It feels a little bit like an episode of “The Bachelor.” Okay, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. But something’s not right. It’s like a McFadden’s on a Thursday night or a GW journalism class: too many girls, not enough boys.
It’s Friday night dinner, and usually it doesn’t feel this way. Usually going out with four girls and two guys doesn’t seem disproportionate at all. But then again, no one told us that this was a date.
Okay, so it’s not really a date. But it’s certainly a date place. Giovanni’s Trattu Italian Restaurant might just be one of D.C.’s ultimate date spots – and one of its best-kept secrets. Nestled below street level on a side street in Dupont Circle, the only indicators of Giovanni’s existence are dark green awnings bearing its name, hanging adjacent to the stairs. It is unassuming in the most basic sense of the word and very, very – perhaps purposely – not trendy. In fact, it’s outdated. From the starkly painted white walls to the gaudy, decorative plates and wooden chairs slightly reminiscent of my great-grandmother’s, the restaurant is decidedly old-fashioned. But that’s not the point. Giovanni’s isn’t a place you go to see and be seen. It’s a place you go to eat.
At Giovanni’s it’s all about the food, and the food is authentic Italian. The menu features everything from Cozze alla Triestina – mussels prepared in white wine and topped with a spicy tomato sauce – to Veal Saltimbocca – veal scaloppini with prosciutto – to homemade pastas and beef carpaccio.
I’m a pasta gal personally, although my pasta-cooking experience is largely contained to boiling Trader Joe’s pre-cooked ravioli and dumping some Bertolli sauce on top of it. But, as my roommate Andrea would say, you don’t have to know how to cook to know how to eat. So I jumped at the chance to dine on something that wasn’t heated up in the microwave, and ordered a bowl of Agnolotti di Casa Mia, a.k.a. handmade agnolotti stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese and tossed in a tomato sauce. There is just something wonderful about homemade pasta, and Giovanni’s put every piece I had previously had to shame (sorry, Mom). My Bertolli would never be the same.
The prices at Giovanni’s are a little steep for an everyday meal, but for a special occasion (hint: Valentine’s Day), it’s the perfect place. Just be prepared for a candlelit dinner.