Cafe Milano

At this longtime celeb hangout, the pastas are named after fashion designers.

From January 2005 100 Very Best Restaurants

Franco Nuschese's Cafe Milano has long been a gathering place for Washington's glamorous set. Over the last few years Nuschese has transformed his restaurant from a single dining room to a complex of rooms–from a rustic upstairs wine room to the elegant Domingo room–that host social gatherings of all stripes.

Chef Domenico Cornacchia feeds his celebrity clientele well. Strengths of the restaurant are its flexible menu and a staff that serves a casual diner who orders pizza, a salad, or a plate of pasta with the same respect as one who orders a full meal. You might begin a meal here with a plate of beautifully fried shrimp, calamari, eggplant, and zucchini or perhaps a delicate flan of white asparagus with a poached egg and robiola cheese.

The kitchen will gladly serve a half order of pasta, so you might follow the antipasto with a plate of Cornacchia's wonderful strozzapreti with salt cod, olives, capers, and tomato. Good main-course choices include a veal chop, pounded and grilled and remarkably moist and flavorful, or roasted veal, paired with a rich mushroom risotto.