“Joe’s is the past, A Modo Mio is now!”
These are the words from Rosario, part owner of what used to be Joe’s Pizza Place, but is now A Modo Mio.
Joe’s made a name for itself and became a community favorite with its pizza, pasta, subs and most memorably, their buffet. Fast forward to 2020, with Covid in full effect, the restaurant changed its name, concept and menu to stay alive.
A Modo Mio was born.
Located at 5555 Langston Boulevard, A Modo Mio stands as a location serving its community authentic Italian cuisine.
“A Modo Mio, it came to be because of Covid. The previous concept wasn’t Covid friendly. With the buffet and salad bar, you just can’t do it,” co-owner Rosario Farruggio said. “[At first] we didn’t know what to do actually. We knew Joe’s wouldn’t be able to survive.”
The answer: a sit-down dining experience that borrows some of the Italian playbook from its restaurant cousin, the well-liked Georgetown eatery il Canale.
“Joe from Joe’s Place has another restaurant in D.C. called il Canele, and because of that restaurant and because of Antonio, one of the head chefs there when il Canele first opened, they were able to partner up and bring that concept here to Arlington. He knew the cuisine and we had the location, we made it happen,” says Rosario.
Born in the Agrigento region of Sicily, Italy, Joe Farruggio is an award winning restaurateur, pizzaiolo, chef and author that has over 53 years of food service experience. He opened the first Joe’s Place in Bailey’s Crossroads in 1978.
Joe, Rosario, and master pizza chef Antonio Biglietto — who’s from Naples, Italy — all came together to bring a piece of home to life here in Arlington, saving the location’s business.
“In August of 2020, we shut Joe’s down, remodeled and reopened in October as A Modo Mio,” says Rosario. The name translates to “my way” in Italian.
“Not inspired by the Sinatra song,” says Rosario. “It was something Joe came up with.”
What was new about this restaurant, other than the name?
“This is real authentic Italian, not like an Olive Garden. One of the main things that showcases that and what the people appreciate and recognize is that we are VPN certified,” says Rosario.
VPN stands for Vera Pizza Napoletana and can be seen within the menu. To that end, a Modo Mio has a custom made, hand built brick oven from Italy.
“To get certified, you have to be authentic,” says Rosario. “You need to have real Italian ingredients imported from Italy, like our flour and tomatoes, and you need real mozzarella cheese, fresh mozzarella.”
The restaurant’s employees are even trained by a certified Neapolitan pizza maker.
“We have the roots so now we can actually teach that art,” says Rosario. The authenticity extends to other parts of the menu, too.
“The pasta that we have, it’s authentic in how we make it. It’s all house made,” Rosario says.
A Modo Mio has a variety of menu items that are made from scratch and traditionally prepared. From the gnocchi that is made with same Italian flour as the pizza, the lasagna, pesto, meatballs, all the way to the cannolis, whose cream is imported straight from Sicily.
“People ask what’s the recipe is for the meatballs, but of course I can’t give it out,” says Rosario, laughing.
A bar, meanwhile, was recently added to the restaurant.
“Before we didn’t have a liquor license, now we do. It’s a full bar with almost everything you need and 90% of our wines are Italian,” says Rosario.
The atmosphere is such that the restaurant can appeal to both a family with kids and couples seeking a nicer place to go out that’s closer to home than the D.C. dining options.
“It’s family, it’s date night, it can be casual, but it’s a step or two up from a casual-casual place. You can have a grilled salmon here, a ribeye, it’s not just pizza. It takes time to cook too, these aren’t things you can just heat up,” Rosario says.
“Perfect for a night out with the family and kids, but also intimate enough for your date with a loved one,” he adds.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch the engine of the 1962 Fiat 600 that’s parked outside purring.
“It is fully titled, insured and drives mechanically sound,” says Rosario, of the classic car painted in a neapolitan theme.
In terms of best sellers on the menu, here’s what Rosario says first-time diners should consider trying.
“I think they need to try the Pizza Margherita,” he said. “For us, it’s all about how we make our classic Margherita pizza, that’s when you don’t have a lot of ingredients that may mask the real flavors of the main ingredients, which here are the Italian tomatoes, real fresh mozzarella, flour, etc.”
Of course, as with most instances of a new restaurant concept replacing a neighborhood staple, not all of the feedback has been good.
“Sure it’s been a mixed batch, though mostly positive. A lot of the old customers that were used to the previous concept, they really miss it,” Rosario says. “But even the majority of the older customers have loved the quality of food brought by the new concept.”
Address: 5555 Langston Blvd., Arlington
Phone: (703) 532-0990
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