Al Dente (Formerly La Forchetta)
3201 New Mexico Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016
Neighborhood: Upper Northwest
Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 4 PM. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 4 to 10; Friday and Saturday 4 to 11. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 AM to 4 PM.
Price Range: Moderate
Burrata with roasted tomato; meatballs “La Forchetta style”; zucchini flowers with ricotta and mint; gnocchi with sausage ragu; spaghetti with soft-shell crab; lasagnette; zuppa inglese; bombolini with chocolate sauce; tiramisu.
Starters $5.95 to $9.95, entrées $7.95 to $19.95.
Drama-plagued chef Roberto Donna may struggle with debt and angry ex-employees from his former restaurants Galileo and Galileo III, but at this tangerine-accented trattoria near American University, he captures the soul of his native Italy with such dishes aslasagnette mingling tomato sauce and creamy béchamel and perfect gnocchi in fontina and cream. Pizza is getting there—the egg-topped Uovo has a satisfying, spongy crust—but the pastas steal the show. Donna’s pedigree is showcased most strongly in the speciali di chef section of the menu, featuring seasonally changing appetizers, entrées, and pastas.
Don’t miss: Fried zucchini flowers; Margherita pizza; pappardelle with wild-boar ragu; calamarata pasta with squid, mussels, and clams; bombolini (tiny doughnuts).
Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.