$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

Just south of Dupont Circle, Otello serves Italian American food at fair prices. Tables covered in red-and-white checked cloths, simple wooden chairs, wicker chianti bottles and hanging garlic braids produce the intended family-style ambiance. The place bustles with polite, eager servers and busboys, ready to take your coat, fill your water glass or pepper your salad.

Hearty eaters will be rewarded here, but not picky ones – the only salad dressing served is oil and vinegar, for instance. No matter. The aroma alone of melted mozzarella and stewing tomatoes is enough to fill you up. Particularly enjoyable for the palate and wallet are the pasta plates. Dishes are served in deep, thick porcelain bowls that keep a meal pleasantly hot while you eat. Desserts, all made at local bakeries, tempt diners from a central display table – the cannoli is definitely worth the calories.

It's a comfortable spot to have a meal with friends or enjoy a casual dinner with your significant other. A twentysomething patron and native Washingtonian says, "My parents used to take the whole family here when we were kids." With a cheerful and relaxing ambiance, reasonable prices and huge servings, that's understandable. – Maura Kelly