Do you love Italian food? I do, and luckily DC has plenty of great Italian fare to offer from casual trattorias, neighborhood establishments, and elegant fine dining experiences. In other words, there is plenty of pasta and other delicious Italian dishes to keep you satisfied. (Side note: No pizza places here, that warrants a whole different post!)
This Dupont Circle restaurant has been serving up only a tasting menu five nights a week (Tue-Sat) since 1987. The handwritten menu changes every day, but you are always in for a treat with their five course dinners. On any night, you might find typical antipasto dishes, burrata, perfectly al dente pastas, a cheese course, and even some usual dishes like quail and squab. While the high quality food itself warrants a visit, this cozy and intimate dining room is perfect for a special night out.
It’s hard to narrow down on which of these Fabio and Maria Trabbochi’s restaurants to put on the list. They are all fantastic, albeit in different ways. Casa Luca, the most affordable of the trio is named after their son and is a great spot to enjoy a casual meal of cured meats and pasta. At the newer Sfoglina, the polenta with meatballs are a great start. A trio of pastas is the best choice for carb lovers – the flavors are deep and delicious and all sorts of excellent. The ambience at Sfoglina is pretty darling too! Finally, Fiola, the oldest of the trio, continues to amaze and produce delicate and delicious food with a finesse. The refined takes on the classic dishes, as well as more modern spins on Italian ingredients and techniques, along with the impeccable service in the modern dining room all make this one of the best upscale dining experiences in the city.
Lupo Verde has an extensive cheese and charcuterie selection with some really unusual and not commonly found meats and cheeses, but also a whole menu of delicious things. Kick off your meal with the fried artichoke antipasti, and then a pasta from their evolving selection (the garganelli with oxtail is incredible as is the cacio e pepe!), some of the best brussels sprouts, and a whole fish if you can do it. The cozy row house space is also beautiful, with many nooks, exposed bricks, and great lighting – making it one of the most charming restaurants on the busy 14th Street corridor.
The waterfront restaurant in the Navy Yard offers a great selection of Italian classics that vary seasonally. To do it right, start with a selection of their cured meats and spreads, a couple of antipasti dishes and then a house made pasta to go alongside an entrée. The crab and uni bucatini, duck ragu pappardelle and pretty much any other pasta dish are especially satisfying!
This market and restaurant in City Center is easily one of the best for Italian food and market items. Chef Amy Brandwein has a changing menu, but the rotating pasta offerings are always a hit (the rabbit pappardelle or the pork ragu bucatini are favorites, as is the delicate gnocchi or tortelloni), and the wood oven meat and vegetables are equally fantastic. The market is also a great spot to stock up on pastas, sauces, cheese and olive oils for you to cook up a great meal at home!
Other fantastic options are the tasting menu restaurant Masseria set around Union Market, the neighborhood favorite casual spot Red Hen for American food with an Italian twist, family run Al Volo in Adams Morgan for home style pastas and Bibiana for modern Italian downtown.