News & Politics

Best of Fairfax

Authentic ethnic eats, family-friendly theater, plus exciting new shops and restaurants in Merrifield’s Mosaic district.

Villa Mozart. Photograph by Andrew Propp.
  • 1 Flavorful Finishes

    Ah Love Oil & Vinegar. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    The folks at Ah Love Oil & Vinegar (2910
    District Ave., Suite 165; 703-992-7000) are as obsessive about pantry
    staples as wine connoisseurs are about their cellars, and custom-ers are
    encouraged to sniff and taste with abandon. There are small-batch olive
    oils from Greece, France, South Africa, and even Palestine. Some oils are
    infused with accents such as truffle or roasted chilies, and
    dessert-drizzling balsamics come in flavors ranging from dark chocolate to

  • 2 Best in Beauty

    Old Town shoppers will recognize Bellacara (2910 District Ave., Suite 150; 703-992-0850), a girly beauty boutique
    that just opened its second store at the new Mosaic development. A large
    counter of hard-to-find Kevyn Aucoin makeup is the biggest draw. Other
    high-end cosmetic and skin-care labels such as Dermalogica, Smashbox, and
    the locally founded Alchimie Forever fill the shelves alongside candles by
    Acquiesse and trendy nail polishes by Butter.

  • 3 Hefty Sandwiches

    Five years ago, Bernie Socha sold his share of ownership in
    DC’s Wagshal’s Deli and headed to the burbs, opening Bernie’s
    (4328 Chain Bridge Rd.; 703-691-1269), a friendly
    sandwich shop and market. We go for corned beef piled onto rye and
    enriched with creamy-sweet coleslaw and Russian dressing or an Italian
    cold-cut sub perked up with sweet peppers and vinaigrette. While you wait,
    browse the shelves of wine or fill a bottle with Greek olive oil from a

  • 4 Sweat in Style

    In addition to a clean, 1,500-square-foot studio space,
    Bikram Yoga Fairfax (3950 University Dr.; 571-572-9583) provides chilled, lavender-scented towels at the end of each class—the
    perfect close to a detoxifying sweat session. In the lobby, you can
    purchase mats and yoga clothing by such brands as Om Shanti.

  • 5 Sushi and Skewers

    Although the izakaya trend has only recently taken off
    in Washington, Blue Ocean (9440 Main St.; 703-425-7555) has been serving Japanese-style snacks and sushi for 17 years. Graze on
    the daily raw-fish specials, then move on to grilled, terikayi-glazed
    skewers of chicken and, if the kitchen has it that night, tender and sweet
    yellowtail collar.

  • 6 Indian With A Twist

    Bollywood Bistro. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

    Olive-flecked raita, pomegranate guacamole, and fried
    chicken “lollipops” are among the surprises on the menu at cozy,
    paprika-red Bollywood Bistro (3955 Chain Bridge Rd.; 703-273-0031), a nice spot for an impromptu weeknight date. Those
    whimsical touches are fun, but it’s the aromatic curries—tender goat
    masala, fiery lamb-shank vindaloo—that keep us coming
    back. You’ll want plenty of bread to soak up the spicy flavors, whether
    cheddar-laced naanor a traditional mint

    Read Our Full Review of Bollywood Bistro ››

  • 7 Heat Seekers

    It’s hard to find a taste of the islands in these parts.
    Luckily, the bare-bones but cheery mom-and-pop carryout Caribbean
    (4008-A University Dr.; 703-246-9040) fills the void,
    ladling out generous helpings of blazing-hot jerk chicken, deeply flavored
    “brown stew chicken,” and sides of peas and rice.

  • 8 Vintage Treasures

    There’s a great mix of high and low at the consignment shop
    Chic Envy (11895 Grand Commons Ave.; 703-268-5228), where
    you’ll find shoes by Jimmy Choo and Tory Burch as well as furs from
    Chanel, Escada, and Armani. More practical options are in back: J. Crew
    tweed jackets, flats by Kate Spade, and sweaters by Ralph

  • 9 Curry Chic

    Curry Mantra. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

    Shimmery tiles and vivid shades of red and orange spiff up the
    dining room at Curry Mantra (9984 Main St.;
    703-218-8128), and the plates are just as artfully presented. The menu
    features good versions of old favorites, from mulligatawny soup to chicken
    tikka masala. More unusual: Balti-style goat, redolent of ginger
    and chilies, and split yellow peppers stuffed with paneer (fresh
    cheese) and potatoes and blistered in the tandoor.

    Read Our Full Review of Curry Mantra ››

  • 10 Family Night Out

    With its diverse lineup, George Mason University’s
    Center for the Arts
    (4400 University Dr.; 888-945-2468) is a good
    source of entertainment for all ages. Events—many of which are free—range
    from student art exhibits to book talks, standup comedy, and classical
    music. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Mason Dance Company, and the
    kid-friendly productions Seussical and Ramona Quimby are
    on the schedule this spring.

  • 11 Fashion-Forward

    Building on the success of her Bethesda women’s boutique,
    Gretchen Hitchner chose Mosaic to open her second Ginger
    (2905 District Ave., Suite 125; 703-992-7372). Shoppers will be happy to
    find a lot of the same looks—from stylish office-ready ensembles to pretty
    cocktail dresses. In addition to clothing by such brands as Joie, Calypso,
    and Red Engine, the store stocks colorful home goods and lots of
    handcrafted gold jewelry.

