100 Best Restaurants 2012: Liberty Tavern

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


It seems as if every restaurant today is cranking out its own charcuterie, rolling pastas by hand, doing its own pickling. Here that attention to detail extends even further. There’s not just a pastry chef on staff but also a bread baker. Order tea and it comes in a tiny iron pot with loose leaves.

Some of chef Liam LaCivita’s dishes reflect his years of training, while others update what Grandma made–or in the case of the chocolate cake, a recipe on the back of a mayo jar from the ’30s. The menu might seem all over the map (obvious influences are Italian, Portuguese, and Pennsylvania Dutch), but the common denominator is LaCivita’s emphasis on the rustic. Even his most artful plates bear hefty portions.

What to get: Smoked salmon atop warm potato blinis; Vermont pizza with Cabot cheddar, prosciutto, and Granny Smith apples; fazzoletti (thin, folded squares of pasta with fried quail and black-truffle froth); Portuguese-style swordfish in clam-and-saffron broth with sausage, escarole, and white beans; grilled branzino with squid-ink-soaked fregola nera, a tiny pasta; roast Amish chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes and gravy; chocolate cake.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

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.