New to the Neighborhood

Il Cappero
19307 Promenade Drive
Leesburg, VA 20176
On days that call for a comforting bowl of pasta, drenched in rich, homemade tomatoey sauce, look no further than Il Cappero, a new to Lansdowne Town Center, an authentic Italian restaurant.

Walking into Il Cappero is like stepping into a warm hug. The welcoming atmosphere and soft, dim lighting invite you to settle in for hours while you enjoy deep conversation and dig into dishes from a robust menu of Italian favorites.

Chef and Owner Tony Illiano has 36 years of restaurant industry experience behind him to ensure the success of his newest venture. Originally from Naples, Italy, Illiano spent much of his early years learning the secrets of making a great sauce from his grandmother. “You want to make a good sauce, you have to wake up early in the morning,” his grandmother would say.

And Illiano takes her instruction to heart, by waking up as early at 5 AM to start his secret sauce which he uses copiously in a variety of his classic dishes. Illiano also pays extra attention to the quality of the foods he sources, focusing specifically on fresh ingredients which he uses for day of cooking, rather than preparing dishes days ahead. The mouth watering and beautifully arranged charcuterie board is a colorful example of this attention to detail, filled with freshly grilled zucchini and red peppers, thinly sliced meats, bright caprese salad and a selection of delicious cheeses.


When asked which dishes Illiano would recommend to a first-time patron, he shrugs his shoulders and smiles. “The chicken piccata, of course,” he says, eluding to the restaurant’s name, Il Cappero, which translates to caper and is a main ingredient in the dish. Illiano also suggests trying the gnocchi, the lasagna and any of the seafood dishes which are reminiscent of the dishes he grew up with on the Amalfi Coast.

“And you have to try the desserts,” he extols. With 22 different choices to pick from, Illiano is quick to recommend the spumoni, tiramisu and sorbets. A private area of the restaurant, decorated with hand painted murals of Italy, can be booked for a larger group of up to thirty people. And with spring just around the corner, Illiano plans on partnering with local community schools to offer spirit nights. Reservations are encouraged, and patrons should keep an eye out for information about the newly launched birthday club. For more information visit ilcapperogroup.com.

Row House
44185 Ashbrook Marketplace Pz. Ste. 140
Ashburn, VA 20147
At times, the idea of joining a boutique gym can strike fear in the hearts of those intimidated by the oft complicated and competitive workouts. So, in hearing that, Row House, the latest boutique gym to open in Ashburn, offers an inclusive fitness routine accessible to those of all ages, all body types and all fitness types, it seems a little too good to be true.

But Barry and Ellen Carpe, husband and wife of 20 years, and now co-owners of the Row House, are passionate about the inclusivity of the row machine focused workout routines. The low impact, high energy, 45-minute workouts burn 500-700 calories, engage 85% of the muscles, and build endurance while focusing on exercising the core, shoulders, arms and legs. The six different types of classes offered range from rowing with some restorative yoga poses completed in between, to rowing throughout the full class, via the Full Row class, and each class can be customized to the fitness levels of the individual participants. Class participants row together as a team, just like a rowing crew on the water, in unison and harmony.

Equipped with twenty-five ERG Concept 2 rowing machines per class, the coach monitors two large screens which display the collective stats for the participants. The coach can also monitor individual stats during a class to provide personal guidance to those who may need additional assistance or positive reinforcement.

“All classes support the notion of inclusion and being a part of the team,” Ellen Carpe states. And without the need to memorize choreography, it’s easier to follow the instructions provided which ultimately allow the participant to more intensely engage with the class.

And it was this idea of inclusivity that appealed most to the Carpes when they decided to take the plunge and open this newest franchise in Loudoun. Barry Carpe notes that when he started to look for a workout for himself, he found that the options in the area were “pretty aggressive given his lifestyle,” so the low impact nature of the rowing machine focused workout really appealed to him. With this unique concept intersecting with their own health and wellness goals, the Carpes found they loved the idea of working closely with the local community while having the ability to personal interact and get to know their clients.

