Landini Brothers Restaurant – Still Setting the Standard
By the Gastronomes
With the arrival of spring and days getting warmer, our attention is more and more intrigued with al fresco dining. With all of the restrictions brought about by COVID, the pandemic had a cause and effect for our city that city officials could not pull off for many years…more al fresco dining options. In addition to establishing a pedestrian space in the 100 block of King Street, the city and merchant groups were able to get parking spaces as dedicated dining spaces throughout Alexandria and the rush was on.
This month we decided to visit what we consider the anchor restaurant of Old Town. I have been a customer of Landini’s for about 40 years and I am not the only one. While many of the regulars are no longer with us, a good number are still around. My partner has been frequenting this place since she arrived in Old Town in 1992 and it remains one of our most favorite places for many reasons.
Landini’s has been the “go-to” establishment for special occasions, business lunches and dinners, birthdays and just getting together with friends. The pandemic and all of its restraints put a strain on gatherings for over a year so it is good to be back on track again. On a personal note, this restaurant is also a very effective first date destination if you want to impress…
We will get to the food shortly but first I have to mention the staff and the building itself. Over the past 40 years the bar at Landini’s has been akin to any boardroom in the city. Businessmen and women choose Landini’s as the place to meet and be seen. What makes the bar so special is the caliber of the bartenders year in and year out. They are the conductors to our orchestra, and they still make the best martini in town…maybe even in the DMV!
In addition, we must mention the wait staff. Some of the waiters I met 40 years ago are still serving up the famous Landini Tuscan dishes. I also have to mention how the food got this good and that would be Chefs Rigoberto and Santos and their staff. A lot of reservations are made to be seated at a favorite waiters table and the kitchen staff usually knows each customer by name.
For every strong ship there must be a strong captain. Franco Landini and his brother Piero launched this excursion over 40 years ago. Piero retired from the restaurant business several years ago and now Franco’s eldest son, Noe, has assumed command of the next voyage while Franco enjoys his retirement.
When you enter the restaurant you will immediately notice the historic nature of the building. Built of brick and stone, this building was one of the many warehouses that lined King Street at the Historic Alexandria Wharf in the early days of America. This is one of the few restaurants in Old Town that has kept the original look. In addition to three dining rooms on the ground floor there is a second floor for dining and a wine cellar complete with bar as well as meeting rooms for small groups.
It is difficult to write about everything on the menu because it is so extensive, so we will mention some of our favorites. At lunch time, both of us are partial to the Penne alla Romana. The sweet and mild Italian sausage brings this whole dish together. The pasta is perfectly cooked and the light red vodka/cream sauce begs savoring. Another easy favorite that isn’t on the menu but they always make it for me is the veal parmagiana with a side of capelinni. This dish takes me back to my younger days at Luigi’s Restaurant in D.C. when I ordered it there with a bottle of Mateus or Lancers Vin Rose wine. And yes….they had dripping candles in Chianti bottles there.
The first time I dined at Landini’s all those years ago I was recommended the Scaloppine di Vitello Landini and it is still my go to dish today. This is a treat for the taste buds. The milk fed scaloppine is sauteed in butter, white wine, with homemade brown sauce and mushrooms. Topped with lightly melted mozzarella cheese and served with a side of asparagus, this is one of those dishes that makes you start salivating the moment you think of it.
Landini Brothers hosts a variety of specials every day and the kitchen has always been very good about adapting any dish to your specific wants. My partner has always ordered something off of the specials menu and has her favorite combinations. One of them is spirulina based linguini sauteed in olive oil with crumbled sausage, toasted pine nuts, garlic, onion and asparagus. She feels very “healthy” when she eats this. The green color of the pasta kind of throws me off. On the other side of her dining curve is the veal chop or the pork chop. Both of these chops are grilled to perfection and served with two sides. If either of these is on the specials menu, treat yourself!
We haven’t touched on the seafood and other specialties since there is only so much space for this column. Please peruse their online menu for more insight.
As mentioned above, if you are a martini or Manhattan lover, this is the place for you. All of the adult beverages served in Landini’s are stellar. They offer a good mix of old and new but they haven’t gone off on the “craft cocktail” deep end…we like it like that. The wine list, as you can imagine, is extensive and there is a decent selection of bottled beers.
As you can see by walking down King Street that there are a ton of restaurants to choose from and all are pretty good. If you want a taste of Old Town accompanied by some excellent Tuscan fare, give Landini Brothers a try. If you go for dinner it is always a good idea to make reservations, or you can do like we often do…have dinner at the bar with Susan, Tami or Tom. You will meet some very interesting characters.
115 King Street