A la Lucia
Lowkey Italian cooking in Old Town.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published October 6, 2006
A La Lucia
Address: 315 Madison St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-836-5123
Neighborhood: Alexandria, Alexandria, Old Town
Cuisines: Italian
Opening Hours: Open Monday through Thursday 11:30 to 2:30 and 5 to 9:30, Friday 11:30 to 2:30 and 5 to 10, and Sunday 4 to 9.
Nearby Metro Stops: King St., Braddock Road
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Business Attire
Noise Level: N/A
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Mozzarella and tomato salad; lentil soup; white bean soup; calamari with red pepper and celery; veal canneloni; malfadini; veal stew with polenta; veal paillard; double-cut pork chops; panini.
Price Details: Appetizers $4.95 to $8.95, entrées $10.95 to $26.99.

June 2006 Cheap Eats

When Michael Nayeri left Galileo after nearly 20 years as maître d' to open a place of his own, he didn't try to go head-to-head with his old boss, Roberto Donna. Reasoning that Washington was well-stocked in high-end Italian, he set his sights on filling the demand for affordable Italian cooking--the kind of place you can go for a good plate of cannelloni and a nice glass of wine without feeling that you are splurging. His bright, color-filled restaurant on the edge of Old Town has justified his instincts by drawing an almost continuous stream of customers.

Not everything on the menu of pastas, fish, and chops will honor the Cheap Eats budget. A linguine with lobster will push hard against its constraints, as will the excellent double-cut pork chops--a deal at $21, but probably admissible only if you share them. Look to pastas instead.

They're no comedown. The cannelloni is arguably the best in the area, two tubes of firm pasta encasing a generous portion of beautifully seasoned ground veal. Malfadine is a seldom-seen dish and an intriguing one: lasagna sheets reduced to thick bands of pasta, the ruffled edges scooping up a rich, if salty, veal ragu.

Hearty satisfactions, not subtle refinements, are the kitchen's strength. A creamy polenta with veal stew is full of simple pleasures, as are many of the soups, particularly the lentil soup and white-bean soup. A bowl of either, plus a well-pressed panini, makes a fine light meal. The wine list is good and reasonably priced, thanks to Nayeri's also owning the wine shop on the corner.
Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 04:18 PM/ET, 10/06/2006 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews