Napoli Pasta Bar, just a year old, is a new Italian eatery in Columbia Heights serving up classic Neapolitan cuisine and already nabbing a 2019 Michelin DC Guide Bib Gourmand honor. The intimate neighborhood space has enticed me since I saw the colorful plates adorning the tables through the expansive bay windows, and watched as the cozy patio was added to the entrance.
First-time restaurant owner, Antonio Ferraro, came to Washington from Vico Equense, a city of Naples, Italy, in 2006. After many years managing some of the finest Italian restaurants in the District, he’s now realizing his dream of opening his own to bring the flavors of the Sorrento Coast to Washington. One of the most important secrets about Italian cuisine is that the best pasta doesn’t always come fresh. Short pastas are best prepared after being dried, which you’ll find expertly prepared in Napoli’s rigatoni.
Featuring classic Italian dishes, and some most common in Naples, this place is perfect for an intimate date night, or drinks and noshing after work. I was delighted to see spirits from DC artisans behind the bar, and daily specials focusing on fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Start off with the Vivian, a refreshing cocktail featuring local Nocino amaro by Don Ciccio & Figli, sirene, bourbon, and an orange twist.
From there, nosh on some of my MUST tries including the Millefoglie Di Baccala, layers of marinated raw cod fish and mozzarella, marinated in olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. The marinated cod is bright with tart acidity and keeps the fish firm, a nice complement to the supple mozzarella. A playful and unique take on the caprese.
Beware, the Gnocchi Al Sugo D’Agnello is highly addictive. Homemade ricotta gnocchi, plump and fluffy, sits atop pull apart tender braised lamb, while salty pecorino cheese blankets the pillows like light snow; and it’s all topped off with tangy pickled red onions. Tender, creamy, tangy and comforting – do not miss out on this.
For a new twist on the old school classic, try the Lasagnetta Napoletana. Layers of lasagna noodles and seasonal vegetables are enrobed in mozzarella cauliflower cream. Served rested, you can easily slice into it without the whole thing turning to slop – high marks in my book.
My current favorite is the Paccheri O’rra. A simple dish of paccheri pasta, stew meat and San Marzano tomato sauce with Parmesan cheese and basil – a classic. The chew of the rigatoni is enchantingly pleasingly – I love a big noodle when it’s toothsome, springing between my teeth as my eyes close in delight. It’s difficult to share this one.
Other specialties include Zuccotto Di Melanzana: a dome of eggplant, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, and basil pesto; and the fish of the day, served whole, when available, with potatoes and cherry tomato broth.
Napoli Pasta Bar is your new neighborhood haunt, where you’ll surely want to become a regular. Explore the flavors of Naples by one of their own and enjoy the thought and hard work that the Napoli team executes. Saluti!
NAPOLI PASTA BAR
2737 Sherman Ave. NW
Washington D.C. 20001
Sun. 11am-3pm / 4:30p–10pm