January 2005Long supported by nearby residents, this restaurant sometimes seems like a private club--Lydia Patierno greets many of her customers by name. But even first-time visitors will feel at home, especially when they taste the cooking of Lydia's husband, Louis, an alumnus of the northern Italian restaurant Tiberio, one of K Street's stars in its day.
The short menu is supplemented by specials that reflect what the chef feels can be best presented that day. Good appetizers have been baby mussels with marinara sauce, deep-fried squid, snails with butter, garlic, and parsley, and pasta e fagioli soup. Pastas can be shared as an appetizer or ordered as a main course. The angel-hair pasta with tomato sauce and basil and the rigatoni with meat sauce are simple and good. Two daily specials were unexpected and delicious: One was a mixed grill of a quail, a lamb chop, and a curried venison sausage, the other a selection of grilled vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and red peppers. The filet of sole and the medallions of beef also have shown well. The bread is excellent. House-made desserts are on display near the entrance.