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San Vito Ristorante Italiano, Kings Park in Springfield - Former Local Chain Now Owned by The Amato Family - Closed


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I told myself not to expect too much. Most of the carry out I've had from this area has ranged from mediocre to downright awful. But I was tired and hungry, and in the mood for something different.

The staff were polite, both on the phone and in person. The restaurant was pleasant enough, and about 75% full on a Wednesday night in north Springfield (nearly Annandale).

I ordered Calamara Grigliati and Spaghetti Porto Venere. It sounded good at the time.

The calamari was packed in a black styrofoam container. When I opened it, the food looked pretty--attractive--maybe even beautiful. The squid was coated with a red seasoning, flecked with black grill marks. It was laid on sliced tomatoes drizzled with pesto, over a bed of chopped lettuce. It tasted as good as it looked, and maybe better. It is my new favorite calamari dish, supplanting Kinkead's grilled calamari appetizer.

San Vito's grilled calamari was perfectly cooked--tender, tasty, flavored with smoke and gentle spices. The pesto enriched the flavor of the tomatoes, and set off the squid nicely. Wow! I wanted a second helping, not because the serving size was small, but because it tasted that good.

The mussels were nicely presented, all in their shells atop spaghetti draped in marinara sauce. It was a generous portion, with plenty of mussels. It tasted like mussels, and the sauce was rich, tomatoey, and sweet.

Many otherwise good dishes, including seafood, lose a lot as takeout. I'm figuring that, if this food was so good at home, it's probably really good in the restaurant.

I'm already contemplating my next order. I don't know why I waited so long to try this place. It's only half a mile from home. Finally: decent carryout!

ETA: I'm talking about the Kings Park/Springfield restaurant, and to fix spelling.

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Interesting. The Ashburn location has never failed to disappoint. Chewy, spongy pizzas. Gloppy oversalted underseasoned pastas. Eat in, carry out it doesn't matter.

I had high hopes given the pedigree - the Executive Chef, Gian Piero Mazzi was the chef at Morrison House in Alexandria where he was doing the "tell me what you want to eat" menu, and the original Herndon location had gotten some good mentions.

Maybe it is the management in Ashburn because Lord knows I've eaten way too many meals from there given my experiences.

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Interesting.  The Ashburn location has never failed to disappoint.  Chewy, spongy pizzas.  Gloppy oversalted underseasoned pastas.  Eat in, carry out it doesn't matter. 

I had high hopes given the pedigree - the Executive Chef, Gian Piero Mazzi was the chef at Morrison House in Alexandria where he was doing the "tell me what you want to eat" menu, and the original Herndon location had gotten some good mentions.

Maybe it is the management in Ashburn because Lord knows I've eaten way too many meals from there given my experiences.

I was aware of your experiences before I ordered, Bilrus, which is why I had no high expectations. I just figured it couldn't be any worse than what I've become used to around here. What I brought home and ate far exceeded my expectations, and made me very happy. Maybe, because this is the newest location, the chef/owner is paying more attention? Whatever it is, I just hope it lasts until Mr. S gets home in a few weeks to try it.

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ETA: I'm talking about the Kings Park/Springfield restaurant, and to fix spelling.

Is this on Backlick Rd in the shopping center at the intersection of Braddock and Backlick? I'm always interested in someplace new for lunch because I work in the Springfield area.
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Is this on Backlick Rd in the shopping center at the intersection of Braddock and Backlick?  I'm always interested in someplace new for lunch because I work in the Springfield area.

It's a little further away, in Springfield in name only. It's in the Kings Park shopping center, on Burke Lake Road at Braddock Road. It's where Vinnie's used to be, next door to Caribou Coffee.

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Maybe, because this is the newest location, the chef/owner is paying more attention?  Whatever it is, I just hope it lasts until Mr. S gets home in a few weeks to try it.

According to their web site they are opening another location in South Riding this summer.

Might head there for lunch today.

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I agree with Bilrus. I've only been once-about a year ago-but went with four people and sampled a number of different dishes in their Franklin Farm location. None were particularly good. Generally, I thought this was a decent neighborhood Italian restaurant but no more. Still, we could have ordered the wrong dishes and they may have some strength in others. They do a good business, they must be doing something right.

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According to their web site they are opening another location in South Riding this summer.

Might head there for lunch today.

ell, that is great news for us South Riding vicinity residents. Getting decent eats in the Route 50 corridor from the Fairfax County line to Middleburg is like water torture.

