Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Per Noi Trattoria

When I was living in DC, my wife and I decided that we would become "regulars" at a restaurant nearby our apartment.  We didn't have too much money to spare so we had to find the right mix of price and something we wouldn't grow tired of.  The goal was to eat at the same restaurant once a week.  What we found was a hole-in-the-wall Italian place with incredible, authentic food run by a family who always cared deeply about the experience had by every diner in the room, every night.  It was great for about a year, and then they sold the place to a Korean investor, and things fell apart.  So it goes - we did what we could to make it last.

I hadn't thought about that little place until last Saturday night when I visited Per Noi.  We were greeted by the owner, whose grandmother shares a first name with my wife.  He told us a few jokes and expressed genuine gratitude that we had come in.  We had the treat of dining with Josh and Becky from and Vintage Mixer.  They had been to Italy recently and were also struck by how much Per Noi carried the same feel as some of the family run joints they found on their trip.  

We popped a bottle of tempranillo (here's to the $7 corkage fee!) and started off with an order of Arancini.  This dish is more commonly seen prepared as smaller nuggets of meat, risotto and peas, but here it was one baseball-sized portion that we split 4 ways, served with marinara sauce.

We shared a mixed greens salad that was great.

And our entrees were the Gnocchi Bolognese and the Linguini Pescatore.  I would say that the Gnocchi was very, very above average and was sauced with a very average (but good) bolognese.  The flavors here were less subtle and complex than you'd find at Fresco, site of my last Bolognese sampling, but I wasn't disappointed.

The Linguini Pescatore was a pleasant surprise.  Sauced with the same marinara base as all the other pastas, the generous helpings of shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish made this entree worthwhile.  It was hearty and none of the seafood detracted from the plate, which is often the case when kitchens make a dish that employs such a mash up of ocean creatures.

After the entrees we split a cannoli four ways and it did not disappoint.  I don't usually dig on cannoli, but this one was delicious.  Here is the kicker, my friends: we split our bill two ways, and after an appetizer, salad, two entrees and a dessert, the total was $29.  We paid about double that for cocktails beforehand at Finca... I was pretty happy and shocked.

The Verdict?  Love Per Noi for what it is: a family-run Italian joint that makes the best gnocchi in town and is 100% devoid of pretense.  They care deeply about the food they are serving and, perhaps even more, about the welcome they provide to guests of all stripes.  I'll be back often!

Per Noi Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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