Ideas for casual, Italian, pre-marathon dinner
My husband is running the Marine Corps Marathon next Sunday and we're looking for a casual Italian spot for dinner the Saturday before. We'll have a big group and some young children, and we'd love a place where he can load up on pasta before Sunday's race.
It doesn't sound like you're looking for a gourmet pasta feast. I think you want someplace that serves good pasta at a decent price point, casual and accessible. If you tell us where you'll be staying, you'll get more on point recommendations. For example, if you're staying out near Tysons, I would recommend Capri in McLean.
I'm always intrigued by the flurry of carbo-loading posts we get close to the Marine Corps Marathon. We dutifully respond with recommendations for good casual local restaurants. However, I feel I'm missing a piece of the puzzle that would allow me to make a more meaningful recommendation to a runner. Specifically, how much pasta does a runner have to eat to successfully prepare for the race? One order of pasta? Two orders of pasta? More?
Elsewhere in this thread, a poster recommended Capri restaurant in McLean. This is an excellent recommendation; Capri serves delicious food. However, if a runner has to eat more than one plate of pasta to fully carbo-load, Capri would probably be somewhat expensive. Pulcinella, also in McLean, would be a less-expensive alternative for folks who are ordering multiple orders. The pasta dishes aren't the same caliber as those at Capri, but there are some definite pleasant options among the list. Pasta d'angello (pasta with lamb ragu) or orchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe or butternut squash ravioli are three reliably tasty dishes. (Note: Pulcinella has a web site, but the menu there only lists the standard offerings. There is always an additional menu of seasonal specialties, and the three items I've mentioned come from this list.)
There are old posts about this.
You don't want to overdo the carbo loading (as I'm sure you know), and Filomena can be overwhelming with portions. Plus, it's annoying to park around there. Pasta Mia has a long line. Ana Maria in Dupont is probably the perfect place, and also reasonable and good for kids/big groups. It's the hidden pre-marathon gem.
Try Faccia Luna. There is one in Clarendon (Arlington) and I believe another one in Old Town Alexandria.