A Flashy Import with Humbler Offerings

THE SMITH

901 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004 (http://thesmithrestaurant.com/)

* and 1/2 (Satisfactory/Good)

When I first heard about The Smith, a trendy New York City transplant to Penn Quarter downtown, it peaked my interest. An American-styled brasserie with an industrial feel, and updated takes on classics: it sounded like a perfect take on the modern restaurant. The Smith looks and feels like a bustling NYC restaurant (be prepared to yell and be yelled out during a table conversation). But while the concept is sound, the food is just a bit underwhelming. Throughout our meal, however, there are moments of fantastic cookery, if you know where to look.

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Still Room to Grow

SFOGLINA

4445 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (http://www.sfoglinadc.com/)

** (Good)

Our first encounter with chef Fabio Trabocchi was last summer at his original, and superb, restaurant Fiola. When I heard about his latest entry into the D.C. dining scene: the pasta-centric Sfoglina, I was intrigued. Sfoglina, the Italian word used to describe the traditional female pasta makers who roll out pasta sheets by hand, rightfully spotlights different pasta varieties throughout its menu. Spending a recent evening out with the family noshing, expectations may have been a little high given our previous Trabocchi restaurant experience. And while it may have been impossible to match the luxury of the original, we found the newest addition to Van Ness a welcome change to the neighborhood.

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Believe the Hype

ALL-PURPOSE PIZZERIA

1250 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (http://allpurposedc.com/)

*** and 1/2 (Excellent/Outstanding)

Sometimes restaurant hype can be difficult to live up to. With high expectations, even a so-so meal can bring everything crashing back down to earth in a hurry. So when the braintrust behind Red Hen opened up the pizza-centric All-Purpose right down the street from the Convention Center, it was no surprise that the initial word was positive. After Tom Sietsema proclaimed All-Purpose his favorite D.C. restaurant in the Washington Post Fall Dining Guide, my expectations started to get a little out of hand. But there are occasions where restaurants justify the hype. And after securing two dinners recently, I can say without hesitation that All-Purpose is slinging the best pizzas in the District; and some of the best pies I’ve had, anywhere.

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Mid-Atlantic Focus; Flawless Execution

THE DABNEY

122 Blagden Alley, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (http://thedabney.com/)

*** (Excellent)

When my wife and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina (a post is still in the works, promise!), one of the meals that I was most excited about was Husk. Chef Sean Brock’s restaurant did not disappoint, and I look forward to returning again soon. So when word first got out about the opening of The Dabney, a restaurant helmed by one of Brock’s protégées, Jeremiah Langhorne, my interest was peaked. When I read that Langhorne would, as his mentor did for Southern foods and crops, be sourcing and spotlighting ingredients from the Mid-Atlantic, I was intrigued. And when I heard that Langhorne had found a local friend and teacher in Baltimore’s Spike Gjerde, I knew I had to go. The Dabney, I’m happy to report, lived up to and exceeded my lofty expectations.

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