Italian in NOVA
I'm in desperate need of a recommendation for a place for dinner on Saturday that has a good Italian or seafood menu and can acommodate 12 people (ranging in age from 5-75). Grandma tends to be a bit picky so a nicer place as opposed to a hole-in-the-wall. Anything come to mind?
Bebo Trattoria comes to mind. Not Italian-American, though. Their new pizzas are excellent. Special thanks to Joe H. for recommending the smoked mozzarella pizza Not on the menu, you have to ask for it. Also I've had excellent sausage, tongue, and tripe here.
The chocolate salami makes an excellent dessert. Big enough to share.
For seafood, I honestly think you're best off going to Artie's in Fairfax. Not a seafood restaurant, but those of you who want seafood have some very good things to choose from.
Can you seat 12 at Artie's? When we've gone with larger parties, we've ended up in two large booths, not one big table. I prefer Coastal Flats to Arties but it's a noisier place. It is more seafood based, though part of the same chain. Their shrimp and grits are worth a special trip.
If you're near the Burke area, Rafagino's is very nice, decor-wise, and quiet, definitely a place I'd take a grandmother. The owner is really friendly (he makes the rounds, talks to everyone to make sure they're enjoying themselves, etc.), the service excellent. The food is hit or miss, though. I've had some great dishes and some that were pretty bad. Pastas generally are good. Fish okay. I'd highly recommend the prosciutto wrapped mozzerella balls drizzled with balsamic vinegar but pass on the baked calamari which is pretty flavorless. Desserts are fair but don't get the tiramisu which comes w/ a layer cake, whipped frosting and canned peaches. The description of the tiramisu alone probably would turn most people away...but it is a nice place if you know what to order.
With your needs and the age spread of your crowd, I'd head stright to Capri restaurant in McLean. This is a pleasant Italian restaurant with lots of seafood options.
Here's the link to the WASHINGTON POST's review of the restaurant from '06
I'd be a nervous wreck about bringing guests to Bebo; service issues are just too common a story, and the large size of your party is likely to intensify the problems. The food is always delish, but we only go to Bebo when we're mellow enough to not care about the service problems we will -- not if -- encounter that night.
Argia's in Falls Church comes to mind for italian. Sette Bello is really good, but can be loud so that probably wouldn't be as nice.
I recommend Argia's, Sette Bello, or Cafe Oggi. For seafood, I like McCormick & Schmick (even though it is a chain).
Tutto Bene on North Randolph along side Ballston Common has the space and the standard Italian dishes. They also have a Bolivian menu (you usually have to ask) for those with a more adverturous spirit.
I heartily recommend the Alpine restaurant on Lee Highway in Arlington. I think people often overlook it because it's been there forever, but the food is great and the staff is old-school smooth and there are several rooms and large spaces to accomodate parties of your size. It's my mom's fave place and I eat there with her at least once a month.