Monthly membership and drop-in rates are available as well as four, eight and ten class pack rates. Limited contract options are also offered though most memberships do not require a monthly contract. For more details visit therowhouse.com/location/ashburn.

The Difference Baker
20937 Ashburn Rd. Ste. 130
Ashburn, VA 20147
While dealing with her own food allergies, and then those of her youngest son, Alyssa Sobecki found that she had more options to eat out during her work travel as a business consultant than when she was home in Loudoun County. Sobecki knew that there was a huge need in the community and ever the entrepreneur, with years of experience owning her own hair salon and then working in real estate, she knew that she wanted to help make a difference in the food allergy space. But, “I did not want to open a bakery at all,” Sobecki says with an infectious smile.

The mother of three, during a period of career transition, had an original concept of offering frozen grab and go meals which would allow busy parents of kids with food allergies worry-free options. But as the concept evolved, and she let her “customers and clients truly pave the way based on their needs,” Sobecki decided to also offer baked goods.

Her certified free of gluten, peanut, tree nut, soy, fish and crustacean specialty bakery offers a variety of frozen and fresh, savory and sweet, dishes and treats which have appealed to local and out of state customers alike, many of whom have had limited options to eat out as they’ve navigated their food allergy related needs.

“I would have done it a long time ago,” Sobecki states, “knowing the response. I’ve received emails from people who haven’t been out to eat in 15-20 years. It really tugs at my heart.”

Sobecki is also very diligent in ensuring the safety of those in the community that she is serving. While the certification requirements direct once a month testing of her shared kitchen space, Sobecki tests for the allergens at least once every other week. She stated that she tests the surfaces and the products to ensure the allergens are not present.

“My own kids are able to eat here,” Sobecki states. And while she does not create the recipes herself, Sobecki has hired four seasoned bakers with whom she collaborates to develop products that her customers will enjoy. Her top sellers are the cinnamon rolls, oatmeal crème pies, lemon bars and chicken pot pies, all of which are delicious and would appeal to the tastes of any foodie.


The overwhelmingly positive response to The Difference Baker, and requests for things such as customized wedding cakes and wholesale products, has Sobecki pondering expansion as her next step, which will surely be embraced by the community.

For more information about hours and menu items, please visit, thedifferencebaker.com.

Autobahn Axe Throwing
42020 Village Center Pz. Ste. 130
Aldie, VA 20105
Autobahn Indoor Speedway’s go kart racing has been a popular experience in Loudoun County for the past few years, but recent upgrades to the facility now allow people to channel their inner William Wallace, by learning axe throwing, not only as a novelty experience but even as a hobby.

While the idea can seem daunting to some, “once you throw the axe and it sticks,” General Manager Patrick Ferro says, “it just gives you chills and is a very visceral experience.” As with go karting, enthusiastic and skittish participants alike are required to go through a safety briefing. The staff “make sure people are safe and have fun. It’s important to facilitate a good time for our guests.”


The first few minutes of the basic one-and-ahalf hour session allows for the coach to help participants get the hang of throwing until they start sticking the axe in the target. Once everyone in the group is comfortable, they play games and can learn trick shots such as the Braveheart, which requires holding an axe in both hands and throwing it at two different targets, or the more challenging Pac Man, where the guest throws two axes, one over and one underhanded, so that they stick together.

Eight-week ax throwing leagues are offered year-round in the fall, winter, spring, and summer and those with the highest scores are able to qualify for the World Axe Throwing League national championship which offers cash prizes to the winner and is broadcast annually on ESPN.

Group packages, such as for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties or corporate events, are available for the axe throwing, go kart racing as well as for the newly installed gaming and arcade area, and can be catered on site with offerings such as pizza and sandwiches. While the ax throwing activity is available to those thirteen and up, it is required that anyone under eighteen is accompanied by an adult.

Weekend online reservations are strongly encouraged to ensure shorter wait times. Visit autobahnspeed.com/axe-throwing for more information.

Photos by Traci Medlock of the Lock and Co.