Open for luncheon Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; weekday sandwiches and snacks, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.; dinner Mondays through Thursday, 6 to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until midnight; closed Sundays. Street parking. Accessible by wheelchair. American Express, Amoco Torch Club, BankAmericard, Bank of Virginia, Carte Blanche, Diners Club and Master Charge. Reservations may not be necessary, but a call ahead for a traffic report might be a bad idea.

Only weeks before, we had peeked in the window of the Adriatico Restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue and passed it up - on the wrong-headed gounds that it looked to be a snuggy-with-candlelight room where children would be a scene as well as a herd.

Not so, said some in-the-know neighborhood scouts days later. Since our son, 10, was at a neighbor's, the rest of us - my wife, our 8-year-old daughter and I - decided to try this Italian restaurant.

Immediately on entering we could tell that at the Adriatico, a child is a persona just as grata as an adult. What's more, it's anything but quiet inside. With 17 chummy tables pretty much cloth-to-cloth, the conversation is - depending on your tolerance - jovial, lively or downright loud.

Leaving aside the swatches of wallpaper in a design of - get this - tulips and Stars of David - this is a home of Italian food. That means just about every meal on the menu begins with good bread and ends in a vowel.

Indeed, my wife began with crostini, at 60 cents, which qualified on both counts. It was a bread, toasted and topped with a garlic-anchovy-and-something-else spread that she liked.

I began with minestrone, at $1, which came with the kind of vegetables that you don't just push to the bottom; they were worth spooning.

Our daughter, after a series of penetrating questions about the ingredients of the various Italian dishes, wondered if a cheeseburger would be in order. Unlike the average burger served about town, this model, at $1.95, was the real thing, the homemade round-and-fat kind.

My wife and I shared two main dishes - a high-scoring veal parmigiana, at $6.25, and a $4.25 canelloni (a pasta with cheese and meat) that suffered from an overdose of garlic that wouldn't quit when it should have. The accompanying salads were sizeable and fresh, according to my companions.

Other dishes include veal all sorts of ways, from $5.95 to $6.25; spaghetti, from regular at $3.50 to with-clams at $4.50; chicken, lasagna, eggplant and the like, most of which are below $5.

For dessert the three of us shared an order of canoli, at $1.25, and the two of us had coffee. Our bill came to $19.60 plus tip.

Adriatico Restaurant, 4425 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Open for luncheon Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2:33 p.m.; weekday sandwiches and snacks, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.; dinner Mondays through Thursdays, 6 to 11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays until midnight; closed Sundays. Street parking. Accessible by wheelchair. American Express, Amoco Torch Club, BankAmericard, Bank of Virginia, Carte Blanche, Diners Club and Master Charge. Reservations may not be necessary, but a call ahead for a traffic report might be a bad idea.