100 Best Restaurants 2011: Villa Mozart

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

In the heart of Old Town Fairfax, this intimate restaurant is small-town cute on the outside, modern on the inside, with black-and-white photographs lining the pale walls. Soft lighting and warm service lend a welcoming air, and the food does its part, too.

Many dishes, including seasonal renditions of gnocchi and risotto, are inspired by chef/owner Andrea Pace’s Northern Italian roots. Occasionally he plays with unexpected flavor combinations, such as chestnut pappardelle with a wild-boar ragu. Pasta and risotto can be ordered in half portions—a good way to keep down the special-occasion price tags and try as many varieties as possible.

Also good: Pumpkin soup; panzarotti, a trio of a cheese-filled biscuit, burrata cheese, and garlicky eggplant slices; rye ravioli filled with spinach; luxurious risotto with lobster and mushrooms; rack of wild boar with root vegetables; soft eggplant gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce; chestnut soufflé with pumpkin ice cream and espresso sauce; apple strudel with sour-cream ice cream.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.