By Emily Cook
“It’s going to take time to move toward the full-fledged concept we have in our mind for Dolce Vita,” says owner Cyrus Coleman, who took over the nearly two-decades-old establishment in May. The plan is to increase focus on local produce and introduce a craft cocktail program all while keeping longtime guests happy. “It’s really tough when you’re buying an existing restaurant with existing clientele, so any changes that we made are very subtle,” Coleman says. “We’re not doing overall sweeping concept changes. It’s going to be minor stuff as we go and build up more of a loyalty with the guest base that’s there now and build a new guest base.”
A previous owner of Flippin Pizza, Coleman also co-owns Ripe Farms in Manassas with Nathan Heath, who runs the specials and creates cocktails at Dolce Vita. New items, with an emphasis on a variety of tomato breeds, include heirloom cherry tomato flatbread, a tomato plate with five different kinds of tomatoes and tomato kabobs with roasted eggplant, olives and buffalo mozzarella.
Heath, who most recently ran the farm-to-table program and drink menu at Centreville‘s Ciao Osteria, also worked under cocktail master Todd Thrasher at Society Fair.
In keeping with the wine bar next door, Dolce Veloce‘s, theme, Heath is creating wine-based cocktails. He also plans on releasing seasonal cocktail menus through the year. Highlights include Garden in the Glass, a martini made with homemade heirloom tomato water, lemongrass, serrano pepper and red onion; Moheatoh with rum, lime juice and a homemade jalapeno mint soda “that adds a nice heat on the tail end of the drink,” says Heath; Summerthyme with homemade thyme syrup combined with Meyer lemon juice, gin and Riesling, which is “my take off a Tom Collins. It’s a very nice, refreshing, patio-style summer drink,” says Heath; a peach and basil reduction mixed with bourbon and Pinot Grigio; and Dolce Diva, a blood orange reduction with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur from Sicily mixed with Grey Goose Cherry Noir and prosecco. “It’s like a sparkling cocktail,” Heath says.
This fall, Heath will feature a homemade mulled pear cider—akin to a pear martini—called the Pear Necessities; an apple cocktail with honeycrisp apples called How ‘Bout Them Apples; and a pumpkin soda, which will launch at the end of September.
Eventually the plan is to connect the wine bar and the restaurant with an interior archway, which will better showcase the drink program. “It’s what you’ll see down in Old Town [Alexandria] or D.C.—not necessarily speakeasies, but people that are running very well put-together cocktail programs,” Heath says.“We want to offer this out here because other than Trummer’s [on Main] in Clifton, no one else is really doing this.”/ Dolce Vita, 10824 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax