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Listrani's, Pizza and Subs in McLean - Other Locations Have All Closed


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I've walked by Listrani's a bunch of times but never stopped. Tonight I had a huge craving for pizza so I went there instead of ordering in.

Wow. That was great pizza! Nice thin crust, kind of like a cracker, and I got the Colombo Combo which had tons of toppings for $9.99 for an individual. I washed it down with two Sierra Nevada Pale Ales at the bar.

I'd been wanting a good "beer and pizza" place like that and it's too bad that according to the comedy side owner, it appears, that the "sit down" area will be a sushi place after Jan. 1st. Listrani's will still be doing take out and delivery though.

He's moving the comedy/bar (?) part elsewhere - I didn't catch where. But it's the rent that caught up with 'em.

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Sadly, Listrani's glory days were during the Clinton Administration.

Upstairs, amid a growing mound of coffee cups, pizza boxes from Listrani's and burn bags filled with discarded drafts, the team was trying to compress Clinton's huge vision for America into a size-10 Treasury. By dawn Wednesday, there was a crisp stack of pages on Clinton's desk to be torn apart.
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They [Naked Pizza] join the list of half-ass pizza joints that deliver to us (in McLean), such as Lost Dog, Listrani's, Red Tomato, Papa John's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, and McLean Pizza Restaurant. My wife and I agreed that the best pizza within a short drive (i.e., <5 minutes) from our house is Pulcinella, and they're just okay. The result is that we end up ordering from Pizza Hut or Papa John's because while they're not good, they're at least cheap.

FWIW, twenty years ago, Listrani's (the one on MacArthur Blvd.) was pretty good - and, they used to deliver to McLean!

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Listrani's, Wilson Blvd, Arlington just closed.  They will continue to do delivery into the Arlington Alexandria and some other areas via their Alexandria location.

The various Listrani's in Va do a lot of takeout business.  I recall this story from the height of the recession.  The McLean store was regularly busy during the recession. One regular customer regularly ordered hamburgers and meatballs for the pet dog.

(so much for recessions)

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Something big has happened to Listrani's, a pizzeria that originally opened in Palisades in the 1980s, if not before. The second branch, in McLean, opened in 1992, and then a third branch later opened in Courthouse.

This is like piecing together a puzzle, so I may have some of the ordering wrong, but here goes:

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The Palisades branch closed within the past month, I believe - and apparently it had become something on the order of horrible. I haven't been there in years, but they used to deliver to McLean (across the Chain Bridge), so back in the 1990s, it was my best delivery pizza option - it was never great, but it was always very good and consistent. Once I had an operation at Sibley Hospital, and had Listrani's brought to me afterwards.

Well anyway, it closed, the good news being that a second branch of Seventh Hill Pizza will soon be opening in the old Marvelous Market space next door to BlackSalt. So, a probable net gain for Palisades.

If you go to the the original website, www.listranisdc.com, you now see this:

post-2-0-80691000-1406471674_thumb.png

Note that it doesn't say anything about "Please try our other locations."

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Early this year (before Palisades closed), the Courthouse location also closed. There is a very odd post on Yelp:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/listranis-restaurant-and-bar-arlington?hrid=yaMC7Mg1yC7iWi-PxcwG-w

saying that the Courthouse location is gone, they weren't honoring the Groupons (big surprise - a soon-to-close business takes out a deal with Groupon to squirrel away some cash), and the customer had ended up calling a place in Alexandria.

If you go to Courthouse's original website, www.listranisarlington.com, you now see this:

post-2-0-89998900-1406472081_thumb.png

Note that it says, "now operating under Bruscatos"

If you Google Bruscato's, you find their Courthouse website, www.bruscatos.com, and if you go there, (please try and stay with me here ...), if you go there, you are re-routed to a MONT BLANC PENCIL website, and you see this:

post-2-0-70667100-1406472322_thumb.png

Then, if you go back and take a closer look on Google, you see that they are located (perhaps *now* located) in Old Town Alexandria - which matches up with what the Yelp poster wrote. Aside from that hacked-looking home page, their website does appear to be that of an Alexandria restaurant called Bruscato's (the page www.bruscatos.com/home.html, for example, looks somewhat normal).

