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Oct 5, 2009 08:05 PM

Italian Restaurant Near the Capitol

I am a local college student in DC, and my parents are coming into town for the weekend. We would like to spend one day in the capital touring the museums, and then stay in the area for dinner before returning to campus. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good Italian restaurant near the Smithsonian or the Capitol?

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  1. Barolo on Penn near Library of Congress is pretty upscale but good.

    Bistro Italiano is closer to Union Station. Cheaper, classic Italian American red check tablecloth food. Good pizzas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monkeyrotica

      Actually, Barolo hasn't been open in years; that's where Sonoma is now.

      You also might check out the new Bibiana Osteria, at 1100 New York Ave NW (12th and H) in downtown. Too new for reviews, but I've heard positive reports. Also check out Siroc on McPherson Square, just a bit north of the White House--I went there for Restaurant Week, and it was quite good, and reasonably priced.

    2. How far from the Smithsonian or the Capitol are acceptable? Tosca isn't too far from the mall and it is good, very good. You can get a half portion of most all the pastas, and they have a pre-theater menu deal if you dine earlier.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ktmoomau

        Your mileage may differ, but I usually don't dress for a full day of touring the way I'd dress for a meal at Tosca. Actually, for a delicious meal like the ones I've had at Tosca, I'd happily tour all day in nice wool slacks, a blazer, and appropriate top. However, nothing would get me to tour in anything other than really comfortable thick rubber soled shoes. If the OP can tour in somewhat dressier clothes and could change shoes before dinner -- or if he/she can spend a whole day touring in dressier shoes -- I'd join the enthusiastic chorus of Tosca recommendations.

        Question to OP: Is your campus in downtown DC? If so, I suspect you already know that DC isn't so big or difficult to navigate that you wouldn't be able to go back to your dorm to change for dinner.

      2. Check out Toscana Cafe, which is very close to Union Station.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Hungry Panda

          I've been dying to try Toscana, but they've had long lines at lunch time, and I haven't had a chance to go by for supper. It's been getting raves, including from the Washington Post.

          Check the hours and days.
          The owner was co-chef in Roberto Donna's Il Laboratorio. He worked at Galilo for 10 years.

          1. re: MakingSense

            Re: Toscana Cafe, I have it on my list and am going to try it at some point, but actually the reviews I've read on and reports from friends are somewhat mixed--at least for lunch.

            I like the reccomendations for Siroc, Bibiana, and Tosca (most tried and true of the three) although if I were going to Bibiana or Tosca, I'd dress up a little.

            1. re: Gigi007

              Only been to Toscana once for lunch, but the sub I had was very good although not cheap ($9).

              1. re: skipper

                I'm there at least once a week for lunch and the sandwiches are very good. $9 though (at least it includes chips). Haven't tried the pizza yet but it looks good.

                1. re: jaydreb

                  I have heard that Toscana's sandwiches are delicious (albeit $9 served w/ Utz chips), but regarding this thread, remember that the OP is looking to have dinner (not lunch) w/ his/her parents visiting from out of town. I took a quick look at Toscana's dinner menu and saw a nice selection of pasta and secondi dishes (all reasonably priced) but haven't heard or read many reviews of dinner experiences in order to know if it would be suitable tor the OP; by contrast, much is known about Tosca, which has a proven track record of excellence (I've never had a bad meal there). There are also a lot of good reviews for Siroc as well.

                  P.S. I'm still waiting to hear more from hounds about experiences at Bibiana.

        2. "The Smithsonian" takes up a wide area. Tosca isn't too far from some of the Smithsonian museums. It's upscale.

          Also, no one ever seems to recommend D'Acqua, but I've been there a few times and thought it was very good - especially for Italian style seafood. It's on Pennsylvania Ave.

          1. I attend Georgetown University. There is no actual metro stop immediately near campus, so we will most likely not be returning to campus before dinner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bimondi

              If you mean that you won't be changing between sight-seeing and dinner (not sure where your parents are staying), then as Indy/67 noted, Tosca might not be a good idea.

              Siroc would be a good option and is near the McPherson Square metro (15th & I St):

              And if you want to try Toscana Cafe (as I said I've heard very little about dinner experiences so hesitate to recommend it), I think it's not far from the Union Station metro.

              Also, around Union Station and Gallery Place, there are a lot of very good restaurants, but not Italian (e.g., Bistro Bis, Jaleo, and Proof, just to name a few).