  • 12 Art and Antiques

    A side project of real-estate agents Rob Golden and Rick
    Dickson, Hollie-Rob Art & Collectible Gallery (10409
    E. Main St.; 703-268-5815) doubles as an art gallery and antiques shop. On
    a recent visit, we found a vintage chess set, decades-old paintings, and
    rows of Asian pottery. The friendly owners have a partnership with the
    Corcoran College of Art & Design in which every other week they
    showcase work by students; on our visit, the front room was filled with
    colorful ceramic dinnerware.

  • 13 Contemporary Looks For Less

    Langford Market. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    Langford Market (2905 District Ave., Suite
    135; 703-942-6879) is full of flirty dresses and flowy blouses made by
    Maude, an affordable clothing line rarely found elsewhere in the area.
    Built into the store is Addison, a shoe boutique featuring mostly
    Breckelle’s boots, flats, and pumps in edgy shapes and hues. The overall
    aesthetic is youthful and chic. If mint-colored denim, colorful baubles,
    and studded clutches are your thing, you’ll love this wallet-friendly

  • 14 Romantic Respite

    With its shades of taupe and dove gray, the quiet dining room
    at the cottage-like restaurant Villa Mozart (4009 Chain
    Bridge Rd.; 703-691-4747) feels more Armani than abbondanza.
    Single red roses are set at each table, and chef/owner Andrea Pace
    continues the wooing with sublime olive-oil-baked breadsticks, silken
    pastas, and such hearty roasts as a Pecorino Romano-crusted rack of

    Read Our Full Review of Villa Mozart ››

  • 15 Say “Mangia”

    The Great American Restaurants group—also behind neighboring
    Coastal Flats and nearby Artie’s—channels Little Italy with its newest
    venture, Ozzie’s Corner Italian (11880 Grand Commons
    Ave.; 571-321-8000). The dining room’s crimson leather booths and
    banquettes are designed for big groups and bountiful meals. Start with a
    trio of meatball sliders on ultra-light brioche buns or a cracker-crisp
    flatbread scattered with pepperoni and mushrooms. Then tackle the heaping
    lasagna, laden with provolone and topped with another meatball. Still not
    stuffed? Go for the best dessert—a fluffy chocolate waffle.

    Read Our Full Review of Ozzie’s Corner Italian ››

  • 16 Quick Bites

    Need a mid-shopping refuel? There are lots of worthy fast-lunch
    options. Our favorites: the fried-chicken-cutlet, provolone, and marinara
    hoagies at Taylor Gourmet (2905 District Ave., Suite 160;
    703-462-9970); salads such as the Santorini—with feta, grapes, chickpeas,
    and shrimp—at Sweetgreen (2905 District Ave., Suite 185;
    703-992-7892); and pitas with tzatziki, red-pepper hummus, and
    jalapeño-feta dip at Cava Mezze Grill (2905 District
    Ave., Suite 165; 703-988-4313).

  • 17 Classic Bakery

    Don’t let the sparse shelves deter you from Victoria’s
    (10430 Main St.; 703-273-0800). The shop specializes in
    custom cakes, not drop-in sweets. Still, it always has lovely layer cakes
    by the slice and cupcakes for those who want a quick sugar fix. The
    white-chocolate Heaven cake, layered with raspberry jam, is the place’s
    signature, but we prefer the simpler lemon-frosted cake or the Brock’s
    Heaven, layers of vanilla and chocolate cake alternating with the same
    flavors of icing.

  • The Nest Egg. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    18 Pops of Color

    The Nest Egg (11940 Grand Commons Ave.;
    703-988-0944) is a pretty place to find fun accents for the home—from chic
    throw pillows to rugs in trendy ikat and geometric prints. It’s clear that
    owner Ann O’Shields, who offers interior-design services, believes in the
    importance of details: One section is dedicated to baby gifts, and there
    are just as many throws, candle holders, and photo frames as there are
    larger furniture pieces.

  • 19 Lunch, Latin American Style

    There’s not much to look at at the Peruvian polleria
    Wild Chicken (11039 Lee Hwy., 703-383-0266; 3900-B Pickett
    Rd., 703-323-6464), but the smell of charbroiling birds is a pleasant
    distraction. Chickens are the things to get, with spicy jalapeño sauce and
    cooling mayo dip; sides such as plantains were greasy and forgettable when
    we tried them. Besides, if you’re at the Pickett Road branch, you can
    supplement your meal next door at Dulce’s Bakery and Empanada
    (3900-C Pickett Rd.; 703-978-8021), which turns out
    terrific, freshly fried beef and chorizo empanadas.

  • 20 One-of-a-Kind Furniture

    Although not part of Mosaic, furniture retailer Willem
    (2809-I Merrilee Dr.; 703-348-8600) recently opened a
    showroom less than half a mile away. (It was formerly in DC’s Washington
    Design Center.) The move means that the brand’s environmentally conscious
    line of transitional wooden furnishings, previous-ly available only to the
    trade, can now be purchased by the public. Beautiful pieces by Ochre,
    Powell & Bonnell, and other high-end labels are also for

This article appears in the April 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

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 Petworth.