100 Best Restaurants 2011: Liberty Tavern
Comments () | Published January 4, 2011
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Liberty Tavern
Address: 3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-465-9360
Neighborhood: Arlington, Arlington, Clarendon/Courthouse
Cuisines: Modern, Pizza, American
Opening Hours: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Clarendon
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Arctic char, smoked in-house and folded over johnnycakes; apple-and-endive salad; fiery fra diavolo macaroni with fresh lobster; autumnal gnocchi with celery root and blue cheese; Vermont pizza with white cheddar and apples; skirt steak; schnitzel-style s

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

This popular two-story hangout is the place for a caloric splurge. Chef Liam LaCivita’s Italian-inflected menu reads like that of a typical neighborhood pub (pizzas, fries, steaks), but his dishes are a grade above, thanks to his made-from-scratch philosophy and unusual flavor pairings. That means a meatball pizza gets unexpected tang from pickled fennel, and braised short ribs are made more interesting by hay-smoked marrow and mashed potatoes with parsnips.

LaCivita’s winter menu is sprinkled with forward-thinking touches—beet and huckleberry gels, blood-orange froth, pear powder—but it’s the more rustic plates, such as house-made garganelli with Taleggio-cream sauce and sweet Italian sausage or thick banana doughnuts with an anglaise, that we keep coming back for. Even on weeknights the dining room fills up fast, so reservations are a good idea. There’s a takeout window in back, and it’s nearly as good as eating there.

Also good: Fried shrimp and clams with fennel; peanut soup with crisp-skinned pork belly; Vermont pizza with Cabot cheddar, prosciutto, and apples; roasted-to-order chicken with onion gravy and lemon marmalade; parfait inspired by Boston cream pie, with devil’s-food cake, vanilla custard, and fudge sauce.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Bar open daily until 2 am. Moderate to expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/04/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews