What does it mean when a couple sets their wedding date around restaurant reservation availability?
For weeks, Katherine Lahr (her maiden name) called Per Se every Tuesday to try to book a dinner for her and her future husband, Gabe Thompson. After she finally secured a reservation a month out, she then called New York’s city hall to set up a time to get married for earlier that day.
The gift certificate for Per Se was a present from one of their investors at their first restaurant, Dell’Anima. Tuesday was the only night their restaurant closed, and so they decided that on their lone day off, whenever they could get into Per Se, that would be their wedding day. The day of the nuptials, they sent an email to friends inviting them to their restaurant at midnight to celebrate.
Katherine, an Arlington-native, used to rush home after school to catch Julia Child on television. She often ate at Vietnamese restaurants, back when Clarendon was the hub of Hanoi cuisine. “I was a food dork from day one,” she says.
She eventually graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, worked at Per Se, opened (with her chef-husband) a family of Italian restaurants—Dell’Anima, L’Artusi, Anfora and L’Apicio—and almost four years ago, moved back to her hometown. Gabe worked at DC’s RPM Italian while Katherine stayed home with the couple’s two children, now 8 and 5.
Soon, it was time for the couple to open another restaurant. “The entire time we’re together we talk and daydream about different concepts we want to open,” says Katherine. “We endlessly drive by locations and talk about what would work there.”
The talking clicked into action after the almost two-decade-old Argia’s closed in Falls Church, just a 10-minute drive from the family’s home.
Thompson Italian is now one-week old. It’s a modern American restaurant through the lens of Italian food. Neither of the Thompsons are Italian, and Gabe is from Texas, so the food here reflects who the couple is now. It’s a seasonal approach to cooking, a farmers market-driven menu, and, of course, there’s a dish centered around burrata with roasted peppers, almonds and aged balsamic. Is it even a restaurant in 2019 if there’s not burrata as an option?
Housemade pastas include bucatini, garganelli and gemelli and entrees showcase roast chicken, grilled Arctic char and a hanger steak. But that’s just the opening menu. Dishes will shift with the weather, though the spicy pork meatballs with cumin and smoked paprika will likely stick around.
Katherine is the pastry chef here, bringing along her famed olive oil cake and enough to satisfy chocolate-only lovers: chocolate-hazelnut torta and a chocolate budino.
Opening the patio and debuting lunch and brunch is still to come. They’re still figuring things out, accepting feedback, like making portions bigger and offering focaccia (instead of waiting for guests to ask for a bread basket). But some things haven’t changed. The Thompsons are still off on Tuesdays. // Thompson Italian: 124 N. Washington St., Falls Church
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