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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
8.8
9.0
$55
Italian
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Mon–Fri noon–2:30pm
Mon–Fri 5:30pm–10:30pm
Sat 5:30pm–10:30pm
Sun 5:00pm–9:30pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.altiramisu.com

Dupont
2014 P St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 467-4466
Al Tiramisú
Authentic Italian brilliance can rise from the most unpredictable places

Are you kidding? This restaurant’s name is so tacky that, for any Italophile—or, for that matter, for anyone who approaches these types of places with a critical eye—it starts the evening with a strike against it. The narrow rooms and cozy, warmly lit tables are well conceived, equally well suited to a date or business dinner. But then comes strike two: when you sit down, the staff speaks to you in a tone of voice that evokes a patronizing Italian waiter at a tourist-menu restaurant just off St. Mark’s Square. Al Tiramisú’s food couldn’t be good—could it?

You’d better believe it. While the menu is hardly creative, the kitchen executes with consistent fidelity to the provenance of its recipes; clearly, it’s run by people who know what these dishes are supposed to taste like. If you can tolerate blatant Italophile-speak for a sentence, it’s as if you can taste the fact that the place is run by real, live Italians.

Outside the confines of the printed menu, daily specials like a delicious orata (a species of white, delicate Mediterranean bass also known as “dorado” or “dourade”) or pasta with sardines and tomato (an underappreciated Sicilian dish) are often among the best choices here. Off the menu but on demand, they’ll also hook you up with an assortment of small-portioned starters, which, at one recent visit, featured creamy mozzarella di bufala with a sweet cherry tomato; an unusually flavorful marinated Portobello mushroom with goat cheese, the sort of preparation of which we’re usually quite scared; swordfish a bit over-cured by its citrus, but still enjoyable; and sensational whole squid, lightly breaded and then grilled.

If there were a lowlight, it’s a slightly dry boneless-skinless-chicken-breast main—a dish that’s essentially doomed from the start—yet even this turns out better than most, marinated, aggressively seasoned, and well paired with authentically Italian oven-roasted potato medallions, which compensate for the inauthenticity of the protein. The downside is that the prices here can really creep up on you, but the authenticity and atmosphere justify them. Now if they only changed the name of the place, they’d be unstoppable.

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