Sette Osteria’s dishes, including their tacchino sandwich, live up to traditional Italian taste standards. JESS KELHAM-HOHLER FOR THE HOYA
Sette Osteria’s dishes, including their tacchino sandwich, live up to traditional Italian taste standards.

Sette Osteria’s traditional Italian cuisine was truly put to the test this Monday. Not only did it have to impress a self-professed foodie who seems to know every restaurant in Washington and me, a food lover, but it also had to win over a real Italian, straight from Milan, who had so far despaired over every attempt this nation has made at recreating her home delicacies. All in all, a challenging panel, which makes the fact that we all left beaming and declaring our love for the restaurant all the more impressive.

Located just a two-minute walk from the Dupont Circle GUTS stop, this quiet Italian restaurant is a true gem. The ambience is warm and traditional, with the charming pizza oven in full view and the restaurant filled with plenty of light, making it the perfect place for Saturday lunches and family dinners. Weather permitting, there is also an outside dining area. The service was just what you would hope for — unobtrusive, polite and friendly. We were charmed as soon as they served the bread, which was warm and deliciously soft, perfect for dipping in the delicate extra virgin olive oil.

Sette Osteria aims to bring good, uncomplicated Italian food to Washington, and its menu clearly reflects that. There are an impressive number of options, with a weekend brunch menu providing a selection of sandwiches, omelets and other tempting treats. But it was the lunch and dinner menu that drew us in. Numerous pasta and pizza dishes, a variety of meat and fish courses and a mix of simple and sophisticated appetizers are all between $10 and $20 — very reasonable prices for the quality of the items.  There are also around 10 daily specials featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients. It’s a credit to the menu and to the look of our fellow diners’ dishes that it took us a good 20 minutes to decide what we would limit ourselves to ordering.

The meal proper began with a shared platter of fried calamari and zucchini served with a spicy tomato sauce. The plate was empty within minutes. As should be the case, the calamari and zucchini were light and delicious, not at all greasy — a typical pitfall for Italian restaurants in the U.S. — and proved to be the perfect complement to the following courses.

You know an Italian restaurant is a winner if the pasta is perfectly done, and in this area, Sette Osteria certainly succeeded. I had the cavatelli all’indiavolata, a fantastic pasta dish of homemade cavatelli pasta with a rich and slightly spicy tomato sauce served with Italian sausage and broccoli combined together in the perfect ration. Tip: Cover the dish generously with parmesan cheese to bring out all the full favor of the dish and make it that much better. My Italian friend tried pasta too, opting for the cannelloni diricotta e spinachi, and has now officially given this restaurant her seal of approval. My other friend chose a more simple option, ordering the tacchino sandwich, a mix of meat and salad on toasted wheat bread. The best, however, had to be the daily special: burrata, a creamy Italian cheese served with a salad of arugula, avocado and tomato. She could not stop raving about its taste.

It’s the triumphant victory of  good food when you leave feeling as if your spirit has been renewed and you have the strength to face another week of classes and Leo’s chum. As the cold winds and rains of fall approach and the need for hot comfort food increases, put Sette Osteria at the top of your list for guaranteed happiness and culinary joy. You won’t be disappointed.

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