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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.

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  1. I would go to Filomena (the place will be decorated for Halloween which might be fun for the kids), Sette Osteria or Dino.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Elyssa

      Vapiano (locations in Dupont and Chinatown) would also work.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.)

        1. 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.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jacey

            Street parking is hard in Georgetown near Filomena but there is a garage right across the street.

            1. re: Elyssa

              who wants to pay outrageous prices for parkng?

              1. re: Jacey

                a lot of times if you drive somewhere with a family, it's the same cost as r/t metro. my family is coming in on friday, for 4 of us r/t on the metro it's the same price as valet.

            2. re: Jacey

              Or not. Anna Maria's has closed.

              1. re: Lori D

                It's open. It was renovating before.

            3. Try Faccia Luna. There is one in Clarendon (Arlington) and I believe another one in Old Town Alexandria.

              1. Tutto Bene in Arlington is a good spot for a large group with young kids.

                1. Since you don't say where you are staying, I'll assume for the moment it's in Arlington, since that is where the race starts and ends and you need to be at the start at least two hours beforehand.

                  Cafe Italia on S. 23rd St near Eads has good straightforward Italian-American food and gentle prices in the Crystal City area near the airport.

                  There are also three (!) other Italian restaurants on this Restaurant Row: Cucina Vivace (casual but authentic Italian - and pricier), Portofino's (more formal and pricey), and a fourth one (I can't remember the name), across the street and down the block from Cafe Italia, but not as good. There is also a pizza place here, Cafe Pizzaiola, but it is even more casual and an abbreviated menu.

                  If Cafe Italia is convenient for you, you can go further afield, but it will probably be just more hassle.

                  1. These suggestions are excellent. Thanks much. We're looking for something in town--staying on Pennsylvania--so I think Filomena or Ana Maria sound perfect. Love the recs for Tysons area, though--I grew up in Vienna...many, many years ago.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: blueridge1

                      Anna Marias is closed. I would recommend potenza or possibly Luigi's.

                      1. re: chowzer

                        Luigi's on 19th St., NW is your best bet for Italian-American in DC.

                        1. re: Steve

                          This place has gone way down hill in recent years.

                          Sette Osteria in Dupont might be another option.

                          1. re: Jacey

                            Sette Osteria is a nice place with some very good food. Authentic Italian, so I'm not sure about the carbo-loading aspects/ price ratio, but I imagine whatever they have is darn good.

                            Luigi's was never all that uphill to have gone downhill.... it's just the type of family friendly place with plentiful, cheap pastas and pizza that is surprising for downtown.

                    2. Tutto Bene in Arlington for old-fashioned red sauce american-ittalian vibe. They can accomodate a big group. Sette Bello in Arlington for more trendy food, but good. I suggest arlington because of parking issues, but it depends on where you are staying.