There is no shortage of top-notch Italian restaurants in Washington, DC. These restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines; some are the creations of native Italian cooks, while others adapt the best aspects of Italian culture to suit American tastes.
While some experiment with new platters and unexpected pairings, several eateries take pride in using constantly changing seasonal ingredients to create basic yet delectable dishes.
This list of the top Italian restaurants in Washington, DC, includes a wide range of alternatives, whether you’re searching for a laid-back pizza parlor, a cozy setting to grab a dish of pasta smothered in traditional red sauce, or a luxury white-tablecloth venue to celebrate a significant occasion.
The 10 Best Italian Restaurants In DC
1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States // +12023388800
For almost forty years, Filomena has been providing authentic, traditional Italian cuisine in the heart of Georgetown.
You can tell you will have a memorable meal as soon as you go past the small Italian woman making handmade pasta in the front window and enter the comfortable dining area that is arranged to look like your grandmother’s home.
You should start by trying their arancini rice balls, similar to those found in Italy and filled with Bolognese sauce, peas, and mozzarella.
Choose either the broccoli con gnocchi or gnocchi della mamma with red sauce, their genuine lasagna. You can opt for the Tortellini Di Michele, a ravioli stuffed with soft beef brisket that is cooked in wine and vegetables and then covered in a deliciously creamy sauce as your main dish.
It is also worthwhile to try everything on their menu topped with either their creamy Cardinale lobster sauce or their creamy vodka Sunday sauce.
Make reservations well in advance (particularly on weekends and holidays), share entrees if possible, or prepare to have leftovers because their quantities are enormous, and you must reserve room for their amazing desserts.
Filomena is the place to go if you want to celebrate with loved ones and indulge in one of the best Italian dinners in DC.
650 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12022044480
This elegant Italian restaurant in the Mount Vernon neighborhood is the place to go for a memorable night out.
The service was excellent, as you would anticipate from a high-end restaurant, and the dining area is lovely and contemporary.
And the food? Wow. The bread should be the first item you order because both their rosemary focaccia and their truffled garlic bread are to die for.
Because the meatballs are so soft, tender, and tasty, they make a fantastic appetizer to share. In addition, we adored their enhanced pancetta-topped spaghetti carbonara, which is prepared at your table and is rich and delicious.
The lobster ravioli is as tasty as it is beautiful. Additionally, the short rib ragu, which tastes like it has been boiling for days, is used to make pappardelle Bolognese.
Finally, if you’re celebrating, the Torta Meringata, a little cake prepared with salted caramel and vanilla gelato, coated in meringue, then flamed at the table, is a must-order dessert. It really is a show-stopper.
Depending on what you order, RPM may be on the pricey side, but I believe the ambiance and food are unrivaled for a memorable night out. I consider it to be one of the best Italian restaurants in DC.
1099 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12026281099
The Italian master of creating pasta, Sfoglina, is known for rolling pasta sheets by hand with a rolling pin.
Naturally, as implied by the name, the handmade pasta is what draws you here, and there is a variety to pick from.
My favorite dish is the Squid Ink Paccheri, prepared Amalfi-style with Maine lobster and chiles. Favorites of the season include goat cheese, lemon zest, and fresh herbs in Fabio’s Ravioli San Leo.
Their most well-known dish is pappardelle, traditional pasta with ragu Bolognese and Grana Padano.
The Piemontese Chocolate Gianduja Cake—a slice of chocolate hazelnut heaven—and other exquisite and distinctive sweets are served as part of the appropriately named Sugar Rush menu.
Try Sfoglina, one of the top Italian restaurants in DC, at one of their three locations for even more convenience.
1401 T St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States // +12028274752
Lupo Verde transforms traditional Italian cuisine in DC with a contemporary, rustic touch. The restaurant has plenty of exposed brick and beams, a sizable fifteen-seat bar with marble tops and Italian tiled tile, and it is a stylish yet cozy setting.
Lupo Verde is all about urban interpretations of rural living, unlike other restaurants that strive to transfer patrons back onto the piazza or into grandma’s dining room.
The restaurant’s best dishes are offered on small plates, and an Italian breakfast menu on the weekends enhances the experience. The bar also impresses with its handcrafted vermouths, specialty cocktails, and liqueurs.
An excellent charcuterie and cheese board was our first course. The pasta was outstanding. My friend had the fusilli, and I ordered the short rib ravioli. Both were well prepared and seasoned.
The waitress surprised us after the meal with a lovely piece of tiramisu, which was excellent; well-flavored, and thoroughly moist without being soggy, as I’ve noticed in other versions elsewhere. The setting was adorable and provided just the appropriate amount of “class” for a casual supper. It’s a must-try!
1340 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States // +12026081330
In Union Market, Masseria is tucked away among the wholesale shops surrounding it. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might miss it.
The warehouse-like atmosphere disappears once you are inside the wooden gate, giving way to a beautiful courtyard leading to an industrial-chic-covered terrace and eating area.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli was inspired by Puglia’s welcome country homes and idyllic landscapes for both the interior design and the menu.
Like many Italian restaurants in the nation’s capital, Masseria is the result of the chef’s early exposure to Italian cuisine. Due to his familial roots in the Puglia region, chef Nicholas Stefanelli has brought the finest of this region’s food to Masseria’s unique Union Market location.
We got a great plate of mini-appetizers to start, which included an excellent veal tartare, a chickpea bombolino that was cooked to a delicate perfection inside with melted cheese, sprinkles of Parmesan, and a green dill sauce.
