I like to break Passover by gorging on Italian food. As far as I’m concerned, Italians have the monopoly on all the best carbs – pasta, pizza, garlic bread, and tiramisu – and after eight days without, all I want is a big ol’ plate of spaghetti and a rich, buttery hunk of aromatic garlic bread.
This year, I chose Pasta Mia as my place of choice for my Italian feast. I’d never been, and people keep telling me how wonderful it is, so I figured that it was a perfect place to break Passover. “It’s so worth the wait!” people tell me.
Well, I can’t tell you if it is or not. We arrived at 8:15, and after 45 minutes of waiting outside – not even making it to the indoor waiting foyer, my party and I gave up. At that point it was 9pm, the Boyfriend was cranky from not having eaten, I was cranky because I was wasting precious grain-eating moments, and GFD could only attest that the food was “fine” and was waiting just to humor me. Am I willing to wait over an hour for a plate of spaghetti? Apparently not.
So, we bailed, and ate mediocre Italian food at Anna Maria’s on Connecticut Avenue. Anna Maria’s is an institution in its own right. It’s been around for over forty years, and was well known in the ‘60s and ‘70s as a late night stop for celebrities such as Bob Hope or Muhammad Ali. As proof, the walls are lined with signed photographs from the likes of Dom Delouise, Tiger Woods and LL Cool J. The restaurant is quiet and cozy, not at all crowded (no line!) and the service is good enough. If only the food were good. Sadly, it is woefully under-seasoned and nothing special.
We ordered garlic bread to start since we were all hungry and cranky at this point. It arrived buttery and crisp, and loaded with garlic and parsley. A promising start, for sure. On the other hand, I was just happy it wasn’t matzo. We wolfed it down while we waited for our main meals.
I stuck to the basics – spaghetti with meat balls. The Boyfriend ordered meat lasagna, GFD ordered linguini with calamari, and his boyfriend ordered meat ravioli. It was all…fine. Just, fine. Nothing that I couldn’t have made at home and some of it considerably worse than what I could have made. Everything needed salt. The best part of the Boyfriend’s lasagna was the sausage that was inexplicably served as a side. GFD’s linguini was bland. We ordered tiramisu and cannoli for dessert. The cannoli was wonderful, like a crunchy, cream filled donut, the taste of sweet fried dough lingering on the tongue. The tiramisu, like most everything else, was just OK.
LL Cool J, next time you come to town, let me show you around. We will eat at much better places, you and I.
So my question to the masses is this: should we have waited for Pasta Mia? I’m sure the food would have been better, but is a plate of spaghetti worth an hour or more of waiting? I will attempt a return visit if people can convince me it’s worth it. Are there any other Italian joints I should put on my list? In a city that does Thai, Ethiopian and Indian so well, where can a girl go for good fettuccini or veal saltimbocca?