What’s Your Favorite Italian Restaurant in DC?


Now that I have the poll thing figured out I can add a poll after recommendations are submitted in the comments section. I have gone on record saying that I love Al Crostino (pictured above) on U Street. They have a fantastic wine menu, the stuffed ravioli and prosciutto dish are both ridiculously good.  And of course the servers are super nice.  So what’s your favorite Italian?

Here were the recommendations for best Sushi, Indian, falafel, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern.

44 Comment

  • oh oh can we do American Bistro next, because I know mine!

  • No one knows about it and no one seems to care, but San Marco on the southern end of adams morgan is fan-freaking-tastic. Besides the creepy decor, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t go here over the silly pasta mia lines. And the carafe wine is cheap and delich.

  • Yeah, I love me some Al Crostino too! I always find the service fantastic, the food sophisticated and tasty, and while the prices might be a tad steep, it’s a great splurge every once and awhile. Other places that are just as or more expensive, but good: Tosca and Dino. I’m also looking forward to the new restaurant by Tosca (supposedly less expensive) that is opening in the old Viridian space on 14th street in Logan.

  • Ditto on San Marco on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. One of my favorite restaurants in DC.

  • Tesoro in Van Ness is my jam. Not surrounded by other nightlife/restaurants so it is easily overlooked. Never had San Marco before. Thanks for the flier.

  • Spaghetti Garden! JUST KIDDING!

  • San Marco rules – the absolutely best gnocchi al pesto I have tasted! And, they make their all their own pasta. They also have micro-grappa which the owner knows everything about.

  • when it comes to most authentic and just plainly best Italian food then i think there is nothing that beats Obelisk, the only problem is the prices. Otherwise my favorite would be Al Tiramisu, which I think has the most authentic Italian experience and great and fun service. Recently I have to say that I also would add the pizza at Sette, which is amazing.

  • il crostino has AMAZING gnocchi.

    Al Tiramisu pissed me off by having a risotto special that they charged $29 for without mentioning this. ridiculous.

  • The best “mom n’ pop” Italian restaurant in my opinion is Luigi’s on 19th Street between L and M. Longest operating Italian restaurant in the city and they make good pizza and red sauces and really great white creamy sauces.

    Best “fancy” Italian I had was at Obelisk. The main course was excellent, but the appetizers and cheese were unbelievable. Really expensive place that is only for special occasions, but we were not disappointed one bit!

  • my real life Italian friend likes Al Crostino best. I haven’t had a chance to go yet…..

  • It’s pricey and I’ve only been when work was picking up the tab, but Tosca at 11th and F is my favorite in the city.

  • There’s only good expensive Italian in this city. Otherwise, it’s all par at best. It’s really sad. I’m dying to have a good ma’n’pa place to go to, but such a place doesn’t exist. And if you think Luigi’s is that, you’ve just not had good, simple Italian food.

  • I grew up in the sticks not near any Italian restaurants and “homemade” sauce consisted of Ragu or Prego, depending what was on sale! So to people who are familiar with good ma n’ pa Italian, I’m sure it is ok at best. But when I want a simple plate of spaghetti or some creamy fettucini, I haven’t been to or heard of a better place to go to.

  • If price is of no concern, I say Obelisk. Otherwise I like sitting at the bar at Dino or Locanda on Capitol Hill.

  • best hole-in-the-wall Italian food is Pines of Florence (it’s way north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave. but before you get to the Taft Bridge…) Awful decor, and its definitely out of the way and easy to miss, but the food is cheap, big portions, and the family that runs it is very nice. Good wines too!

  • Il Latini on Via del Palchetti in Florence. Killer bistecca alla fiorentina and pretty much all you can drink Chianti!

  • Dino in Cleveland Park. Good wine, good food and the owners are almost always there and really care about the restaurant.

  • Sacrelig! Pasta Mia is worth every hour of the wait. There is no better Italian this side of the Atlantic. Speaking as an (American) Italian, I’ve had no better food anywhere other than in Napoli.

    Funny, Al’s used to be one of my favs, along with Palio’s, but both have gone way down hill.

    Great, now I am craving Torillini….

  • The Pines is great! I have been there once, but my roommate eats there every chance he can get. The white pizza and the calamari are yummy!

  • the secret locanda on cap hill is awesome!

  • San Marco in Adams Morgan is the best, cheapest, and most authentic… it doesn’t get better than this for simple northern Italian fare! But don’t everyone start going there, because I really love being able to just walk in at 7:30 on a Friday night and get seated immediately 🙂

  • Shhh, you guys, stop telling everyone about my secret favorite Italian spot (San Marco).

  • I really have to try Al Crostino. BTW, I didn’t realize that Luigi’s was still around. Waaay back in the day, we used to go to Luigi’s (and some Italian-type restaurant on the corner of 19th & M Streets and to Blackie’s House of Beef) for senior prom.

  • I’d say Tosca is better than Obelisk. Both are quite pricy. Al Crostino may be good, so might San Marco, but the expensive places are better. Significantly better. I will make a point to try out Al Crostino now, though, since that is in my hood. I also thought Al Tiramisu was good for the neighborhood. There isn’t a lot of great, affordable Italian food in this city.

