100 Best Restaurants 2010: Villa Mozart

No. 85: Villa Mozart

Cuisine: Chef/owner Andrea Pace anchors his dishes with familiar Northern Italian flavors—prosciutto with melon, eggplant lasagna—but elevates them with unexpected accents. When he’s successful, which is often enough (chocolate pappardelle with wild boar), the result feels fresh; when he’s not (a caprese salad with buffalo-milk foam), it feels forced.

Mood: Long on charm, this cozy but contemporary townhouse is a prime destination for date nights. Each table is adorned with fresh red roses, and the Italian arias soaring through the dining room set the mood for an evening of romance.

Best for: An old-fashioned date.

Best dishes: Wide bands of smoked prosciutto sharing the plate with hemispheres of sweet cantaloupe; coins of eggplant and zucchini stacked with pungent Taleggio; a dressed-up “meat and potatoes” with lamb two ways (roasted shoulder, grilled rack) and a cube of potato mille foglie; delicately poached halibut filet in a comforting but light mushroom-based broth with white beans and artichokes; chocolate soufflé, cracked and filled with Grand Marnier sauce at the table.

Insider tips: The wine list is small, but the corkage fee for bringing your own bottle is just $25—cheaper than almost anything else on the menu.

Service: ••½

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

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 Logan Circle.