- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s a bold new spot for power lunching in Northwest, and it’s fitting that celebrity chef Luigi Diotaiuti is there to be your guide. Mr. Diotaiuti, whose fortunate clients have included George Clooney, Hillary Clinton, Harrison Ford and John F. Kerry, has opened Aperto to be the companion piece to his other District Italian bistro, Al Tiramisu, which has been a Dupont Circle staple for two decades.

Mr. Diotaiuti’s newest restaurant, located in hip Foggy Bottom, opened recently to much fanfare — and deservedly so. D.C. power brokers have gotten the word, and the intimate-yet-open space inside Aperto was pleasantly full for lunch Thursday.

Italian staples abound on the new menu, but infused with Mr. Diotaiuti’s uniquely deft cook’s hand. For the appetizer course, my colleague and friend Allison and I split the Frisella, a twice-baked bread ring topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella and garnished with cherry tomatoes, celery and cucumbers. The mozzarella was exquisite — tasty and plump.

The staff, friendly and attentive, even during the lunch rush, implored us to try forkfuls of the mozzarella with the veggies. The tomatoes especially lent it some rather delectable counterpoint, and the celery gave it some added crunch for a palate-pleasing symphony.

For her entree, Allison, always a seafood fan, went with the Caesar salad with salmon. The protein portion was generous, and the salmon was cooked to a delicate softness that went easily under gentle bites. The salad disappeared, with Allison smiling broadly over ever bite.

This reporter went with the seafood linguini, a special of the day. It arrived looking splendid, and I was advised by the house staff not to add any parmesan to the dish. (Fresh-ground pepper, however, was sprinkled on to my liking.) The linguini noodles were cooked to al dente perfection, and the tomato sauce was flavorful but not overwhelming, lending a fine counterpoint to the shrimp, calamari, clams and scallops that made up the protein contingent of the dish.

For dessert, we were advised to absolutely try the tiramisu, a mainstay of Mr. Diotaitu’s output. The sweet course arrived in a finely presented formation, and its flavor did not disappoint (and this coming from a guy who does not drink coffee, I might add).

GM Souheil Moussadik checked in during the meal, bringing Chef Diotaitu over at the conclusion to check in on our stomachs. Mr. Diotaitu gave me a firm handshake and, proving that Old World decorum is not dead, kissed Allison’s hand graciously.

For capital residents who don’t have the luxury of sitting for a lenghthy meal, Aperto even offers a three-course, take-out express lunch for $25, which includes a selection of soup or salad, choice of sandwich or pollo milanese and, of course, the tiramisu.

For those working downtown and in need of a fulfilling lunch, or those who wish to spend a quality evening with friends poring over a substantive dinner and wine while unwinding after a busy day on the Hill, Aperto is the new best place to be.

Aperto DC is located at 2013 I Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006. Call 202/223-3600 or visit ApertoDC.com for reservations.

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