Chef-owned and operated, Girasole uses only the freshest ingredients to create authentic, regional Italian menus. In the picturesque village of The Plains, Virginia, you’ll experience exceptional service, a relaxing European atmosphere, and the highest quality food and wine.
Our award-winning menus are rotated to coincide with the seasonal offerings of the area. Produce from local farms and greenhouses, grass fed and naturally raised meats, truffles hand-selected from Italy, hand-pressed olive oils from small Italian orchards inspire Chef Patierno to create a “spirited” menu, a natural complement to his innate artistry. The pasta is made fresh daily, be it stuffed or formed, and desserts follow original recipes from France, Switzerland, and Italy. Come enjoy a bit of European elegance in the heart of Virginia’s Hunt Country.
Chef Lou Patierno
Inspired by a trip to his aunt’s home in Ferrara, Northern Italy when he was a teenager, Patierno fell in love with the lush countryside and its rich artistic heritage. He studied art during his stay, but decided on a culinary career, where art could be part of every day. He brings his unique brand of imagination to every signature dish he creates a love of food, wine, and all things beautiful is evident in every delectable morsel.
After attending Villanova University and graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, Patierno eventually found himself at the famed Tiberio in Washington D.C. where throughout his twelve year tenure he learned from some of the most talented Italian chefs.
After spending a season working in the French countryside, Patierno decided to venture out on his own. He first opened Panino in Manassas. Then in 2004, Patierno and his wife, partner and fellow Hyde Park graduate opened Girasole (sunflower) in the countryside of The Plains. Already a well-respected and successful team; Lydia in the dining room with her exceptional knowledge of food and wine (not to mention her winning smile) and Lou in the kitchen with his extensive culinary training, together they brought Lou’s dream to life.
Born outside of Pittsburgh to an Italian father and Polish mother, Lydia Patierno’s love of food was inevitable. She was fortunate to be exposed to ethnic cooking from both sides of her family. That love only grew when she minded her uncle’s Italian import food business while others in the family delivered the sought-after Italian provisions to the immigrant coal miners working in the vicinity. With these experiences, it was only natural for her to be one of the few women to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
It was there that Lydia met her future husband, Lou Patierno. After cooking school, Lydia interned for famed chef Hubert Schmeider, then worked in kitchens in Iowa and Indianapolis before returning to DC with Lou. Because few women were hired to cook in the District at that time, Lydia worked in hotel management where she focused on managing restaurants and overseeing catering operations.
In 1992, she joined her husband in opening their first restaurant, Panino, in Manassas. Then in 2004, the winning team opened Girasole in The Plains, VA. Together, and often with the help of their adult children, they bring a bit of old world charm and tastes to Virginia’s Hunt Country. When not running the front of the restaurant, hosting wine tastings or wine dinners, Lydia leads small groups to Italy where they see sites and experience food as true Italians see the country.