Manassas / Italian & Portuguese / $$$$
One of the oldest restaurants on our list, Carmello’s was established in 1987. It feels every bit of its 34 years. But that’s not a bad thing.
An Italian restaurant from Portugal native Alice Pires, the cozy spot in the heart of Old Town Manassas has long since figured out its formula: top-notch service, a wine cellar that earned 10 consecutive awards from Wine Spectator, and food that will make you purr with satisfaction.
Meat lovers shouldn’t miss the vitello Rafaelo, a dish that’s truly timeless. Two towering veal medallions are each wrapped in crisp, salty prosciutto, like keto potato chips. A layer of nutty fontina cheese oozes forth from the top, which is also bathed in a savory, lightly creamy sauce. It’s all placed atop a layer of risotto that has just the hint of bite that you’re craving.
Your server will be happy to tell you which red he recommends for an ideal pairing. But really, it’s the combination of time and tradition that makes this a meal to remember.
See this: The dark dining room with mustard tones brings to mind fine dining of yore.
Eat this: Picadas de bife, vitello Rafaelo, Black Forest cake
Service: Old-fashioned. Servers aren’t kitted out in tuxedos, but they might as well be.
When to dine here: You don’t mind paying a little bit more for a meaty meal that evokes the Mediterranean.