It’s been well documented how the restaurant scene on 14th Street has blown up over the last year or so. The Washington City Paper reported that no less than eight restaurants have opened up on the 14th Street corridor within the last month! Rachel and I learned first-hand how the demand for tables is sky-high no matter what day of the week it is.
For example, we ventured down to Logan Circle on a Tuesday evening to check out Ghibellina, the new Italian gastropub by the owners of Eastern Market’s outstanding Acqua Al 2. We were quickly taken aback as we found out the wait for a table of two would be one hour. And this was on a Tuesday!
I’m sure the same could be said for the bustling Le Diplomate, whose patios were filled to the brim with diners across the street eating al fresco in the warm, summer weather. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace was adjacent to Ghibellina, so we grabbed some barstools at their outdoor bar and had a few drinks while we waited for our table. Exactly sixty minutes later, the restaurant had called informing us our table was ready.
Unlike Acqua Al 2, Ghibellina’s menu is focused around small plates, featuring everything from salads to meats & cheeses to pizzas and pastas. Rachel and I started out the evening with their Salame Toscano, which featured salami sourced from California’s Fra ‘Mani. Topped with picked vegetables, this was a nice way to kick off our Tuscan meal.
Our next course was a cheese plate – Quadrello Di Bufala. This creamy buffalo milk cheese was accompanied with raisin walnut bread and fig jam. All three items really complemented one another as we spread the soft cheese across the bread and lightly topped it with the fig jam.
Next was the Insalata Ghibellina, the restaurant’s signature salad. Featuring arugula, avocado, confit, tomatoes, Emmenthaler Swiss cheese, pine nuts, and pesto, this made for a light and refreshing dish given the summery weather. The ingredients really worked well together and we loved the subtle touch of pesto in the salad.
We moved onto the main courses with the carne portion of the menu. If there’s one item to order it’s definitely the Stracotto. The dish features a very generous portion of succulent pot roast prepared with white wine and tomato. This was my favorite dish of the evening as the beef was incredibly tender and flavorful, plus this was a perfect amount to split between two people.
For the pasta course, we ordered the Tortelli Di Patate Al Ragu, which was basically potato-filled ravioli. Topped with a wonderful beef ragu and sprinkled with Parmesan, we had no problem finishing it off. Granted it was a little heavy, especially since we already had the Stracotto, but it was a still a great pasta selection.
Our final dish of the evening was their Napoli pizza. Prepared with tomatoes, anchovies, olives, oregano, garlic, and mozzarella, this pizza had some bite. It might have been just a tad too spicy for Rachel, but we both remarked how chewy the crust was while being soft and gooey in the middle. And yes, the pizza was uncut, which is how it should be since Ghibellina serves Neapolitan-style pies.
Overall, we had a lovely time at Ghibellina. We enjoyed everything we ordered, the plates came out in a timely fashion, and we never felt rushed despite how packed it was. If you’re looking for a casual Italian eatery with plenty of options to choose from, we cannot recommend Ghibellina enough.