Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Argia’s

Argia’s blends fine dining and home-style eats in an eclectic and effective way, right in the City of Falls Church.

Upon entering the narrow dining room where Argia’s serves its Italian fare, diners get that the impression of those two worlds coming together immediately. On one side of the dining room, the wall is covered in a mural depicting Italian life from long ago, with rolling pastures and a bustling city square. On the other side, the wall is dotted with small portraits, faded and in black and white, depicting men and women in fine wear gathering for photos. One seems straight out of a high-end restaurant, the other seems pulled from a family living room. Inside, well-worn wood tables are dressed with cloth napkins and filled with decorated plates.

The menu, too, reflects those conflicting yet collaborating notions. One might be reminded of family gatherings around the kitchen table, as the restaurant offers “famiglia” portions to feed a crowd and no shortage of beloved family favorite dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. Still, the food is prepared and plated with an elegance that goes beyond that which the average home chef can muster.

Bread comes to the table – slices from a hearty, hefty herbed loaf – just as soon as diners find their seats. Appetizers include seafood options like mussels and calamari, and other dishes that showcase the meats, breads, cheeses and sauces popular in Italian cuisine. Ordering the Calamari Fritti, even as a single portion ($10.95), brings a bowl heaping with delicious golden cornmeal-crusted rings, served with a spicy tomato sauce and a saffron aioli that deliver powerful flavors to the fried squid pieces. The Arancine ($6.95), one of the restaurant’s many vegetarian options, plates several fried risotto balls, crispy on the outside and made stringy with cheese on the inside.

While generously portioned appetizers might lead diners to consider smaller entree options – perhaps from the restaurant’s small plate, sandwich, soup, salad or pizza offerings – pasta dishes and dinner platters are more ample fare.

Nearly all of the pastas Argia’s serves up are made in-house (save for the penne), and their offerings run the gamut from expected dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs ($15.95) and Lasagna Con Carne ($15.95) to clever combinations of vegetables, pastas, and sauces. The house Gnocchi ($17.95) coats the tiny dumpling squares, chewy and flavorful, in a creamy and lightly tomato flavored Aurore sauce. Herb-topped and zucchini-tossed, the simple dish showcases the quality of the restaurant’s house-made gnocchi.

Dishes without the house-made noodles can be just as appealing. The entree menu section features a handful of dishes where a meat or seafood element and not a noodle-and-sauce combination is the focus. Among them is the Pollo Piccata ($18.95), in which thin pieces of tender chicken served atop a mountain of mashed potatoes are coated in a thin lemon-butter sauce and topped with capers. The tanginess and buttery flavors of the sauce make for a complex and satisfying taste. The dish also comes with a bed of wonderfully garlic-seasoned sauteed spinach.

Though the dishes provide enough food to satisfy the healthiest of appetites, those wanting a bit of something sweet, or just a few bites more before ending the meal, can pick from desserts like the must-have tiramisu – a decadent treat of lady fingers stacked between thick layers of rich mascarpone cream.

While the standard fare delights, regular specials – from the all-you-can-eat spaghetti Sundays to the pizza-and-beer special Thursdays, and a daily $29.95 three-course menu served from 5 – 6 p.m. – are welcome perks that are sure to keep diners coming back to take advantage of their favorite deals.

Argia’s is located at 124 N. Washington St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-534-1033 or visit Restaurant hours are Sunday: 5 – 9 p.m.;
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.; and Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.