Bites: One Italian restaurant closes, another opens in Fairfax

La Favola will replace Ovvio Osteria in Merrifield.

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“I got tired of him complaining there’s no real Italian food around here,” says Jawad Laouaouda of Marco Tellaki, his Italian-born chef at Bon Vivant Cafe + Farm Market. And so Laouaouda did what any other person in the hospitality industry would do: He got Tellaki his own restaurant.

Together the two are bringing La Favola to Merrifield, replacing Halstead Square’s former Italian concept Ovvio Osteria. Tellaki, from Milan, is looking to build his menu on the Emilia-Romagna region, known for Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto di parma, tagliatelle, pappardelle and Bolognese.

Tellaki has two decades in the business and has cooked at Michelin-star restaurants in France and Italy. He met Laouaouda through a mutual friend when he moved to the United States a handful of years ago. With La Favola, says Laouaouda, it’s a “different concept but the same philosophy” as his cafe and market in Del Ray that features sustainable products, non-GMO items and grass-fed meat.

Laouaouda stresses traditional cooking at La Favola, with starters including a seafood salad of shrimp, mussels and cuttlefish; 24-month aged prosciutto served with fried pizza dough; and the now-ubiquitous burrata.

The kitchen plans to make pasta in-house after the initial frenzy of the first few weeks of the restaurant’s opening, with a lineup of lasagna, spaghetti and clams in a white wine sauce, caccio e pepe, tagliatelle with Bolognese and a slate of risottos. Entrees include branzino, rib-eye and pork scaloppini.

From the wood-burning oven there will be housemade bread to start the meal and Neapolitan-style pizza. Desserts include a housemade tiramisu and gelato from the local shop Dolci Gelati.

The team hopes to open next week.

With the debut of La Favola, Tellaki can finally stop complaining. Jokes Laouaouda, “It’s the only way to shut you up.”