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Posted at 3:29 PM ET, 10/13/2009

Great American's Going Italian in Fairfax

By Tom Sietsema

Patsy's is the name Great American Restaurants is considering for its 11th dining room in Northern Virginia next fall, and for the first time, the locally owned company is looking beyond the U.S. for inspiration. Italian cooking, including breads and pastas made in-house, will be the focus of the future menu, says Randy Norton, Great American's chief executive.

The 248-seat restaurant is expected to open next September at 11880 Grand Commons Ave. in Fairfax -- just a block away from Coastal Flats, one of the company's seafood establishments. (The proximity to one of his own was the primary reason Norton thought something completely different taste-wise was in order.)

Norton likes the double meaning behind the title he's mulling: Patsy is a nickname for Pasquale, and Patsy is also the name of Norton's wife (who has yet to agree to the idea of so much publicity), he reports.

The executive and his team have traveled to Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia to get ideas for their next project. The restaurateur tells me that the intimate Mercato, a cash-only BYOB eatery in Philadelphia, left an especially strong impression on his group.

Developing an Italian accent isn't the company's only departure from the norm. Great American Restaurants typically hires from within its ranks; for Patsy's, the group is looking outside. "Ideally," says Norton, "we'd like to hire someone soon, and get them on board."

Do I hear the tap-tapping of fingers on keyboards polishing up resumes?

-- Tom Sietsema


By Tom Sietsema  | October 13, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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Comments

Hmm... Very interesting. We're dedicated Carlyle fans andour regular Saturday morning breakfast is at Best Buns. Our 3 year old twins love their star scones (orange currant shaped into the form of a star) and their coffee surpasses the neighborhood Starbucks. We usually make coffee at home, but BB does its brews right.

Incidentally, we picked up a loaf of brioche at Best Buns this Saturday and were informed that they've reformulated the recipe. I can report that the new bun is a success. It's a little denser and moister than before. Also, the large air pockets from the previous recipe weren't evident in our new loaf.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 13, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how GAR bills Coastal Flats as "seafood".
I was sorely disappointed.
With the exception of *maybe* 5 items, the menu was identical to Carlyle.
If you say "seafood," you should have seafood. If I can't get a fish sandwich, I don't count it as seafood.

Posted by: robjdisc | October 14, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Tom: I've been in town a long time, and I could swear that GAR briefly had an Italian/pizza-themed restaurant in downtown Fairfax about 20 years ago. (The space, on Main Street, is now occupied by another Italian restaurant--not sure of the name.)

In any event, given GAR's track record, I'm looking forward to the new one!

Posted by: Eyewitness1 | October 14, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Are you talking about Picco's? That was around for a fairly long while...

Posted by: combedge | October 15, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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