From a Founding Farmers and a big fat Greek project from Mike Isabella to a neighborhood restaurant doubling its edible portfolio, Northern Virginia is experiencing growing gains. These four upcoming expansions are worth tracking.
1. Ciao Wood-Fired Pizza & Osteria adds Ciao Gelato
Centerville husband-and-wife-owned Italian restaurant, Ciao Wood-Fired Pizza & Osteria (14115 St. Germain Drive) just broke ground on the Baskin-Robbins next door. It will remain focused on frozen treats, only far more original because co-owner Sal Speziale has a history with ice cream.
Speziale worked at the veteran Eddie’s Sweet Shop in New York City for seven years, and his uncle served as its owner for close to 50 years. In the expanded space he’ll recreate nostalgic treats like banana splits and sundaes with 24 gelato flavors they’ll make in-house using machines imported from Italy.
In addition to gelato, the expansion will include a 19-seat bar to alleviate the high competition for the five bar seats in the main dining room. “There’s a lot of demand for our bar because people like to chit chat,” Speziale says. “We’re like that old sitcom, ‘Cheers.’”
Finally, the Ciao expansion will include a 45-seat private dining space. Construction has begun, and they expect to open in late December/January.
2. Reston lands a Founding Farmers
When Founding Farmers opens in new development, Reston Station (1904 Reston Metro Plaza), it will serve as an anchor for the new and growing community. How could it not at 10,000 square feet? This is the second Virginia location of Founding Farmers—the first opened this year in Tysons Corner. Many aspects from the Tysons restaurant, such as showcasing Virginia beer and wine, will be carried over, but the new restaurant will have a slightly different look and feel. One major difference is that guests can look forward to rooftop dining—something not offered at any other Founding Farmers restaurant. The lease was signed this month, and the restaurant is slated to open in 2016.
3. Kapnos Kouzina coming to Merrifield in 2016
Another member of the Kapnos family of restaurants under Mike Isabella Concepts is coming to the former Gypsy Soul space (8296 Glass Alley) in Merrifield’s Mosaic District come 2016. Unlike Kapnos Taverna in Ballston, Kapnos Kouzina will introduce more homestyle dishes you’d find at every Greek corner restaurant like moussaka and spanakopita. Another focus will be family-style dishes that a party or four or six could tear into together, such as a whole roasted branzino or a Greek-spiced crispy chicken, bolstered by a few orders of spreads and small plates.
The comfort food inspiration comes from executive chef/partner George Pagonis’ time spent working at his father’s Greek diner in Alexandria. (Perhaps you remember the jolly dad from his cameo on “Top Chef” when Pagonis was competing.) While Isabella and Pagonis will oversee the kitchen, Billy Riddle will serve as chef de cuisine. He comes from Philadelphia, where he opened a Jose Garces restaurant called Volver. Only the year 2016 can be given as the projected opening because the space will first be used for the Requin pop-up helmed by “Top Chef” all-star Jennifer Carroll.
4. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant headed to Ashburn and Reston
Don’t order a beer when Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opens in the Belmont Chase Shopping Center (11792 W. Broad St.) in Ashburn in February. You would be cheating yourself out of the main attraction: wine. Cooper’s Hawk winemaker Rob Warren flies in grapes from Washington, California and Oregon and makes more than 45 wines out at his winery located outside of Chicago. This wine portfolio is a part of the Cooper’s concept that combines a Napa-style tasting room, restaurant, wine club and retail market. Expect to try signature dishes such as blackened ahi tuna, Dana’s Parmesan-crusted chicken, soy ginger salmon and the “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.”
The Ashburn restaurant will be the second location of the Illinois concept to open in Virginia, and a third is planned for Reston in spring or summer of 2016. CEO Tim McEnery says he selected the Ashburn location to be close to the technology corridor and because he expects Belmont Chase to “undoubtedly become a very popular destination.”
Laura Hayes hails from Philly (but don’t hold it against her). She’s been covering the local dining scene for three years, and her work has been published in the Washington Post, Food Network, Washington City Paper, Arlington Magazine and more. Having lived in Japan for two years, she finds herself in a constant state of craving sushi. Laura always orders her favorite savory dish again for dessert and keeps her gut in check through lots of CrossFit classes.