Critic rating
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
Cuisine: Italian
Price: $$$$ ($35 and up)
Sound check: 69 decibels (Conversation is easy)
Our Review

I have nothing new to say about this Italian stalwart in Dupont Circle, and that’s a pat on the back, not a slap in its face. The way I felt about Obelisk two years ago, or even 10 years ago, is pretty much the way I feel about it now. The 30-seat room with its bouquet of bread on a table remains austere; the many excellent antipasti on chef Esther Lee’s five-course menu threaten to ruin my appetite in the first 10 minutes; the pastas (pray for gnocchi with pesto) are almost always superior to the main courses that follow; and the desserts — hazelnut torrone ice cream, chocolate-apricot cake — are divine. The staff run smart and quiet. If someone told me owner Peter Pastan interviewed only graduate students for the restaurant, I wouldn’t be surprised. Around this time next year, this fan hopes to file much the same dispatch, give or take a coat of paint or some fresh art. If anything, Obelisk demonstrates the virtue that is continuity.

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