100 Best Restaurants 2010: Potenza
No. 74: Potenza
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg
Comments () | Published January 1, 2010
100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Potenza
Address: 1430 H St., NW, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-638-4444
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisines: Italian
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 3. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 3 to 10, Friday and Saturday 3 to 11. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 to 3.
Nearby Metro Stops: McPherson Square, Metro Center
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Rigatoni With Sunday Gravy; pappardelle with red Bolognese; a plate of gnocchi in a Gorgonzola cream sauce garnished with toasted walnuts; pork Milanese; Salame Picante, the best of the crisp-crusted pizzas; cannoli; lemon panna cotta; bombolini (Italian
Price Details: Starters $8 to $12, entrées $12 to $24.

Cuisine: DC has no Little Italy, and its best Italian restaurants have long been tasteful spots for expense accounts or luxe destinations for foodies. This newcomer thus represents a bold departure—an unassuming, big-hearted place where you can dunk your bread into your red sauce, a pizza can constitute the basis for a meal, and glasses of wine come in tumblers.

Mood: One part Carnegie Deli, one part Little Italy: a loud, sometimes chaotic space that practically demands you raise your voice to be heard and where flagging down your waiter is sometimes as tough as hailing a cab at rush hour. But there’s warmth, too, and the sight of diners heartily digging in is a welcome sight.

Best for: A come-as-you-are night of pretense-free Italian indulgence.

Best dishes: Rigatoni With Sunday Gravy, the very definition of red-sauce Italian; pappardelle with red Bolognese; a plate of gnocchi in a Gorgonzola cream sauce that steers clear of overrichness and is garnished with toasted walnuts; a lightly fried, almost delicate pork Milanese; the Salame Picante, the best of the surprisingly good, crisp-crusted pizzas; the best cannoli in the area; a perfect-textured lemon panna cotta; gorgeous bombolini (Italian doughnuts) with a side of jelly.

Insider tips: Don’t skimp on bread; the loaves come from the adjoining bakery and are among the highlights of eating here. But also try to back-load your meal, saving room for the simple and generally wonderful desserts.

Service: •½

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews