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Pines of Rome
By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

| 4709 Hampton Lane, Bethesda, Md.
(301) 657-8775

Hours of Operation and Prices
Lunch: M-Sat 11:30-4; Entrees: $5.25-$10
Dinner: M 4-10, T-Th 4-11, F-Sat 4-11:30, Sun noon-10; Entrees: $6-$12

Other Information
• Credit Cards: All major
• Dress: Casual
• Reservations: No
• Parking: Street
• Nearest Metro: Bethesda
• Handicapped accessible

One of the oldest - and most modestly priced - Italian restaurants in the Washington area, Pines of Rome is a haven for families. I've never seen so many children in a restaurant that didn't serve fast food. And when the 6 p.m. seating is over and the families with small children leave, the second seating arrives - with more, if older, children.

The reason is obvious: The food is inexpensive, the dining room is red-check-oil-cloth casual, the cooking is plain and the menu is long. There's something for everyone. Sure, the service is perfunctory, but it is fast. Yet, sadly, the food can be dismal. If you order something that is supposed to be simple, however, you'll probably get what you expect but far more of it. Portions are huge.

Everyone swears by the white pizza at Pines of Rome; surely it's better than the red-sauced pizza, with its plain canned tomatoes. I also can confidently recommend the white beans, which are nicely seasoned and served warm as an appetizer.

Look for the day's roast meat, and certainly order it if it's pork. Maybe it will be cooked too long and have turned stringy, but it's homey meat, darkened and flavorful from its pan juices. Otherwise, consider this a spaghetti-and-meatballs kind of kitchen - or spaghetti carbonara if you love fried onions and chunks of fried bacon. Skip the seafood and concentrate on heavy, old fashioned red sauce and red meat. Wash them down with an inexpensive bottle of wine poured into tumblers, and enjoy this rustic place even if its charms are no longer culinary.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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