By George Humphries
A Pleasing Visit in Hunt Country
Forlano’s “Market” is part of the multi-faceted enterprise of the multi-talented, classically trained, and widely experienced restaurateur Nick Forlano. We visited the restaurant part of Forlano’s empire for lunch recently. While the premises are small, Forlano’s also includes a deli, a butcher counter, and a bakery featuring local hormone-free meats, free-range chicken, breads baked on the premises, and other farm-grown products.
Obviously, it is wildly popular with the surrounding community and undoubtedly attracts daytrippers out for a drive in the country. Located on the main street of the hunt country village of The Plains, on a Friday, the little restaurant was, at about 11:45, filled to capacity with what appeared to be “locals.” That is to say, the kind of up-scale citizens one would expect to see in a village where the roads leading to it are lined with hunt country jumps in the fences of expansive pastures and hay fields.
Proof of its popularity with locals is the fact that none of the silverware matches. That, our waiter told us, is because when Forlano acceded to requests that he expand from just being a deli to serving meals on the premises, he had no silverware. The patrons solved that problem by bringing in their own.
The lunch menu consists of a featured mushroom soup and a daily special. Seven sandwiches comprise the rest of the lunch menu. Our party had the Angus steak wrap, a vegetable wrap, and a very special BLT. The steak was tasty and tender, the vegetables were roasted and interestingly seasoned, and the BLT was a treat on a homemade ciabatta roll with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, thick, flavorful bacon, and fresh lettuce and tomato. Other offerings included a roasted turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and homemade mayonnaise; a homemade meatball sub with melted Provolone and marinara sauce; and an Italian Hoagie with 10 ingredients plus oil, vinegar, and oregano. All of these were available at around $9, and an excellent value at that.
The dinner menu, still to be tested – is most enticing. It contains 18 items, including Osso Bucco, Stromboli, Calzone, Beef Broccoli, Pork Chops, Stuffed Quail, Lamb Shanks, Short and Back Ribs, among other favorites. If that weren’t enough, there are 13 likely sides and vegetables that include such enticing items as antipasto salad, roasted cipolin onions, sautéed haricot verts with shallots, roasted beets with goat cheese, and panzanella. It’s an ambitious menu for a small space, but Nick Forlano has been in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old and headlined the Ashby Inn for a number of years. He pulls it all off with panache.
A selection of wines and beers are also offered.
The deli side of Forlanos features local natural beef products, homemade sausage and bacon, Italian meats, pizza, and five kinds of house-baked breads. Gourmet catering is available for picnics, point-to-points and steeplechases, and other events.
Wine tasting and other private parties also can be arranged on the premises. In addition to all these ventures, Nick Forlano also hosts cooking classes.
The restaurant is highly recommended. The only fault we have is the distance from our own location. Forlano’s is about 10 miles from Middleburg and about 25 miles from Purcellville.
Forlano’s is open from lunch daily 11-3, and dinner Wednesday through Saturday 5:30 and 8:30.
George Humphries is a retired Navy aviator who began cooking at the age of 10 and has managed several large restaurants. He has lived in Loudoun Country since 1984.