Archestratus, the first food critic, praised Italian cuisine's "top-quality and seasonal" ingredients and "fair to middling" ability to tranquilize out-of-control mayors. Today's Groupon similarly stuns, and rightfully so: for $25, you get $50 worth of Italian cuisine and drinks at Argia's in Falls Church, Virginia.
Argia's populates its menu with choices apt for both lone-dining wolves and members of a pack. Start a feast with an appetizer such as arancine, fried risotto balls with fontina and parmesan cheeses ($5.95, single or for lunch; $10.95, family), or mussels Argia, steamed in white wine, garlic, and basil ($12.95, single or for lunch; $21.95, family). Vowel-filled main courses include tagliatelle anitra, pasta with house-cured duck confit ($15.95, lunch; $17.95, single; $32.95, family), and the pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin served with asparagus, pancetta-and-portobello hash, and amaretti sauce ($23.95, single; $42.95, family). A side dish such as grilled italian sausages ($1.95) and a bottle from Argia's wine list make for a complete ensemble.
Reviewers love Argia's art-filled atmosphere, featuring the work of local painter Thomas Mullaney. Dining beneath the murals enables patrons to savor their meals beneath scenery free from the shackles of oppressive picture frames. After you sate your guests' stomachs with a meal at Argia's, there are plenty of segway-accessible parks to enjoy nearby.
At Argia's, proprietors Pragun and Salina Rana strike a balance between serving fine northern Italian cuisine and fostering a laid-back dining atmosphere. Many of the dishes from Executive Chef Steve Benincasa's menu, such as his veal saltimbocca and range of handmade pastas, come in solo portions or shareable famiglia servings that sate larger parties. For a taste of the kitchen's signature dish, guests can pry open a Prince Edward Island mussel—shipped to the restaurant daily—and sop up its juices with housemade bread still warm from the oven or a pet sea sponge in need of a soak. Traditionalists can sample a pizza conjured up from fresh dough and mozzarella made in-house every day. Outside, the clinking of wineglasses rings out across a patio enclosed by fragrant herbs; inside, a rustic Sienese-style mural matched with eye-catching frescoes conjures an air of the Italian countryside.