Il Piatto, the mecca of classic Italian dishes in elegant downtown surroundings, is restaurateur Hakan Ilhan’s latest offering to diners looking for value. The spacious dining room (formerly known as Mirabell’s fine dining), with its leather-lined booths, mirrored, arty bar, and custom chandelier, works well for family celebrations, business meetings, and get-togethers with friends. A spacious outdoor balcony overlooks Black Lives Matter Plaza, and has a unique view of the White House that attracts visitors and tourists. There is also a private 45-seat dining room for receptions and events. Best of all, Ilhan says, the menu has a “price point” designed for “convenience.”
Executive Chef Lina Nicolai (formerly Al Crostino) brings her Neapolitan heritage to the kitchen. Cooking was such a part of her family’s life in Naples that there were ‘sofas in the kitchen’. Her grandmother’s vibrant tomato sauce anchors pasta, eggplant Parmesan, chicken, and veal dishes on the menu. It’s made by boiling imported San Marzano tomatoes (a “perfect” ingredient) and a few other things “just for the right time” (not too long). White meat fish is baked in baked goods with assorted shellfish. Precise timing ensures that “flavors taste like ocean”. Another family favorite on the menu uses truffle oil to give an “earthy touch” to this ham-flavored creamy pasta sauce. “Keep the classics alive” is the chef’s motto. She wants her “fresh food to appear in your mouth”.
General Manager Paul Zaiontz, an industry veteran, looks forward to hosting guests on a patio “near the White House” with a one-of-a-kind view of drinks and all-day fare. Summer cocktail is the Italian trend with Negroni, Godfather, Milano Mule, and more. Zaiontz is particularly proud of their homemade limoncello. It’s a five-day process, and the enthusiastic result is used in a refreshing beverage. Another plus is an Aperol brunch special: “Spritz Kits” that include a bottle of Prosecco along with Aperol and sparkling water for $35.95. Happy hour at the bar, he says, is also a bargain, and it runs from 2:30 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and features hearty snacks like meatballs, risotto fritters, calamari, and burrata. In short, Zionnets is excited about the value of the restaurant: “A family of four can dine for less than a hundred and fifty dollars with drinks.” He expects to host plenty of festivities at Il Piatto, 900 16th St. NW (Black Lives Matter Plaza).