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Drink Like an Italian at La Forchetta

Drink Like an Italian at La Forchetta

Two words for you: pasta pillows. At Roberto Dona’s latest Italian eatery, La Forchetta, the fresh, housemade pasta is some of the best in the District, and makes the perfect carb complement to fresh cocktails with an Italian twist.

Though the cocktail list changes seasonally (read about author Eric Felten's vision for the drinks here), you can expect stiff (but still refreshing) combinations. When we went, we loved the booze-heavy Pratolino, which combines grappa (an Italian brandy), Amaro Averna (a Sicilian liqueur) and maraschino liqueur with fresh lemon and blood orange juices. It’s strong, so make sure to soak it up with some of the homemade focaccia.

With white rum, Falernum and lime, the Tempesta tastes more tropical — but a splash of the carbonated orange Chinotto soda adds an autentico touch. The Forchetta, by contrast, is a little more understated: just a dash of orange bitters with varieties of Italian wine.

The aforementioned pillow pasta is a must-eat. Filled with rocotta and spinach, it's bathed in a rich mascarpone cheese sauce and you'll want to lick up every drop (don't be afriad to order another bread basket to help you finish the job). For sides, try the asparagus — served in a cast-iron skillet and smothered in cheese on a bed of bacon — and the "La Forchetta Style" meatballs; they're just the right size. For dessert, the Hemisphere Tiramisu is the classic choice (it's served in a spectacular dome) but don't overlook the bombolini; small friend dough balls (think doughnut holes) that come with a whipped chocolate sauce.

Though the food tastes classic Italiano, the space is decidedly modern. An industrial-feeling ceiling and sleek surfaces are brightened up with pops of orange in the lattice work, lacquered chairs and cartoonish but somehow chic oversized wall fork (yup, a fork — or in Italian, forchetta). Edgy black chandeliers dress up the look, all of it revolving around the central, wood-burning pizza oven.

James Beard Award-winner Donna is no stranger to the D.C. epicurean scene (the well-known toque formerly ran the kitchen at the now-closed Galileo III downtown), but in this endeavor it appears he’s hit his stride. Though it’s a bit of a trek for some (the restaurant neighbors Chef Geoff’s near American University), it’s worth it for the quality Italian eats, bevvies and bright, lively atmosphere. Cin cin!

Photos by Lauren Sloat

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