The only thing that tells you Da Marco used to be an Italian grocery is the sandwich board in the back and the bank of refrigerated cases across from it. A year and a half ago the owners decided to turn the store, across from the AFI Silver Theatre, into a full-service restaurant.
In a city dominated by Italian chains at one end and high-minded “regional cooking” destinations on the other, Da Marco is an unabashed red-checkered-tablecloth Italian joint with soulful cooking, remarkable prices, and a spirit of abbondanza. The sausage is cased in-house, all dinners come with a crisp salad, the cannolis are filled to order, and a half-dozen pastas are handmade, including fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and crushed garlic and pasta alla amatriciana with soft cubes of pancetta.
Portions are large enough that you could make a meal of starters alone—the sausage, at once soft-textured and coarse (and excellent)—is nearly entrée-size, as is a wonderful plate of fried polenta, the soft, creamy medallions meant to be dunked into a fresh-tasting marinara.
The warmed-over bread and a too-liberal hand at times with the olive oil are off-key notes. But these are quibbles. This is a heartfelt independent doing battle in chain-mad Silver Spring—and winning.
Open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner.