Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Dolce Vita

spotlightOpen since 1994 thanks to Naples, Italy-native Chef Giuseppe “Joe” Ricciardi and Tuscan-born Ricardo Bellucci, Fairfax’s Dolce Vita was named one of America’s top 1,000 Italian restaurants by Zagat’s 2009 survey. Not only that, but the establishment’s been receiving consistent Zagat buzz since 1997.

spotlight

Dolce Vita (Photo: News-Press)

 

Open since 1994 thanks to Naples, Italy-native Chef Giuseppe “Joe” Ricciardi and Tuscan-born Ricardo Bellucci, Fairfax’s Dolce Vita was named one of America’s top 1,000 Italian restaurants by Zagat’s 2009 survey. Not only that, but the establishment’s been receiving consistent Zagat buzz since 1997.

“Focusing on Italian comfort foods,” as its Web site boasts, Dolce Vita — Italian for “Sweet Life” — is Fairfax’s own little corner of Italy without having to take a gondola ride across Venice. Murals depicting scenes of the Tuscan countryside decorate Dolce’s dining room, just a glimpse of its quaint vibe and relaxed atmosphere.

Although casual, Dolce’s setting is ideal for special occasions, given its live musical entertainment, hearty Italian dishes and lengthy wine menu. And if that’s not inviting enough, local produce supporters should note that while the restaurant prides itself on the lighter-sauce approach, it aims to use fresh-grown ingredients from “our own region.”

This writer recommends starting the evening with Calamari Alla Grigilia ($8.95) — grilled and served with a house dressing and garnished with parsley. This delightful delicacy is a smooth starter right before diving into Dolce Vita’s rich Italian cuisine. Not into squid? Turn to the Bruschetta ($3.95). The traditional brick oven-toasted bread is topped with olive oil, diced garlic tomatoes and parmigano.

True to its word, Dolce Vita offers those hit-the-spot Italian favorites, like Spaghetti & Meatballs ($11.95) or the more-colorful Cannelloni Di Casa ($13.95). Filled with veal and spinach, this cannelloni comes drizzled in a creamy aurora sauce.

But Dolce’s specialty is its wood-burning, brick-oven pizza menu. Pies ranging from $9.50 – 14.95 cover the basic Margherita to the signature Mona Lisa, which comes topped with fresh diced tomatoes, roasted peppers, mozzarella, artichoke hearts and zucchini. Best of all, these are baked in true Italian style. The brick oven sports the face of a Roman, with the oven opening as the its “mouth.”

With such aesthetics, backed with top-notch critical acclaim, it’s no wonder the restaurant decided to expand in 2004 for event-oriented dining. A cantina housed in a separate building next door to the trattoria can accommodate up to 30 customers for private gatherings, meetings and celebrations.

A worthwhile addition to one’s private event, or even a night out for two, would be Dolce Vita’s convenient 40-plus wine selections. Broken down into categories of “Great Value,” “Superior Reds” and “Great Italian Reds,” there’s selections by bottle and glass suitable for every taste, not to mention every budget with glasses starting at $6.99.

And calling all romantics, live music and tableside serenades kick off at 7 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday thanks to a trio comprised of a violinist, accordion and chitarrist. Of course, that can remain our little secret for readers looking to score extra brownie points for being thoughtful enough to surprise their dates with a “personalized” performance. (You’re welcome, fellas.)

Dolce Vita

10824 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax, VA

dolcevitafairfax.com • 703-359-5987

Hours:

Lunch: Monday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Sunday – Thursday 5 – 9:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 – 10:30 p.m.

 

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