100 Best Restaurants 2009: Villa Mozart

No. 51: Villa Mozart

Cuisine: Northern Italian cooking that sometimes veers into the nonsensical—does the excellent beef carpaccio really need cubes of foie gras on top?—but often soars, especially the risottos and pastas.

Mood: This small cottage bears all the hallmarks of traditional romance: red roses on the tables, lilting opera, and street photos of Italy. There are white tablecloths and heavy silverware, but you’ll also feel comfortable in jeans.

Best for: Cozy dinners for two; anniversary or birthday celebrations (the waiters sing).

Best dishes: Chestnut soup with caramelized chestnuts; arugula salad; penne drizzled with butter and balsamic vinegar and hiding nubs of lobster; linguine with langoustines and shrimp; risotto with lobster and mushrooms; lacquered breast of pheasant with sauerkraut and Asian pear; saddle and leg of rabbit.

Insider tips: The lunch deal offers three courses for $18. It’s a simpler menu than you’ll find at night, but dinner dishes are available on request.

Service: •••

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurant 

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.