The Glory Days Grille at Stone Ridge is ok, with one really good item -- the beef on weck sandwich.

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My wife and I tried the Ashburn Location 3 weeks ago and were very disapointed. Dare I say that Carrabbas would have been much better for about the same price.

The service was slow and rude/disinterested. The food was too creative ... such as linquini in clam sauce tasing more like sweet fried garlic than the true blending of wine, garlic and other seasoning. The pizza I ordered was too doughy (not crisp) and the flavor tasted bland. Nothing stood out. We won't be back.

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I got takeout again tonight. I opted for the Pollo al Mattone, which is marinated grilled chicken breast topped with "wild forest mushrooms" (actually, grilled portabella mushrooms and buttons, but darn tasty). It was in a rosemary white wine sauce over spinach sauteed in garlic.

The bag I brought home was huge and heavy. The main event was beautifully "containered" with lemony steamed broccoli and sliced potatoes sprinkled with paprika. It was very attractive, and delicious. I would have liked a little more chicken breast, and there was one clump of minced garlic tucked in a spinach leaf--I saw it before I bit into it--but not major detractions. I didn't even touch the side of fettuccini with marinara--I was too full. The bag also contained a snugly wrapped and very large portion of focaccio flavored with rosemary and a container of seasoned olive oil for dipping. The bread was light and nicely flavored, and the oil was quite good, recognizable as evoo.

For takeout, it was extremely nice, IMO. It was well-presented, appetizing, and indeed delicious.

When Mr. S returns from his current travel, I'll drag him over there for a sit-down meal.

So many restaurants--in my area, anyway--treat takeout as an afterthought. Their containers aren't big enough, or they're too big, or they leak most of the sauce all over the car on the way home, and their food doesn't travel that well. San Vito has put at least a little thought and care into their takeout, with nice presentations and good flavor.

The service was friendly and caring, too, for my brief encounter.

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Sixteen months later . . . When our plans for an evening out were scuttled due to brief car trouble last night, and we had not gone shopping for anything to eat, and we were hot and tired and cranky, I finally persuaded my husband to try San Vito in Kings Park.

It's a nice neighborhood place. We were early and got a table right away (they don't take reservations), by the window, which later provided a lovely view of the thunderstorm that rattled our neighborhood.

A carafe of the house Chardonnay was reasonably priced and not bad to drink. It went well with our food.

We started with the grilled calimari ($8.95), which we've had several times as carry-out. It was even better eaten in the restaurant. The spinach and tomatoes under the squid were fresh (but not local, obviously), and made a nice background for the smoky squid and balsamic vinaigrette.

I had hoped to try one of the daily specials, veal osso buco ($24.95), but the early diners had gobbled it all up by the time I ordered at 6:00. Instead I had Pollo Michaelangelo: chicken breast stuffed with lobster, shrimp, and artichoke hearts, coated and fried or baked (it was crispy), around angel-hair pasta with a sherry cream sauce. I wound up taking about half of it home, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. For $14.95, it was a nice dish.

My husband had Ravioli All' Aragosta ($15.95): "Fresh homemade agnolotti, stuffed with plump lobster meat and mascarpone cheese, sauteed with vodka cream sauce and fresh spinach, sprinkled with pinenuts." What's not to like? He ate the whole thing.

For a quick dinner 5 minutes from home, it was tasty and very reasonable. Service was cheerful and attentive, even with every seat in the house occupied. My husband (who is very picky and usually wants to go to "nice" places) pronounced it worthy of a return visit.

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FYI - $10 for a $20 coupon to the Springfield or Herndon San Vito location at http://dc.sowhatsthedeal.com.

I'm happy you gave San Vito a plug here. :(

If I understand these coupon websites correctly, they feature restaurants du jour, and have different bargains available on an ongoing basis. Assuming that's the case, it's probably best for anyone interested to monitor www.sowhatsthedeal.com on a regular basis for featured restaurants.

My wife and I tried the Ashburn Location 3 weeks ago and were very disapointed.

It looks like the Ashburn location closed, as there's no longer any mention of it on their website.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Right, I had forgotten about Michelangelo's.

The same thing happened in South Riding. They sold it to a manager/chef/whoever, who turned it into Lorenzini's, which vanished in a matter of months.

South Riding Market Square in general has had a tough go of it restaurant-wise. In addition to San Vito/Lorenzini, the wrap/smoothie place vanished, and it's still vacant, as did Firkin & Hound, which is now Vintage 51.