It was followed by a little pistachio-covered cylinder of foie gras and exquisite, delicately smoked sweetbread. Both were paradise!
The Sicilian stuffed pasta with a delicate pesto sauce was extremely nice, but the beef was oversalted. However, the dessert dish, which included rich chocolate mousse and tiramisu gelato with dollops of whipped mascarpone froth, was delicious. Wonderful restaurant; I heartily endorse it!
1065 31st St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States // +12023374444
Il Canale, one of the top Italian restaurants in Washington, DC, is named after the nearby Georgetown canal. The Sicilian family restaurant welcomes everyone and makes them feel at home. Here, authenticity is prioritized, and it is evident.
They exclusively use Italian 00 wheat, essential for baking Neapolitan pizzas, and their wood-fired oven was imported from Naples. Their imported Buffalo mozzarella-topped Margherita pizza had us crazy in love.
They also make fantastic fresh spaghetti every day. Fresh artisan pasta and seafood are combined in a cherry tomato sauce with white wine, garlic, and crushed red peppers to make Scialatielli Allo Scoglio.
Il Canale is one of the top Italian restaurants in DC, thanks to its excellent location, affordable prices, and superb cuisine. Try it!
1250 9th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12028496174
79 Potomac Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States // +12026291894
One of the top Italian restaurants in DC, All-Purpose has two fantastic locations. The original location is in Shaw, a great central DC neighborhood, and the Navy Yard location has a lovely patio with Anacostia River views.
We were completely impressed with their constantly-changing menu. There are many appetizers to choose from, including garlic knots, asparagus Alla Romana (with gorgonzola fonduta, cured egg yolks, and Parmesan), and crispy calamari fritto.
But the pizza was what really attracted us. Their pizza boasts a robust, crispy, chewy crust that is just a touch sweet, and both Rome and New Jersey inspired it. The dough is meticulously prepared by fermenting for three full days before being cooked at 650 degrees.
Pizza with pepperoni, honey from Calabria, and fresh basil is called Buona, and you must get it. You may also take a chance and order the Casanova, which comes with mozzarella, marinated artichokes, garlicky spinach, Calabrian chiles, and lemons.
It’s such an amazing Italian restaurant that you won’t regret going to it! This is your place for pizza in DC. Trust me!
1120 Maine Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States // +12027475222
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli, who has received a Michelin star, founded the culinary collective Officina. They alter many dishes with the seasons, but I always adore their distinctive and mouthwatering seasonal salads.
Despite their excellent hand-made pasta, I prefer their whole branzino, which is always cooked to perfection and presented tastefully.
I strongly advise ordering the pork chop if it’s offered. Lastly, try one of their cannolis at the end of your meal. They are amazing!
Officina is not only one of the best Italian restaurants in Washington, DC, but it’s also my favorite location to eat at the Wharf. I love to sit in the café on the first floor or on the balcony on the second story to watch the sunset and people-watch. It’s an amazing spot and a gem amongst the Italian restaurants in DC.
1822 1st St. NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12025253021
Undoubtedly, one of the top Italian restaurants in Washington, DC, is The Red Hen in the Bloomingdale District.
The dining area is warm and welcoming, giving the impression that you have entered a friend’s charming cabin. You might be able to see Chef Mike Friedman at work at the wood-burning grill, thanks to the open kitchen.
Start with one of their four unique toasts; my favorite is the whipped ricotta crostini with wildflower honey, sea salt, and black truffle sauce. It’s challenging to pick just one antipasto because they all are so excellent!
I recommend the wood-fired Spanish octopus with fried new potatoes, pine nut salsa verde, and a Calabrian chili vinaigrette that you should sip before they remove the platter from the table.
Their most well-known dish is mezzi rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu, but insiders know to order the off-menu cacio e pepe, which is the definition of comfort food and will take you to the streets of Rome.
You must get the olive oil cake, regardless of how full you feel after your meal. I have never encountered more attentive service in DC than at The Red Hen.
I suggest making reservations well in advance—at least a month—if you want to eat here. Then, get on the waitlist or arrive early to claim a spot at the bar as alternatives to waiting for a table. It’s a must try amongst the Italian restaurants in DC.
301 Water St. SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States // +12024840660
Osteria Morini, which serves savory cuisine influenced by the Emilia-Romagna area of Northern Italy, is one of the top Italian restaurants in DC. Their elegant and well-lit dining area boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Navy Yard’s Anacostia riverfront.
I suggest you start by selecting a few of their imported Italian cheeses and cured meats that are placed on a board with freshly grilled bread. Or request their burrata topped with onions, snap peas, and pistachio pesto.
There is truly no wrong choice because all of their pasta is prepared from scratch (even their spaghetti Pomodoro is memorable).
Their branzino will transport you to the Mediterranean shore in just one taste. The meat and fish are expertly prepared on a wood-fired grill. Then, for the ideal supper, get the tiramisu.
If you want to have a distinctive Italian lunch, I urge you to go to this restaurant! It’s one of the best Italian restaurants in DC.
Summary Of The Best Italian Restaurants In DC
Whether you want a hearty meal of pasta, the crunch of fine wood or coal-fired pizza dough, or a salty bite of fat-marbled prosciutto in an Italian sub, there’s something so gratifying and comforting about Italian food.
And DC is full of excellent options to satisfy your hunger if you know where to search. They have everything from cozy and affordable neighborhood hidden treasures to swankier, high-end selections.
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Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever