Friday, February 16, 2007

D'Acqua--Was D'ecent

Bobby: One recent Friday night, Giada, Rachel (Giada's sister), and I went to D'Acqua, the relatively new downtown Italian eatery. D'Acqua is, of course, in the space that used to house Signatures, owned by the crooked lobbyist Jack Abramhoff. None of the signatures of famous-for-DC people remain, not even Abramhoff's famed gangster hat he wore on the first day of his trial.

Giada: Frankly, I can't remember if I ever visited Signatures, so I don't feel too sad that it's been replaced. The chef's at D'Acqua are notably Francesco "Cesco" Ricchi and Enzo Febbraro, Ricchi is responsible for, naturally, iRicchi in Dupont Circle as well as Cesco Trattoria in Bethesda, while Fabbraro has held stints as the executive chef of Cafe Milano and Filomena, both of Georgetown.

Bobby: I did visit Signatures and I'm not too sad it was replaced. It had a weird menu that combined sushi, New American, and a couple of French dishes. None of the dishes were particularly successful. Anyway, we went into D'Acqua not having especially high expectations, but I think the restaurant surprised us. It was a nice place to have a fairly causal Friday night meal.

Giada: Definitely surprised, and in an excellent way.


Giada: When we arrived, the restaurant seemed very quiet, and I assumed it was relatively empty. However, the "L-shape" of the restaurant hides the main dining area from the entrance, and it turned out is was actually quite full. I liked that, because it means that diners aren't constantly interrupted by the comings and goings of other diners, and that the cold air couldn't intrude upon our table, which was far removed from the door.

Bobby: There is nothing especially striking about D'Acqua's decor. There is also nothing especially bad about its stylings. It has the standard bar setup and fairly neutral walls, floors, and table colors. Serviceable is the word I'd use to describe it on the whole. There is, however, a fairly nice view of the Navy Memorial from main dining area and quite a bit of space between the tables, so it doesn't feel to cramped.

Giada: The main dining area runs parallel to much of the bar area, although the two are sufficiently separated so that diners don't feel like they're dining at the bar. However, the TVs perched above the bar face directly into the dining area, which was distracting.

Bobby's Decor Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Giada's Decor Rating: 6.5 out of 10


Bobby: For the appetizer, I had the scallops. They were well-prepared, well-presented, and very tasty. Now, scallops are something that a great number of restaurants do well, but D'Acqua's were among the best I've had in D.C.

Giada: I enjoyed a lovely soup course, which was absolutely delicious on a cold D.C. night.

Bobby: For the main course, I went with the agnolotti, which was also quite good. Again, this dish was not particularly original. Nor was it a dish that I am likely to remember six months from now. But it was well-cooked, looked nice on the plate, and had pleasant taste to it. There is something to be said for competence in restaurants, and the cooking at D'Acqua struck me as nothing so much as a competent take on comtemporary Italian food.

Giada: I too went with a not-so-original course, the linguine with clams and a white wine and vinegar sauce. While perhaps it isn't the most original offering, it was excellent. The linguine was prepared to the perfect al dente consistency, clams were fresh, and the sauce was flavorful but not overwhelming.

Bobby: As for the wine, the list was fairly extensive and hit the right price points. We had a bottle of Pinot Noir that was very good and reasonably priced.

Bobby's Food Rating: 7 out of 10
Giada's Food Rating: 8 out of 10


Bobby: The service at D'Acqua was efficient, no-nonsense, and prompt. That is about all you can ask of a restaurant. The server did nothing above and beyond the call of duty, but she did her job well.

Giada: I disagree somewhat with Bobby, in that I thought the server was particularly good. She was very pleasant and knowledgeable, she fielded our questions easily, and was patient when we hemmed and hawed over our orders. She seemed to have a genuine friendliness, rather than being simply polite, but at the same time, remained efficient and unobtrusive. She also came out to the table to apologize for the slow arrival of our meals, which frankly, I hadn't even noticed.

Bobby's Service Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Giada's Service Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Dining Companions

Bobby: Given that the tables were spaced relatively far apart, there were no unwanted, annoying dining companions. However, we had the good fortune of having Rachel along, who was as fun and interesting as always.

Giada: Yep, not really a peep from other diners, as far as I remember.

Bobby's Dining Companions Rating: 9 out of 10
Giada's Dining Companions Rating: 9.5 out of 10


D'Acqua is never going to be a restaurant that gets a lot of hype. There is nothing particularly special about it. However, if you are looking for a quality Italian meal Downtown, one could do far worse that spending an evening at D'Acqua.

Bobby's Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Giada's Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

801 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

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