Conservatively, I must have walked by it hundreds of times with the same thought; oh, we should eat there soon. And yet, after eight years in the city, it was only a few weeks ago that we finally walked into the converted house that is Floriana.
The scene is thus new but strangely known: the wide open-air patio; the worn wooden floors; the overarching feeling of crimson throughout the restaurant’s color scheme like the awning above the front door. Where the outside is relaxed (and during Pride Parade weekend, colorful), the inside is more upscale, with cream crown moldings framing vermilion walls, and trim drapes adding to the dim light level.
Tables are stacked close and the inside is quite full, leading to quite an ample noise level. On some level, it feels much like what eating inside someone’s historic townhome dining room and living room would be like. Heck, our table was even next to the fireplace.
Decor Sets the Mood
The decor sets the mood and reflects the restaurant’s cuisine, similarly rustic and familiar yet refined. On this trip, my dinner companion and I indulged in a Restaurant Week extension, which helped us taste a number of the kitchen’s offerings. A bowl of little neck clams and pancetta was a hair salty (with capers on top of the meat), but was still a solid contrast of flavors with heirloom cherry tomatoes and the white wine sauce providing solid balance.
Gnocchi in a braised wild boar ragu are pillowy and submerged in a sharp sauce with pleasing gamey notes. And a scallop and shrimp risotto blends creamy mascarpone with sweet caramelized diver scallops and a immediate hint of white truffle oil; plus the chefs did us a solid by shelling and de-tailing the shrimp. And the tiramisu earns its descriptor, “one of the best in the city.” What’s more, service is warm and helpful: our waiter, recommending a delicious Four Graces pinot noir from Willamette for that Sunday’s half-off all wine special.
So, instead of walking by it one more time, head into Floriana on your next walk up 17th Street, and grab a half-off bottle of wine and some delicious pasta.
Floriana: The Details
- Where Am I Going: 1602 17th Street NW (at Q Street).
- When Am I Going: Monday to Thursday and Sunday 5 pm to 10:30 pm; Friday to Saturday 5 pm to 11:30 pm.
- Paycheck Pain: It will depend on what you have. But a delicious Scallop and Shrimp Risotto goes for $25.
- Say What? Could be a little bit loud inside at peak times.
- What Youâ€™ll Be Eating and Drinking: Great Italian fare.