Luciano's is one of the few Italian family-owned neighborhood restaurants, now a successful chain, throughout the DC suburbs. The original location in Tysons Corner is still going strong since at least the 1980s, featuring the stalwart Southern Italian (Neapolitan, Roman, Sicilian, etc) peasant and provincial food so prevalent in the New York metropolitan area and so scarce in Northern Virginia and the District.
There are other locations in Oakton, Herndon, and the Dulles Towne Shopping Center, as well as in Montgomery County, Maryland. The owner and his family are from New Jersey.
I have never had, in over twenty years of going to various locations, anything but attentive service. And unlike other mall restaurants, including contemporary neighbors Brio and California Pizza Kitchen, the food is always made from fresh ingredients and cooked to order. I have never had a a salad of limp and brown greens, with sulfury onions, and a pool of water and oil such as I had been served at Brio's or a limp pizza of rotten goat cheese as I had been offered at the CPK. The salad here was of fresh, crisp, and peppery greens, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and radishes with a flavorful vinaigrette. The delightfully refreshing salad was accompanied by freshly baked italian rolls, perfectly baked of semolina dough, brushed with an eggwash that gave the light crust a shiny, golden surface speckled with sesame seeds.
Some of the best choices here are from the numerous ricotta-based, baked pasta dishes on the menu, such as the signature Baked Ziti. The bubbling hot dish was plated at my table by the server. The plate was full of al dente pasta with a zesty, fruity marinara sauce redolent with chunks of roma tomatoes, a hint of garlic, and extra virgin olive oil and filled with a creamy ricotta with mozzarella, pecorino, and parmigiana baked en casserole--served as aforementioned--piping hot.
Luciano's may not be a Coastal Flats or a Sandino's, pricier restaurants with full bar service, but it is a great value as a casual neighborhood place--unique at either of the Tysons Corner mall venues.
In fact any of the Luciano's locations, especially in Northern Virginia, is worth making a regular habbit for pizza, pastas, salads, soups, and other ante pasti when shopping at the Center. Beats the heck out of the Olive Garden across the street or the Brio's Tuscan Grill on the Lower Level.
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