Monday, March 24, 2014

First Taste: Alba Osteria

Restaurateur Hakan Ilhan recently opened Alba Osteria, at 425 I St, NW, 20001. The 226-seat restaurant, including a 63-seat outdoor seasonal patio, offers authentic Italian cuisine reflective of the Piedmonte region of Italy, Executive Chef Roberto Donna’s homeland. 

Alba, Italy is situated between the region’s wine country and agricultural center, and food here is a classic representative of Piemonte’s cuisine. Donna’s menu at Alba Osteria offers a selection of salumi and formaggi, antipasti, house-made pastas, and Neapolitan pizza. I'm a huge fan of his pastas!   

On a Friday night, the restaurant was bustling... and the food matched the excitement.  For starters, we loved the bread brought to the table with the ricotta cheese blend to accompany it.  
We opted for the Cavolfiore alla Cavour (cauliflower with parmigano reggiano, anchovy, and egg) and the Birille di Carne (meatballs with a Piedmontese red sauce).  
Both dishes were worth recommending.  You really can't go wrong with meatballs and I loved the saltiness of the anchovies in the cauliflower.  
We tried four pastas that were all tasty, but my favorite was the Canneloni alla Barbaroux.  So rich and delicious!  The nice thing about Alba Osteria is that you can order the pastas in half sizes so it allows you to try a few.  
The gnocchi is classic with a sausage ragu.  
The mezzeluna pasta are hay infused with burrata, ricotta, parmigiano regianno and spinach.  The hay aroma was a little overpowering for me.  
The Agnolotti al brasato with Braised Beef and bone marrow is also a solid choice.
We couldn't leave without trying a pizza.  We went with their signature Piemontese with Fontina Cheese, Mozzarella Fior di Latte, Porcini Mushrooms, Rosemary, Pork Sausage.  It was good, but they were a bit heavy on the Porcini mushrooms.  
The servers highly recommended the polenta bianca for dessert.  While it wasn't bad (sweet polenta with a brulee topping served with gelato on the side), it didn't live up to the hype for me.  I wish I would have opted for Amaretto chocolate pudding.  There's always next time!

Overall, solid pasta and fun spot.

Alba Osteria is located at 425 I Street, NW, 20001 and will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM; dinner Sunday through Thursday 4 PM to 12 AM, Friday and Saturday 4 PM to 1 AM and brunch Saturday and Sunday 10:30 AM to 4 PM. Alba is four blocks from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro accessible on the Red, Yellow and Green Lines, and four blocks from the Judiciary Square Metro accessible on the Red Line. For reservations please call the restaurant at 202-733-4454 or visit

Alba Osteria on Urbanspoon

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