Il Pizzico

This simple Italian-American dining room is pasta heaven.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

This strip-mall restaurant in north Rockville is the kind of place where the cooking takes you back to a time when eating Italian food meant eating Italian-American–when not even sophisticates had heard of agnolotti.

The short menu showcases simply and carefully prepared northern-Italian classics, from a lightly dressed tangle of arugula with speck and shaved Parmigiano to a generous plate of gnocchi whose lightly rich Gorgonzola sauce never obscures the flavor of the well-made dumplings, to a veal Sandra in a wine sauce fragrant with rosemary and sweet with raisins.

Sticking with a glass of house white or red is a necessity if you want to keep costs down, but there are some well-chosen half bottles of Chianti for diners willing to splurge. Be forewarned: Savoring and lingering over your meal takes work. For all the attention lavished on the food by the kitchen, the waitstaff is intent on turning tables; one course follows another with a brusque efficiency more suited to a truck stop. A parfait-style variation of tiramisu, heavy on the mascarpone and the espresso, makes a terrific end to a meal. Too bad the check is apt to hit the table before you've set your spoon down.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.