Wine-Friendly Italian Restaurants in Washington d.c. close to the National Gallery of Art and the national mall


The National Gallery of Art and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the other national museums lining the National Mall in Washington, DC attract thousands of visitors a day. Touring the museums is not only gratifying and entertaining but educational as well. In fact, there is so many interesting exhibits at the various museums that to do them right requires a visit of several days.

The downside is that you are likely to experience some gallery fatigue and in need of post-gallery sustenance. While all the museums have some institutional, buffet-style food facilities, with few exceptions the food, the ambiance and the prices are not that great. Convenient? - yes; enjoyable? - not really.

Also, with few exceptions, there is a dearth of interesting dining venues close-by the Mall. While not particularly within walking distance there are some interesting and worthwhile, not-too-distant restaurants that can be reached by a short taxi ride or, in some cases, a quick hop on D.C.'s Metro subway system.

Listed below are ten wine-friendly Italian restaurants, any of which is worth a visit after touring the National Gallery of Art or other museums on the Mall. If interested, a more complete listing of wine-friendly restaurants and wine bars in the greater DC metropolitan area is available at DC Wine - Friendly Restaurants

The restaurants are listed in order of proximity to the NGA. Unless otherwise indicated, advance reservations are recommended for all restaurants listed.  


601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (entrance on Indiana Avenue), Washington DC
Phone: 202-628-2888 Fiola Website
This is star-chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter modern Italian restaurant that is top-heavy with restaurant and dining awards. Chef Trabocchi is from Italy’s coastal Marche region so he likes to showcase the bounty of the sea as evidenced by the many seafood dishes on the menu. But that’s not to say you should skip the creative pasta and meat dishes also on the menu. Fiola has a massive wine list studded with high-profile names from the Piedmont and Tuscany regions. Expensive.
Distance - 0.1 mile: 5 minute walk.

Ristorante Tosca

1112 F St. NW, Washington DC 20004
Phone: 202-367-1990 Tosca Website
Tosca has been around for over a decade and is still going strong. This F Street restaurant dishes up contemporary northern Italian cuisine. It offers an interesting tasting menu with wine pairings. The extensive wine list includes a generous array of wines from Italy’s Piedmont region. Attire is business casual.
Distance - 0.6 miles: 3 minutes by taxi.

Casa Luca

1099 New York Avenue, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-628-1099 Casa Luca website  
This is another restaurant of celebrity chef Fabio Trabocchi. The cuisine at Casa Luca features the rustic flavors of traditional dishes from Marche region of Italy. The osteria-type dining provides for a more relaxed and less expensive dining experience than at Trabocchi’s other more upscale restaurant, Fiola. But less expensive doesn’t mean cheap. The breads, flatbreads, house made pasta and desserts are as good as they come. Top the evening off with a house made limoncello digestivo.
Distance - 1.1 miles: 5 minutes by taxi.

Acqua Al 2

212 7th Street SE, Washington DC, 20003
Phone: 202-525-4375 Acqua Al 2 website
Acqua Al 2 is in a small, cozy, atmospheric, brick-walled space with a tin roof across from the Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill area. The restaurant is fashioned after the original Acqua Al 2 that opened over 35 years ago and is still going strong in Florence Italy (the restaurant’s name refers to the street address of the restaurant in Florence). Different tasting menus for salads, pastas, steaks, desserts and cheeses are offered in addition to some generous, Florentine-style steak and veal entrees.
Moderately expensive.
Distance - 1.8 miles: 10 minutes by taxi.


1541 14th Street NW (corner of 14th and Q Streets), Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-232-0920 Etto website 
Located on a corner spot on the lively, hip 14th Street scene a few doors up from the Studio Theatre, this restaurant, pizzeria and wine bar has received good reviews since it opened several years ago. The menu changes daily. While the restaurant is short on space it is long on competent, knowledgeable service and quality of food, especially the pizzas which are some of the best in town. The Burata, a creamy mozzarella from Italy, is outstanding, the best I’ve tasted outside of Italy. Note: Etto does not take reservations.
Distance - 1.8 miles: 8 minutes by taxi.


1610 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 202-803-2389 Ghibellina Website
With its expansive bar, brick walls and large windows that look onto the lively 14th Street scene, Ghibellina is a popular watering spot for happy-hour festivities for the young and terminally hip crowd. But don’t let that dissuade you - the open kitchen in the rear serves up some excellent pizzas, freshly-prepared pasta and small plate tapas-style dishes. Ghibellina also has a small but competent list of wines by the glass and bottle.
Distance - 1.9 miles: 10 minutes by taxi.

The Red Hen 

1822 First Street NW, Washington DC 20001
Phone: 202-525-3021  Red Hen Website
This Italian-inspired American restaurant is located in the historic Bloomingdale neighborhood. This restaurant is hugely popular and has introduced a youthful vibe to the neighborhood and the DC dining scene in general.

The Red Hen serves wood-fired light Italian fare as well as full meals in a rustic but welcoming ambience. It has an open kitchen and large bar. It has a short but carefully selected list of wines available by glass or bottle at imbibing-friendly prices. No reservations accepted for parties of less than eight.
Distance - 2.1 miles: 11 minutes by taxi.

Al Tiramisu  

2014 P Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202-467-4466 Al Tiramisu Website 
Don’t be turned off by the unprepossessing exterior of this restaurant located just a few blocks west of DuPont Circle. Inside is a sometimes noisy but generally intimate restaurant serving wonderfully prepared modern Italian favorites. It serves up some terrific seafood and house made pasta dishes and has a serious wine list that prominently features wines from the Piedmont region as well as some enticing Brunello, Super-Tuscan and other wines.
Distance - 2.2 miles: 11 minutes by taxi.


2029 P Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202-872-1180 Obelisk Website
This highly-regarded Italian restaurant features set menus of modern takes on traditional Italian cooking in a small and informal townhouse setting. A short but well-thought-out wine list includes wine pairing options for most main courses. Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable service. Expensive.
Distance - 2.3 miles: about 12 minutes by taxi and same by Metro.

Osteria Morini 

301 Water SE, Suite 109, Washington DC 20003
Phone: 202-484-0660  Osteria Morini Website
This 130-seat osteria in southeast DC’s newly-redeveloped Navy Yard is an offshoot of the New York SoHo original. Morini’s menu is lightly based on the traditional foods of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region and its capital city of Bologna. With its waterfront view, high ceiling, wood-burning grill and open kitchen where Executive Chef Matt Adler struts his stuff, Osteria Morini has become a destination restaurant and guests are lining up for tables.
Distance - 2.4 miles: about 13 minutes by taxi.

For other articles on food and wine see Food and Wine

©Richard Marcis
February 14, 2017


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