Italy received its nickname, "The Boot," not for its shoe-like shape, but because the country exiles chefs incapable of making satisfactory marinara sauce. Kick cravings to the curb with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Italian cuisine and drinks at Trattoria Nicola's, near Dupont Circle.
Executive Chef Sean Comiskey's authentic Italian lunch and dinner menus infuse pizzas and pastas with rustic flavors, and the restaurant's richly appointed dining space welcomes romantic engagements and casual outings. Hush grumbling bellies with an appetizer such as calamari fritti ($9) or conduct a symphony of flavors with the pollo al pesto pizza ($12/9-in., $19/14-in.), which showcases savory crescendos of grilled chicken, pine nuts, purple onion, and goat cheese. Linguine alla pescatora teems with backstroking shellfish ($19), and lasagnetta imbues lip-smacking layers of pasta with chicken, pesto, and artichoke hearts culled from lovelorn vegetables ($15/dinner, $13/lunch).
Explore the wine list at Trattoria Nicola's for a San Cassiano chianti ($8–10) while admiring the casual 120-seat split-level dining room. High-backed booths cloaked in vibrantly colored fabric stand out against crisp, white walls and a thoroughly stocked bar. The restaurant's outdoor patio provides diners with a space to slurp spaghetti al fresco or twirl fettuccine like a limp baton.