Zagat’s Top Italian Restaurants in Washington
Here is a short list of excellent Italian food establishments in Washington. Omitting Tosca illustrates that it is by no means a comprehensive listing.
1099 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
202-628-1099202-628-1099 | www.casalucadc.com
Arguably the most casual of the Fabio and Maria Trabocchi trio, this place is more elevated than your average red-checkered-tablecloth neighborhood hangout. Don’t miss the seasonal piccoletti (small bites) found at the top of the menu or the Sunday brunch. Must-Try Dish: Crescia bread with ’nduja; bucatini with pork ragu; brodetto di San Benedetto Insider Tip: Chef Erin Clarke hosts a Saturday lunchtime cooking class once a month that includes snacks, drinks, cooking demos and a sampling of the finished dish.
974 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, DC20001
202-898-2426202-898-2426 | >www.centrolinadc.com
Chef Amy Brandwein, who spent a good chunk of her career cooking with Roberto Donna, opened her first solo restaurant last summer in CityCenterDC. The space is two concepts in one: an Italian osteria, plus a market featuring grab-and-go lunches, housemade sauce, imported groceries and a coffee bar. Must-Try Dish: Octopus with potato confit; paccheri with veal and beef ragu; tuna with bone marrow Insider Tip: The market is also open for breakfast from 8–10:30 AM daily, offering frittatas, muffins and bagels that can be washed down with barista-made coffees.
601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW , Washington, DC 20004
202-628-2888202-628-2888 | www.fioladc.com
Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s flagship dynamo — which, incidentally, came in at the very top of our last restaurant survey — continues to impress Washingtonians with its pampering service, luxe Italian dishes, outstanding wine program and overall special-occasion feel. Must-Try Dish: Lobster ravioli; oysters, granita and caviar; polenta, fonduta and truffles Insider Tip: The restaurant recently changed its menu to a prix fixe format and launched Sunday dinner service with live jazz.
> Fiola Mare
3100 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
202-628-0065202-628-0065 | www.fiolamaredc.com
Yeah, we know. This makes it a hat trick for Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s Gruppo FT Restaurants. But a list of hot Italian restaurants in DC isn’t complete without each and every one of them, and they are each quite distinct. The most recent addition to the group, this white-tablecloth seafood spot in Georgetown is known for its decadent seafood platter and spectacular views of the Potomac. Must-Try Dish: Oysters and caviar with zabaglione; raw-bar seafood platter; lobster ravioli Insider Tip: The back bar hosts a monthly speakeasy night that highlights both popular and lesser-known classic cocktails, such as February’s spotlight on the Aviation, The Honeymoon and The Blinker.
> Hank’s Pasta Bar
600 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
571-312-4117571-312-4117 | www.hankspastabar.com
Chef Nicolas Flores oversees the extensive roster of handmade pastas at this brand-new spot by restaurateur Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar fame. There are also a few risotto options, as well as simple small plates like escarole salad, meatballs and grilled bread topped with house ricotta, honey and black pepper. Must-Try Dish: Linguini with clam sauce; meatballs; duck ravioli with thyme-butter sauce Insider Tip: Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more; otherwise, diners can call 30 minutes before they arrive to get their name on the waiting list.
> Lupo Verde
1401 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
202-827-4752202-827-4752 | www.lupoverdedc.com
This gorgeously rustic spot has been ultra hot since the minute it opened — likely due to the fact that it’s in a prime location, features a fantastic patio and offers a buzzy vibe along with reliably good food coming from the kitchen. Be sure to order a cocktail here. Must-Try Dish: Italian cheeses served with accompaniments; fried artichokes with bagna cauda; squid-ink pasta with prawns Insider Tip: A second location is set to open in Palisades in May.
1340 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
202-608-1330202-608-1330 | www.masseria-dc.com
Executive chef and owner Nicholas Stefanelli made a name for himself as the longtime head of the kitchen at Bibiana, and the chef worked with design firm Grupo 7 to balance the rustic-industrial look. Inside serves a tasting menu only, while the patio offers an à la carte bar-bites menu. Must-Try Dish: Barbabietola, a beautiful beet appetizer; linguine with XO sauce; oro cioccolato for dessert Insider Tip: The stunning patio — decked out with fire pits, loungey couches and a cigar menu — will likely be the place to gather this summer.
> Osteria Morini
301 Water Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
The “beautiful” view from the patio and window tables of this Navy Yard Italian from famed NYC chef Michael White is matched by a “superb” menu featuring dishes like Parmesan gelato crostini, uni bucatini and “extraordinary” wood-roasted meats; its “eye-popping” desserts cap a “pricey” meal that hits it out of the nearby ballpark, leading fans to say this “wonderful experience” is “worth a trip even outside baseball season.”
> Red Hen
1822 1st Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
202-525-3021 | www.theredhendc.com
This “true neighborhood gem” draws foodies to burgeoning Bloomingdale for “phenomenal” housemade pastas and other Italian comfort food delivered by “accommodating” servers in a “cozy” rustic room; what may be the “city’s most interesting” wine list exemplifies the “attention to quality without pretense” that creates its distinctive “ambiance” and makes reserving “difficult.”