Walking into Posto, you might expect the two hostesses to hand you a plastic tray: The cavernous space, with a concrete floor and a sea of tables, feels more cafeteria than trattoria.
Massimo Fabbri, 30, a partner in the business, imagined the Logan Circle restaurant as a casual counterpart to Tosca, the refined Italian dining room in Penn Quarter where he’s executive chef. To chase away the ghosts of the prior tenant, Viridian, Fabbri painted some walls a warm yellow and paneled others with blond oak. It’s still an echoey cave, but a cozier one.
Matteo Venini, 30, a former Tosca sous chef, oversees a menu that reflects his and Fabbri’s Tuscan heritage. That translates to such simple, hearty fare as handmade tortelli with ricotta, spinach, and walnuts and grilled baby octopus with saffron potatoes. Both are successful, as are the wood-fired pizzas—Fabbri learned the dough recipe in culinary school 16 years ago—which have a crisp underside and a soft, bubbled rim.
There are faults along with the aces. Wild-boar chops spent too much time on the grill, and a wan starter of thin-sliced pork loin with a tuna-caper sauce could have used some of the saltiness from a side of olives.
Loosely translated from Italian, posto means “the spot.” Logan Circle residents probably will think of it as just that—a trusty fuel-up for hungry neighbors. The question is, can a place with ambitions of being more than a neighborhood restaurant grow into a destination for others?
Posto, 1515 14th St., NW; 202-332-8613. Open daily for dinner. Starters $6 to $12, main courses $8 to $22.