HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it

Does Authentic Italian Food Exhist in the DC Area?

ndany Dec 28, 2006 04:00 PM

I am a native New Yorker visiting friends in DC (Alexandria to be exact). Does anyone know if there is any fabulously authentic Italian food in the area that would be comparable to that of the trattoria's in Greenich Village?

  1. e
    EatInNoVA Mar 9, 2007 10:22 AM

    As a former New Yorker.. I have always enjoyed eating at Al Crostino and Al Tiramisu. Both by the same owner. And the staff is so incredible welcoming.

    1. l
      laurentobias Mar 8, 2007 07:24 PM

      I Ricchi is very authentic Tuscan cuisine - but it's fairly simple (as Tuscan food is pretty simple) for the price. Still, I'd love to go back and try their pomodoro soup (tomato and bread - yum!).

      1. b
        baconjen Mar 8, 2007 10:59 AM

        I think I said this in a post yesterday too, but I love A La Lucia in Old Town. The food is delicious and unpretentious, the service is friendly and the wines are reasonable. I'm not sure what you mean by 'authentic', but much of the staff is Italian and the pasta is fabulous. The canneloni is some of the best I've had, and I love the grilled chicken pizza panini at lunch. If you are looking for high-end Italian (pasta as a first course only, whole grilled fish as a second course, etc.) then this is probably not the right place for you however.

        2 Replies
        1. re: baconjen
          bordeauxfan Mar 9, 2007 02:45 AM

          A lot of the management and waitstaff at A La Lucia is ex-Galileo from the late 1990s, when the service there used to be much better. The owner is the ex-restaurant manager from Galileo, and knows his Italian wines. And I totally agree on the food -- reliable and not overly-expensive.

          1. re: bordeauxfan
            baconjen Mar 9, 2007 06:14 AM

            I did not know that! Thanks for the interesting info.

        2. monkeyrotica Mar 8, 2007 10:43 AM

          I don't know New York Italian authentic from a bucket of mud, but the Italian at Luigi's is very good. Been around since 1943, so they must be doing something right.


          And on the boutique Italian end, Il Mulino opened a local branch near Logan Circle recently. Again, don't know about authenticity, but it's authentically expensive.


          1. o
            onlyislandlady Mar 8, 2007 09:12 AM

            I have not had authentic Italian food between Md and Fl except for my boyfriend's cooking and my best friend's grandma's pasta from Sicily.

            1. o
              onlyislandlady Mar 8, 2007 09:10 AM

              So, what restaurant in No. Va or D.C. do most recomment to be closest to authentic Italian. Little Italy in Baltimore has gone down-hill and I cannot go to NYC or San Fran or Clearwater anytime soon.

              1. r
                rickscheesesteaks Dec 31, 2006 05:26 PM

                I have had some very good meals at Luigiano's. My husband is an Italian chef and he gave it a pretty good review. The tomato soup was fabulous.

                1. f
                  FoodieGrrl Dec 31, 2006 04:35 AM

                  You know, I kind of dig on Otello in Dupont Circle. It's cosy and the food was decent. Although truthfully, I don't have much to judge the authenticity of it by, but as far as I could tell, it was at least run by real Italians.

                  1. s
                    sweetpotater Dec 31, 2006 04:23 AM

                    We really like Al Tiramisu on P Street in Dupont Circle, though it's been a while.

                    1. m
                      MakingSense Dec 30, 2006 04:57 PM

                      AV didn't have any luster when I first went there more than 30 years ago.
                      It's just been part of old DC for more than half a century for good reasons and we're about to lose it. Nothing else mentioned here, however wonderful, may ever have that longevity.

                      Another place to consider is Sesto Senso. Surroundings a little too posh to be called trattoria but the food is similar. Menu online.

                      1. j
                        Jim Zurer Dec 30, 2006 02:40 PM

                        Definitely Bebo and, for a number of dishes, Dino.......Obelisk and Tosca are quite good but a much different (and higher) price point.

                        I think A.V. lost its luster a number of years ago but I do miss its cousin Fio's that used to be in the Woodner Hotel. Pasta Mia is a good value but I am not sure it is "authentic" Italian pasta.

                        1. j
                          Jacey Dec 30, 2006 01:54 AM

                          For only authentic pasta, check out Pasta Mia in Adams Morgan. Opens at 6:00, no reservations, line usually starts before this time, no subsitutions, it is what it is.

                          1. r
                            rcooperman Dec 30, 2006 01:02 AM

                            Manhattan's little Italy generally lost it years ago. In Manhattan you might try Piccolo Angelo in Greenwich Village or Johns on east 12th Street.

