Jun 022011

Last weekend Gabriele and I took a drive to the outskirts of Fairfax for dinner at Villa Mozart. We’d been in a bit of a “favorite restaurant” rut, and someone I met through work recommended the restaurant highly.

The restaurant is small and quaint, and there is an atmosphere of fine dining from the moment you walk in. The decor is old world, as is the wait staff, most of whom look like they’ve been serving for years. We settled in and looked over the wine list.

Since there are few Italian wines Gabriele really likes, we decided to go with a French Rhone. It was the 2008 Chateau de Saint Cosme Les Deux Albion, a southern Rhone from near the Gigondas appelation. Unfortunately, the waiter brought a Saint Cosme Gigondas, which the restaurant also carries on its wine list.

I pointed out it wasn’t the wine I ordered, and he then brought the wine list over again. This seemed a bit strange to me, since they only offer two from that producer and only five French wines total on the list. I pointed out the error, and he could have just brought the other one. But once we finally got the right wine, it delivered.

The wine was inky black, with a strong aroma. It was medium to full body, with a fleshy texture on the palate. There was a lot of flavors in the glass — we tasted cherry, truffles, leather and tobacco balanced by an earthiness that didn’t go to far toward dirt. It was a really nice, interesting Rhone that we’ll be looking to have again.

Each food course was very high quality. We were started with an amuse bouche of incredibly fresh tasting, delicious gazpacho. Appetizers were a mushroom tart and salad combination and very tender calamari prepared with polenta, kalamata olives and vegetables. A high point was the ground pepper — I don’t know where they get their peppercorns, but the aroma exploded when the waiter brought the grinder to the table.

At that point we had a second service mishap. An expeditor brought over the wrong entrees. It seemed strange since the restaurant didn’t appear to be very busy, no doubt due to it being Memorial Day weekend.

When the right ones arrived, I loved my tortelli with meat filling and a veal reduction sauce. Gabriele really enjoyed her halibut with fava beans, mushrooms and asparagas, in a tomato based sauce similar to bouillabaisse but a bit thicker. She also loved the creme brulee for dessert. Serving portions were on the small side, but not absurdly so.

The service issues were a distraction, and should not happen when you’re paying the kind of prices Villa Mozart charges. That said, every other element of the meal was spot on, and we had a very enjoyable meal. If we lived a bit closer, we’d definitely return. Since we’re not close, Villa Mozart will be in the “special occasion” restaurant category for us.

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