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Il Canale, in the old Frateli La Bufala space in Georgetown - Chef Antonio Biglietto on 31st. Street NW


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A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to attend a soft-opening for Il Canale in Georgetown. The restaurant is officially open now, but after searching this Forum I didn't see a mention of it.

The restaurant features "2Amy" style pizzas made from a large brick pizza oven right near the main entrance. But it also has a menu of finer Italian food (with prices to match).

My entree was the Bronzino in parchment, which was voted one of the best by our table. There were mixed impressions of other entrees. A seafood risotto was loved by some but found too salty by others.

Two of our companions had steak, one filet and one rib eye. Both appeared to be well done and were enjoyed by those who ordered them. I had a piece of the rib eye and found it good but not remarkable.

The wine list was still a work in progress at the time of my visit. If anyone's been there since the full opening perhaps they can share their thoughts.

The service was a bit slow, but consistent with what I've seen at other soft openings. The waiting was made more than bearable though by house made bread which was fresh and warm (even at 9pm) and served with olive oil infused with roasted garlic and rosemary.

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As I alluded to last night, there's a new contender in town for Top Five Pizza. My young dining companion and I ordered two very different pies: the Diavola ($14), with tomato sauce, spicy salami, mozzarella, basil, and crushed red pepper; and the Ortolana ($14), with Bufala mozzarella, fresh basil, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and artichokes. Both pizzas were great, and Il Canale deserves a lot more attention than it's getting right now.

The wine list is a mild strength, with 8-ounce quartinos available for about a dozen different wines. I slightly preferred the rusty (not rustic, but rusty) 2006 Leone de Castris Salice Salentino ($9) to the plummier, more ample 2006 Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture ($11), although I suspect that with most people, the opposite would be true.

Dinner starts with a few slices of good homemade bread, served with a bowl of olive oil, irresistible roasted garlic cloves, and pepper flakes. The two servers I observed were extremely friendly, but also somewhat addled and inexperienced.

Desserts appear to be made in-house, but many aren't. The Tiramisu alla Bufala, for example, is purchased, as are the cannoli shells. However, the filling for the Cannoli di Ricotta alla Siciliana ($8) is homemade and pretty good. Plus, it came with the best strawberry I've had so far this year.

Note also that today, there's a Living Social coupon offering $40 worth of food for $20. I could have used it last night! Upgraded in the Dining Guide. It's hard to believe the owner of Il Canale also owns the Joe's Place "Pizza and Pasta" restaurants, but it's true.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I'm a little annoyed when they call baked pizza bread "focaccia." Maybe they're technically correct, the menu even describes it as "homemade dough, pressed flat and baked with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh herbs."

The cold cuts of prosciutto, soppressata, and salami were quite salty.

The G'town Pizza (broccoli rabe, sausage, and basil) was quite soupy. Even the Diavola was soupy in the center. Despite this, they're pretty good pizza, but not as good as 2 Amys or Red Rocks.

The pic is our leftover "focaccia."

When I lived in G'town, the place was the Alamo, IIRC.

post-4391-127449182818_thumb.jpg

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the Diavola ($14), with tomato sauce, spicy salami, mozzarella, basil, and crushed red pepper

Thanks for the recommendation. My girls and I decided to try this place out for dinner tonight. We had some antipasti, all of which was fine. My wife had a "small" salad that was HUGE and pronounced to be good.

The stars of the meal were the main courses--one was the Diavola pizza, which was perfectly crisp and thin on the outer edges and a bit wet and slightly soupy in the middle (which our server told us when we ordered would be the case and that's how they prefer to serve them). Flavors were just simply spot-on with each element of the pizza. Easily in my top five right now.

Also we had the Paccheri di Gragnano--large (I believe were made in-house) pasta tubes generously topped with a delicious meat sauce and a couple different cheeses. This was one of the best red sauce pasta dishes I've ever had. It tasted like it was made by someone's Italian grandmother who poured years of her life into the recipe for the dish.

I wouldn't go here for a special occasion or anything--it doesn't have that vibe in my opinion, but it is certainly now in my personal once-a-month-if-I-can rotation.

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I've eaten here only twice in the past year and didn't think of posting about it until I saw this thread. Unlike many on this board I have not explored various regions of the US in search of the perfect pizza, but I did live in Italy for over a year and see the style of pizza generally available there as the standard and what is generally available here as well beneath it. Canale is the only place I've been in DC (or anywhere in the US, for that matter) that meets that standard--a perfect balance between crisp and chewy crust; a judicious use of toppings; and a decent, wood-fired char. The antipasti I've had have also been excellent, as was the service. (The last time I was there I introduced a 19-year-old soccer coach from Birmingham to his first ever artichoke--is that legal?) I think the wine selection is pretty good, too, and prices are reasonable.

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I agree with dcdining.com about the meatballs (appetizer). They are the first ones I have had out that are better than the ones we make at home. This is a casual place with food better than you would expect. More or less full on a Sunday night. No bartender @ 6pm made getting a drink at the bar problematic. Other than that, the service was very pleasant and attentive.

