By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 18, 2013
Then: A reliable Italian neighbor(2002)
Again: Basta already!
There is nothing meager about this trattoria in downtown Falls Church. Its three rooms can hold 220 sippers and suppers at a time. The pastoral Renaissance fresco in the main dining room, renovated by new owners with rippled red tiles to absorb any din, is CinemaScopic in scale. Just about every dish is built for two, or a tribe, so when an appetizer of polenta topped with Bolognese sauce lands on the table, you look around to see if the barge doesn't belong to the family next to you. "Timber!" a friend whispers when a brick-size slab of tiramisu falls on its side.
The dark side to mammoth portions, apart from the reality that two-thirds of Americans are too fat, is they draw attention to their flaws in a way smaller servings do not. An Alp of overcooked spinach fettuccine festooned with a blizzard of shaved cheese, shrimp, spicy sausage and red bell pepper strips is a mountain of pasta that has spent too much time in hot water. Orange zest in the mix is a bright touch, I'll allow.
The server's excitement over the catch of the day should be a prompt to bite; roasted Arctic char is a simple pleasure bedded on orzo embellished with zucchini, cabbage and bell peppers. Argia's crackery pizza poses no threat to local favorite Pizzeria Orso, but a topping of spinach, sliced mushrooms and tomato pesto makes a decent companion to a bottle of vino. Visit on a Monday, and a bottle is half-price -- a reduction to toast.