Nuovo peppers its heavy Mediterranean influence––evidenced from the menu to the decor––with a delicious nod to pan-Asian cuisine. Italian and Spanish dishes explore the flavors of land and sea with lemon risotto and slow-roasted veal or lightly fried shrimp, scallops, squid, and salmon. A library of Asian entrees, meanwhile, chronicles favorites such as pad thai and deep-fried pork, as well as lesser-known dishes such as Korean bibimbap––a rice bowl with steamed veggies, egg, beef, and sauces such as spicy peanut or red pepper.
Across one of Nuovo's walls, monochrome depictions of Italian and Spanish landmarks inspire Old-World flashbacks. On the opposite side a bar hosts flat-screen TVs above an honor guard of bottles. Red-cushioned high seats face a broad line of picture windows, and a pool table engenders healthy competition beside a long squishy couch and a wall of paintings. Diners can also hone their dance steps or help spoons realize their passion for forks with the aid of live music on Friday and flamenco on Saturday.
The menu at Pho Aura may be simple, but its flavors are wide-ranging. The dishes span culinary boundaries, from the traditional entrees of Hanoi to the innovative cuisine of Saigon. The list takes up only a single page, with choices nearly organized into seven dish types, such as báhn mì (baguette sandwiches), bún (noodles), com tay cam (entrees baked in earthen pots), and, of course, pho. Arguably the signature dish of Vietnam—and definitely the signature of Pho Aura—this rich, aromatic soup bubbles with roasted ginger, anise, onions, and coriander. Guests can order it with their choice of beef, such as sirloin, tripe, tendon, or meatballs, or enjoy it with chicken. And though pho is a must-try, the eatery’s other dishes—including braised lemongrass pork ribs and beef charbroiled over a charcoal grill with peanuts, sweet and sour pickles, and vermicelli noodles—are hardly second place, especially when paired with a choice from the surprisingly wide selection of Asian and Belgian beers.
Dragonfly Bistro brings Vietnamese flavors and pop culture to America's capitol. The restaurant's chefs specialize in the country's classic recipes, making 10 distinct types of pho, as well as pork ribs and catfish in clay pots. They follow up savory creations with signature desserts such as cardamom-infused wild black sticky rice and banana sacs—fried bites of fruit filled with sweet cheese and coconut served over a dish of ice cream.
The spacious dining room boasts wide-open hardwood floors, providing ample elbow room and space to lie down for a post-meal nap. After the last drop of pho has been served, the open area transforms into dance floor, where guests can get down to DJ sets and live music.
Little Italy Deli gives patrons a warm, fuzzy feeling with homestyle Italian-American meals. Piled-high sandwiches deliver packages of fresh greens and tomatoes along with prosciutto, smoked turkey, or mozzarella cheese over Italian sausage. Strands of linguini embrace simmered mussels, chicken breast, and tomato sauces, giving them one last hug before they depart to find their destiny on the end of someone's fork. Younger gourmands can check out a kid-friendly menu with spaghetti and meatballs and macaroni, making sure to save room for imported and house-made Italian desserts.
Amid padded dark-wood chairs and live bamboo plants, the dining room Lime Maki House was made to be inviting. Even the lime green walls evoke an exuberant feel that echoes the menu's focus on nigiri, sashimi, and maki made with fresh fish and produce. Beyond sushi, hot meals here span many Asian traditions and include Korean spicy pork and Japanese-influenced katsu dinners. On select nights, the restaurant transforms into an entertainment space with late-night karaoke, where diners can serenade sushi chefs with a well-earned rendition of "Endless Love."
With so many diverse cultural influences, it's no wonder Maharaja Wok has such a large menu. In it, customers will find food from northern India?goat curries and biryani?, southern India?flat bread called dosa?, and Nepal?grilled chicken with peppers. But they'll also find a slew of fusion dishes on the Indo-Chinese portion of the menu, such as sweet and sour chicken, pad thai, and sichuan noodles.