After slicing through the proverbial Gordian Knot of Seven Corners roads, diners at Pistone’s Italian Inn are treated to a curious reprieve from the fast-paced modern city life and transported to a different time and place within this Falls Church restaurant.
Upon entering the dimly-lit space, customers are ushered in to the main dining room, which hearkens back to the glory days of see-and-be-seen dining, with brick interiors, oversized upholstered booths, elegant tables, and mirrored walls (all showing their age in a way that, oddly enough, is equal parts distressing and charming). The atmosphere is so consistent that even the all-Sinatra-only-Sinatra satellite radio station playing softly in the background doesn’t seem so heavy handed.
Lighting and décor, and even the pace at which the food comes out, all inspires intimate conversation, with dinner as an experience and not a convenient sustenance as with grab-and-go spots. While appetizers and entrees do take some time to come to the table, diners are treated to a bottomless complementary bread assortment, served along with butter and finely minced olives to spread atop the warm, crunchy pieces.
The appetizers menu include many Italian favorites like $8 caprese and $7 bruschetta, and is heavy on seafood options, from the $8 mussels (served in both red and white sauce) to the $10 shrimp scampi.
The salmone affumicato, at $9, showcases both cheese and seafood elements, pairing sizeable fresh mozzarella mounds with a layer of smoked salmon slices, all topped with delightfully tangy capers and crunchy onion pieces. The mild cheese gives way to the salmon, and offers a light way to start a meal which, given the sauces and starches to come, will inevitably be heavy.
Pasta dishes range from $14 to $16, and include all manner of noodles wound about sauces and cheeses, and sometimes meats. The gnocchi, at the costly end of that spectrum, is an exercise in what heights a handful of ingredients can reach. Each little button of potato pasta is a tender bite coated in a delicious, creamy olive-oil- and garlic-seasoned sauce, with some sautéed spinach bringing color and new texture to the dish.
Sautéed spinach returns elsewhere in the menu, as it is one of the sides (along with French fries, pasta and mashed potatoes) that can accompany, and be overshadowed by, the fish, chicken, veal, beef and pork dishes also on the menu.
From the $14 chicken parmigiana to the $23 rack of lamb, diners can choose from all types of meats served along with pastas and various wine, cheese and tomato sauces. Special attention is paid to the seven dishes that make up the “Steaks and Chops” portion of the menu, each showcasing the restaurant’s treatment of meats. The 12-ounce rib eye, at $18, is plated in a large, shallow dish amidst a pool of sauce that this tender, juicy cut of meat hardly needs. Each bite is heavy with the smoky, fatty, savory tastes of the well-cooked and well-seasoned meat, which must cause the limply steamed carrots and squash at its side some embarrassment in comparison.
A vast number of menu options provide something for most diners, and many wines for the rest, but regardless of the specific choices within the meal, the restaurant itself will provide a welcome dinnertime reprieve from the bustling world outside.
Pistone’s Italian Inn is located at 6320 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-533-1885 or visit pistoneitalianinn.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.