We have a huge Italian food scene, and it’s only getting bigger. Since I happen to love Italian food, I took it upon myself to go and visit three of the most highly anticipated Italian restaurants that recently opened in DC.
Of the three new Italian spots that I visited, this one was by far my favorite. The team at Lupo Verde, frankly, can do no wrong. I cannot get enough of the decadent menu at this Palisades location of Lupo Verde. Note to anyone on a diet: run for the hills. Everyone else: put on your stretchy pants and pull up a chair.
The decadence will start from the moment you sit down, because you will order the burrata. It comes on a bed of fried spaghetti, which creates the ultimate crunchy – creamy contrast. You also need to get the fried artichoke, and be sure to eat it with your hands. Yes, you will get greasy, but then you get to lick your fingers which means you know you are having an epic meal.
Now it’s time to move onto the pasta. The dish of your dreams (or at least my dreams) should be at the top of your list, the cacio e pepe. Freshly made noodles are swirled in the cheesiest black pepper-infused sauce ever and then topped with even more melted cheese. If that isn’t your jam, there is ravioli stuffed with a creamy garlicky filling, and nettle gnocchi tossed with chewy morel mushrooms, sweet sundried tomatoes and local ramps.
And it doesn’t end there. Italian donuts with Nutella, raspberry panna cotta and a vanilla bean “soup” are a few of the dessert choices I stuffed my face with, that you should indulge in too. Because after burrata, wine, and pasta, a few desserts is exactly what you need.
It’s all the decadence you would imagine out of a trip to Italy, without the jetlag.
Napoli is an experience of highs and lows. The location and venue, a cozy spot in Columbia Heights with a charming patio, is a high. The sound absorption in the main dining room is a low. It was so loud inside, I was literally screaming across the table at my husband. But, you can avoid that by snagging a patio spot when the weather is nice.
On to the food: the appetizers were somewhat of a disappointment. Panzanella is more like a salad with croutons, and the produce was sub par. Tomatoes were colorless and bland, and the cucumbers were dry. The vinaigrette was too acidic and didn’t bring out the flavors of the veggies. The zuccotto di melanzana, a dish where strips of eggplant enrobe a mound of ricotta, is bland and confusing. We couldn’t figure out how to eat it and the quantity of cheese was overwhelming.
The pastas however are hearty and tasty. I loved all the vegetarian choices, which include cheese ravioli, gnocchi drenched in tomato sauce, fusilli tossed with zucchini, and a veggie lasagna. For some unknown reason very few places serve vegetarian lasagna, but it’s such a satisfying option for vegetarians. I loved the meaty mushrooms and sweet peas, all blanketed in a bechamel sauce.
Desserts were relatively unappealing so we skipped out (plus I was tired of yelling to be heard) but I wouldn’t write this place off just yet. Despite the flaws, the lasagna will have me coming back!
This spot, from Chef Massimo Fabbri, has perhaps received the most hype, but it is the one I found most disappointing. While appetizers like fried squash blossoms were crispy and addictive, pastas come in portions so small I could have eaten four of them – no exaggeration. I ate an entire bread basket, added a cheese course, and then got dessert and was vaguely satisfied. The house cut noodles, served in a tomato sauce was fine, but was underwhelming, especially when I ate it in about four bites. Perhaps the pastas are supposed to be more like appetizers? Either way, I would be prepared to order a lot of food and spend a lot of money.