Image: BBQ Pork Tortellini
Last Updated: 6/13/2020
Gift Cards – redeemable at all of Fabio’s spots.
Last Visited: June 2019
The three things you need to know about Sfoglina are: 1) the pasta is out of this world good; 2) both spaces are sprawling and have outdoor seating – a large covered patio (Van Ness), or on the sidewalk (downtown); 3) it is not cheap. The fourth thing is that there are two of them. The original in Van Ness. A second one that replaced (lamentably) Casa Luca downtown. There is a third one on the way in Rosslyn.
There are a bunch of appetizers ranging from antipasti-styled dishes to small plates and salads. Most of them are straight-forward but executed with finesse, like the grilled provolone with tomato sauce and olives. The grilled calamari with a nutty Romesco sauce is seasoned, grilled straight, and served with a sauce underneath. It is pure squid and delightful flavors, but there is no ignoring what you are eating. Same goes for the octopus.
The pastas are the centerpiece here. Owner/Chef Fabio Trabocchi brought in a master pasta maker from Italy, and the dedication to craft shows. The flavor, texture and touch elevate the dishes to something beyond what you probably expect and beyond what other places would do with the same ingredients. Some of the sharpness of the opening crew has softened, but the dishes are still very good and many change with the seasons. A recent visit included spinach tortellini with BBQ pork filling. Some are extraordinary. The kind that make you close your eyes and concentrate on the unfolding layers of flavor. There are a handful of entrees that appear to be prepared simply and well, but I never get past the pasta.
The wine list is not long and leans toward choices that are commercially safe (I think they have found every Chardonnay made in Italy), but it covers the bases and gems can be found. The service is buoyant and prompt. The vibe mixes “nice-night out” with “upscale neighborhood.” The word that comes to mind is “adult.” The décor will not let you forget you are at Sfoglina. The name/logo is stamped across the restaurant as if it were an Italian clothing brand, albeit one of the more tasteful ones like Gucci (and the downtown location is less aggressive).
As mentioned at the top, like other Trabocchi places, it is not cheap. If you think this is cheaper because it is pasta-focused, you will be hurting on the back end. That said, it is not as expensive as sister places Del Mar or Fiola. If you split an app and dessert it will be in line with nicer fine dining spots in D.C.
Other Guidance: It is nice, but informal. Ties are not out of place but far from required. It is a pasta-focused restaurant, so vegetarians can do well, but vegans will have a tougher go. For GF they offer rice Fusilli and corn Spaghetti.
Rating: Worth Paying for Cab
4445 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC
1099 New York Ave NW, Washington DC
Washington Post – Tom gave it 3.0 stars (He is a sucker for decadence, but in this case he is correct).
Washingtonian: Unranked in 2019 and 2020, but 2018: #76.
Rick (positive early take)
Michelin: Bib Gourmand, but good luck keeping to a budget here.