Fiore di Luna (1025-I Seneca Rd., Great Falls, 703-444-4060, www.fiorediluna.com) is an elegant addition to the area. Chef Andrea Pace, an Italian native, brings considerable talent to the space, once occupied by Yannick Cam. This is a sliver of northern Italy wedged into a suburban strip mall.
At Bellissimo in Fairfax City (10403 Main St., 703-293-2367), the welcome is warm, the pasta dishes especially appealing and the attention to detail notable.
For more southern Italian fare, try Cafe Oggi (6671 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, 703-442-7360), which excels at pastas and produces main dishes with a deft hand. In warmer months, there is dining outside.
LOCAL RESTAURANT GROUP
In addition to Coastal Flats, Great American Restaurants operates six American-theme restaurants throughout the county. Although their menus are similar, each restaurant has its own personality. Artie's in Fairfax (3260 Old Lee Hwy., 703-273-7600) has the feel of a hometown favorite. Mike's American Grill (6210 Backlick Rd., Springfield, 703-644-7100) presents itself as a steakhouse. Silverado in Annandale (7052 Columbia Pike, 703-354-4560) has a southwest flavor, as do each of the three Sweetwater Taverns (14250 Sweetwater Lane, Centreville, 703-449-1100; 45980 Waterview Plaza, Sterling, 571-434-6500; 3066 Gatehouse Plaza, Merrifield, 703-645-8100, www.greatamericanrestaurants.com). Their crab cakes could make you overlook the dearth of crab restaurants in the county.
Pollo Campero, a Guatemalan fried chicken chain, has two locations in Fairfax County (5852 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, 703-820-8400; 496 Elden St., Herndon, 703-904-7500, www.campero.com). The chicken, cooked to golden brown but without the thick batter of U.S. chains, is so popular that there are lines out the door at almost any hour of the day. The menu is limited to chicken, a few side orders and a few desserts. Condiments include pickled jalapeños and red and green salsas. Ask for the tortilla instead of the biscuit.
For more individually prepared chicken, try Flavors Soul Food (3420 Carlyn Hill Dr., Falls Church, 703-379-4411, www.flavorssoulfood.com), where each piece is deep fried to order. It takes 20 minutes to cook, but the results are flavorful and juicy. The menu includes pork chops, barbecue ribs, fried fish and Southern-style sides.