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Acclaimed Mom-and-Pop Pasta Shop Thompson Italian Preps for an Old Town Debut

Owners Gabe and Katherine Thompson bring their eponymous eatery to King Street next month

Salads, pastas, and meatballs from the Thompson Italian original in Falls Church.
Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Three years after impressing Falls Church with olive oil cake, spicy meatballs, and expertly made pastas at Thompson Italian, culinary power couple Gabe and Katherine Thompson will now expand their chic namesake restaurant to Old Town.

Thompson Italian’s second family-friendly location will debut in late December in the former home of Hank’s Oyster Bar (1024 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia). Hit dishes making their way to Old Town include rigatoni bolognese, spaghetti cacio e pepe, roasted focaccia slathered in garlic and parmesan, and Katherine’s famed olive oil cake that helped her earn a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year in 2020. An expanded pasta selection in Old Town will be joined by new seafood dishes like crudo and whole roasted fish.

Chefs Gabe and Katherine Thompson rose through the ranks of the NYC restaurant scene before moving to be close to family in Northern Virginia.
Steve Vilnit

Before opening their first D.C. area restaurant in 2019, RPM Italian’s former executive chef Gabe Thompson and his pastry pro wife helmed kitchens at some of Manhattan’s top Italian restaurants. The Thompsons were part of the opening team at Dell’anima in the West Village in 2007. They went on to become chef-partners at a trio of popular Italian restaurants across the city (L’Artusi, Anfora, and now-closed L’Apicio). Before that, Gabe Thompson was at Le Bernardin, and Katherine Thompson was at Per Se.

Olive oil cake with creme fraiche mousse, maldon salt, and raisin marmellatae.
Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian

Italian classics will also be remixed with Middle Eastern flavors with help from its newly named executive chef Lucy Dakwar, who was previously chef de cuisine in Falls Church. Dakwar, who started out her culinary career as line cook under Gabe at L’Apicio in NYC, turns to her Palestinian roots to integrate dukkah, tahini, braised lamb, and spices across the menu.

Katherine also leads the redesign in Old Town. The 4,000-square-foot space features 77 seats in the dining room and 20 more in the bar.

Thompson Italian retains the brick walls and marble bar from Hank’s, which vacated the space this spring and relocated to Old Town North. After a year of searching for a second home for Thompson Italian, the couple fell in love with the neighborhood and Hank’s “quirky, charming space,” says Katherine.

Floral prints adorning the walls were made by Katherine Thompson’s friend Dana McClure, an upstate New York artist and co-owner of flower farm Ravenwood.
Steve Vilnit
The dining area features natural wood tables and flooring, gold mirrors, and leather banquettes.
Steve Vilnit
Thompson Italian executive chef Lucy Dakwar used to work under Gabe Thompson in NYC.
Steve Vilnit
The Alexandria location will feature eclectic neon signage at the bar, similar to its “Pasta Power” motto in Falls Church (pictured).
Rey Lopez/Eater DC