Executive chef Gian Piero Mazzi fell in love with food at a young age, when he was growing up in the Liguria region of Italy. His mother’s passion for cuisine planted the seeds for his infatuation, which he cultivated during formal culinary schooling in Florence as well as an internship in France. After honing his skills in the kitchen, Mazzi ventured across the pond, earning new fans stateside when he showcased his recipes at an event at the James Beard House in 2002.
But that was just the beginning. Today, at two locations of Piero's Corner, he and his team hand make an assortment of authentic pastas, including ravioli stuffed with Maine lobster or a blend of spinach and portobello mushrooms. The menu highlights Chef Mazzi's hometown cuisine, with a focus on fresh seafood. Entrees include blackened tilapia and shrimp served with fruit salsa as well as scallops wrapped in prosciutto and arranged on a bed of spaghetti carbonara. Pizzas are made to order and baked in a brick oven, as are calzones stuffed with ingredients such as ricotta, ham, spinach, and tomato sauce. A gluten-free menu features pastas and doughs imported from Italy, whose climate doesn’t support gluten.
Both of Piero's Corner’s locations facilitate mini European getaways, with brick arches framing murals of Italian landscapes, and columns reminiscent of classical architecture supporting their ceilings. In Fairfax, diners can eat or sip wine al fresco beneath red and white umbrellas.
At Choices By Shawn, head chef and owner Shawn Warner welcomes the challenge of creating gluten-free and allergy-accommodating fare while still capturing the essence of classic American cuisine. Shawn rules the kitchen each day with an eye for nutrition, baking gluten-free breads, muffins, and cookies onsite. Warm loaves of the allergy-free bread uphold the menu's list of sandwiches. Though the bill of fare caters to modern tastes, Choices By Shawn's setting is decidedly vintage. Nestled inside the Moore House, a historic landmark that was erected in 1840, the dining room exudes an old-timey sophistication with crisp white tablecloths and side-by-side sets of french doors. In the outdoor garden, eaters devour plates filled from a buffet brunch. Alternatively, guests can enjoy teatime, complete with housemade clotted cream and scones, on a wraparound porch where rocking chairs sway like seasick first mates.
At Cee Fine Thai Dining, chefs assemble stunningly arranged plates of authentic Thai fare, separating meals and sauces for an interactive dining experience, or arranging disparate components in an artful stack to create a new twist on a familiar dish. This culinary runway show honors Thailand's cooking traditions at every turn, earning kudos from the Washington Post for serving "food that tastes as good as it looks." Flavors such as sweet yellow pineapple complement the spicy red sauce of a roasted-duck curry, and tableside clay pots throw aromatic steam diners’ way to announce a mélange of shrimp, mussels, and rice. Whether enjoyed on the patio or amid the dining room's ripe orange walls, luscious desserts including key-lime pie conclude meals on a tropical note. The restaurant also hosts live music, wine tastings, and cooking classes, helping diners liberate inner chefs and pent-up running men.
Through an entrance marked by natural woods and a screen of latticed rice paper, the interior of Cafe Ima opens up into an expansive dining space replete with a sushi bar and rows of hibachi tables where chefs deftly manipulate fresh, sizzling ingredients on steel tableside grills. Crafting an extensive menu, highly trained chefs slice, dice, and flip succulent morsels of steak, seafood, and veggies on flat-topped hibachis to create a culinary experience more entertaining than Penn and Teller's famous cooking show in Vegas. Meanwhile, Café Ima's experts behind the sushi bar slice slabs of fatty tuna and freshwater eel into sushi and sashimi, and craft specialty maki rolls filled with deep-fried shrimp, smoked salmon, and broiled eel.
Lanterns cast a warm glow through red, orange, and yellow fabrics to illuminate the rich wood accents in Asian Bistro's dining room. Guests sit at polished wooden tables and around an open sushi bar where meticulous chefs slice fresh sashimi and pack sushi rolls with fresh yellowtail, shrimp, and eel. In the kitchen, the culinary traditions of Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia blend together to create flavorful entrees, such as lobster pad thai or Korean-style short ribs. After polishing off gyoza appetizers, guests can insulate yakisoba noodles with unique add-ins of cashews and pineapple, or impress a date by eating miso soup using only one chopstick.
Fashioned after Jaipur, a gem of Rajasthan, Jaipur Royal Indian Cuisine excites the senses with aromatic spice mixes prepared separately each day for each dish. Among an interior of authentic figurines in elaborate dress and strung beads baring images of vibrantly colored birds, they serve a menu of traditional dishes rooted in North Indian cuisines. That includes rich grilled lamb, chicken, and seafood, as well as complex curries and plenty of fresh vegetarian dishes. They welcome guests to pair such variety of tastes with flavorful beverages such as aam ki lassi, a whipped mango and yogurt drink.