Aria Pizzeria & Bar alleviates daytime stress with an assortment of hearty happy-hour fare and drink specials served in a casual atmosphere boasting high-definition TVs and occasional live music. Large cheese and pepperoni pizzas ($12–$14) form an absorbent foundation for 16-ounce drafts of Stella Artois ($4) or a signature Dark n' Stormy cocktail ($5). Fill the gullet of a large group or a massive Super Soaker with a 60-ounce pitcher of on-tap Jose Cuervo margarita or Jeremiah Weed sweet tea and lemonade ($20 each) and relax in one of more than 100 outdoor seats in the Ronald Reagan Building courtyard patio. Customers that use their Groupon for Saturday-evening dinner can feast on forkfuls of baked lasagna ($9.75) or saw through the crusty exterior of a blackened-chicken sandwich with provolone cheese and aioli ($7.75). The eatery's sociable staff will also gladly validate your parking or decision to become a rodeo clown.
Finemondo brings authentic Italian country-kitchen cuisine to Washington, DC, in a warm, well-lit dining room that recalls the simple hearth of a Tuscan villa. Plunge into Finemondo's menu with hot and cold appetizers, such as the fried calamari ($9.50 for lunch, $10 for dinner), pan-roasted sea scallops ($11.50/$12.50), or mozzarella with melon and prosciutto ($8.50/$9.50). Traditional pasta dishes include gnocchi in a creamy tomato-porcini sauce ($17.50/$18.50), spaghetti and meatballs ($17.50/$18.50), and lasagna ($18.50/$19.50). Meat-eaters can whirl through the carnivortex with the braciola ($19.50/$24.50), beef rolled with prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and pinenuts; the bocconcini di vitello's ($19.50/$24.50) veal bites braised with white wine, cream, oven-dried tomatoes, and chili peppers; or a classic chicken parmigiana ($19.50/$24.50). For a captivating conclusion to these elegant exercises in Italian eats, Finemondo deals in decadent desserts, including the frutti di bosco ($8.50), which coats mixed berries with balsamic vinegar and is served with vanilla ice cream, and a crème brûlée ($7.50) with a Giuseppe Arcimboldo painting's worth of seasonal fruit.
Since its founding in 2001, The Upper Crust Pizzeria has fashioned artful thin-crust pizzas in 19 storefronts with modern, architectural touches. Chefs craft specialty pies inspired by local landmarks, from the sundried-tomato cobblestones of the Beacon Hill to the pesto-painted walls of the Green Monster. Diners can opt to spread sweet sauce over a regular or whole-wheat crust or request that any pie be served white without sauce, and combine slices with crisp salads or pounce on the geometric goodness of a spinach square or half moon-shaped calzone. Restaurant interiors are accoutered with modern flourishes such as flat-screen TVs and pan-decorated ceilings, allowing one to lie down and admire their reflection before a postmeal nap.
It starts with dough made from scratch each day. Chefs continue the pizza-making process by ladling on sauce made in house from freshly peeled Italian tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Whole-milk mozzarella then melts around gyro meat, eggplant, sausage, and other toppings in the rippling heat of an oven. Washington Deli’s owners supervise the entire process, drawing on pizza expertise accumulated during formative years spent in New York. Their workers rush from the kitchen, carrying paninis, boxed lunches, and platters—including vegan and gluten-free options—to fuel workplace parties or collapse the flimsy tables of rival offices.
Lighthearted restaurateur Savino Recine is dedicated to two passions in life: performing magical feats in the kitchen as well as on the stage. Recine, owner of Primi Piatti, takes the spotlight in order to wow wide-eyed patrons with tricks involving fire, sleight of hand, and various illusions (tickets valued at $30 per person). While audience members’ minds will be enthralled by the magic, their stomachs will be satisfied by an authentic Italian meal. The menu features a bevy of delicacies, including carpaccio di manzo ($12.50)—an appetizer with beef carpaccio, avocado, and hearts of palm—served with olive oil and lemon dressing. A variety of pasta dishes come dressed to impress, such as the lasagna di farro con burrata ($21.50), made with burrata cheese and basil pesto, while entrees such as the filleto di tonno ($31.50), which features center-cut tuna served over fava beans in a reduction of Chianti and lobster broth, appeases omnivores. Enjoy tasty tricks and treats with a Houdini-tinged heap of delicious food at Primi Piatti.
After visiting Ella's Wood Fired Pizza, a reviewer from the Washington City Paper went over the moon for its signature crust. Baked in the eatery's namesake oven, Ella's Neapolitan-style thin crusts are "perfectly crisp with a hint of smoke," while touches of olive oil and sea salt lend "tremendous flavor." Of course, the fixings atop that flavorful foundation are equally swoon-worthy. Ella's cooks handcraft nearly 20 specialty pies, from the di mare's pairing of pesto and shrimp to the bosco's medley of roasted tomatoes and roasted-garlic puree. The culinary team also yields decisions to diners, who can customize pizzas with 40-plus ingredients—including fingerling potatoes and vegan soy cheese—along with the option for a gluten-free crust.
Alongside pizzas, the kitchen staff specializes in traditional and creative Italian dishes, from mushroom ravioli with roasted red pepper sauce to risotto balls filled with gooey mozzarella. Plentiful beer and wine options complement meals, which unfold in a cozy interior with rustic Italian touches such as stone columns and a corner reserved for napping gondoliers.