I've been remiss. I have been going to Bistro Italiano all of these months and never once reviewed it. Well here it is. M, J's co-worker had been telling us about Bistro Italiano for months before we went there. It's on the Northeast side of Capitol Hill, so we'd actually have ot make an effort to go there. But it was well worth it and hella cheap.
If any restaurant is a neighborhood place, it's Bistro Italiano. Tucked into DC street behind the retail block of Mass Ave., you could easily miss it. It's small, seating 30 at most. The decor is on the tacky side with toothpaste green walls and travel agency pictures of Italy. The service and food is lovely. We've had consistently friendly service with our water glasses filled and our food served promtly.
The food is totally unpretentious. We're talking iceberg lettuce salads with a big tomato wedge. The best I can compare it to is Dupont Italian Kitchen before the DIK decided to serve completely crap food. Friday night, I had the Caesar salad and J had the house salad with the balsalmic vinaigrette. Both were decent. Our pastas however, were very satisfying. J had the pasta with meat sauce. The sauce was interesting because it was presented as the spaghetti on the bottom with a layer of ground meat and a layer of tomato sauce. It was quite wonderful. The meat actually tasted like SOMETHING. It didn't just add texture to the tomato sauce which had that texture of coarsely pureed tomatoes that indicates the sauce didn't come out of a jar. I had that manicotti which was hearty but I wasn't crazy about the ground meat and ricotta filling. It was somewhat solid so that the meat and ricotta were in one block. I thought the two textures weren't blending well. But the tomato sauce was making up for a so-so filling.
Although we didn't get it Friday, I highly recommend the pizza. It's exactly what you want your neighborhood pizza place pizza to taste like. The crust is not that thin cracker crust like Pizerria Paradiso but much more doughy. And the sauce and toppings are all top notch. And we totally, unabashedly recommend the cannoli, which have the light crisp cookie surrounding the sweet (but not too sweet) and rich marscapone and ricotta filling.
This food is not about osso buco and balsalmic reductions. In an earlier era, you'd have checked tablecloths and drippy candles in chianti bottles. It's the spaghetti and meatballs and friendly service. Things look like they're supposed to look and taste like they're supposed to taste.
320 D Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002-5722