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August 2004: Argia’s

Best of Falls Church 2004

Argia's, expensive. Don't let the happy young faces at the bar fool you: This is a first-rate restaurant. The dining area is comfortable, the service conscientious. Only one negative—the place can be noisy. If this is a problem, go early in the week when the restaurant is less crowded. Prices are quite reasonable for what the kitchen produces, with all main courses but one under $20. The restaurant does not take reservations.

The menu is northern Italian. For just about any dish, diners can choose a regular portion or the "famiglia" size, which serves two or more but costs only about 60 percent more. Excellent appetizers are the beef carpaccio with julienne apples, walnuts, and Parmesan; the mussels Argia, steamed with white wine in a garlic-and-parsley-flavored broth; and the mixed salad with a fine balsamic vinaigrette. Pastas are very good, ranging from spaghetti and meatballs to linguine with sautéed shrimp. Top-of-the line main courses include the braised lamb shank, the loin of pork wrapped in pancetta, and a special of soft-shell crabs. The wine list is good, though it fails to give vintages.

Argia's, 124 N. Washington St.; 703-534-1033. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, daily for dinner.