- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - Terry and Angela Spinosa’s Italian honeymoon inspired the recipes served at their recently opened steakhouse in Winchester.

When Terry, 60, and Angela, 40, visited Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast four years ago, they were impressed by the delectable beef, brick-oven pizzas and other authentic Italian cuisine that was full of flavor without a lot of added ingredients.

“It was the simplicity of the dishes that intrigued us,” Angela said.

The Stephens City couple brought these flavors to Bistecca Italian Chop House at 242 Millwood Ave., which opened on April 8.

All of the ingredients used at Bistecca are as fresh and simple as possible, according to the Spinosas. Terry said each dish has its own unique flavor profile.

“Italians like to have each ingredient speak for itself,” he said. “They’re not combining two ingredients to create a third. Everything stands on its own.”

The eatery’s heirloom tomato salad features a bounty of fresh tomatoes, prosciutto, caramelized onion vinaigrette and pine nuts on top of a bed of feta cheese mousse. The appetizer is topped with olive chips. This crispy addition is made with kalamata olives and tapioca pearls. When fried, the tapioca pops like popcorn and adds to the crunchy texture.

“The strong taste of the olives complements the tomatoes,” Terry said.

The steakhouse’s signature dish is the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. The 35-ounce T-bone steak is designed to be enjoyed by two people. This entree was inspired by the couple’s visit to Florence, where they enjoyed a dish of the same name. The thick-cut steak is seared, giving it a charred crust, and then finished in a wood-fired oven. The steak is seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, roasted garlic, lemon and rosemary and served on a rustic wooden board in the traditional Italian style.

Terry researched several companies before making a selection for his beef supplier. He settled on Metropolitan Meat and Seafood out of Landover, Md., from which he obtains certified Angus beef for the steaks served at Bistecca.

The cuisine isn’t limited to steaks. The Salmone dish starts with a pan-seared salmon fillet that is paired with asparagus, morel mushrooms and a fried polenta cake. A hole is cut in the polenta and placed inside is an egg that is poached using the sous vide method, during which food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch and cooked in a water bath.

Also offered are a variety of large-portioned sides that are designed to feed two to three people. Options include artichoke risotto, pancetta macaroni and cheese and seasonal vegetables.

The eatery’s pastas are made by hand at the restaurant. The Italian desserts - cannoli, tiramisu and cheesecake - are also made at Bistecca.

The owners confer their ideas for dishes with chef Nate Barsanti, who then adds his personal style and flavor. Barsanti studied at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colo.

Terry and Angela are also thankful to have Bobby Stohl in the kitchen. Stohl has worked in several restaurants in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas.

“He brings years of experience and has been a consultant for us,” Terry said.

Although Terry and Angela don’t have formal culinary training, their pastime is dining at various restaurants.

“When we go on vacation, we pick vacation spots based on the restaurants,” Angela said.

Terry’s paternal family immigrated from Sulmona, Italy. He was raised enjoying traditional Italian cuisine.

Angela grew up in Winchester and is a 1995 Handley High School graduate.

Bistecca started as a dream, but when the opportunity came to take over the former Millwood Seafood and Steak building earlier this year, they jumped at the chance. Prior to Millwood Seafood and Steak, the building was home to Cantina D’Italia.

“This is the only Italian steakhouse in the Shenandoah Valley,” Angela said.

Inside the steakhouse, large striped booths invite guests to take a cozy seat. Several paintings of Italian Chianina cattle, that are used for beef in Florence, hang on the walls. Along with the decor, Angela said the food creates the restaurant’s atmosphere.

“It’s a casual, high-end dining experience, but it’s not stuffy or pretentious,” Angela said.

Bistecca is open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to people coming and giving us the opportunity to serve food that comes from the heart,” Terry said.

The couple also owns Lone Oak Tavern in Boyce, which they opened eight years ago.

For more information on Bistecca or to make a reservation, call 540-773-5981 or visit www.bisteccachophouse.com.

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