Food critic

This restaurant is one of 10 classics in The Washington Post’s 2019 Fall Dining Guide.

Veal milanese at I Ricchi. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

I Ricchi


There’s no single secret to a business lasting 30 years. But chef-owner Christianne Ricchi credits her Tuscan restaurant’s milestone to this: “We pay attention.” While it has grown to include more private dining space, I Ricchi looks pretty much how it did when it opened. Vines crawl around the butter-colored walls, and the oven, imported from Italy, remains a focal point. More important, the food remains delicious.

Plenty of places serve fried calamari, but few make such an impression with so few ingredients: fresh seafood dredged in flour, crisped in clean oil and seasoned with nothing more than salt (although the tangy tomato sauce alongside makes a great dip). Come to think of it, a lot of dishes serve as role models: robust minestrone, enough for two; tagliarini adorned with a garden of vegetables and sweet little clams; veal chop pounded to plate-size, breaded and fried; and the divine, not-too-sweet tiramisu.

The food tastes personal because it is; “from bread to gelato,” almost everything is made from scratch, says Ricchi, a daily presence. Meanwhile, her loyal staff feel free to be themselves. “Beep! Beep!” one says, signaling the arrival of an entree.

2 1/2 stars (Good/Excellent)

I Ricchi: 1220 19th St. NW. 202-835-0459. .

Open: Dinner Monday through Saturday, lunch weekdays.

Prices: Dinner mains $18-$40.

Sound check: 70 decibels / Conversation is easy.