Alphonse Italian Market and Osteria
The newest Italian restaurant to grace the streets of U Street NW is Alphonse Italian Market and Osteria. Upon entering for the first time this past Saturday night, I immediately appreciated the casual and comfortable neighborhood vibe. The black and white tiled floor, the cabinets filled with Italian salads and ingredients, and the cozy booths donned with red and white checkered table cloths all made me excited to welcome Alphonse to the restaurant scene. I was struck by how friendly the staff was, and they took good care of my friend before I arrived.
We ordered three dishes for dinner, all of which we planned to split. The eggplant parmigiana, a special pasta dish with potatoes and steak, and the Milano pizza. Our favorite was the eggplant which was served in a cast iron skillet topped with sauce and melted cheese. The eggplant was cooked nicely, although we thought the dish should have been hotter given it had come straight from the oven.
The Milano pizza comes with Sopressata, cipollini onions, and pipe dreams goat cheese, but we ordered it without the Sopressata because my friend doesn't eat pork. The pizza arrived lukewarm, but the staff was incredibly apologetic and insisted on making us a new one that arrived piping hot. While it was delicious, I had hoped they would have been a bit more generous with the other toppings since we had omitted the meat, but instead the toppings were a bit sparse.
Finally, the chestnut pappardelle pasta dish was good-- but we felt it was more of a hash than it was a pasta dish. It also arrived in a cast iron skillet like the eggplant, with chunks of potato and steak, but unfortunately there was a very limited amount of pasta to be found. It was unable to be twirled, and it appeared that the pasta had been torn into small sheets which were hard to locate within the skillet. The flavors were enjoyable, but it wasn't what we had expected or hoped for when we ordered it.
To end the night we split a piece of the cheesecake which had a delicious crust, and a dense consistency. I loved the dessert, and would come back for that slice of cheesecake anytime. We also enjoyed very affordable glasses of Vermentino wine, and overall had a really nice experience at Alphonse. While the food isn't perfect and some work needs to be done, the atmosphere won us over. And the things that were done well were done very well. I think they're onto something with the takeaway counter for sandwiches and Italian products. It's something we do not currently have in D.C. and there's a need for it in the market. For those who are looking to sit down and relax, they offer that experience as well. I'm looking forward to giving Alphonse a second try, as it seems they have all of the elements necessary for success once they iron out some minor kinks.