This snug Italian-American joint is a real find.

June 2006 Cheap Eats

This red-sauce trattoria has wit and style–and the feel of Little Italy. Much of the food tastes like it came from the kitchen of an Italian nona, and no wonder: The two thirtysomething brothers who run the place–one cooks, the other manages–copped recipes from their own.

Snug and cozy with dark wood tables and chairs, vintage family photos on the frescoed walls, and a faux fireplace that's really a TV screen, Olazzo is both romantic and family friendly. Young servers amp up good cheer, as do Monday's half-price wine night and Tuesday's $5 martinis.

But even without the boozy come-on, the place is a find. Crisp fried tendrils of calamari heaped in a giant martini glass will make you smile. The best big plates are the traditional ones: well-seasoned meatballs with al dente spaghetti; lasagna with a robust Bolognese sauce; chicken cardinale with tomato-cream sauce; crusty thin-pounded chicken Milanese. Less successful are dishes catering to modern health concerns, like salmon with mango relish and a flavorless vegetable pasta. A nice house salad comes with all entrées, but get the dressing on the side–the kitchen tends to overdo it.

For nostalgia's sake, splurge on a crisp-shelled cannoli for dessert, the essence of Little Italy in a few crunchy bites. 

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.