Image: A mighty and meaty pizza.
Last Updated: April 2022
Current Status: Open for sit-down, take-out and delivery. Outdoor dining expected in summer.
Overview: There are many impressive things about L’Ardente, including some stunning dishes and soaring space, but the most impressive may be the scale. They are serving scores of diners at once across three dining areas. Like Zaytinya, it requires almost factory-like order behind the guise of bustling, friendly service when all 180 seats are full.
The food is made to be crowd-pleasing. Chef/Owner David Deshaies explained that he wanted to make sure he had a few killer dishes on the menu. The one that became a star is the crispy-edged, so-tall-it-must-lay-sideways 40-layer lasagna. The mille-feuille approach of thin layers building flavors and textures works. Another such dish is the small-bites of duck ravioli served in web-footed cups with a creamy truffle sauce. Though the menu leans fancy, it also includes pizza, in addition to several pasta dishes and a few “for the table” plates. Unless you are carb-averse, you will be a happy eater here.
The bar does classic cocktails (Negroni, Spritz) plus variations of classics (Old-Fashioned). The wine list is Italian and California focused, with lots of big reds to match the meal.
Early on we experienced service glitches as the new staff settled in and the management figured out how to do quality control across the massive space, but those were not evident on a more recent visit. But keep in mind that patience may be necessary depending on the size of the crowd that night. This may be particularly true during peak tourist season, because L’Ardente is one of the best restaurants within a 15 minute walk of the Mall.
Washington Post: Tom swooned.
Washington City Paper: Laura Hayes went deep on the 40-layer lasagna.
DCist: Nevin Martell with a preview.
Michelin: On the list of recently added spots to be included in the 2022 Guide.