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Pasta Perfection And Vivacious Vino Await At D.C. Italian Restaurants



Italian cuisine dates back to ancient civilizations and showcases simple yet tasty dishes from various regions across the country including rich pastas, fine wines, roasted meats and decadent desserts. Here in Washington, D.C. you will find many different Italian regional menus represented in outstanding dining options.

Renowned chef Fabio Trabocchi has not one but three fine dining restaurants, Fiola, Fiola Mare and Casa Luca that have unforgettable menu choices along with extensive, impressive wine lists that will make for the perfect date night or power lunch. 

Looking for huge portions? Head to Carmine's where the portions are so big you are likely to say "I can't eat all that!" upon receiving your selection. (All the meals warm up great in the microwave so get take home containers!)  

If you want a place with great Italian food and the chance to sit by a famous journalist, politician or celebrity, head to Cafe Milano in the Georgetown neighborhood. 

Italian dishes tend to fill you up fast so savor each bite while dining in the nation's capital.

 

 


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The Red Hen
Photo courtesy of The Red Hen


Located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, this District restaurant features an Italian-influenced seasonal American menu. You'll find each dish will fill your belly without putting a huge dent into your wallet. Get your palette ready for dinner with a choice off the 'Small things' menu like the whipped ricotta crostini or head straight to enticing appetizers including the grilled pork belly with shaved kohlrabi or the heirloom beet salad with fried pita. The pasta and entrée section will make you wish for a bigger stomach especially with choices like ricotta cavatelli with spicy lamb sausage and pan-roasted trout. METRO: Shaw-Howard

Recommended for Italian because: A small, charming neighborhood restaurant that is big on taste with its Italian dishes.

Gina's expert tip: The venue does take reservations but only for half of their tables with the other half saved for walk-in customers. Wait times can be long so they suggest walking in before 7 p.m. or after 9 p.m.

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Osteria Morini


The word 'osteria' in Italian means a place where a person hosts guests. Diners will get that vibe as soon as they walk in the door at this Navy Yard-based casual eatery which features an open kitchen so patrons can see what each chef is working on and beautiful views of the Anacostia River. Featuring northern Italian fare, you'll find traditional pastas from Romagna, cured sliced meats served with gilled bread and tigelle modenese, anti-pasta and a variety of different entrees. Bring your glasses in order to make an informed decision off the impressive wine list. METRO: Navy Yard

Recommended for Italian because: With a welcoming atmosphere and views of the Anacostia River, this a great spot to grab a hearty Italian meal.

Gina's expert tip: Try the Torta di Farmaggio Al Limone aka lemon whipped ricotta chessecake off the dessert menu. It is a must-eat!

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Carmine's Restaurant - DC
Photo courtesy of Carmine's


Be prepared for your jaw to drop a bit when your server brings your entrée. The plates and portions are huge so bring a healthy appetite to this family style Italian restaurant. You can't come to this restaurant without trying something off their huge pasta menu including lasagna, ravioli with cheese and manicotti. Be sure to order house specialties like the rack of lamb, prime rib chop or the four pasta special. If you have allergies, be sure to check their dining recommendations on their website. METRO: Gallery Place-Chinatown or Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter.

Recommended for Italian because: With generous portions of all Italian dishes, this restaurant is perfect for groups or those who want to take home a huge amount of leftovers.

Gina's expert tip: Have allergies? Be sure to check out their allergy dining recommendations menu.

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Filomena Ristorante
Photo courtesy of Filomena Ristorante


Born from the idea that dinner can be more than just a meal, Filomena Ristorante has been providing traditional Italian home cooked meals to the masses in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years. The late owner's family originated from the Abruzzi, Italy region and the menu reflects simple yet creative cuisine including eggplant parmesan, antipasto misto and lasagna. Check out the Sunday brunch which features several carving stations â€" roasted pig, beef and bread encrusted fresh fish. Have your pasta made to order at another station and watch fresh mozzarella being made. METRO: Foggy Bottom

Recommended for Italian because: With simple dishes that pack a big creative punch, you will want to dine at this D.C. staple.

Holly's expert tip: Sunday brunch is not to be missed. The only Sundays it does not run are Mother's Day, Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve.

