Luigi's 1132 19th Street, NW.331-7574. Hours: Mondays through Saturdays from 11a.m. to 1.30a.m., Sundays from 2p.m. to midnight. Atmosphere: An informal pizza-and-pasta parlor of long standing. Price Range: From a plain small pizza that's not that small for $2.95 to pasta dishes in the $3.95-to-$5.50 range and on up to steak at $8.50. Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge. Reservations: Not necessary.Special Facilities: Street-level dining room accessible by wheelchair. High chairs and booster seats available. Street parking maybe if there's a full moon. Also, anyone interested is invited to take a tour of Luigi's Pasta Factory in Bethesda, where pasta is made; call 657-3810.
It sounds like a qualifying round for cast-iron stomachs, but on a recent movie-and-meal night three of us topped "Bread and Chocolate" with veal and pizza.
That's a heavy Italian diet for most kids, certainly, unless they relish reading subtitles and can handle a few spicy but harmless seconds of scenery in this entertaining movie. But with our youngest out on loan for the evening, the 12-year-old son was declared eligible to come along for the show.
Our scene then shifted to Luigi's-"Famous Luigi's," as the menu tells it-a place where pizza is king and the rest of the items are subjects of varying interest.
With some 36 years in town, Luigi's is no flash-in-the-pan restaurant. In fact it has two cousins of the same name in Maryland and Virginia. It also has a good following, if our visit early on a Saturday evening was any measure.
The crowd on hand was young (though that's a ranking we seem to extend to more and more people all the time). Anyway, parents should know that every bambino is a welcome customer, a point underscored by the menu's "We Believe in Children" passage by Author Unknown.
We were led upstairs, where pillars, archways and fine brick walls with ground-in artwork surround about 20 cozy tables lighted by hurricane lamps.
Two frosty mugs of beer and a cola came table-side swiftly and, since we had no other social plans for the evening, we ordered some garlic bread. The 75-cent order consisted of one sheet of aluminum foil in which three gooey slices of bread had been bombarded with huge chunks of dry garlic, which fortunately could be shoveled off.
I also ordered some chicken broth with tortellini, at $1.75. After a few liberal sprinkles of grated cheese, a shake or two of corn peppers and a little salt, it was almost like a broth of spring.
In what would prove the wisest move of the evening, our son homed in on the pizza chart-a pizza for one, with pepperoni, for $3.45. They must mean a pizza for one gargantuan glutton, because this number was a good 12 inches in diameter, with a thick crust and enough melted mozzarella to pave I-66.
It was at this point that we realized why nearly everyone else around us was haaving pizza, too-beacuse my wife and I had branched out with different orders and neither had come up exactly a half-of-fame candidate.
Hers was veal parmigiana, $6.95. What it lacked in inspiration, it made up with tomato sauce, it was a good cut above my $6.95 order of veal piccata, which was supposed be "sauteed in butter and lemon." What arrived instead was rather more like bits o billfold in lemonade.
Fortunately, both veals came with plenty of spaghetti on the side, and there was a basket of rolls and butter. Beast of all, there were spare slices of that good pizza, too.
With two coffees for the parents, a ddish of chocolate ice cream for their escort and the necessary nod to taxing authorities, the bill came to $25.54 plus tip. But if you stick to pasta dishes or share a pizza, both the bill and the fare should be lighter.