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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Pizza, Sandwiches, Groceries
Counter service

Mon–Fri 10:00am–9:00pm
Sat 10:00am–8:00pm
Sun 11:00am–6:00pm

Features Good wines, kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx


Arlington, VA
3123 Lee Hwy.
Arlington, VA
(703) 528-6266
The Italian Store
It’s packed, and it’s packed for a reason

At Arlington’s Italian Store, things are not as chaotic as they seem. On a late weekend morning, you’ll be surrounded by a crowd of hungry locals gripping paper numbers as proof of their entry time. Knots of customers clog the aisles of this Italian imported-foods grocery, but everyone is civil, and the sandwich-makers are remarkably efficient at taking orders and making subs before sending people on their way. Good to know: you can skip the line (and the number-taking) if you just want to carry out a slice of their much-lauded pizza.

That pizza is perfectly serviceable, but if a friend gushes on and on about how it’s the best in the DC area, find yourself another pizza guru. Man, pizza-ravers: we could write a book…(we practically have). The Italian Store’s pie is more or less of the New York persuasion: i.e. greasy, with a thin, relatively floppy crust (here slipping dangerously towards soggy), copious gooey cheese, and a wide selection of toppings.

We think you’re better off choosing a hefty sub from among the list of various Italian-deli-meat-and-cheese combinations (vegetarian versions are also available). These subs have a vast and loyal following, and they’ve earned it, bringing a little Jersey ‘tude into your northern Virginia day. Choose a hard or soft roll, but if you plan on enjoying the “special dressing,” definitely go with the chewy kind (soft ones just fall apart). And don’t forget the pickled peppers. Our only complaint is that if you want tomato, you have to know to ask for it (and pay 25 cents extra).

The atmosphere at this carry-out shop isn’t much to speak of, with the focus on speed and convenience (although let’s not kid ourselves: you could easily wait a good twenty minutes for your sub). But something about the jolly tangle of friends, lovers, and families, office lackeys with massive orders and yummy mummies, strollers stuffed any which way into a corner, local regulars, and DC punters, conjures a charming familial vibe. While you wait for your number to be called, browse the crowded shelves of imported Italian coffees, cookies, pastas, and tinned goods. In the front, there’s a surprisingly broad selection of affordable Italian table wines. Freezer cases along the back wall display frozen and fresh pastas, mains, and desserts—including the much-lauded Berger cookies. (Indigenous to Maryland, these cakelike cookies with a thick layer of fudgy icing are like black-and-whites, forget all that white nonsense).

It’s always nice when a specialty grocery declines to be pompous or dainty. Hell, in a pinch, you can even pick up a gallon jar of Nutella here. Respect.

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