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In a city awash with Italian restaurants, Tortino near Logan Circle scores a whopping 4 1/2 stars on Yelp, with rave reviews of perfect pasta and fantastic service at a reasonable price. Naturally, we were excited to visit.

The service is certainly friendly. Everyone from the hostess whose first words to us were ‘This is your first time? You’ll definitely be back!’ to our server to the guy who unclogged our salt shaker was solicitous and eager to help.

The menu offers a number of options for vegetarians: some salads, gnocchi with basil pesto, butternut squash ravioli, mozzarella ravioli, linguini with cherry tomatoes, and spinach pappardelle with mushrooms in cream sauce (minus the chicken).

Gnocchi with pesto

Gnocchi with pesto

Gnocchi served with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts was memorable in that it reminded me of lazy weeknights shopping in my freezer for pesto cubes and Trader Joe’s frozen gnocchi. Not bad, but not what I want to eat while wearing anything but pajamas.

Unfortunately, we fared even worse with butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and raisins, which even the most comfortable of pj’s wouldn’t make palatable.

Butternut squash ravioli

Butternut squash ravioli

While brown butter is a beautiful thing, it can’t overcome the epic battle that burnt garlic and raisins wage against each other over the taste buds. Bitter garlic infused the sauce and managed to clash with the sweet squash filling as well. Although we weren’t full, we cut our losses at this point and chose the check over dessert.

There were a couple of other unpleasant aspects of our visit that didn’t help. One side of the restaurant smelled like sewage and the air was damp, leading us to wonder if there’s a leakage or moisture control problem (or both). We had to send the first order of ravioli back after finding a stray piece of prosciutto in it. Still, this would all have been forgiven if at least one of our dishes was satisfying. But when we don’t bother to take home leftovers, we’re not coming back for more.

1228 11th St NW
(202) 312-5570

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