Historic Clifton has long been known to DC area residents as a quaint village that makes a great destination for a weekend outing.
With the Paradise Springs Winery only two miles away, several wine, antique, crepe and restaurants, many visitors have found Clifton to be particularly well suited to a day of antiquing, wine tasting and fine dining. In fact, the growing popularity of tourism of Historic Clifton has sometimes stretched the capacity of the existing venues.
The newly opened Trattoria Villagio offers yet another attraction to lure visitors in and seems poised to give the nearby Trummer's on Main restaurant some real competition in both quality and service.
After a soft opening of their associated Little Villagio pizza shop in mid-October, the Italian themed Trattoria Villagio had it's opening last weekend and I selected it as the location for my 50th birthday celebration on a Saturday evening. Normally I would have booked a dinner out weeks in advance but how busy could a new restaurant in a village of less than 300 people be? Particularly on a cold evening in mid-November?
Despite the fact that I had been told that no reservation was needed, I took the precaution of calling ahead just to be safe. My concerns were confirmed when I called and was advised that the staff had been overwhelmed by the response to the new opening and they were heavily booked. The manager, Liz, worked with me and found room to squeeze in my party of eight and did so with considerable grace.
Having driven pass the ongoing renovations for months, we were very interested to see the finished result. Not really sure whether to expect a modest, small town pizza place or something more, we were dazzled. The restaurant was an authentically themed but very upscale Italian eatery. The lighting, decor and ambiance were very much in line with what I found in high end restaurants on my recent trip to Tuscany. It was hard to believe that it was located in a tiny village in rural Virginia. It was immediately evident that Historic Clifton had just added another first class dining destination.
Now as for the food, it actually is on par with or even outshines the decor, While some restaurants are all hat and no cattle, this is a place to come if you like to eat!
The Villagio Salad with caramelized walnuts and fresh strawberries was tempting even to one who tends to pass on salads. The Pollo Parmagian was delicious but could improve only with a tiny bit more tomato sauce. The accompanying salad with balsamic vinegar could gave qualified as a salad on its own. I have learned that since my first visit, the side salad had been replaced with pasta because almost all diners opt for one of the signature salads and which provides the extra sauce needed. How great is it that a restaurant actually heeds feedback from customers!
The staff are friendly and helpful and seemed very flexible with orders and provide very personal service if they aren't being completely overwhelmed by the volume of excited customers.
If you visit on a weekend evening be prepared with reservations as they have seen tremendous interest in both the restaurant and bar area. The adjoining pizza shop and market is also quite busy.
For the young and single, the bar area seemed to be crowded with very fashionable and attractive young ladies and their enthusiastic would be suitors.
The dining area has seating for 80 downstairs with an upstairs dining room available for large family or corporate outings. Despite this ample seating, they fill up quickly as people tend to linger over the excellent fare and soak in the atmosphere. Be patient and have a reservation, it's worth the wait.
The restaurant has an open air piazza reminiscent of a cobblestone Italian courtyard which will be delightful in warmer weather which is normally closed except on warmer evenings. Come Summer, this will surely become the prime seating location.
Prices are modest and reasonable with dinner, salad and a reasonable number of drinks averaging under $50.
Trattoria Villagio has proven to be well worth the wait and should definitely be place on your list of places to sample. If you are like me, you may become a regular and add it to your favorite places to eat.