  • Pasta Mia is tops but I’ll have to try this san Marco. What is this American cuisine you speak of? I know of no good American in DC

  • Yep… I have to agree with those that say its difficult to find simple, reasonably priced italian.. I mean, it cannot be that difficult to, e.g. not DROWN the poor pasta in sauce every single time, OR to know that you are supposed to merge the pasta and sauce on a pan by sauteeing it a minute or two and not just slab sauce on top of sauce on top of some pasta…

    Having said that, I will try some of the places listed here.

    Ps. Has anyone tried the pastas at Pete’s Apizza in CH? Not that I am expecting anything, but is it atleast somewhat edible?

  • all the various “pines of” feel and tastes authentic and not to expensive

  • Eric Al Tiramisu and Al Corstini are owned by the same guy – Luigi Diotaiuti. He wanted a place to cater to the hip and young crowd on U Street.

  • I vote for Al Crostino, Tosca I think is no better and wayyyyy overpriced. Pasta Mia is good but not worth the wait and the poor service. One cautionary note on Al Crostino — entrees are reasonably priced, but they jack up the price for specials.

    I am excited to try this San Marco place!

    I like the pasta at Pete’s (only had the bolognese, nothing incredible but tasty enough). But the best thing there is the Sorbillo … yummmmmm.

  • Pesto in woodley park is good. A nice and QUIET place to dine. and a little outdoor seating though right on conn ave. I also like the Pines but it scares me that everytime i go there its basically empty. Makes me wonder how long the sausage has been sitting in the walk in… I brought my lady there on Valentines day. every italian place should be full on valentines day. especially in dupont circle. but this one was empty save ONE other table that appeared to be a lonely hearts group.

  • New2CH – you’re totally right with Al Crostino jacking up the price for specials. I had a lobster risotto that was maybe $15 higher than the other entrees, but it was so damn good, and I had such a fabulous time, that it didn’t even really matter. The chef/owner came over to our table and asked me and my dining companion what we were having for desert, and when we told him we couldn’t decide, he said he’d take care of it. A few minutes later, he comes back with a huge plate full of samplings of each desert on the menu. I believe they charged us for just one desert. Totally won me over.

  • yeah i knew tiramisu and crostino were the same owner. just watch out for the prices of the specials. way to leave me feeling cheated about an otherwise nice meal, you can shove your $29 risotto up your *#(@

  • I know its not DC…but the best Italian old school place that I have been to in the area is right up Georgia Ave in downtown Silver Spring called Olazzo. It is really affordable and the decor is pretty cool. It was also voted best Italian in the City Paper this year. Have not had better meatballs anywhere!

  • Anyone who says Pines Of…anything is good looses all credibility. It is a Pakistani chain trying to pass off as Italian. The ownea of pasta Mia have another restaurant in florance Italy. I want to eat there when I go in November.

  • Eric -I have learned the hard way that specials are not things that have specially low prices, they are things the specially make that night and usually have specially high prices. I think it sucks.

  • I wish A.V. were still around. Loved it there.

  • ah ive forgotten about a.v. already so wonderful

  • My vote is for Dino in Cleveland Park — LOVE it!! Super high quality food and delicious.

  • Y’all are missing out on the best Italian eats in city (and for a reasonable price). Bistro Italiano @ 320 D St NE.

  • Bad news for all you San Marco fans. I spoke to the owner last night and he says he is retiring and selling the place. Saturday night will be their last night in operation. Better get yourselves down there for one last taste before the lights go out for good.

  • 1) Pasta mia: Adam’s Morgan – Long lines, reasonable price, most authentic italian pasta around.
    2) Arucula: Chevy Chase: Good food, ok price
    3) Sette: Dupont – good pizza, and the other stuff is good too.
    4) Dino: Clevland park – not my favorite food, but the italians in my life say it’s ok.
    5) It’s a wash between expensive fashion places (in georgetown), and places like San Marco which is more down to earth but the food isn’t great for a north italian snob.

    Bonus: Italian Pizza
    1) Sette (ok it’s on the list above): Northern Italian style Pizza (less soggy crust), single person portions (when hungry) – bonus for outdoor seating?
    2) Two Amy’s: neopolitian style pizza (actually it’s authentic pizza d.o.c.) Single portion pizza & the other stuff is ok. I’m not a particular fan of the less dry style, but the place is very kid friendly – if packed. Bonus: tiny outdoor seating in back. – negative points… they took fried anchovy bones off the menu years ago.
    3) Firebrick(?) in Columbia heights: the pizza is a little inconsistent. bonus: small patio.
    4) Pizza Paradisio on P in Dupont:
    5)Whatever’s in Facchia Luna’s old spot on Wisconsin, just down from Calvert. Big sized pizza, but good. Tiny outdoor seating down from the sidewalk level
    6) Luigi’s: Dupont on 19th. Not Italian pizza by any reach of the imagination. (I think it’s a Russian mob place…) However, the crust is funky-cool and the peporoni is really good.

  • I think the best pastas and pizzas you can find them at kavanagh’s in Glover Park. The food there is awesome and not so expensive. Service is good and they have great deals at night. They even have great brunch on the weekends with live bluegrass brunch!!!!!!!! Great players though.

  • I actually love the Spaghetti Garden. I have no idea what you are talking about. This is a great place to go- cheap, filling, always fun. It’s been there for ages, and it’s not one of the new poshy places that no one can afford in DC. It’s for normal people. I think it’s fabulous!

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