Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday.
Price range: Sandwiches, $ 2.30 to $ 3.45; dinners, $ 2.65 to $ 6.90.
Reservations: Not accepted.
Credit cards: None.
Special facilities: Parking in mall lot; accessible to handicapped; booster seats and highchairs available.
Since it's the time of year when we all run in frenzied circles around the shopping malls, it's more important than ever to know the places one can stop for breath and food.
Luciano Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is one spot to refuel at Tyson's Corner. Tucked into an out-of-the-way corner of the mall, Luciano's is part carryout and part real restaurant. Unfortunately, Luciano's can't seem to decide whether to be a restaurant or a pizzeria.
Maybe it seems drab only in comparison to the decor of other Tyson's establishments, but if it wants to be a restaurant, Luciano's could benefit a great deal from a bit of dressing up. A plain tiled carryout area where one can get either regular or Sicilian-style pizza and Italian sandwiches dominates the place. To the side and rear is a worn dining room with a table service and a long dinner menu (but lacking appetizers and desserts).
One can sometimes overlook the atmosphere if the food is good and prices are low. But here, too, Luciano's is a mixed bag. Ingredients are fresh, and some of the dishes are a cut above average. The usual pasta and veal dishes are on the menu, as well as a few -- like braciole and scungilli a la marinara -- one wouldn't expect to see in a restaurant that seems to want to run a simple operation.
The only children's portion available (spaghetti) isn't listed on the menu, but the pizza and Italian sandwiches available in carryout also can be ordered in the restaurant.
We went to Luciano's looking for a bargain. The sandwiches and spaghetti dishes and the daily specials, which include salad and bread for under $ 4, certainly qualify. But the better-tasting items -- the veal, for instance -- go for the same price you'd pay in a much more pleasant setting.
The salads were attractive but flavorless: 95 percent iceberg lettuce. Italian bread that would have been delicious served warm was brought to the table refrigerator-cold. Service was adequate but tired.
We sampled spaghetti with meat sauce ($ 3.75), lasagne ($ 4.45), veal parmigiana ($ 6.65) and veal rollatini (rolls of good veal stuffed with ham, salami and cheese, $ 6.65) and the special that night: sausage, peppers and potatoes ($ 3.25).
Spaghetti and sausage and peppers were just fair, the spaghetti sauce underflavored and the sausage dish a bit dry. Lasagne and veal were more successful, largely because the veal and cheeses were good quality and the dishes well-seasoned.
Judging from the quality of ingredients Luciano's uses, the pizza, which we didn't sample, is probably as good as it looks, and we would go back to try it. Our bill for five, $ 30.32 not including tip, was not expensive for dinner, but was high for a place with a carryout ambience and indifferent service.