Looking for "normal" Italian near the White House
My wife and I will be celebrating our 9th anniversary next weekend, and will be staying at the Willard Hotel near the White House. We're looking for some non-fancy, "normal" Italian within walking distance of our hotel (3 miles or less). We like places like Maggiano's and Macaroni Grill, but not so much Olive Garden. I’ve read good things about Ristorante Tosca and Obelisk, but after looking at their menus the food seems too weird for us. Price isn’t really an option, as long as the food is “normal” and the atmosphere is romantic and charming.
You missed AV Ristorante's closing by several months, but there is still Anna Maria's up on Connecticut Ave. just north of Dupont Circle. Also Luigi's around 19th and L. There are a few more places around Dupont and Connecticut, including a Buca di Beppo's. Shouldn't be a problem.
If you are willing to travel to Georgetown you should check out Filomena. It's exactly what you are looking for and steps above Macoroni Grill and Buca di Bepo (which I admit, have enjoyed when taken there for birthday parties). All the pasta is homemade by the Pasta Mamas and the portions are large and delicious (I like the spinach stuffed ravioli and the gnocchi). Lasagna, gnocchi, cannolini, pasta with meatballs, pasta primavera etc. Plus some of their own creations (without getting to far out of the box). On top of that they have giant, delicious cake options for dessert. I think you will enjoy it.
Also closer to the metro in Dupont Circle is Al Tiramisu. Classic Italian dishes and a romantic setting. Lots of red sauce options which I have enjoyed in the past. My only warning, and this shouldn't prevent you from going of course, is be aware that the specials are many times double the price of most of the other entrees. If price doesn't matter then don't worry about it. But knowing that will avoid the sticker shock I got when I went there the first time. Still worth it in flavor and old-school feel.
Tosca is incredible (except their desserts), but it is Fancy. Filomena is really good too, but not walkable. Is Spezie to weird or out of the price range? It is really good, it has the amazing execution of dishes like Tosca, but they tend to be more traditional. I haven't been to the other places that seem to be more what you are looking for, but Famous Luigi's if good, is more casual and probably more normal.
I think Filomena is definitely walkable. The Williard is on Pennsylvania Ave at 14th. They could have a lovely walk by the White House and down Penn until it hits M. Then Left on Wisconsin. A nice walk which would take maybe 30 minutes. Definitely under 3 miles.
This fits all your requirements: "normal" Italian food in a charming romantic atmosphere. Filomena is definitely a large step above Famous Luigi's--there's really no comparison!
1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007
I guess it's just catty to say that Maggiano's and Macaroni Grill aren't particularly Italian. For Italian American, go to Luigi's. It's not that far from where you are staying. If you want to take the metro a bit (to Friendship Heights) there is a Maggiano's there.