As we begin One Local Summer this week, it’s a good prompt to remember to eat locally when dining out as well. Family-owned, independent restaurants are struggling in this economy, and don’t have the corporate safety net that chain restaurants do. We’re lucky to live in a neighborhood with several great independent establishments that also emphasize fresh, local ingredients.
We recently celebrated a family birthday at a fairly new addition to our neighborhood, La Strada in Del Ray, Alexandria. La Strada has been open for about a year, and was top of the list of places we’ve been meaning to try. My in-laws were in town for my father-in-law’s birthday, so we thought it might be a family-friendly yet celebration-appropriate choice. It probably helped that we were dining on a slow Monday night, but the staff was warm and welcoming, even going out of their way to secure a birthday cake on extremely short notice. It is owned by a lovely family; Chef Stephen Scott has two young children and his mother graciously exchanged grandmother stories with my mother-in-law.
We had just enough room at the round corner booth, though on busy evenings I imagine the outdoor patio would be a great place to eat with kids. The boy was supplied with reading material and crayons while we waited for our orders to arrive, and the food was a great blend of fresh, seasonal ingredients incorporated in classic Italian dishes. You can check their website for daily specials featuring local produce. My father-in-law loved his light-as-air gnocchi in a hearty meat sauce; the husband and I split a family-size portion of ravioli in a morel cream sauce. It’s a little more upscale than your typical neighborhood Italian restaurant, yet the family-style servings enable you to enjoy great food without breaking the bank. For an even better deal, visit La Strada during Del Ray’s Dining Week, which kicks off today and runs through June 14. La Strada is offering a 3-course dinner for just $29. Any restaurant that can satisfy picky New Yorkers and an active 2.5-year-old is a winner in our book. (Restaurant photo by La Strada.)
Del Ray (Alexandria), VA 22301
“Discover Del Ray” Dining Week, June 5-14, features special deals at just about every restaurant in this kid-friendly neighborhood, including the deal at La Strada, 15% discount at Caboose Cafe, and free gelato at Cafe Pizzaiolo. Visit the website for full details.