Within ten seconds of stepping foot inside Landini Brothers, I was in for a real Italian meal. None of this Americanized, Olive Garden unlimited breadsticks stuff you see commercials for during football games. Real, Italian food created from recipes you know have been passed down for generations. Landini Brothers is certainly a rarity…
Full disclosure, I’m from Alexandria and have been going to Landini’s my entire life. For my family, Landini’s was the spot to celebrate one’s greatest achievements, special occasions, or a fancy act of spontanaeity on a Friday night. I had my Prom dinner at Landini’s. My brother had his Prom dinner at Landini’s. This restaurant has been the pinnacle of food and atmosphere for us.
On this occasion, I started my meal with the Tartare di Tonno, which was a special that day, and the Insalata Piatti. The tartare was seasoned well and served over a bed of arugula, which added a peppery, freshness to the dish. The Insalata Piatti was compiled of fresh tomato, steamed asparagus, sliced avocado and a silky vinaigrette. I was very impressed with the quality of the tomato and avocado given the season – both were extremely fresh.
Next came the Linguine Alle Vongole Rosso, a bright pasta dish tossed with baby clams, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper and fresh tomato sauce. The gluten-free pasta available at the time was penne, which replaced the Linguine. This dish might have been my favorite of the bunch. The baby clams were tender, meaty and cooked to perfection. The gluten-free pasta used was definitely one of the better brands out there. I wasn’t missing the gluten at all.
For the last course, I ordered the Calamari Alla Luciana and Filetto Di Bue Trifolato. The calamari was extremely refreshing. I will admit I order squid or octopus whenever I see it on the menu, so this was a given. However, I especially enjoyed this preparation, as the squid was poached in Landini’s homemade tomato sauce, with the addition of white wine, onion, celery and carrots. Cooking the squid this way ensured its tenderness.
The Filetto definitely competed with the pasta for favorites. Topped with a red wine and mushroom sauce, the beef was extremely tender and succulent. I’m sure this dish is typically made with butter, but since I don’t eat dairy, they made it with olive oil for me. This is another extremely important thing to know about Landini Brothers – they take great care in making sure your meal is absolutely perfect. Customer satisfaction is extremely important to them, especially on the dietary restriction front, which is sometimes rare for an Italian restaurant.
Unfortunately, there are not many gluten-free desserts permanently on the menu at Landini’s but they have a dessert special nearly every day, so there is the opportunity for a gluten-free dessert to arise. Instead, I ordered some fresh fruit and it was perfect. The raspberries, blueberries and strawberries were plump and extremely picturesque, with a slightly tart quality I so enjoy in these fruits.
Landini’s is clearly a restaurant that takes great pride in the most important things in life – family and great food. If you ever find yourself in Alexandria, or even if you don’t, a trip to Landini’s should be a rite of passage for anyone in the DC-area.