January 2004: Panino
Panino is truly family owned and run: Chef Louis Patierno, an alumnus of DC’s long-gone Tiberio, tends the kitchen, while his wife, Lydia, greets diners by name and often with a hug.
Good appetizers are the baby mussels with marinara sauce; marinated, thinly sliced portobello mushrooms; fried calamari; and snails with parsley, butter, and garlic. For a pasta course, consider the cheese tortellini with a cream-tomato sauce, linguine with a white clam sauce, or rigatoni with meat sauce. Main courses include beef-tenderloin medallions with mushroom sauce, a simple filet of sole with a lemon sauce, and a mixed grill of quail, sausage, and a lamb chop. House-made bread and pastries are excellent.
One of the recent specials, a green-noodle lasagna with mushrooms, was overcooked. But the more serious surprise came with the bill: The price of the dish was $22.50.
The wine selection is good, but the list omits vintages. Several wines are $20 and under, and there's a bargain in the upper range—a 1996 Schiavenza Barolo for $52.
Panino, 9116 Mathis Ave., Manassas; 703-335-2566. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, Monday through Saturday for dinner.