Before digging into my plate of lobster ravioli with pink cream sauce I dug into the Yelp reviews of Pasta Italiana, a shopworn eatery in Woodley Park. The restaurant takes more hits than a tackling dummy.
You could argue that Pasta Italiana, like that tackling dummy, has been designed for abuse. The place sets itself up for a fight before you take a bite: It trumpets the word “organic” on the front door. Its wait staff may or may not, depending on whom you ask, claim the pasta is made in-house.
The place all but has a “Kick Me” sign taped to its back.
And kick it you will once the food arrives. The garlic-cream sauce draped over flabby, overcooked cheese ravioli was chunky and lukewarm; if there was garlic in the sauce, only a beagle could detect it. The gnocchi was a mountain of gluey pasta covered in a meat sauce many degrees shy of hot; the gnocchi sat on the plate, solid and immovable, as if molded from clay. The lobster ravioli came stuffed with a stringy mixture speckled with tiny dices of the advertised crustacean but tasting more like crab sticks.
Pasta Italiana feels as if it were still trading on its location, a mere half-mile from the National Zoological Park, trusting tourists will accept this halfhearted fare as a quick solution to quiet hungry, sunburned kids. But it may be living on borrowed time: Two parties at tables near me fled the scene before ordering a single dish, clearly heeding the warning signs around them.
Diners are smart these days; the Yelp reviews reflect this fact.