Editors' pick

Ristorante Tosca

Italian
$$$$ ($25-$34)
Ristorante Tosca photo
(washingtonpost.com)
At Ristorante Tosca, in a setting as understated as an Armani suit, The Post's Tom Sietsema is reminded of the glory in Italian cooking.
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30 pm-10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 5:30 pm-11 pm; Closed Sun
(Downtown)
Metro Center (Red, Blue and Orange lines), Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red, Green and Yellow lines)
202-367-1990
57 decibels (Quiet)
'

Editorial Review

2011 Spring Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Typically packed with fat cats, Tosca might be the most moving-and-shaking restaurant in town. But is it a place for food enthusiasts as well? If I had my doubts the past few years, two recent dinners in this lair for lobbyists, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in April, have put them to rest.

Leave here without ordering one of the pastas, all of which can be explored as half-portions as well as main courses, and you'll miss one of executive chef Massimo Fabbri's finest contributions. Hope to be with a group that likes to share, and be sure to find room for the tender hats of tortelli plumped with rich cow's milk cheese and lapped with black truffle sauce, and for the tagliatelle stained black with squid ink and scattered with sweet morsels of crab. They are two of the best marriages of flour and eggs around. As for the risotto, "you can get good risotto anywhere," a dapper waiter suggested when I asked for his counsel in choosing starches. I beg to differ: This kitchen's creamy swirl of designer rice, Montasio cheese and caper pesto would find even Miss Manners licking her plate.

You can also catch a fine piece of grilled fish here. One attraction is swordfish brushed with olive oil and flanked by a nest of broccoli and onions tossed with anchovy oil, plus a cake of sauteed mushrooms with the texture of fine meat. Meat dishes, on the other hand, strike me as lesser lights. Speaking of which, the monochromatic dining room that felt so sleek when it opened now looks best when the lights are dimmed. Want some privacy? Ask for the recessed Table 50.

Sugar-sprinkled bomboloni are large as golf balls. Split the Italian doughnuts, and out oozes vanilla custard. But lately my preferred way to close a meal is in the company of Tosca's sublime blood orange tart set off with snowy basil granita.

Not everyone is a power player with an expense account. That's why I applaud Tosca's "Dine at Dusk" deal, a three-courser with lots of options offered from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for $38 - about what you'd pay for a single fish entree later in the evening.