Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Lil’ Italian Café

The Little City may be small in size, but it’s big in Italian food options. From pizzerias to cafes, no matter where one travels in Falls Church, a slice of pizza or a bowl of pasta is not hard to find. The most recent addition to this broad dining field is Lil’ Italian Café.

The restaurant is located in the same space where Bangkok Blues and, for a short time, The Windy Apple used to operate. It’s the second location for Lil’ Italian Café, a Herndon-based operation which opened its Falls Church restaurant this winter.

Lil’ Italian Café offers delivery and carry-out, but it also has a small dining room which accomodates those who wish to dine in. There is a narrow bar along the side of the restaurant and a few tables. Large posters advertising the Lil’ Italian Café fare cover the windows facing out onto W. Broad Street. The space is decorated with a few mismatched paintings, some floral and some scenic, and some decorative painting applied to the walls remains from the former tenants.

The menu has a scope and length reminiscent of a late-night diner. At more than 100 available items, the menu includes a number of deep-fried appetizers and platters, subs and sandwiches, salads, and pizza and pasta options, all of which meet halal guidelines.

An order of the Mozzarella Sticks ($5.25) gives the first taste of the house marinara. Mild and more tart than sweet, a cup of the chunky tomato sauce is served alongside the crunchy, stringy cheese sticks.

Entrée options are most notably affordable. Diners can order from dozens of subs and sandwiches for less than $7, and add on French fries or a side salad for just a bit more. Pasta dishes, which range in price from the $9.25 Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce to the $13.95 Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp, are each served with garlic bread and a choice of house or Caesar salad.

The classic Spaghetti and Meatballs is a bargain at $9.95, especially considering the small plate of salad and slices of warm garlic bread that precede it. A large bowl of spaghetti is topped in the house marinara, concealing several dense, lightly herb-flavored meatballs, for a basic, serviceable entrée.

The deep-dish-style pizzas benefit from a nice, bready crust, and the seven-inch personal serving is an ample portion for the cost – all personal pies are priced at less than $7, even specialty multi-topping pies like the Lil’ Italian Supreme which contains beef pepperoni, sausage, turkey ham, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers.

The “Italian Specialties” menu section includes more dough-and-cheese combinations in the form of various turnovers served with a side of marinara sauce. The Lil’ Italian Pepperoni Roll ($7.65) doesn’t skimp on cheese, melted gooey and peeking out of slots in the crispy herb-dusted crust.

From the paper napkin-wrapped silverware to the straightforward, simply plated dishes, the frill-free dining atmosphere gives little if any advantage to dining in, but delivery and carry-out options may pique the interest of Falls Church diners looking for variety and convenience at a bargain price.

Lil’ Italian Café is located at 926A W. Broad St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-533-1114 or visit Restaurant hours are Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.