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Fiola Mare
Photo courtesy of Fiola Mare


With gorgeous views of the Potomac River and a seafood market counter to evoke a Mediterranean feel, this restaurant will make you want to get out of bed to catch it's top-notch brunch menu. Using the finest, freshest ingredients, the menu changes daily so be sure to check their website before you go. A recent summer offering included a choice of bottomless cocktail, mocktail or coffee service along with brunch favorites like lemon ricotta pancakes, pane bello French toast and Uova in camicia. Opening in early 2014, this is the third restaurant Chef Fabio Trabocchi has opened in the district and continues to be must-go destination for foodies.

Recommended for Italian because: A charming spot to have fabulous Italian food and a gorgeous view of the Potomac River.

Gina's expert tip: Can't find a place to park? The restaurant offers valet parking for an additional fee.

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Café Milano


Italian culture is the focus of this upscale Georgetown staple where politicians, lobbyists and journalists are known to mingle. The d�r harks back to a Milan boutique with hand painted coves and framed designer scarves adorning the walls. Patrons will dig into a Southern Coastal Italian cuisine menu featuring an abundance of pasta dishes along with seafood, salad and meat dishes. Italian dishes tend to fill you up fast but ordering off the dessert menu is a must with choices like the vanilla panna cotta and flourless chocolate cake. Daily specials are listed on their website so check it out before you head to the venue. METRO: Foggy Bottom.

Recommended for Italian because: Devour enticing Italian dishes along with getting a chance of getting seated beside someone famous at this Georgetown restaurant.

Gina's expert tip: During warm weather months, grab a seat on their sidewalk patio.

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With a sleek interior featuring monochromatic tones, all of your attention will go straight to the northern Italian cuisine which is where your mind should be. The venue is committed to serving only fresh ingredients like daily housemade pastas, local grown produce and farm-raised proteins. You might not be able to pronounce much on the menu but your stomach will thank you for trying the ipoglosso (Alaskan halibut), chitarra integrali (whole wheat square spaghetti) and controfiletto (prime New York strip loin). Don't leave without tasting a selection off their 25-page wine list and sinfully delicious dessert menu. METRO: Metro Center.

Recommended for Italian because: A District favorite since 2001, Tosca should top any Italian-food lover's must-try list.

Gina's expert tip: Going to an event? Try their pre-theater three-course menu available to parties of eight or less.

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Obelisk


Get a babysitter for the kids and head to this Dupont Circle restaurant for an intimate Italian dinner experience. Located inside a small brick townhouse, this venue serves up a 5-course meal lasting around two to three hours. Be sure to add on their optional wine pairing. Yes, it costs more but it is well worth it! Their hand-written menu changes daily so be adventurous and try something new! If you have dietary restrictions, there is no need to fret. Be sure to tell them while reserving a table and they will accommodate your needs. Reservations are taken up to one month in advance. METRO: Dupont Circle.

Recommended for Italian because: A well-curated, Italian-influenced menu and intimate setting have helped make Obelisk a longtime D.C. favorite.

Gina's expert tip: There is no dress code and they encourage patrons to wear something that makes you comfortable.

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Fiola


Opened in 2011, this much buzzed about restaurant is Chef Fabio Trabocchi's first in D.C. With a modern upscale vibe, this venue changes menus every day to reflect the freshest ingredients available for its regional and contemporary Italian cuisine. The menu includes selections of pasta, meat, fish and salads. If you are looking to make more healthy choices, look at the Maria menu Monday through Fridays which offers three courses of Mediterranean style dishes that are low on sodium, calories and fat. The bar offers its own lunch menu called PRESTO! where guests may chose a select beverage and entr�for one price. METRO: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter

Recommended for Italian because: Luxury and culinary elegance meet to bring guests an unforgettable contemporary Italian meal experience.

Gina's expert tip: The venue is closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.

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Casa Luca
Photo courtesy of Casa Luca


Traditional Italian cuisine permeates every portion of the menu at Fabio Trabocchi's restaurant located a few blocks away from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Whether you are dining on homemade pastas or sampling a drink off the 42 page wine list, diners will notice the influences of the Marche region of Italy. The menu changes daily so call ahead or look at their website to see if your favorite dish will be making an appearance the day of your meal. Be sure to try a selection off the dessert menu. The Bomboloni featuring Sardinian ricotta doughnuts are delightful. METRO: McPherson Square or Metro Center

Recommended for Italian because: With housemade pastas and wines imported from Italy, this restaurant is the perfect lunch or dinner indulgence.

Gina's expert tip: Try the Coppetta off the dessert menu which features three scoops of homemade gelato and sorbetto.

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Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina

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