Il Piatto

Image: Chicken Parm.

Last Updated: January 2023


One of the more unlikely sources for good Italian comfort food is a couple blocks from the White House, in an area traditionally dominated by power dining spots.  Il Piatto serves up classics like chicken and eggplant parmigiano, fettucine Bolognese, and fried calamari.  It does them with a practiced hand that means they will be familiar but also better than most would pull off at home.  The arancini have a crispy exterior and creamy interior that matches the slightly creamy red sauce.  The chicken and veal are flattened and breaded and cooked to crispy and juicy consistency. The parm comes with a layer of thick tomato sauce, gooey cheese, and a side of linguine.  The menu centers on pasta and stick-to-your-rib mains.

The well-executed dishes are not by happenstance.  When restaurateur Hakan Ilhan decided to re-open the space after the fancy New American spot Mirabelle closed during the early Covid days, he brought in Chef Lina Nicolai.  Nicolai and her mother operated the neighborhood favorite Al Crostino for several years, before it closed in 2021.

Though the space was built for a high-end New American restaurant in the before times, it has been repurposed as a straightforward Italian restaurant with an inherited, overly-ornate setting without much modification.  There are no cutting-edge cocktails here, but like the food menu, classics are prominent.  The wine list is pretty deep, but also fits the pattern.  Mostly American and Italian from producers you may recognize.  On our initial visits, staff were still settling in, but any complaints were minor.

Befitting the old downtown tradition, Il Piatto is open for sitdown lunch, dinner and brunch (on weekends).  Outdoor seating available, weather permitting.

Other Guidance:  The mix of fancy setting and more casual food means that just about any level or formality (or informality) is welcome.  The restaurant is located at street level with no steps and ADA compliant bathrooms.  Vegetarians can finds a few things.  GF pasta is available.

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Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
Address: 900 Black Lives Matter Plz NW, Washington, DC 20006
Reservations: Opentable

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post: Tom was generally positive in his initial take.

Washingtonian: Preview – Old Al Crostino Thread.