In America, Italian cuisine is well-known, well-appreciated and, well, delicious. And Ristorante Piccolo is no disappointment. The name means “small restaurant,” and accordingly, Piccolo is a little but charming Italian restaurant, perfect for a lovely night out. Located at 1068 31st St., it can be found right past Moby Dick’s and nestled across the street from Cafe La Ruche. Stepping inside, you can see that this restaurant has an elegant and inviting ambiance with lighting and decor that are warm, simple and romantic. Piccolo has two levels, with outdoor options during pleasant weather both outside its front doors and on its second-floor balcony. The wait staff is pleasant, inviting and attentive, adding even more to the experience.
Ristorante Piccolo has a good variety of Italian dishes, ranging from classics such as calamari and bruschetta for appetizers to cioppino tutto mare (seafood stew), chicken parmesan and spaghetti puttaneca for entrees, with more regional dishes mixed in as well. There are selections of fresh handmade pasta as well as pasta secca (dried) imported from Italy. There are plenty of options sure to satisfy both vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
To start, I had the bruschetta al granchio, a grilled piece of bread topped with crabmeat, peppers and lemon. The combination is delicious, although I would suggest eating the dish as quickly as possible: By the time I got to the last piece, the topping had made the toast’s texture quite soggy and the dish a bit difficult to eat.
One can’t go wrong with the piccolo antipasti, a selection of cured meats and cheeses. It is quite basic, but one should never underestimate the timeless simplicity of bread, artisan cheese and aged meat and olives.
For the main course, I was excited to try the fresh handmade pasta, and the Taste of Georgetown-winning agnolotti ai porcini, (mushroom ravioli) which sounded tasty. In the end, though, I opted for the spaghetti ai frutti di mare al cartoccio. This dish featured spaghetti topped with seafood and a spicy tomato and basil sauce. The flavors were well-balanced, the sauce perfectly seasoned and the seafood properly cooked.
If you are not in the mood for pasta, there are many chicken and veal options. One of the most attractive choices was the pollo farcito, a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, aged Fontina and sage sautéed in Marsala wine.
To end, there was tiramisu. The flavors of the dark coffee and sweet mascarpone cream were perfect compliments, and the cookies were neither too soggy nor too dry. From start to finish, the meal was excellent, the restaurant beautiful and the evening a sweet memory.