New Management Revamps Toscana Grill

by Katie Pyzyk October 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm 6,683 44 Comments

Updated at 6:10 p.m. The name remains the same, but just about everything else has changed at Toscana Grill.

The restaurant in the Courthouse Metro Plaza (2300 Clarendon Blvd.) has completely revamped. From appearance, to management and staff, to menu, Toscana Grill wants to make a new name for itself.

The new management abandoned the vegetarian menu, and now offers a variety of options for lovers of both meat and meatless dishes.

Operating Partner Joe Smith said, “You’ve always got plenty of vegetarian options in Italian cooking, so there’s plenty of variety.”

The switch happened in July and the restaurant has slowly been getting into a groove since then. Smith said the business needed many improvements, which can sometimes seem overwhelming. But he points out it’s important to focus on the overall goal and not become bogged down by everything that needs fixing.

The restaurant’s new focus is on making food in the classic Italian style. Smith, who moved to the area nearly seven years ago, claims to be a product of his New Jersey training. He aims to provide an experience he doesn’t believe can be found at any other Italian restaurants in the area.

Loyal customers are building up, and Smith says part of his enjoyment of running the restaurant is meeting all the patrons.

“I’m not sure if it’s this area or something,” he said, “but we have the best guests.”

While the atmosphere has become more casual, staff members work hard to ensure service isn’t lacking. Smith says he wants everyone who visits not only to enjoy high quality food, but also to have a good time.

He said, “We’re working hard, the food is great. Come say hi to Joe.”

  • Yum

    I will not go there since they are under “New Jersey Management.” I only support local business management.

    • So…

      When’s the last time you saw a Powhatan Indian managed restaurant?

      • Yum

        Jersey smells like sewer. No sewer food. NO SEWER FOOD!

        • Yum

          I am happy to see a pizza place though, we needed one of those in the area.

    • iBomb

      I think you’re joking, but if not, I just want to let you know that the manager grew up in Jersey – he is a local dude!

      • Andrew

        He grew up in Jersey but is a local dude? I’m confused.

      • Yum

        I too am confused.

        • Josh S

          The dude a– sorry, stopped myself just in the nick of time….

    • Steve

      You should frequent an establishment prior to making a blanket judgment. It IS a locally run business. The chef/owner hails from Jersey, however has been a resident of the D.C./Arlington area for 5+ years now, working in various D.C./Arlington restaurants (i.e. Ruth’s Chris, McCormick and Schmick’s, etc.). And, for all intensive purposes, looks to remain in the area for many years to come.

  • Corey

    Only been there once (it was alright, nothing special), but used to walk by it every day. This place has rebranded itself at least three or four times in as many years. Anyone remember the “Toscana Green” thing they were doing for awhile? I think they even changed the name of the restaurant, briefly.

    In an area as starved for restaurants as Courthouse, if you need to “rebrand” every few months, it’s probably not the brand that’s the problem.

    • AllenB

      I don’t think they needed to re-brand; a good basic italian restaurant was always needed here. What they needed to do, and did was re-chef/owner.

      • charlie

        allenB; do you remember what it was called in the late 80’s when it first opened. it was this euro-trash pizza place with cool decor and soooo gay staff. but it was fun…

        • AllenB

          Sorry, but didn’t move to Arlington until about 2000.

        • So…

          I think it was “The Max”; Zach, Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie would hang out there.

        • Rosslynite

          Pizza de’resistance?

          • charlie

            thank you rosslyn. it was driving me nuts.

  • AllenB

    I’ve been there a couple of times so far and the food is very good. HUGE improvement over what it was before. I definitely enjoy seeing non-chain restaurants like this succeed.

  • Wildhair

    I’ll visit as soon as they finish the brickwork in the courtyard. At the current pace, I’m figuring early 2017.

    • mickey644

      THAT is VERY conservative! My guess, at their speed, that it should be done when the Silver Line is done and ALL the escelators in the Metro work!

  • Jamie

    I went to the old restaurant since I had one of those groupons or living social deals and it was terrible. Both in service and food. It was especially dissapointing as a vegetarian.

  • John

    I ate there once when it as “Toscana Green”– it was bad. The version right beore it was an OK Italian place that I was sorry to see go.

