Sunday, March 15, 2009

Foti's Restaurant

Three years ago, Chef Frank Maragos opened the perfect restaurant in Culpeper, Virginia, of all places. Somehow he has managed to provide a dining experience that satisfies the demanding gourmand, yet does not intimidate the casual diner. The decor and service reflect this balance, with exposed brick walls, polished wood floors and a pressed tin ceiling, plus a sincere smile and warm welcome that are completely devoid of pretension. And, being within a 90-minute drive west of Washington, DC, more and more of his customers are those who have made Foti’s a culinary pilgrimage experience.

It is difficult to strike the right balance between down home folksiness and Michelin-star aspiration. At Foti’s, a chef-owned restaurant, it’s as if the staff knows that they are world class and could accomplish anything, but instead have decided to relax and take the pressure off by not going upwardly mobile. The happy result is that the guests are having a good time, and, it appears, the staff is enjoying their jobs, as well.

Here, pedigrees are impeccable. Maragos was a former executive sous chef at the Inn at Little Washington and brought several other employees with him. They make good use of ingredients gown locally, and theirs is not a menu that needs explanation or translation. And when was the last time you looked at a restaurant bill and could scarcely believe how small it was? I’m not kidding. Drive out there and see for yourself.

By the way, “Foti” is Frank’s childhood nickname.

Foti’s Restaurant (closed Mon. & Wed.)
219 East Davis Street, Culpeper, VA 540-829-8400