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Went there this week for dinner. I agree with the consensus that the Pizza is among the best in DC. Service was great, the wine list both good and affordable. The only disappointment was the antipasto ($12 per item for mediocre cold cuts and poorly marinated vegetables) and the bread (no crust or character).

I would go back for the pizza and to try the pasta

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Stopped in for a quick lunch today. While the temperature upon walking in (right by the oven) came off as uncomfortably hot, once seated at the bar I found it to be rather startlingly chilly, even in a sweater. Kind of wacky.

Started with the Polpette. Delightfully tender but somewhat underseasoned to my admittedly over-stimulated American palate. Also HOLY COW large. The appetizer could easily have been a meal if I hadn't been so hungry.

Moved on to a Margherita, which was a good bit oversauced (perhaps a one time error?) and came off as excessively salty/astringent as a result, but the crust was definitely worth writing home about. Hits that lovely crispy/chewy Neopolitan sweet spot with just the right yeasty overtones and a nice but not overpowering char. The only two in the area I have had that best it are Two Amy's and Pupatella. Most assuredly worth a return visit.

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It's been awhile since I've been to il Canale so when I wanted to head back to G'town, I worked it in. We started with the Italia - prosciutto and arugula pizza. This is my favorite combo and il Canale does it well. Nice crust - soft puffy edges, but otherwise thin and NOT crispy. A good amount of cheese as well as tasty and thinly sliced prosciuttoa, topped with arugula. The linguini con vongole wasn't quite as well. Lots of white wine which wasn't cooked off, cherry tomatoes without much flavor, and lacking salt. That didn't stop the kid from devouring most of the cockles. The Italia was $17. The same may be around $14 at Orso, and $12 at Pupatella. I think the il Canale version is as good as Pupatella, and better than Orso - no way I'd drive to G'town just to eat there though....except once a year around Xmas time.

G'town Park mall is complete closed? The park along the waterfront doesn't seem all that interesting. The skating rink is now in the middle of Washington Harbor, but the surrounding restaurants are the same old crap. If you have the dough, G'town's great for high end shopping. I believe the only Rags 'n Bones store in the area is in G'town. Brown leather jeans cut suede pants is on sale at Polo for $499. A cool little toy store in on Wisconsin, near the old Au Pied du Cochon (now Five Guys). We went early so getting there was no problem but getting out after noon was hell. M St. to Key Bridge was not moving at all, better to head down K and pop on 66 to go back to VA.

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I concur with Ericandblueboy about the Italia pizza Ms. Alex and I had for lunch last weekend. I'd like to add that the cheese is buffalo mozz, with shavings of grana padano. However, as durwoodx wrote, the light and flavorful crust is what really made the pizza sing. We also loved the eggplant parm app so much we went back the next day and each ordered one for dinner. The secondi (branzino and salmon) were OK but I wouldn't make a special detour to order them again.

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I concur with Ericandblueboy about the Italia pizza Ms. Alex and I had for lunch last weekend. I'd like to add that the cheese is buffalo mozz, with shavings of grana padano. However, as durwoodx wrote, the light and flavorful crust is what really made the pizza sing. We also loved the eggplant parm app so much we went back the next day and each ordered one for dinner. The secondi (branzino and salmon) were OK but I wouldn't make a special detour to order them again.

I was here about a month ago, and for once, ordered pasta instead of pizza. The Paccheri ($18) with meat sauce was fantastic. I remember I tweeted: "I'm having Paccheri. Where am I?" (it's a fairly uncommon pasta in this area), and the only guesses were Bibiana. Well, if you don't mind a good, simple pasta dish with a hearty meat sauce, try this and I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

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We visited last night as the result of an inquiry in the "Help Needed" section and in my graciousness I allowed the bill-payer to choose between here and Unum (I'm a nice person!). We arrived around 6:20 and did have to wait a while, but it was worth it. The bill-payer is a Jersey boy with an Italian mother. Does this sound like a stereotype? Yes. But he was a very happy camper. (As a note of explanation, the bill-payer is my boyfriend, and the occasion was a late celebration of my birthday.)

A sure sign that it was a good choice: He ate the entire crust of the Il Canale pizza we shared (mozzarella, eggplant, prosciutto, tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes). He never eats the edge of the pizza crust. The middle of the pizza was a bit soggy and it was only cut into quarters, but otherwise it was a quality pie. I'm guessing it sat out a bit before it was delivered to our table. They also served free pizza to people waiting, and I think that our samples of pizza with simply the mozzarella while we were waiting may have had an impact on our ordering!

We also had the meatballs (we both approved; don't tell his mom!). The garlic olive oil that comes with the complimentary bread was divine. He ordered a side salad which was underdressed so he had to ask for more dressing on the side. I wasn't surprised that the gentleman who delivered the salad held it in my direction first :rolleyes: He had the Italian Margarita (amaretto, gold tequila, triple sec, sour mix), and I had the Primitivo "Apollonio" (Puglia) 2007, which I found surprisingly fruity. The wine-by-the-glass prices can be a bit of a shock at first (mine was $14) but it's an 8 oz pour. We would have had dessert if we weren't so full, but several of the choices were very tempting.