  • Novamp

    I’m all for giving it a shot. As was said above, Courthouse is starved for restaurants, so I’m willing to be open minded in the hopes that the place is good!

  • NewHavenGuy

    Joe and his crew are turning the place around beautifully. This is how we used to eat Italian in CT. I hadn’t been in the old place for 8 years. Listrani’s is losing its default franchise here in Courthouse.

    All the best to the new crew!!

  • Jersey girl

    Some of you just need to shut up and give it a chance! Joe is awesome. The food is awesome. It’s not one of those hoity-toity places you typically see in the area.

    Yes it’s local. Just b/c he refers to his roots in his management name doesn’t mean anything…duh. Also, Jersey isn’t a sewer!!! BOO ON YOU!!!


    • Yum


      • ArlintonNative


  • Jersey girl


  • Jersey girl
  • Yum

    Hopefully you realize by now I was just kidding with all the sewer and Jersey management posts.
    When does this place open and when will the website have a menu?

  • JoshS

    I’ve eaten there… the place is good… give it a try.

    • Josh S

      It’s possible there are two Josh S’s on the boards. But this Josh S has never eaten there and has no opinion on the matter.

  • KalashniKEV

    I wish they would turn into a Waffle House.


    • Ed

      Waffle House is great when the alternative is Shoney’s or Bob Evans, but I don’t think I’d ever wish for one.

      • CW

        The hundreds of people at the Ballston IHOP 24/7/365 would probably disagree with you.

        • KalashniKEV

          Waffle House would be jam packed anywhere in the corridor.

  • Piedmonter

    I like that they still have vegan options! I used to go to Toscana Grill occasionally, because I wanted to support local restaurants catering to us vegans. The service under the previous management was, indeed, horrible. But now I’ll have to stop in and give them another try! (Hard to find vegan options in Italian – outside of plain old spaghetti.)

    • BG

      Are you talking about special vegan spaghetti, or are you using the word “vegan” loosely? B/c pasta dough is made from eggs, and most Italian places don’t carry the kind that isn’t…

  • Christine

    I’ve been there serveral times and have had a few varieties of their pizza which is great. Joe is very friendly too and makes you feel welcome. I “grew up” in NY and now am a “local” here in Arlington, and it reminds me of the food back home.

  • John B.

    I hope the never ending construction project doesn’t hurt these guys. I’ve had their pizza and their pasta and they were both really, really good. They’re also very friendly when you walk in there. So I hope they’re around for a long time. The pizza sauce was probably the best in the area.

  • FW

    Should have changed the name completely, too.

  • Jim

    If you haven’t been to Toscana yet, you definitely need to check it out.

    Being originally from NY and Long Island myself (I moved down here to courthouse less than 2 months ago), Toscana easily makes the best pizza in the area by far – and trust me I know pizza. To be honest, I don’t even understand all the hype about fireworks – the pizza does not live up to it. The dough is perfect, the sauces are great, and the pizzas range from your typical expectations of a gourmet pie to some I’ve never seen before, the chicken francaise pie – my personal favorite. I’ve also had a couple of their original Italian dishes, and they were just as great!

    Other than the great food, the atmosphere is super friendly which makes me want to come back even more. Upon my second time dining there, everyone had already remembered my name, and that is huge to me, and I am sure to many of you.

    Joe and his crew have done a great job! Spread the word, and check out Toscana!

  • I’ve been going to the new Toscana Grill for several weeks now. The pizza’s and sauces are excellent, very much in the mode of pizza and pasta’s from the NY area. You virtually never find anything like this in the entire DC metro region. I know….I’ve been looking for NY style Italian food in this region for decades.

    Joe, showed me this article today…while I was eating eggplant parmesan with an excellent tomato sauce, while down the bar another guy was enjoying his chicken piccata; two classic Italian dishes with totally different sauces…but both excellent. Congratulazioni Joe. Excellent restaurant.

  • I work a couple of blocks away. This place is one of the tiny few Italian restaurants in the entire DC region that has authentic NY/NJ style Italian food. It is delicious. On top of that Joe, the owner operator is an extraordinarily outgoing nice guy owner.

    People enjoy becoming regulars. I’d try the pizza’s, especially the outrageous chicken francaise pizza. Its easily one of the top pizzas in this entire region!!!


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