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A Pair of Proven Chefs Are Opening a Pasta Place in Falls Church

Eater logo Eater 4/23/2019 Tierney Plumb
a plate of food sitting on top of a wooden table: Salads, radish-topped avocado toasts, and clam-topped pastas are en route to Thompson Italian. © Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian Salads, radish-topped avocado toasts, and clam-topped pastas are en route to Thompson Italian.

Gabe and Katherine Thompson cut their teeth in New York kitchens

A culinary couple that has helmed kitchens at top Italian restaurants in New York plans to bring their pasta and cannoli-making skills to a new neighborhood osteria in downtown Falls Church.

Thompson Italian, the first restaurant venture from chef Gabe Thompson and pastry chef Katherine Thompson is expected to open in late May in the former Argia space (124 N. Washington Street, Falls Church). There are 100 seats between the bar and dining room, with 24 more in the outdoor patio area.

In NYC, the Thompsons were part of the opening team at Dell’anima in the West Village in 2007. They went on to become chef-partners at a trio of popular Italian restaurants across the city (L’Artusi, Anfora, and now-closed L’Apicio). Before that, Gabe Thompson was at Le Bernardin, and Katherine Thompson was at Per Se.

Gabe Thompson got the executive chef gig at RPM Italian in 2015, so they relocated to the D.C. area — Katherine is from here — with their two kids.

At Thompson Italian, Gabe plans to integrate lots of seasonal ingredients into his pastas, which he says will be the “backbone” of the menu. Think bucatini with ramps, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, or orrechiette with spicy sausage, spring onions, pickled peppers and pecorino. He’ll also insert signs of his Texas upbringing by integrating chorizo and using smoked paprika to season meats.

Desserts under Katherine’s watch will include cannoli with ricotta mousse, dark chocolate, candied orange and pistachios, along with hand-spun gelato and scratch sorbets.

a piece of food on a plate © Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian
An olive oil cake with raisin marmellata, crème fraiche mousse and Maldon salt.

The 3,200-square-foot space is getting a complete refresh with plush banquettes, patterned wallpaper, and dark cognac booths, alongside a bar accented with black-and-white flooring, subway tiling, and teal paneling.

The design is a family affair: Gabe is making all of the restaurant’s light fixtures. Michael Lahr, Katherine’s father and a former Arlington County high school art teacher, will provide his paintings to line the space.

Virginia-based Mothersauce Partners are joining the project. Nick Freshman’s restaurant advisory and investment company is behind NoMa’s adult arcade, The Eleanor, along with Takoma Beverage Company and a new all-day cafe landing near Amazon’s new headquarters in Crystal City.

Dinner service is expected to kick off in late May, with lunch and brunch coming this summer.

a bowl of food on a plate © Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian
A medley of meatballs at Thompson Italian.
a person standing posing for the camera © Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian
Gabe and Katherine Thompson co-authored popular cookbook Downtown Italian.
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