Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Landini Brothers Restaurant: A Little Bit of Tuscany in Old Town for 40 Years

By The Gastronomes

Landini Brothers Restaurant

A Little Bit of Tuscany in Old Town for 40 Years

Franco & Noe Landini upstair at Landini Brothers Restaurant, Alex., VA. Photo courtesy of Chester Simpson Photography.

This month Franco Landini, son Noe and staff celebrate 40 years of serving the folks of Northern Virginia as well as from around the world at their popular restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. The restaurant is, and has always been, a gathering place for dignitaries, politicians, movie stars and other perceived movers and shakers as well as regular folks like us. I know as I have been a regular for well over 35 years. Over the years some things have changed, we have grown older, some employees have gone and new ones have come on board, but the quality of food served and the service has been consistently great.

Ever since I began going to Landini’s (as the locals call it), I was impressed with the volume of business they did, and not just on weekends, but during the week as well. The entire staff is very professional and friendly and the service is excellent. It is a place that you can make your own.

The bar is usually filled with regular customers on any given day of the week and especially during the after work hours. Although there are no “Happy Hour” prices, the seats are always filled with interesting people. During the day the bar becomes a place for many locals and visitors to grab lunch. There is an extensive lunch menu with 6 to 8 specials added each day. The prices are reasonable with pastas going from $12.95 to $14.95 and with the option to place a half order. The other entrees, including their popular veal, come in at $14.95. They also offer an assortment of Panini sandwiches with either their French fries or delicious potato salad (it has bacon in it). My favorites for lunch are half orders of either Penne alla Romana with sweet Italian sausage or Linguine alla Vongole Rosse…baby clams in a white sauce. These pasta dishes also come with a house salad.

The veal dishes at Landini’s are renowned for their flavor and texture. If you happen by the restaurant around 3 in the afternoon, you can hear the kitchen staff pounding the veal for that evening’s dinner. My all time favorite for dinner is Scaloppine di Vitello Landini, or simply put…Veal Landini for $28.95. The dish consists milk fed veal sauteed in butter, white wine, homemade brown sauce, mushrooms, melted Mozzarella cheese and asparagus. Top this off with one of their spectacular wines and you are set for a fantastic evening. The dinner pastas range from Agnolotti alla Fiorentina, fresh homemade pasta filled with spinach, Ricotta cheese sauteed in butter, cream and Parmesan cheese for $17.95 to Linguine alle Pescatora, sea scallops, shrimp, baby clams , mussels and squid sauteed in garlic, red pepper and white wine for $22.95.

Even though this is an Italian restaurant, Landini’s also offers a selection of 5 different steak dinners from a 14 ounce Prime Sirloin to an 8 ounce Sirloin Kebab. The steaks are thick and juicy and prepared just right. The restaurant has consistently offered the highest in USDA grade beef. Only about 2.9 percent of beef in the United States meets this level of quality.

Our favorite soup is their onion soup, which is only served on Wednesday. It is a beef broth packed with fresh onion with a piece of house made bread with aged mozzarella cheese on top. The soup is hearty and very tasty and you don’t have to fight the usual half pound of melted provolone found on most versions. The salads range from the finely sliced avocado, tomato, and steamed asparagus dressed with a silky vinaigrette to the popular Insalata di Fagioli, white beans tossed with fresh leeks, avocado, shrimp and jumbo lump crab meat – this is one of our favorites as well.

Walking into Landini’s you will step back into the time that these old warehouses were built. Centuries old stone walls and slate floors are set off by white linen and works of art. Old wooden beams and support posts still show where they were hand cut. When the restaurant was enlarged some years ago, you can see where the cut was made through the foot and half stonewall that now joins the two dining rooms. On the second floor is the wine room, which is used for special gatherings. The glass enclosed wine cellar holds over 7,000 bottles of some of the best wine in the world.

Although the food is very good here, I think it is the people that make this a special place and that starts at the top. Franco and Noe Landini have spared no expense in bringing world class dining to Old Town Alexandria. There are several servers and managers that deserve a big congratulations on being a part of this restaurants continuing success. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the three people who have been manning and “womanning” the popular bar for a good portion of these 40 years. Susan Hergenrather, Mitchell Hughes and Tami Hatridge are a fabulous team as they continue to serve the well-known Landini pour.

We at the Old Town Crier are happy to have been a part of these last 40 years and look forward to celebrating with them on this anniversary.

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