Back in August, I was having dinner with some colleagues and asked Eric if he could recommend a restaurant in Fairfax -- an area as alien to me as Rio. Eric came up with Villa Mozart, which is neither German, nor a villa. The three of us showed up there a tad early, and I immediately became doubtful of Eric's choice -- not a first, but a rarity.
The maitre d' was rushing around in an empty restaurant, presumably getting ready for dinner seating. The restaurant slowly filled up, but not completely. Sure, it was a Wednesday, but after I tasted the food, it was beyond me why Villa Mozart wasn't packed. And that sentiment was confirmed the second and third time I ate at the restaurant.
The restaurant space is small and the decor very crisp, but not cold. There is no bar, so don't plan to arrive early to wait at the bar. The hostess will, however find you a glass of wine while you're milling about in the front hall.
I've now had dinner twice at Villa Mozart, and most recently, lunch. The second time I went to the restaurant for dinner, the space could barely contain the many diners. During my recent lunch, I was at one of two seated tables. My two companions and I agreed that the meal was outstanding.
To start, I had the beef carpaccio, which had a thick sun dried tomato sauce underneath. I could not pin point the sun dried tomato taste because I it -- oddly -- reminded me of Indian pickles. I finally asked the waiter. The carpaccio was delicate -- sliced beautifully thin. The taste was mild, but a solid combination with the sun dried tomato.
For my main course, I had the gnocchi puttanesca. I'm a spoiled when it comes to puttanesca: Eric makes delicious pasta puttanesca with a serious kick to it. He's has to tone it down for the kids, but it still takes my breath away. The gnocchi puttanesca at Villa Mozart was on the mild side, but still flavorful. I could not taste or smell the anchovies, which was okay with me, and the serving size was satisfying. I would have loved a glass of red wine with my meal, but, alas, work and a long drive home.
My two dining companions each got creme brule for dessert, and offered me a bite, to which I said no thank you. And this is where I may have made a career limiting move.
"I do not like creme brule," I told the offeror.
"Who doesn't like creme brule?" the offeror asked.
"Creme brule is overrated." I said.
Look, I get it. It's a custard with a crispy top layer. But come on: it's everywhere and it's overdone. And so what if it has a crispy top layer? I've seen friends using that torch and the appeal may have to do with using a power tool, rather than the taste. I can do without creme brule.
I was full and happy and didn't care to look at other dessert options, but had a cup of coffee.
Villa Mozart is a bit out of the way for me, but I will go back. With delicious food and a strong wine list, why wouldn't I?
Chef: Andrea Pace
4009 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Monday - Friday
11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Monday - Saturday5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.