Welcome to the culinary heart of Washington, D.C., where the allure of authentic Italian food beckons gourmands and casual diners alike. In a city celebrated for its diverse culinary landscape, Italian cuisine holds a special place, offering an array of flavors from cacio e pepe to chicken parm, coupled with an exquisite selection of Italian wines. Our curated list of the top 10 most authentic Italian restaurants in D.C. takes you on a gastronomic journey through neighborhoods from Falls Church to Columbia Heights.
These establishments, revered for their outstanding food, have garnered positive reviews and have become neighborhood favorites. From the casual pasta house ambiance to the treasured pasta parlors, each venue brings its menu to life with standout pasta dishes, superior pastas, and handmade pasta that exemplify the essence of Italian dishes.
1. Al Tiramisu
Image From: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHQ_r8HhBP1/
2014 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
Al Tiramisu, a restaurant near Dupont Circle helmed by Chef Luigi Diotaiuti, receives the Slow Food Snail of Approval, which honors establishments that promote food quality and sustainability. Chef Luigi, a native Italian from Basilicata, has created a menu as authentic and environmentally conscious as possible. The exquisite, fresh Italian cuisine offered at Al Tiramisu has garnered the restaurant numerous accolades, including the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano, bestowed by the President of Italy. The facility is warm, jovial, and welcoming, exhibiting authentic Italian hospitality.
2. Trattoria Alberto
508 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
You will be captivated by the retro design and charming outside dining area, which will remind you of an Italian restaurant. Considered a fine dining establishment, the proprietors and some of the employees will frequently greet you in raucous Italian as they smile and welcome you into this friendly and inviting restaurant. Each menu item is freshly prepared. Frequently, they will inform you, “We can prepare anything, even if it’s not on the menu.” It isn’t easy to refrain from ordering the Linguine Alle Vongole (linguine with clams) every time.
3. Caruso’s Grocery
914 14th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
This restaurant, modeled after a famous “red sauce” eatery, serves Italian-American meals one may find in the Bronx or Brooklyn. The ambiance and menu would make Tony Soprano happy, with delicacies like rigatoni alla vodka and five cheese ravioli cooked with homemade pasta and hand-pulled mozzarella with basil-marinated tomatoes. The concept was created by chef Matt Adler, who wanted diners at the 65-seat restaurant to feel at home for Sunday dinner. Popular dishes include chicken parmigiana, pork chops pizzaiola-style, and dessert classics such as New York-style cheesecake with strawberry preserves and an incomparable tiramisu.
1602 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States
Floriana, a second independent Italian café in Washington, DC, has plenty to be proud of. This restaurant solely utilizes locally sourced, in-season ingredients, and its philosophy is based on enthusiasm and enjoyment. Floriana, one of Washington, DC’s most romantic restaurants, is located in the center of downtown DC in the Dupont Circle district and tries to offer clients an amazing experience. Here, the cuisine is innovative, developing fresh and distinctive dishes based on Italian classics. Intricacies such as ultra-fresh ingredients and handcrafted pasta elevate the quality and sophistication of the dish. In addition to its lunch and dinner meals, Floriana offers a weekend brunch menu featuring sweet delicacies.
974 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
Whether it’s the terra-cotta-clad wood oven, the dazzling white brick, or the intoxicating aromas emanating from the kitchen, Centrolina is a one-of-a-kind establishment. The quality of Chef Amy Brandwein’s menu rivals that of every Italian restaurant in the District. But the true gem is the Mercato, where you can carry the Centrolina experience home with excellent Italian specialty goods, fresh pasta, and sauces.
1120 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
Officina is located on the Wharf in Washington, D.C., and is the second Italian restaurant on our list by Chef Nicholas Stefanelli.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli recreates his childhood in Puglia via the design and cuisine of Officina. Our recommendation for Officina dining? Their Terrazza is a magnificent rooftop sanctuary inspired by Italian al fresco dining.
Image From: https://www.masseria-dc.com/
1340 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
Masseria, another Michelin-starred restaurant in the Union Market district, is influenced by Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Puglia, Italy, family roots. Despite the accolades, the eating experience is not particularly refined. Instead, it is the sensation of spending time in an Italian countryside home, complete with all the correspondingly exquisite flavors.
7921 Norfolk Ave, Bethesda, United States
Italian restaurant owned and operated by a family. It is tastefully designed and offers an intimate, welcoming ambiance. The restaurant is decorated with vintage family photographs that act as discussion starters among diners. Arancini is a must-order appetizer at Olazzo, and their Fettuccine Alfredo is truly delectable.
Olazzo presently offers sitting both indoors and outside. Bethesda is a lively, entertaining area near the metro. Olazzo is ideal for a romantic evening out, and bookings are recommended.
9. RPM Italian
650 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
This luxurious, premium Italian restaurant in the Mount Vernon area is ideal for a romantic evening out. The dining area is stunning and contemporary, and the service is exactly what one would expect from a fine dining establishment. What about food? Wow. The rosemary focaccia and truffled garlic bread should be the first item you order at this restaurant. The meatballs in their meatball appetizer are delicate, supple, and bursting with flavor.
The lobster ravioli tastes as amazing as it looks. In addition, their pappardelle Bolognese is prepared with a short rib ragu that tastes as though it has been cooking for days. If you are celebrating, you must get their Torta Meringata, a little cake created with salted caramel and vanilla gelato, topped with meringue, then torched at the table. It is just stunning. Depending on what you order, RPM can be on the pricey side, but the setting and cuisine are ideal for a special occasion. It is one of the finest Italian restaurants in Washington, DC.
10. Osteria Morini
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301 Water St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
Osteria Morini is one of the best Italian restaurants in Washington, DC, serving Emilia-Romagna-influenced cuisine. Their stunning and light dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Navy Yard Anacostia waterfront.
We recommend beginning with a selection of their imported Italian cheeses and cured meats presented on a board with freshly grilled bread. You may also have their burrata topped with sugar snap peas, pistachio pesto, and scallions. Their pastas are created from scratch, so there is no wrong choice (even their spaghetti pomodoro is memorable). Meat and fish are cooked precisely over a wood-fired grill, and one bite of branzino will transport you to the Mediterranean coast. Order the tiramisu to complete the meal.
Our exploration of Washington, D.C.’s Italian dining scene reveals a rich tapestry of flavors and experiences. The positive reviews and loyal patronage are testaments to their commitment to authenticity and quality. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic chicken parm, a glass of fine white wine, or an evening of handmade pasta indulgence, these top 10 Italian restaurants in Washington, D.C. promise an unforgettable culinary adventure, bringing the best of Italy to your table.