Remember the name Roberto Donna? The Italian chef, once revered in Washington, has largely faded from view. But a generation of chefs apprenticed under his watchful gaze, among them his most recent protégé, Amy Brandwein, who learned more than a thing or two about pasta making. Let other chefs send out the expected tagliatelle and chittarra—Brandwein’s lineup includes such obscurities as reginette (crown-like cups containing various stuffings of seafood, including, in her rendition, scallop and cod) and casonsei (small, Lombardy-style ravioli filled with beef, chard, and raisins). The impressive thing is that she can take a pasta you might never have heard of and turn it into something just as comforting as a soulful bowl of spaghetti. The noodle stands at the center of the experience, but don’t bypass the colorful salads and the rustic roasted meats.
Don’t miss: octopus with potato confit; chicken soup; roasted scallops; squid-ink spaghetti with tuna and chilies; strozzapreti with suckling-pig ragu; porchetta.