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Alba Osteria: Roberto Donna finally gets it right

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Alba Osteria

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Alba Osteria is somewhat different than other Italian restaurants in the area in that it manages to provide a venue that is casual and relaxed, without sacrificing the quality of food. Many of DC’s best Italian restaurants are very upscale, which is great for a special occasion, but can be stuffy if you just want a delicious Italian meal that won’t break the bank. As for the few few casual DC Italian restaurants, they tend to serve run of the mill Italian food. Alba Osteria on the other hand has delicious food with a high end ingredients and a specific theme.

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The cuisine at Alba Osteria is Italian food from the Piedmont region of Italy. The menu, which includes a host of small hot and cold appetizers, cheeses, pizzas, and pastas, incorporates sauces, ingredients, and cooking styles that hail from Piedmont.

The best approach to the menu is to start by ordering several of the small plates to share. The beet salad is earthy and balanced, with crunchy pistachios, salty pecorino cheese, and acidic balsamic vinegar. The trio of fritters is even better, with one eggplant, one potato, and one cauliflower fritter served with a gorgeous savory tomato sauce that is called “bagnetto rosso” and is native to the Piedmont region. A cheese plate, complete with cheese from Piedmont, hazelnut honey, and bread, is another great sharing starter, as is the garlicky Piedmont-style spinach.

For your main course it will be hard to choose between the pizzas and pastas. The wood fired pizzas are delicious with their crisp crusts, burnt in just the right spots and topped with various delicious topping combinations such as the four cheese pizza and the eggplant, oregano, and mozzarella pizza. But ultimately, the pastas steal the spotlight. The lasagnette, with a creamy béchamel sauce is heady concoction, and the mezzaluna, which are half-moon ravioli stuffed with a trio of cheeses, is a decadent, irresistible delight, served in a steamer basket which makes the ravioli extra pillowy.

Prices are reasonable with pizzas under $15 and pastas available in half portions under $10. Appetizers are all also under $10, and the wine list starts with $20 bottles.

For dessert, try the fried apple rings. They are crunchy and sweet, drizzled with caramel, served with a cool vanilla gelato, and perfect for eating with your hands.

Alba is great for a casual dinner date or get together with friends. See their website for a complete dinner menu, information on the happy hour, and details on the bottomless brunch deal.

Alba Osteria, 425 I St Northwest Washington DC 20001, 202- 733-4454

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