                            An ex-New Yorker.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rcooperman
                              schoenick Dec 30, 2006 04:31 PM

                              Thanks for the recommendation. I posted on the Manhattan board but was told to basically do a search... I dislike doing so because I have to read pages and pages to sort out which is family friendly, which has tasting menu, which one is $200 a person, is it in Brooklyn or Manhattan (i know there is a board for the boroughs but I did do a search on Manhattan board and found recommendations to other boroughs) etc.... I'm looking for authentic Italian, casual atmosphere, $100 per couple (including wine), for dinner on a Saturday or Sunday night, somewhere in the vicinty of lower or mid town manhattan...

                              1. re: schoenick
                                rcooperman Dec 31, 2006 04:00 AM

                                Piccolo Angelo is a real NYC find, highly recommended. Good food, simple surroundings, crowded and reasonably priced. Go hungry. For Pizza in Manhattan you might try Lombardi's in SOHO. This is making me hungry.

                            2. s
                              schoenick Dec 29, 2006 11:51 PM

                              Nobody has really said anything about A La Lucia or Geranio's - both on King St in Old Town (since OP is stating that he is in fact visiting Alexandria, not DC proper).

                              There is also Trattoria da Franco right on Washington, also in Old Town.

                              I've only ever had Italian food in Brooklyn so can't compare to food in Little Italy of Manhatten but all three of the above Italian restuarants are good in my opinion.

                              Lastly, there is a little Italian restaurant off of Ft. Hunt near the Hollin Hall Pastry Shop. I can't remember the name of it but if that is the area of Alexandria you are visiting, may also be a good possibility. I ate there once and thought it was very nice.

                              PS - If the OP has any recommendations on good, casual Italian in Greenwich, I'd love to know as I'll be in NYC on MLK weekend and one of my friends that I'm meeting there (from WI) definately wants to go out for good Italian one night while we are there. I'll post directly to the NYC board...

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: schoenick
                                richarm1 Dec 30, 2006 12:14 AM

                                you'd probably have to go all the way to des moines to find italian food that's WORSE than what you'd get in manhattan's little italy.

                                1. re: richarm1
                                  schoenick Dec 30, 2006 12:16 AM

                                  So I guess I haven't missed anything by not going to Little Italy :)

                                  1. re: richarm1
                                    MakingSense Dec 30, 2006 02:39 AM

                                    I took Italians, currently living in Manhattan, to Cento in Des Moines and they heartily approved of the handmade pasta! That place is great. Dynamite pizza too.
                                    Little Italy has shrunk substantially. I always go to Belmont/Arthur Ave. to eat and stock up on great Italian foods.

                                  2. re: schoenick
                                    monkeyrotica Dec 30, 2006 02:22 PM

                                    The Italian place in Hollin Hall is called Via Veneto. Good pizzas, fresh pastas, affordable prices. Run by a couple of old Italian sisters. I wish they'd buy the jukebox from AV. I could close my eyes and imagine they never closed.

                                  3. d
                                    dinwiddie Dec 29, 2006 10:26 PM

                                    You aren't going to get a pasta factory next door like Tutta Pasta, but the Italian food here in DC is just as good. I love Dino for the authentic trotteria feel, but Obelisk is much more than a trotteria, more of a fine dining Northern Italian. If you want that, I also suggest Tosca.

                                    1. The Chowhound Team Dec 29, 2006 12:03 AM

                                      Hi Folks-

                                      The original poster is asking for reccos for good Italian food in the DC area, as a point of reference the poster mentions New York Italian restaurants, that is not an invitation to debate the merits of DC vs New York restaurants. Please confine your replies to recommendations of what you believe are great Italian restaurants in the DC area, which is what we focus on,on the DC board.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                        PakaloloDreams Dec 29, 2006 12:41 AM

                                        Chowhound Team, the OP's posting title (Does Authentic Italian Food Exist in the DC Area?) is a *bit* challenging, yes? After all, many of the DC monuments and church gargoyles and sculptures were actually made (if not designed) by immigrant italians here in the dc area. my backyard neighbors in SE dc when i was a kid were 1st generation italian laborers with the biggest and best backyard vegetable gardens i've ever seen. made their own wine and vinegar too. heh.

                                        So yah, OP, we have some *good* italian restaurants and trattorias in DC. so far mentioned: Bebo, 2 Amys, AV Ristorante, Restaurant Eve, Obelisk, Dino, Maestro. You can find Bebo and Obelisk reviews on the web.

