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GIRASOLE —A PLACE FOR ALL THINGS ITALIAN

By Heidi Baumstark | Photos courtesy of Girasole

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irasole. In Italian, it means “sunflower” or “surrounded by the sun.”

Surrounded by the sun—what a warm thought, especially in brisk conditions. A meal at this cheerful restaurant named Girasole serves up the tastiest remedy to stave off winter blues. Chef-owned and operated by Louis and Lydia Patierno, Girasole fits the bill when it comes to featuring authentic regional Italian cuisine. Girasole’s rustic setting, located in the postcard village of The Plains, is complete with wooden beams, art-filled walls (paintings by Robert Patierno, Louis’s brother), vases of vibrant flowers (of course, including

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sunflowers), big Italian urns, a cozy lounge/ bar, and a landscaped patio that beckons patrons to stop. Relax. And dine. While chef Patierno is in the kitchen conjuring up winning dishes, Lydia meticulously oversees business operations using her years in hotel and restaurant management to ensure top-notch service. They both were trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, which is where they met some 40 years ago. And Girasole is a family-run business. “All of our adult kids worked here after college,” Lydia explained. “One daughter, Gabriela, still works here full-time.” Girasole sources only the freshest ingredients: produce from local farms, grass-fed and naturally raised meats, and hand-pressed olive oils. Housemade pastas and breads are on their seasonal menu. Lydia added, “We try our best to replicate great Italian food. And here in The Plains, we have all kinds of farmers knocking on our door.” Chef Patierno creates eight or more week-

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ly specials, which are not on the regular menu, but are explained carefully by servers. Based on what’s available in season, diners could see anything from pistachio-encrusted trout to beef Barolo (full-bodied Italian wine) with creamy polenta, finishing with delicate pastries and cups of steaming espresso. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes in the lounge/bar area, where afterward, guests share the prepared meal; the next classes are Feb. 7 (soups and antipasti) and March 7 (pasta making). On Valentine’s Day, chef Patierno will prepare a four-course gourmet dinner, and Feb. 19, a special wine tasting is planned by fine wine importer Michael Downey Selections. Themed events are also offered like their six-course annual truffle dinner in the fall, which is a 14-year tradition. Paired with the truffles are wines from the G.D. Vajra family winery in Italy. Lydia added, “We have a truffle hunter who ships white truffles from the Alba region in Italy; they’re the most Italian | From page 22

Middleburg Life February 2017  

Middleburg Life February 2017

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