100 Best Restaurants 2011: Obelisk

No. 14

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

At this Dupont Circle rowhouse, everything from the handwritten menus to the old banquettes feels charmingly homey. On chef/owner Peter Pastan’s Italian menu, you won’t find esoteric terms or plates with painterly compositions. The wow factor comes from allowing top-notch ingredients to shine with simple preparations that change daily.

In the procession of antipasti that start the five-course, prix fixe meal, a recent highlight was fried sardines served with only a lemon wedge. Another winner was burrata—a creamier version of fresh mozzarella—with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Like the unpretentious dishes, the dining room is spare, a contrast to Pastan’s other property, the clamorous 2 Amys pizzeria. Lingering feels natural thanks to easygoing servers who come off like friends hosting a dinner party.

Also good: Pig’s-head salad with carrots, chili, and celery; a salad of grapefruit, beets, and fennel; mousse-like pork-liver spread with candied hazelnuts; steak with sweet-and-sour onions and bitter chicory; Miss Frascati, a spiced walnut cookie in the shape of a woman’s figure with a sweet-wine ice cream.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

>> See all of 2011's 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 Petworth.