When I first arrived I was incredibly pleased to see it had the same simple and quaint feel as many of the restaurants in Italy; wood tables and chairs, no major frills… but just a completely authentic and non-fussy atmosphere. They even have the personalized plates on the walls as they do in Florence which is a really nice touch. I sat at a communal table which I enjoy as you can always stare at the food the other people ordered to judge whether it’s something you want for yourself.
My friend and I started with the Insalata Finochio (shaved fennel with pine nuts, radicchio, parmesan and olive oil). The salad was light and refreshing and a really nice start to the meal. I insisted on ordering the pasta sampler as I have such fond memories of this assortment. What I like best is that you never know what you will get, and you might even get a different sampling from the table next to you. All you know is that the chef will select five of the 15+ vegetarian pasta options and serve them in small portions for the table to share. It creates a fun guessing game as you wait for each plate of deliciousness. While I was disappointed that two of our five were risottos, each dish had a complexity to it—and the sauces have an intense depth that keep you guessing as to how they are made. My favorite was the pasta in a vegetarian ragu. I scratched my head with each bite wondering how the chef made this sauce with no meat. It has the consistency and bite of a light Bolognese; however the sauce is completely vegetarian with zucchini and other ingredients creating the texture of a meat sauce. Absolutely delicious. I also really enjoyed the fusilli in a light spinach sauce as it had a healthy taste to it, but still did not lack in richness or flavor.
My friend and I were still hungry and considered ordering another round of the pasta sampler, but instead we went for a full pasta dish—my favorite one that I still dream about six years later: the Rigatoni alle Melanzane (rigatoni with eggplant sauce). At first bite I was totally in love again. This dish is perfection and probably my favorite on the menu. It’s smooth and melts in your mouth. Finally, we decided to skip the meat course this time and to proceed directly to the dessert sampler. The tiramisu is worth ordering on its own and the cheesecake was light and delicious. It has been years since I have dined at Acqua Al Due in Firenze, but I must say that even if it was only for a few minutes, I absolutely felt like I was back in Italy again and I cannot wait to transport myself there again soon.
Acqua Al Due
212 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003