So my guess - and it's just a guess - is that this was either franchised, or sold to the people who now own Bruscato's in Old Town ... which brings us to the third and final location, McLean.

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McLean also has their own website, www.listranismclean.com, and although the logo is very different than what you'd expect to see from a Listrani's, it's a perfectly normal-looking website. And in fact, I just called them, and they're open (but they weren't answering the phone at 10:15 AM despite the website saying they open today at 10) - the very pleasant lady on the telephone told me that only the McLean location is open now. I didn't ask if this is a different ownership than the original Palisades owners, but I suspect the answer is yes.

So there you have it. To paraphrase Agatha Christie, "And Then There Was One."

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I probably know some parts of the story.  If you search in google for Listrani's N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, you will find plenty of references.   Bruscato's is either a new name for what was Listrani's, or a new restaurant sold by the Listrani's guys to a new group.   I suspect it is the same operator(s) as before.  They have a new name.  Why?  I couldn't say.  Evidently Listrani's in Alexandria opened in '89, which would make it the first Listrani's in Virginia.

Gentlemen, formerly associated with Listrani's, opened the Va branches.   The menu's came straight from the Palisades location.  At some point I suspect the Va locations and DC location had no relationship beyond name and menu.  I doubt there was a financial or partnership arrangement with any of the DC participants in the last decade or so (or longer), but I can't be sure.  At some point in the last 5 years or so the Va partnership broke apart.  One person got the McLean location and the other had the Alexandria and Arlington locations.  The Arlington location closed, as did all retail in that building as the building is targeted to  be demolished and turned into a new development shortly.

I haven't been to the Palisades location in years.  I either ate in or ordered out many times.  I thought of the original Palisades location similar to the many variations on the Pines's restaurants--very mediocre.  I thought Listrani's and the different Pines's were different but neither were excellent.

An interesting saga.  I bet you would get a lot of different variations on the stories if you spoke with different critical people in that group.  I still think it has reasonable take out food.

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Gentlemen, formerly associated with Listrani's, opened the Va branches.   The menu's came straight from the Palisades location.  At some point I suspect the Va locations and DC location had no relationship beyond name and menu.  

"Spite" could explain why the Palisades location delivered to Virginia.

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I live next door to the MacArthur Listrani's (which I agree went downhill in recent years, I'll explain in a bit) and just this week they put up a sign saying:

"Coming in September, Bistroquet."

According to neighborhood scuttlebutt, it is going to be owned by the same person who owns Bistro D'Oc downtown, and run by his son.  It will feature french bistro fare with a thai section as the owner's wife is from Thailand.  (Hopefully their Thai is better than Bambu across the street.)

Back to the decline of Listrani's, it was bought maybe 6 years ago or so from the original owners.  The new owner clearly had no idea how to run the place, as he completely changed everything that made Listrani's good.  First of all, he refused to seat parties with more than 4 children.  In this neighborhood, that alone would have been their death sentence.  He also changed the menu, where the only thing you could order while eating in was pasta or individual sized pizzas.  You could still order large pizzas, subs, calzones, etc. for takeout, but he refused to let you eat them in the restaurant.  I imagine this was to discourage families with children from ordering a large pizza and eating in.

And finally, what I consider the worst sin of all, he did away with the fresh baked focaccia and rolls they used to give you and replaced them with generic frozen dinner rolls.  I know this because my dog sniffs at their trash every night and you could see they had thrown away boxes of crappy frozen rolls.

The owner also treated his employees pretty badly, and was just not a particularly pleasant guy.  As sad as I am to see a restaurant that I grew up with close, it was not the same Listrani's at all.

Hopefully Bistroquet will do better.

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