Also, the Caribou Coffee closed in what I think was a franchisee dispute, and is now a Fractured Prune donut shop.

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I have eaten at San Vito's in the past, and found it to be a reliable and pleasant family meal. I tend to group it in the category of family-run Italian places that offer good pasta and pizza, fresh ingredients, and good value. In this category in the general surrounding area of Springfield and Burke I would include Rafagino's in Burke, Vinny's and Pane e Vino in Lorton, and Victor's in Springfield (next to Whole Foods). On any given day, any of these five places will provide a good meal at a good price with friendly service (and the next day's lunch in a doggy bag).

[special mention for Victor's -- in a basket next to the cash register are bottles of Karousos extra virgin olive oil, which comes from olives in Greece owned by the same family as the owner of Victor's. This is a sensational olive oil, and among the seven bottles in my cooking rotation, it's the best by far. Second place goes to Saifan, my fave Lebanese olive oil.]

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Another outlet of this chain will be opening soon in Centreville on Stone Road by the Giant in the old Pacino's place.

Are you sure it will be San Vito? They've sold their locations in Ashburn, Herndon, and South Riding, and all three of those acquired new names (Michelangelo's, Piero's Corner, and Lorenzini, respectively). Maybe they open satellite locations with the intention of eventually selling them to their managers and having the name changed to something else? Hmm, interesting marketing strategy - perhaps it's working!

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Are you sure it will be San Vito? They've sold their locations in Ashburn, Herndon, and South Riding, and all three of those acquired new names (Michelangelo's, Piero's Corner, and Lorenzini, respectively). Maybe they open satellite locations with the intention of eventually selling them to their managers and having the name changed to something else? Hmm, interesting marketing strategy - perhaps it's working!

It didn't work in the case of Lorenzini, which was gone within months. That space will soon be occupied by Catch 52, a spin-off of the local Vintage 50-51 chain.

I was in Franklin Farm a couple of weeks ago, and Piero's Corner was still there.

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Are you sure it will be San Vito? They've sold their locations in Ashburn, Herndon, and South Riding, and all three of those acquired new names (Michelangelo's, Piero's Corner, and Lorenzini, respectively). Maybe they open satellite locations with the intention of eventually selling them to their managers and having the name changed to something else? Hmm, interesting marketing strategy - perhaps it's working!

The sign is up and it looks like they will be open soon. The website has the announcment as well. The menu looks half interesting and seeing as it is on my way home I am half looking forward to trying it.

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San Vito is indeed open. Now that I've been twice I feel I can probably say something about it.

1st visit was shortly after they opened and they were going through the new restaurant problems. Took forever to place the carry out order, some problems with the pizza oven. Eventually I got out of there with my food. The pizza was ok. The toppings were good but the crust needed to be in the oven a little longer. We also had the Agnolotti which was Rapini & sausage ravioli with aurora sauce, mushrooms & onions. That dish the first time around was excellent. We also tried the mozzerella sticks which were huge. They also give fresh bread with a homemade pesto which is quite good.

2nd time around we got the agnolotti which was not quite as good as last time and Farfalle Alessandro which was only ok (probably just a poor menu choice as opposed to a problem with the preparation). When we went the second time the place was doing a brisk business which was a good sign. I'll be going back (as it is on my way home) and next time I will try and explore the menu a little more.

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San Vito restaurant closed for financial reasons last year, and the space is now occupied by Giardino's. The brick oven remains and is featured as Giardino's calling card. Giardino's is owned by the same people who own Villa Bella and Paradiso, so it's quality will not be very high. I have not yet eaten there, but since I have eaten at both Villa Bella and Paradiso, I will not prioritize an adventure to Giardino's.

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San Vito restaurant closed for financial reasons last year, and the space is now occupied by Giardino's. The brick oven remains and is featured as Giardino's calling card. Giardino's is owned by the same people who own Villa Bella and Paradiso, so it's quality will not be very high. I have not yet eaten there, but since I have eaten at both Villa Bella and Paradiso, I will not prioritize an adventure to Giardino's.

I'm somewhat confused. Did the Amato family operate this restaurant for awhile under the San Vito name before changing it to Giardino's? I never knew who owned San Vito, but Tony and Julia Amato are the folks who own Giardino's, Villa Bella, and Paradiso - why do I have them in the title as the owners of San Vito?

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