Inside the kitchen of Pines of Florence, chefs steam mussels, boil housemade pastas, and bake pans of ziti to a bubbling golden brown. Sub sandwiches packed with meatballs, eggplant parmigiana or italian cold cuts accompany crusty pizzas during weekend lunches, and dinner entrees such as shrimp parmigiana and spaghetti a la carbonara come topped with parmesan cheese. For dessert, sweet bites of fluffy tiramisu, cannolis, and rich cheesecake fill up bellies and the refrigerated snack compartment of most designer handbags.
After years in the restaurant industry, Nathan V. Spittal and Joe D'Jassebi knew exactly what kind of place they wanted to create. They valued sustainable practices and freshness and wanted elegance, but not stuffiness. So they put their heads together, and the result was Leek American Bistro, whose slogan, "Simple. Clean. Elegant.," encapsulates the duo's priorities.
Nathan and Joe source much of their meat, dairy products, and produce from local farmers. Even some of the wine is local, with Virginia concoctions taking up larger portions of the wine list as state vineyards blossom and glass bottles ripen on the vine. Fine, aged spirits also grace the beverage selection, offering an array of tastes to complement the menu's duck breast, crab cakes, and braised short ribs. When they're not grilling strip steak, or stirring anise and lobster into fennel-leek bisque, chefs also knead and bake fresh batches of breads and desserts every single day.
Tara Temple builds a banquet of a bridge between the culinary traditions of Thailand and Japan with its menu of Far East favorites. For starters, try the chicken satay ($6), skewered chunks of chicken glazed in peanut sauce and cucumber relish, or the sinus-clearing tom yum soup ($5). Main dishes include standard Thai sustenance such as curry and noodle bowls, as well as Japan-centric fare such as sushi. Wade through the wealth of the tofu-filled green curry ($11), kick consumption up a nourishing notch with the spicy salmon roll ($6.50), or opt for onomatopoeic opulence with the stir-fried crispy-duck kapow ($13), dressed in a Thai basil sauce. Tara Temple's lunch menu serves up bento boxes containing items such as beef katsu ($11) or shrimp tempura ($13). All bento boxes come with a six-piece California roll, miso soup, and house salad. The seaweed salad ($5) and the house salad ($7), dressed in your choice of dressing such as ginger or mustard soy, offer options for vegetarians and cannibalistic heads of lettuce.
Though the interior of Japanese' Kitchen takes a modern approach to traditional Asian décor, its lunch and dinner menus are filled with authentic Japanese cuisine. On traditional hibachi grills, chefs-turned-showmen sizzle morsels of marinated chicken, NY strip steak, and lobster alongside fresh vegetables. At the sushi bar, maki-makers hand craft spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, and California rolls in a less flashy display. For more unique flavors, Japanese' Kitchen’s serves up appetizers of tempura-fry calamari and cap meals with desserts such as housemade crème brulee infused with green tea and cream harvested from the brulee tree. Japanese' Kitchen also stocks a selection of imported Japanese drinks including Echigo Koshi Hikari rice lager, Junmai sake, and Ramune orange soda.
The word "darna" is an Arabic word meaning "our home," and the owners of Darna Restaurant have taken the phrase "el dar darak"—our home is your home—to heart. They encourage diners to treat their restaurant as if it was their own home, and settle in for a meal of authentic food that, no matter your heritage, feels familiar and comforting. Head Chef Michel Dawaliby takes the best traditional cuisines from North Africa to the Gulf to construct his menu of Middle Eastern dishes, such as charcoal grilled salmon kabobs, traditional bazella lamb with peas and tomato, and desserts of halawite el jibne, or sweet cheese and pistachios. Guests can also sip creative libations from a craft cocktail list devised by beverage director Eric Tollar. Upstairs, sensuous mood lighting, soft music, and plumes of hookah smoke illuminate a lounge.