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traditional Italian

i am trying to find the best good, straight-forward italian food in DC. Something nice since it's a special occasion. The only recommendation i have gotten is filomenas, but we've already been there. Is there anything else in the city?

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  1. If you do a search on this board you'll find lots of opinions - and very little concensus.

    1. It depends on what you mean by "straight-forward" Italian. That is kind of like saying straight-forward Chinese, there are just too many different regional specialities. You said it is for a special occasion. So, if you like Northern Italian, and something formal, I'd suggest Restaurant Tosca. If you want something more rustic and trotteria like, try Notti Biache. If you love Italian wine, I'd suggest Dino.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dinwiddie

        Dinwiddie is right on the money. I love each of his above mentioned choices, and for those reasons. It really just depends what your want for this special occassion. Personally, I think Notti Biache is a great special occassion place. Delicious and more casual, so people can relax and enjoy each other's company.

        Another good Italian place is Spezie, which would also be fine for a special occassion.

      2. Tosca although 'traditional' may be a stretch. but it's delicious and great service & atmosphere. if you go before 7 pm you can get a 3 course menu for $35 with several choices for each course.

        1. I don't suppose you'd be willing to travel to Baltimore? Although Baltimore's food scene isn't generally great, there are a number of very "traditional" Italian restaurants in Little Italy, a few of which are quite good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ViolentScarlet

            Please don't judge Baltimore's food scene by Little Italy.

            1. re: Hal Laurent

              It's funny that other's might use LI as a microcosm of Baltimore food while we usually tend to consider the place as an outlier representation of our good food.

              However, to the OP, it's true that Baltimore's Little Italy has several worthwhile options of 'traditional' (I'm assuming you mean Italian-American red-sauce places) Italian fare. I'd direct you to Chiapparelli's if you're in the neighborhood.

              237 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

          2. I heard recently that Galileo was not going to re-open? I think it was on AskTom chats.

            1. If you are looking for "straight-forward Italian food" like that served in traditional, red-and-white-check table cloth restaurants, the answer is no, there is nowhere in the city that really fits the bill, particularly for a special occasion -- although, actually, you can find such food at The Palm.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mnadel

                For this type of Italian food (really Italian-American) I go to Luigi's on 19th. They have the red-and-white-checkered tablecloths and a large number of pastas and traditional dishes (including a very good, gooey eggplant parmigiana). It's not a fancy destination dinner, though. If you want something comparable with more romance and a higher price, Al Tiramisu would probably fit the bill. Fewer choices on the menu, but more high end and routinely tasty. They are sort of known, though, for overpricing their specials compared to the prices on the menu, so if you plan to get a special it might behoove you to ask the price first. I like Dino, too - it is more like Italian food in Italy, though, than Italian-American.

                A/V Restorante was quite nice too (it was more in the Luigi's category) but is, alas, now long gone.

                Now if someone can tell me where I can find something like the platters of crudo I had in Venice, I'd be most appreciative.

                1. re: Ootek1

                  Hook has good crudo. I don't know if it is comparative to what you had in Venice.

              2. Absolutely Tutto Bene in Arlington/Ballston. It's authentic, very cozy on the interior (don't let the location - next to the Mercedes dealership- fool you), and the Seafood Special pasta, which is not on the menu, is excellent! Another option; just down the road from Tutto Bene, is Ristorante Alpine, which- oddly, looks like a chalet, but is very traditional Italian. Good luck!