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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Tue–Sat 6:30pm–10:00pm

Features Veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards None
Reservations Not accepted

Adams Morgan
1790 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 328-9114
Pasta Mia
Mamma mia, check out the wait on Columbia Road

What exactly is it that possesses people to wait more than an hour for a table here? And we don’t mean waiting at a bar with a cocktail in hand. We mean standing out on the sidewalk along Columbia Road, rain or shine, February’s cold or April’s rain, August’s oppressive heat or June’s sticky humidity. Perhaps it’s Pasta Mia’s popularity among both locals and tourists that makes it doubly difficult to patronize. Perhaps it’s the reasonable prices for gargantuan plates of pasta. Or perhaps people just like a good challenge. If you view the wait as part of the trials and tribulations of the experience here, you’ll feel like you’ve paid your dues and earned your pasta.

Which is why it’s even more insulting when your pasta is served to you at such a searingly hot temperature that, upon receiving it, you have to wait about 10 minutes before you can even attempt a bite without fear of scalding your taste buds and rendering them useless for days to come. And we’re not kidding. These noodles are hot. We can understand the problem that limited kitchen space presents, but c’mon guys. Figure something out. This is unacceptable.

But once it cools down, you’ll be pretty happy. The pasta is cooked to an ideal al-dente, ensuring an solid starting point for the dishes. Sauces tend to be heavy and creamy, especially so in the case of the legendary chicken ravioli with pink sauce; any meaty flavor the chicken might have is pretty much obliterated by an unbelievably deep, rich, intense blend of reduced tomato, cream, and, quite possibly, crack. But you won’t mind—you’ll be lapping it up like soup. Pesto is another popular option, green, herby, and pleasant, although it doesn’t hew closely enough to the noodles.

Quarters are cute, with tables set close, and just enough cheesy Italian-American accents like red-checkered tablecloths. And the high rate of turnovers pretty much ensures a constant and lively buzz. Servers, while a bit harried, are friendly and accommodating.

So is Pasta Mia worth the unpleasant wait? Nope. But we’re not going to let that keep us away. Our trick is to come as late as possible; there might be a short wait, but chances are you can wait inside instead of being queued up on Columbia.

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