FROM SPARE PARTS TO SHORT RIBS: When she and her pals were looking for a place to open their first restaurant, Alexandria native Marylisa Damiani reached back to a childhood memory: the cinder-block walls and concrete floor of an old auto parts shop in Del Ray, which her father co-owned during part of the building's 50 years.
Opened just last Friday, the completely renovated space, dubbed FireFlies (1501 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-548-7200) is two ideas in one: a takeout offering meals to go and a 68-seat dining area distinguished with a curved wine rack, dropped ceiling and a hint of art deco.
From a big pizza oven come the expected pies, along with a wide range of other menu options, including arctic char, beef tenderloin, chicken stuffed with almonds and apricots, twice-baked potatoes and a vegetarian dish, maybe a made-from-scratch curry.
Not to be confused with the new Firefly restaurant in Dupont Circle, this food purveyor was christened by Damiani and her partner Dan Lichens after considering 200 names, says the 1999 Culinary Institute of American graduate, who shares kitchen duty with Lichens, her boyfriend, and fellow chef Parker White. The title is meant to refer both to the flame of the pizza oven and the trio's reluctance to be pigeon-holed into a single cooking style. No worries there.
Lunch and dinner entrees $7.50-$15.
-- Tom Sietsema