Cuisine: Its reputation was built on wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, but the kitchen’s small-plate specials—which can include a fry plate of batter-dipped sardines and lemon slices—have come to overshadow the pies. Chef/owner Peter Pastan and his crew scour the markets for the best each season has to offer for their ever-changing list of specials. The one constant: intensity of flavor.
Mood: The cramped main dining area can be noisy, but it’s a good option for families with youngsters and for those who enjoy a charged atmosphere. For anyone who doesn’t, the cozier back bar and the quieter upstairs offer a more relaxed experience.
Best for: All those who claim the Washington area lacks simple, authentic Italian trattoria fare at reasonable prices.
Best dishes: Seasonal specials of late have included a Romanesco cauliflower deepened by anchovy, sweet garlic, and a touch of hot pepper; plump, tart sardines that taste of the sea; and an exceptional eggplant Parmesan. Among regular menu items: the Vongole pizza topped with cockles in the shell; the simple Margherita pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil; superb house-made sorbets and ice creams.
Insider tips: Late Saturday and Sunday mornings bring house-made doughnuts as well as freshly baked onion-topped bialys and plain bagels served with cured salmon, house-made cream cheese, and red onion.
Open Monday for dinner, Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Moderate.