Despite a few stalled plans, Pupatella, an award-winning Neapolitan pizza restaurant, is set to open in Reston this week.
The new site at 1821 Wiehle Avenue will host a soft opening on Wednesday, tentatively at 4 p.m. and will feature the local chain’s full menu.
Michael Berger, one of the partners of the business along with founders Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg, said the Reston location will only offer takeout service for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. However, Pupatella looks forward to offering dine-in service at some point in the new year.
Pupatella already has locations in Arlington, Richmond and Washington, D.C. The Reston location marks the second Pupatella to open this year after one in Dupont Circle in the District opened in August.
The Reston restaurant was initially scheduled to open in early 2020, but was delayed by the county’s permitting process.
“It didn’t really ever cross our mind that we wouldn’t open them. We just decided to shift the service model for now and kind of go through this with everyone else that’s going through this too,” Berger said.
“We’re very fortunate. Our industry is definitely on some hard times. I really feel for a lot of our colleagues that didn’t have the ability to pivot as much in their business model just because of the style of service they were.”
After its soft opening, the restaurant will eventually feature an outdoor waiting area with benches and heaters, as well as tables with fire pits for on-site dining.
The importance of opening this location is more than just business for Berger, as it hits on a personal level.
A Reston native, Berger is a South Lakes High School graduate that grew up around the Tall Oaks area. He is also quite familiar with the location of this Pupatella as he was a regular visitor of the Pizza Hut that occupied the site until it closed late last year.
“I went to that Pizza Hut numerous times for Little League parties, swim team parties, general neighborhood gatherings,” Berger said.
“So I’ve told my friends that I almost feel like I’ve been entrusted with this historical site in Reston. Everybody that’s been in Reston for more than a few years knows that complex. It has almost a brand of its own.”
Hearkening back to Berger’s alma mater, the Reston restaurant will feature a graffiti art installation done by the South Lakes High School art department along with one of the school’s teachers.
As a throwback to the location’s time as a Pizza Hut, Berger said it will also feature a tabletop arcade game machine with Pac-Man, Galaga and other games.
“For years and years and years, that was just such a neighborhood gathering place,” Berger said. “It really was the neighborhood pizzeria, and we’re just so excited to bring back a neighborhood pizzeria to the community.”
Photos courtesy Michael Berger