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[Photo: Piccolo]

Anupama and I checked out Ristorante Piccolo in Georgetown last week after seeing that several of the pasta dishes were vegetarian and sounded tasty. We weren’t sure what to expect of the food or experience, but as you’ll see, we ended up being glad that we took the plunge.

The atmosphere is a confusing mix of home-style Italian restaurant and Georgetown dinner spot. The overall effect tended toward the former though, more convivial than stuffy. We wouldn’t call it romantic, necessarily, but the upstairs has a more secluded feel and a warm fireplace.

Our server was attentive, cheerfully answering our questions and giving suggestions. We started with tomato soup, a staff favorite, but not before seriously considering the evening’s special of cream of broccoli with blue cheese, (also made with vegetable stock). Our soup was tangy and tomato-y with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, but not something we’d necessarily order again.

Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro

We ordered two fresh pastas, agnolotti ai porcini and ravioli verde. The gnocchi pesto was tempting as well, as were a number of the dry pastas, including  pappardelle with mushrooms, vegetable lasagna, and rigatoni with pistachios and gorgonzola sauce.

The Taste of Georgetown-winning agnolotti was delicious – savory and somehow also dessert-like. The woodsy flavor of mushroom filling was set off by fragrant sage butter, making it taste way lighter than it should have given its caloric content. We actually discussed wanting to have it again soon while eating it the first time.

Agnolotti ai Porcini

Agnolotti ai Porcini

We also enjoyed the ravioli, with fresh bright green filling and tomato sauce with a hint of cream. It may have been slightly over-salted and heavy-handed where the agnolotti was light and balanced, but it was still satisfying.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli

Ravioli Verde

For dessert we had an ethereal (yes, it really was ethereal) slice of almond butter cake. Wow. The cake was fluffy and moist, layered with delicate almond-scented cream, and topped with almond crunch. This level of cake success was a very pleasant surprise, leaving us looking forward to more light and creamy desserts  next time – maybe tiramisu, or limoncello mascarpone cake.

Almond butter cake

Almond butter cake

Just as things couldn’t get better, a manager came over near the end of our meal, with a survey and coupon for a free glass of wine for next time. Sold!

Piccolo makes an earnest effort with its food and service, and it shows. We’ll definitely be going back (and not just to use our coupon). UPDATE: Piccolo is best on a weeknight when they aren’t too busy. We tried it on a Saturday night and were disappointed by the undercooked, over-buttered agnolotti and gummy gnocchi. The almond butter cake was still divine, though!

1068 31st Street NW
(202) 342-7414