I’m super excited to announce that I’m starting a “Local Eats” series on the blog! I’ll be featuring a different Northern VA/DMV restaurant in each post, including a mix of old favorites and new (or new-to-us) places. Note: Manuel and I are definitely not food critics and we probably don’t even qualify as foodies. We’re just two hungry people who love good food! 😉 My goal is to share fun and straightforward reviews of some of the local restaurants we have tried and loved.
Without further ado, the first restaurant on the list is….*drum-roll* North Italia Tysons!
North Italia is a growing chain of restaurants with about 30 locations scattered across the US. There are three locations in the DC area: in DC proper, Reston, and Tysons Corner. As the name suggests, they focus on Northern Italian cuisine and feature hand-made pasta that is made fresh everyday (yum!).
We loved the ambience and interior design of North Italia Tysons! The interior is a mix of modern and rustic, with lots of wood paneling and details (the wooden slats on the ceiling reminded me of bed slats lol), huge windows, and sleek but comfy black dining chairs. We were very lucky to snag a table near the window, and we loved the abundance of natural light that flooded in. We were offered the choice to sit outside, but considering it was a 95 degree day, we opted to sit inside.
We came in determined to try the homemade pasta, and we were not disappointed! Manuel went for the tagliatelle bolognese (pictured above), while I was adventurous (for once!) and tried the squid ink mafaldine. Mafaldine was a new pasta type for me! As you can see in the photo below, mafaldine pasta has a unique, wavy, ribbon-like shape.
Both pasta dishes were delicious, and I was delighted to find that the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente (nothing more annoying than overcooked pasta at an Italian restaurant!). The bolognese sauce was tasty and fresh, and I definitely stole a couple of bites from Manuel’s plate. 😉 The mafaldine had a very unique, red-based sauce with calabrian chili, fennel, and mint. I was able to request a lower spice level, and it was perfectly balanced for me (I am a spice wimp!). The shrimp and calamari were also perfectly cooked.
If you’re not a pasta person, the North Italia Tysons menu also has a great selection of classic Italian appetizers such as carpaccio, arancini, and burrata, daily rotating pizzas, and meat/seafood entrees. We tried the beef carpaccio for our appetizer, and it was a nice mix of flavors and beautifully presented.
Everyone we talked to, from the hostess to the server and busboys, was very friendly and polite. Our server, Cara, came to check on us a few times throughout the meal, which we appreciated. We were also impressed at how quickly our food came – around 10 minutes after we had ordered! When we saw our dishes coming, we thought they were definitely headed to another table and were delighted when they stopped at our table!
For those who know me, this is a very necessary category to add! 😉 I’m delighted to report that the restrooms were very clean, and included individual, spacious, “room”-style stalls that closed completely. Wish every restroom were like this!
There is some street parking available, as well as nearby underground parking in the Boro Tower Garage ($6 for up to three hours, and $5 flat-rate for evenings and weekends). There is some conflicting information on Yelp as to whether or not North Italia will validate parking. We were not asked if we needed parking validation, and forgot to ask, so we ended up paying the $5.
North Italia Tysons definitely wins points for its beautiful atmosphere and delicious food. I think it’s a great place for a date night or small gathering for friends. Some restaurants can get very noisy when busy, but North Italia Tysons isn’t one of them!
The only thing that we found lacking was the portion sizes and the accompanying prices. Pasta dishes range from $19-22 but the portion size is relatively small, and you will probably need an appetizer or dessert to really fill you up. So with an added appetizer and/or dessert, an entree, and drinks, you could easily be spending $40-50 per person. Again, the food is delicious, so depending on your budget, this may not be an issue, but definitely something to keep in mind!
Overall, we enjoyed our first visit to North Italia Tysons, and we will definitely be back in the future!
my very adorable dining and life partner 🙂
I hope you enjoyed the first blog post in my “Local Eats” series! Got a restaurant that you’re dying to try or would love to see featured? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Jocelyn Bravo is a Northern VA family photographer who specializes in creating joyful and luminous images for families and couples. She is based in Alexandria, VA and loves working with clients all across Virginia and the DMV.