Food

Notti Bianche

January 2006 100 Very Best

THE SCENE. This narrow, orange-dappled trattoria, with its potted herbs and vintage Martini & Rossi posters, is a hit with theater crowds from the nearby Kennedy Center, parents treating GW students to a real dinner, and business travelers staying upstairs at the George Washington University Inn.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Chef Anthony Chittum has a knack for making simple ingredients leap with flavor.

WHAT YOU WON'T. Service tends to be leisurely. And the kitchen is sometimes guilty of buttering up dishes that are strong and clear enough to stand on their own merit.

BEST DISHES. A bruschetta plate, with crostini bearing a lush smear of chicken-liver mousse, eggplant caponata, and a light calamari salad; a goat-cheese frittata paired with stunningly sweet roasted tomatoes; charred baby octopus with celery salad; roasted chicken with pancetta and sage butter; tagliatelle with vodka sauce and shrimp; hanger steak with black-olive gnocchi; pistachio gelato.

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