Noe Landini was 12 years old when he started in the restaurant business. He surely wasn’t old enough to earn a paycheck (legally), and he was a just under a decade away from being able to order a drink from the bar.
But still, he spent most of his young life filling in the gaps of a family restaurant that came to fruition before he was born, now 38 years ago.
Long before he knew it, he was on track to follow in the footsteps of his father, Franco Landini, and his uncle, Piero Landini, who opened Landini’s Brothers Restaurant in Alexandria on Oct. 5, 1979. After taking on 49% of ownership with his father in 2007 (who later retired), Noe Landini will now celebrate the restaurant’s 40th anniversary as the second generation at the helm.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Noe says. “Forty years is a long time. And as much as we’ve evolved, we are still relatively doing the same thing. I don’t think a lot has changed in terms of our identity.”
Tuscan-style Italian fare has always been the restaurant’s identity, and aside from its household name, it’s what has kept the doors open for nearly half a century.
From an original handwritten menu, it survived the era of word-of-mouth recommendations before Yelp reviews and star ratings became the norm. It had fettuccine Alfredo for $8.95 on the dinner menu before the first Olive Garden opened in 1982. And it was parked on King Street in Alexandria long before the town turned into a tourist favorite.
Plus, it survived the ownership shift from the original Landini Brothers to a new generation. Noe Landini still has 50% ownership and is optimistic about keeping it in the family.
To celebrate the roots that the restaurant has woven through the community, and honor the withstanding work of his father and uncle, Noe has planned an anniversary celebration worth toasting to.
On Monday, Oct. 28, Landini Brothers is set to host a throwback menu anniversary party, for one night only. The items from those same handwritten menus that started the location 40 years ago will resurface, and guests will be able to indulge in classic favorites such as tortellini in brodo (ring noodles stuffed with veal and cooked in chicken broth) and scaloppa alla Parmigiana (large slices of veal, lightly breaded and fried in butter, topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce).
Frequent guests will recognize these dishes from the current menu as well, but there’s a catch: along with the throwback menu items, such as omelette ai funghi (omelet with champignon mushrooms), Landini Brothers will also be offering throwback menu prices.
Tortellini in brodo will be served for $2.95, as opposed to the current $8.95 price, and the scaloppa alla Parmigiana will be $9.95, rather than $28.95.
When Noe reads through the throwback menu today, he can’t help but have a laugh. The appetizers were all around $5, all of which are now higher than $13.95. And, he says, so many of the dishes are “old-school,” but he’s grateful they still have the chance to offer them.
“We’re going to do the scaloppine di vitello Landini (milk-fed veal scaloppini sauteed in butter, white wine, homemade brown sauce, mushrooms, melted mozzarella cheese and asparagus), which was our first signature veal dish, which we also still serve today,” says Noe. On the original menu, it was $11.50; now the signature dish is $28.50. “And we’re going to do a lot of other cool pasta dishes. But I really think this is going to make this more exciting and can be our way of giving a little back.”
Aside from making this a unique experience for the 40th year, Noe hopes to see new and returning guests for the anniversary celebration, ones who may have memories growing up there, just like he does.
“In some cases, they are second and third generation customers,” says Noe. “I’ve grown up with some of them. I just want to keep it going, keep it consistent and keep taking care of our customers.”
The evening will be a reservation-only event, and interested attendees can make reservations through OpenTable. // 115 King St., Alexandria