off the bread basket as we waited for our appetizer, the insalata caprese.
The mozzarella was SO fresh. As much as I love the stuff I buy at the store, this stuff tasted like it was made to order. I also loved the balsamic dressing on the salad. It was tangier than most but still had a really strong flavor. We then moved on to the dinner menu. As per our roommates suggestion, E ordered the asiago chicken with cream sauce and I ordered the shrimp scampi. The salads that came with the meal were immediately brought out. Sadly, they weren’t anything to write home about. Simple mixed greens with restaurant ranch.
By the time the entrees arrived, I was already full, but you can’t possibly pass up the entree. I mean, it’s the main attraction! Plus, they both looked absolutely incredible.
Asiago Chicken with cream sauce and asparagus
Elliot immediately dug right into his, barely looking up for a breath. What he did share was amazing. The cream sauce wasn’t too heavy, but still very decadent and the chicken was cooked perfectly. I can definitely see why my roommates loved it! My scampi was good, but not as good as the chicken. What I loved most was how big and juicy the shrimp was.
The flavors were great I was just mainly a little dissapointed in the sauce. For a wine butter sauce, I didn’t taste much of anything. It just seemed a bit oily. However, the sauteed mushrooms were amazing and the shrimp was incredibly fresh.
Since I was stuffed way past my comfort point (let’s just say I had a bit of a Santa thing going on over my skinny jeans) I asked for a box and a cappuccino. I’ve really gotten into enjoying coffee after a big meal. It makes digestion easier and gives me a reason to slow down. E and I both eat really fast. It’s something we’ve done for a while and usually leaves us rushing out of restaurants. So, enjoying a warm cup of coffee lets me savour the experience and enjoy my time out.
Overall, I was impressed. I loved the ambiance, the food was great (especially the chicken and mozzarella) and the prices were really good. With it being so close and so affordable, it’s definitely a place we’ll visit again. With so many Italian chains out there whose menus are clichè and overpriced, it’s refreshing to be able to get an authentic, fresh meal and fabulous service without a gimmick. I mean, isn’t that what you want when you go out to eat?
Visit: The Italian Cafè, 7161 Lee Highway, Falls Church, Va 22042. Call (703) 241-1829 for reservations!
What is your favorite local resaturant? Why do you like it so much?