Image: Saffron Taglierini

Last Updated: May 2023


Tortino has been putting out classic, reliable Italian food for a decade.  It is not fancy or flashy.  It does not lobby hard on social media.  It is not in a buzzy neighborhood to get pulled into a Washingtonian list. But it is busy feeding people who come from the area and sometimes a little farther to enjoy a good meal.

Though the vibe feels like a classic red-sauce joint, the food draws on more Tuscan inspiration. The menu has a handful of classic, though not exactly obvious, appetizers (marinated mushrooms, prosciutto, scallops), and handful of salads, an even greater assortment of pastas, and a few mains.  There is little to guess because the dishes are easily imagined from even the cursory description: Saffron taglierini with scallops, calamari, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, cream sauce; pappardelle with chicken, mushrooms, cream sauce; lamb shank osso-buco style.  This is not to say that attention is not paid to details or that it is not well-prepared.  The kitchen is run by chef/owner Noé Canales, who spent decades working in some of the more notable Italian kitchens of the city – Café Milano, Tosca, Il Tiramisu.  One can see the crowd-pleasing aspects of Milano, the practiced hand of Tosca, but mostly the straightforward approach at a reasonable price point of Il Tiramisu.

Spread over two dining rooms, with a small bar and the extra touch of white tablecloths.  Warm bread is gratis. The wine list is more substantial than you might expect and affordable.  The menu is probably a bit more sophisticated than Billy Joel’s Mr. Cacciatore’s, but Tortino always brings to mind the “bottle of red/bottle of white” feeling of the Italian restaurants in his songs.  

Other Guidance:  As a neighborhood spot, shorts and t-shirts are not out of place, but there might also be a couple dressed up a little for a nice night out.  Located at street level, but there are a few steps to get in.  GF and vegetarians have to do a little work to find something between the pastas and meat-heavy mains.


Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: Shaw
Address: 1228 11th St NW, Washington DC
Website: (there are three online, but this appears to be the main one).
Reservations: Opentable or call 202.312.5570

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post: Positive 2 Stars in 2018 and inclusion in Fall Dining Guide. The opening review from 2012 is no longer online.

Washingtonian: No coverage, though it did get a half-hearted shoutout in a Kliman chat.