Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography Courtesy of Michael’s Little Italy
When it comes to food, there’s no cuisine that speaks the language of love more than Italian—especially when it’s served family-style. And while the cozy intimacy of a family meal often leaves no room at the table for formality and elegance, Michael’s Little Italy manages to balance it all, creating the perfect atmosphere for hosting celebratory events where love is the guest of honor.
Since buying and renaming the authentic Italian restaurant once known as Trattoria da Franco from the original owners in 2017, owner Michael Strutton has been offering old-world style cuisine that showcases his passion and traces a line to his roots back in Italy. And with his rebranding at the start of 2020 under the name of Michael’s Little Italy after two years of renovating, recreating the menu, and reworking the restaurant to make it completely his vision, Strutton takes even more pride in the experience his guests receive when they walk in through the doors.
From handmade pastas and freshly-baked pizzas to hearty entrees that bring to mind Sunday suppers at Nona’s house, every item on the menu is filled with heart and full of love—and that’s exactly what he serves to couples who book their events at the restaurant. “Bridal parties love how customizable everything is with us. We design our menus individually for each event, and I do this myself with the wedding planner or couple, while my wife helps with the planning, decor, and logistics,” says Strutton. “We really work with them to make the event exactly what they want.”
And while the food is certainly high on the love list for the bridal parties who book their events at the restaurant, ambiance is also key in making the match. Ideal for hosting bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, engagement parties, receptions, and even small weddings, the second floor of the restaurant is charming and unique, featuring a retro-style cocktail lounge and a dining room with a baby grand piano in a space with room enough to accommodate 50-60 people. Downstairs, one can cozy up to the fireside bar. “It’s a different kind of place—a fine-dining restaurant and a one-stop shop for Italian food, whatever your mood and whatever the occasion,” Strutton says. “We’re elegant but never stuffy, and we convey the feeling of hosting a party at their home without the hassle. They also get the entire floor—the dining room and cocktail lounge, which has couches and a nice place to socialize before or after dinner. We try to make it feel like one big Italian family dinner and get together here all the time, but it works especially well for parties,” Strutton goes on. That kind of atmosphere is just what couples hope to find for their events, and Strutton and his team make the experience a dream come true.
Michael's Little Italy Ristorante & Pizzeria
305 S Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 | (703) 548-9338