Pirouette Brings Creative Fare and Unfussy Wine Pairings to Ballston
The 'wine-driven' neighborhood cafe serves oysters, small plates, house-made pasta and plenty of vino.
“Pirouette” wasn’t the first name Jackie and Philippe Loustaunau thought of when they envisioned their first restaurant. But they came around to the new name for two reasons.
“Pirouette gives a sense of movement, energy, but also elegance,” Philippe says. “And that’s really the way we think of the restaurant.” It’s also fitting, he adds, “because we’re turning our lives around—we have put everything we have into this project.”
The Ballston wine shop and cafe on Fairfax Drive opened Sept. 16. Pirouette has been in the works since January 2021, when the Loustaunaus made it a priority to turn a long-held dream into reality. Owning a restaurant is a big shift for the couple, who live in Virginia Square; while Jackie has some restaurant experience working both front and back of house, Philippe is a math professor-turned-tech consultant. Their new venture is half wine shop, half bistro.
“The concept is really to have really flavorful and simple foods elevated, with flavors and textures that pair well with wine,” says Philippe, who is from Limoges, France. “We’re not a French restaurant. We’ll be a wine-driven restaurant.”
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The 3,300-square-foot space features indoor and outdoor seating, a window counter for sipping a glass, and a lengthy tasting table for special events. Adam Hoffa (formerly with D.C. restaurants Fiola and St. Anselm) serves as executive chef, overseeing lunch and dinner menus that include light bites and more substantial meals.
Among Philippe’s favorites is a house-made pasta dish featuring tagliolini with braised pork belly, white wine and fennel pollen.
Jackie’s go-to at lunchtime is the charred radicchio. “It tastes like a steak, and I’ve never had anything but the perfect bite,” she says.
When browsing their wine collection, which boasts more than 200 labels—from international and domestic vintners, including several local wineries—don’t feel like you need to study up first.
“We wanted to break away some of the barriers that I think, at least in America, people feel before entering the wine world,” Jackie says. “[In Europe], wine is just a natural part of people’s lives without it necessarily being fancy.”
To that end, the co-owners want to keep the wine affordable. They don’t add a markup, as many restaurants do for wines served on the premises. For those who are dining in, glasses start at $8 and bottles at $32. There are also a couple of half-bottle options.
“A lot of us have had those days where you just want to order an appetizer because you just don’t have a lot of funds,” Jackie says.
The restaurant doesn’t serve cocktails, but for patrons who aren’t too keen on vino, there is a selection of beer.
It’s still early, but the Loustaunaus are already seeing signs that their vision is coming to life.
“We wanted it to be a neighborhood space, not a destination place, not a place that would look for a Michelin star or any sort of accolade,” Philippe says. “It’s really, really heartwarming to see that, in fact, the neighborhood is really coming out.”
Pirouette is located at 4000 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington. It is open from Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The restaurant is closed Mondays.