Overall, it was an excellent experience. I'd like to go back to sample some of the pasta, which looked good based on what I saw at other tables and what has been mentioned above. Thanks to ericandblueboy for the recommendation!

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I was craving clam pasta last night.  I thought about A La Lucia, but for some reason Hubby didn't want to go there.  I suggest Fiola Mare, but apparently they had no reservations (good for them).  So we ended up at Il Canale.  I liked the clam pasta, nice al dente pasta, clams and a simple sauce with some cherry tomatoes.  Not a lot to screw up and I thought it hit the spot perfectly.  Not a small serving, but not a huge serving, I definitely finished it all.  But I was hungry after hiking at the National Arboretum.  We also got a Le Regina pizza.  I like Pupatella a bit better for pizza, but the crust was chewy and I thought the prosciutto and mozzarella were a good quality.  Hubby had spaghetti and meatballs which he thought was a bit sweet and didn't eat a whole lot of, wasn't really what I would have ordered there anyway (he would have been better off with that at A La Lucia probably).  The leftovers will probably end up being my dinner tonight.  

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Anyone been here lately? An out of town friend and his out of town new girlfriend picked the place, and as we rarely get to Georgetown, we have never been.

 

I can't remember at all what we ordered, but were here for lunch on a pleasant day in early fall, where we sat outside. A pizza, salad, and pasta provided a very nice lunch and leftovers. We would definitely return again if we were in the area.

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And reporting back - it was fine. Neither great nor bad. Fine. The antipasto plate was quite nice. The wine was fine. The pizzas suffered from soggy middles. The calzone was large, and a bit runnier than preferred.

As one friend said - it wasn't worth trekking to Georgtown for. We could have had a very similar meal at Red Rocks, within walking distance of home.

So, while I wouldn't refuse to go back, I wouldn't choose to go back either.

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Both enjoyed and had the pleasure of dining at Il Canale last week.  Enjoyed it in the context that I'd certainly describe Il Canale as among the best Neapolitan pizza's in the region.  We had the diavolo and margherita plus split an order of the eggplant. All excellent and the pizza well placed among the region's Neapolitan's.  I'm not going to rate which is best in my experience but there are a number of excellent pizzas of that ilk in town and the suburbs.  A real delight, and an expanding number of choices for Neapolitan.

The pleasure was in learning that Joe Faruggio, owner of Joe's Pasta and Pizza is the owner of Il Canale.  BRAVO.  I know or should say knew Joe, having not seen him in probably a decade.  A great surprise to me, seeing him add Neapolitan pizza and finer dining to Joe's Pasta and Pizza (why are they missing in the dining guide??--They have to be go to's for anyone with kids in Arlington, Vienna and large parts of the surrounding areas).

I'd say --damn good restaurateur.  At one point he had 5 or 6 Joe's Pizza/Pasta (not sure if they opened in Waldorf), had his entire extended family and many friends working at the various stores, did a great job of meeting the market, providing good value, had long running successful operations....offered consistent menu's from Gaithersburg to Fairfax, including the long running and still operating Arlington and Vienna places....and kept up the original Bailey's site on Rte 7.     With all those years he has now gravitated to more upscale/ Neapolitan/Georgetown...and finer dining.  Bravissimo.  Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks???   

And its good.  Basically good as any other Neapolitan in town.  Bravissimo!!!!

 

 

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Dined at the bar for happy hour yesterday. Read about Il Canele in a pizza thread here, but DR’s search let me down! Someone pointed me to this thread.

The pizza was pretty good. I won’t say amazing, but good. It compares favorably with traditional Italian pizzas. Happy hour at the bar is half price draft beer, wine and cocktails. There are some good beers and nice wines. A salad and caprese were marginal — leaning toward terrible for the price. Oddly the mozzarella was both declicous and copious, but the tomatoes were neither very ripe or flavorful. Staff was friendly and attentive.

A nice alternative to “trendy” pizza places.

 

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9 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Jon, go to the Dining Guide - it's there. I just tried a Google search myself, and couldn't find this thread.

May have gotten a Google boost with recent activity but here's how I find everything within DR :)...

https://www.google.com/search?q=donrockwell.com+il+canale&oq=donrockwell.com+il+canale&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60l3.7389j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Search "donrockwell.com (name of restaurant)"

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4 hours ago, Lydia R said:

In May 2010, Lola007 posted about Il Canale in a couple of threads. She positively compared it to 2 Amys and Luzzo's in NYC.

I can't compare Luzzo's but crust compares with 2 Amy's. 2 Amy's has some more creative items. The antipasti however, is no contest: small plates at 2 Amy's blow away what we had and saw (including a good portion of fried calamari) at Il Canale. Again, the pizza seems quite good at Il Canale -- traditional Italian. I'll go back. 

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