Located at the epicenter of the 17th Street scene, the place provides both indoor and sidewalk diners a wraparound view of 17th and R streets.
With all those windows, this is a fun place to wait out a storm. Best to call ahead for a table when the sidewalk-cafe season is in full swing.
Predominantly a neighborhood hangout, it is also an accommodating environment for outsiders to, well, hang out. You'll see local artists and actors eating on the frugal, members of the Gay Men's Chorus toasting with martinis, suburban couples making eyes at each other over chianti.
Pasta rules here. Be prepared to eat a lot of it and to appreciate a chef who just doesn't believe in skimping on the cheese. The vegetable lasagna will at least give you the illusion that you're eating a little more healthily than will the manicotti, but both are what good, inexpensive Italian food is all about.
The specials are generally the most interesting choice on the menu -- there tends to be a striking similarity of ingredients among the dishes on the everyday bill of fare.
Expect plastic water glasses, maybe a chip in the coffee cup or a table that doesn't quite stand steady. But the service is friendly and efficient and the price is right.
-- Bernadette Flagler