Cheap Eats 2007: Il Pizzico

Take a charming trattoria of the kind you might find in Philly or New York and put it in the hands of owners with the sensibility of fast-food managers. Disinclined to turn away crowds, management paces meals with ruthless efficiency: Main courses are apt to follow moments after appetizers, and you can count on the check hitting the table with your last bite of dessert. If ever there was a place to go before a movie, this is it.

Which is too bad, because this ought to be the kind of place to make an evening out of—it has the satisfying, affordably priced Italian cooking too little in evidence in Washington. The tightly focused menu lets the kitchen concentrate on getting the simple things right: The pastas are all made in-house (the gnocchi is terrific), the salads are judiciously dressed, the sauces and ragus are rarely so burdensome as to blanket the taste of a meat or fish (making for a splendid veal scaloppine), and desserts often are as light as they are rich.

If only you had time to linger over all of it.

Open daily except Sunday for lunch and dinner.

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