                                      2. b
                                        bordeauxfan Dec 28, 2006 07:04 PM

                                        FYI -- Sietsema's review for Bebo is this Sunday.

                                        1. PakaloloDreams Dec 28, 2006 05:54 PM

                                          Roberto Donna's Galileo (N. Italian dining) was considered one of the best restaurants in DC regardless of cuisine but is closed for renovations until next year. The service was getting bad reviews recently, though, heh. Incredible wine list.

                                          Pastan's Obelisk near Dupont Circle is a very good restaurant and fine dining experience serving fresh and seasonal inventive *Italian* plates. I put quotes because it's not a traditional pasta and sauce kinda place. Tiny place that seats no more than 35 or so in a nice townhouse.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: PakaloloDreams
                                            bacchante Dec 28, 2006 06:49 PM

                                            Bebo is Donna's new venture during the renovation period and hopefully beyond. However, the menu is somewhat different, as the emphasis at Bebo is on recreating the trattoria-style of restaurant. I think he has succeeded.

                                            1. re: bacchante
                                              PakaloloDreams Dec 28, 2006 07:38 PM

                                              sounds cool! but jeez why did he have to go to crystal city? hehe, just kidding you VA peeps. i'll check out the posts about Bebo. What are the good dishes there?

                                              1. re: PakaloloDreams
                                                beachgirl54 Dec 28, 2006 08:24 PM

                                                Pasta - freshly made. Just divine. And I had a polenta dish for an appetizer that was great.

                                          2. m
                                            MartyL Dec 28, 2006 05:28 PM

                                            I should add that, a bit closer to Alexandria, Bebo is now serving food that Jim Zurer -- who's spent a *lot* of time in Italy -- calls the closest thing to authentic that he's found here.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MartyL
                                              bacchante Dec 28, 2006 05:33 PM

                                              I was just going to say the same thing when I saw Marty's post. It is the closest thing I have found to being in Italy.

                                              1. re: MartyL
                                                jpschust Mar 8, 2007 09:59 AM

                                                Yes but you have to suffer through their service issues and run about a 50/50 chance of your food needing to be sent back.

                                              2. jpschust Dec 28, 2006 05:07 PM

                                                I think you can get great Italian, good Italian, and some Italian that resembles what you might see in Italy. For example, and not to beat a dead horse, there are a variety of items on Dino's menu (up in Cleveland Park in Washington, DC) that are strikingly authentic, however there are other things on the menu that are slightly askew of that. That said, I think you'd be happy with a meal there.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: jpschust
                                                  dinwiddie Dec 28, 2006 05:25 PM

                                                  And you couldn't find a better (or better priced) Italian wine list that at Dino, even in NYC.

                                                  1. re: dinwiddie
                                                    jpschust Dec 28, 2006 06:28 PM

                                                    Agreed. I'll be there tonight as a matter of fact.

                                                    1. re: jpschust
                                                      dinwiddie Dec 28, 2006 06:38 PM

                                                      Tell Dean I said hi.

                                                    2. re: dinwiddie
                                                      Caillerets Mar 9, 2007 03:09 AM

                                                      Quintarelli Rosso “Ca’ del Merlo”, Veneto IGT 1997 $85
                                                      On Dino's wine list is a STEAL - it was close to that at auction last Friday and only 1/2 that on release.

                                                  2. m
                                                    MakingSense Dec 28, 2006 05:07 PM

                                                    The Love-It/Hate-It place in town is AV Ristorante. Coincidentally reviewed today in The Hill newspaper http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/expor...
                                                    It's due to close within the year as another victim of "progress" and more condominiums will rise on the site.

                                                    1. c
                                                      CMACDC Dec 28, 2006 04:57 PM

                                                      Sorry to disappoint you, but you don't come to DC for good Italian any more than you'd go to, say, Des Moines for fresh seafood. If you'll be in Alexandria, try Restaurant Eve.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: CMACDC
                                                        Dakota Guy Dec 29, 2006 08:35 AM

                                                        Restaurant Eve is certainly one of the best restaurants in the DC area but it is NOT an Italian restaurant.

                                                        In Alexandria, A La Lucia is quite popular for southern Italian fare. Nearby Crystal City has Bebo, which would be my recommendation.

                                                      2. m
                                                        MartyL Dec 28, 2006 04:09 PM

                                                        Dunno quite what you're looking for -- nothing as good as, e.g., Lupa. But I'd check out 2 Amys and Dino in D.C., both terrific.

                                                        Show Hidden Posts