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Customers peruse the book store Bards Alley during Vienna’s Church Street Holiday Stroll (photo by Amy Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) Inova Comes to McLean for Blood Drive — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department has teamed up with Inova Blood Donor Services for a blood drive in its lower parking lot at 1455 Laughlin Avenue. Staff will set up the bloodmobile before noon, and the drive will officially run from 1-5:30 p.m. [McLean VFD/Facebook]

FCPS Leads Public School Student Exodus — “For the second straight year, enrollment in Virginia public schools has dropped, with 46,000 fewer students enrolled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Virginia Department of Education, the largest school district in the commonwealth, Fairfax County, saw the largest enrollment dip — more than 10,000 students, or a 5.4% difference between fall 2019 and fall 2021.” [WTOP]

Merrifield Wendy’s to Give Away Free Food — “The first 100 customers at the newly remodeled Wendy’s restaurant in Gate House Plaza in Merrifield on Dec. 4 will get a chance to win free food for a year. Wend American Group…is in the final stages of completing the remodeling of its Wendy’s restaurant at 3040 Gate House Plaza, near the intersection of Gallows Road and Route 50.” [Patch]

FCPS Appoints New Chief Equity Officer — Dr. Nardos King will take over as Fairfax County Public Schools’ interim chief equity officer on Dec. 6, replacing Dr. Lisa Williams until a new superintendent makes a permanent hire. Williams, who has overseen the division’s equity and diversity work since July 2019, is leaving for personal reasons not related to work, FCPS told Tysons Reporter. [FCPS]

Vienna Police Doubles Fundraising Goal for Prostate Cancer Awareness — “The last picture of the no shave November! 30 days ago our officers put down their razors until we reach our $3K goal. Today we can happily report that their efforts generated $6,594 in donations for @ZEROCancer THANK YOU to everyone that donate! Time to shave!” [Vienna Police Department/Twitter]

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) After a 20-year hiatus, The Italian Oven has returned to Old Dominion Drive in McLean.

The Italian restaurant officially opened on Monday (June 21) at 6852 Old Dominion Drive, moving back into a spot it had first occupied in 1985.

The Esposito family has been serving authentic Italian cuisine in Northern Virginia for over 40 years. Although the restaurant has operated under multiple names, the main attraction has been their wood-burning oven shipped from Italy, which reaches 800 degrees and cooks pizzas in about two and a half minutes.

Salvatore “Sal” Esposito, the former owner of the original Italian Oven, was a “pioneer of installing wood-burning ovens in Arlington, Fairfax, McLean, and Georgetown,” according to his son, Robert, who will own and manage the eatery’s latest incarnation.

A native of Naples, Italy, Sal Esposito was trained in the hospitality industry in Germany and England before coming to America.

His uncle, Franco, was a chef trained in Long Island, New York, and the first member of the Esposito family to open a restaurant in the U.S., starting with a small hole-in-the-wall in Arlington. They had lines out the door after the first few months of business.

Health complications led Sal to retire early in 2000, leaving the restaurant in the hands of five managers. Eventually, Moe Jebali became the sole owner and renamed the restaurant Pulcinella.

Now, Pulcinella is moving to a new location, and Robert Esposito has decided to buy his father’s old restaurant and refurbish it to reopen The Italian Oven.

A graduate of Langley High School, Robert is also deaf and has strong ties to the deaf community in McLean, according to his father. He is committed to making The Italian Oven a welcoming environment for members of the deaf community.

There are still remnants of the old Italian Oven. A mural depicting a scene from Italy is still intact in the lower dining room, and the original wood-burning oven is still cooking as well. Certain pictures and menu items remain the same too, all waiting for guests to come back and enjoy.

“The people of McLean have been coming through the door saying, ‘Welcome back. We love you and welcome back,'” Sal said.

Questions and concerns about the restaurant can be directed to 703-570-4975‬.

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