Tucked into the ground floor corner of the famous Flower Building at 800 West Broad Street is a restaurant that may be considered one of the Little City’s better kept secrets.
Sfizi Cafe is, as it advertises, “an authentic Italian trattoria, wine shop and deli market” that offers far more than one may suspect by a casual look. Lino Ricciardi’s operation is one of the three to five best restaurants in Falls Church, which is saying a lot for a city that is becoming a magnet for such places.
Lunches and dinners there are a special treat, as the authentic ambiance of the space draws one away from the hub-bub and hum-drum of frantic Northern Virginia daily life into a more leisurely and very European setting. A bar along the side, a walk-up to where the sandwiches are ordered and made, and just behind that the partially-open kitchen with its many and wondrous smells, the racks of imported canned foods and condiments, and its row upon row of superior wine choices add to the tidy dining area to create that elusive but highly prized thing known as “atmosphere.”
All this is augmented by a large flat screen that looms over the space with rotating images of various famous photographed scenes of Italy, herself, in high definition.
Sfizi, pronounced “Sfeet-see,” is an Italian word describing a strong craving, a whim, a special treat, it says on the restaurant’s literature. All the specialties are made in-house with fresh ingredients and a handful of slightly more spicy offerings are so identified on the menu.
But in what is not evident on the extensive menus – one for lunch and the other for dinner – are the daily specials that are written onto a chalk board daily and often include Italian-style osso bucco, calves liver and fresh fish dishes, including whole roasted Branzino. The regular dinner menu is full of delicious choices along with antipasti, salads, pizzas and six vegetable side orders, along with 14 “primi piatti” and 12 “secondi piatti” choices.
Featured on the lunch menu are 13 panini sandwiches and a “do it your way” alternative involving choosing from among seven meats, eight cheeses and eight vegetables. There are also four bread options, and most can be ordered hot or cold, and most of the choices are between $7.95 and $8.95.
There are four salad options in addition to a “deli mix” that offers a choice of three different vegetables and five add-on meats, including seafood options. Artisan pizzas of medium (4 slices) and large (8 slices) with a total of 13 topping options are $9.95 for the medium and $15.95 for the large, and a frittate – an omelette served on homemade focaccia bread – is offered with a choice of three out of a total of 10 ingredients. Lunch combos of any two items for $8.95 offer choices of a mini panini, pasta marinara, soup of the day, frittata and mixed greens salad.
Fuller lunch meals, a total of 19 choices, range in price from $9.95 to $11.95.
Sfizi Cafe | 800 West Broad Street | Falls Church | sfizi.cafe