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I Ricchi, 19th & Jefferson Streets NW - Chef Christianne Ricchi's White Tablecloth Italian in South Dupont


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My boyfriend and I love dining out on Valentine's Day. Even though I KNOW its the "novice" day for eating at restaurants, there is something about it that I love. That said, every year we try to go somewhere new. Neither of us have been to I Ricchi. Has anyone been? Any comments? Any other ideas of nice romantic restaurants? (Because of it being a weekday and because of work, the restaurant needs to be in DC).

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I am constantly thankful that my wife has a distain for Valentine's Day, I cannot think of a most ghastly day to eat out. As for I Ricchi I have been twice and have found it to middling. The food is serviceable, the room is too ferny, and the wine list is not offensive. Also, it is not really my idea of romantic, but I do not look for romance in a restaurant. I doubt that you would have a bad meal, just not one worth the price on the bill.

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My boyfriend and I love dining out on Valentine's Day. Even though I KNOW its the "novice" day for eating at restaurants, there is something about it that I love. That said, every year we try to go somewhere new. Neither of us have been to I Ricchi. Has anyone been? Any comments? Any other ideas of nice romantic restaurants? (Because of it being a weekday and because of work, the restaurant needs to be in DC).

If you MUST eat out on Valentine's Day, I would choose Firefly.
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Having eaten at I Ricchi about five times now, I feel pretty confident in my opinions about the place.

The breads are usually awesome. This is a pro/con thing - it's easy to fill up on these breads because they taste so good. I love the pastas I have had (particularly anything with a butter sage sauce), however the prices are pretty outrageous, IMO. Entrees in my experience have not been as good (e.g., dry veal, boring beef dishes, etc.) and yet the prices are still in that outrageous realm. Again, my opinion, YMMV.

On my own dime, I would not go to I Ricchi. There are too many other good spots out there (and many, for a smaller check).

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Went for Restaurant Week tonight. There were 3 choices for the first course and the main course and choices for the dessert. I had the ribollita - a vegetable and bread soup. It was good and thick, but I kept having flashbacks to the amazing bread soup at Komi with the lamb sausage and it just didn't compare. Friend had the aurgula and radicchio salad, which was good. The third appetizer which we didn't try was a risotto.

My main course was the fresh grilled salmon fillet with olive oil, rosemary and breadcrumbs. The olive oil/rosemary flavor was good, but I'm not sure if it was just not very good salmon or it sat on the grill too long, but the salmon itself was not very tasty and was dry - normally I expect salmon to have a stronger flavor and this didn't. My friend had the Florentine boned loin of pork, breast of turkey and rolled, stuffed veal roasted in red wine and mixed herbs (Arista, Tacchino E Vitella Arrosto Agli Aromi). It was good, but didn't wow us. The rosemary potatoes it came with were quite good. The third entree which we didn't try was pasta quills with peas and mushrooms. With the meal came two types of foccacia bread and white italian bread. Foccacia bread was a bit heavy on the salt.

Dessert was choice of vanilla/chocolate gelati or a lemon-lime creme. We tried both. The gelati was what's expected, but nothing memorable. The lemon-lime creme was excellent - just the right tartness (with a graham cracker crust) to refresh the palate.

The place was packed full - and filled with balloons, apparently it was also I Ricchi's birthday. We had a very pleasant waiter, but it was apparent that he was very, very busy. Food was prompt. They need to get longer-burning candles..... we were there 2 hours and went through 3 long candles.

I have to agree with JLK though, the regular prices are pretty high - the entrees alone would've been about $30, the desserts were $9 and the appetizers were about $8. So it's a good deal for RW, and I'm glad I finally tried this place, but can't help feeling like I could've had a better RW meal somewhere else. In prior restaurant weeks, I went and tried places like Corduroy and DC Coast and got wowed and went back again when it wasn't RW. Didn't get that same feeling tonight.

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bf and I went to I Ricchi during the restaurant week 2007.

It's been a few weeks since we went, so my memory is a bit hazy but I do remember this:

The service was decent but the food was another story.

For my entree I got the jumbo grilled shrimp skewer with bell pepper and polenta.

The shrimp was chewy, presentation was insipid and the bell pepper even came with the produce sticker. urgh

Oh yeah, the sparkling water was served tepid, a big no-no.

To be fair, we were happy with the calamari (just not the price) appetizer we ordered on the side.

Think we'll put this restaurant on our blacklist for a while.

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bf and I went to I Ricchi during the restaurant week 2007.

It's been a few weeks since we went, so my memory is a bit hazy but I do remember this:

The service was decent but the food was another story.

For my entree I got the jumbo grilled shrimp skewer with bell pepper and polenta.

The shrimp was chewy, presentation was insipid and the bell pepper even came with the produce sticker. urgh

Oh yeah, the sparkling water was served tepid, a big no-no.

To be fair, we were happy with the calamari (just not the price) appetizer we ordered on the side.

Think we'll put this restaurant on our blacklist for a while.

Welcome! It seems Seitsema agrees with you:

Washington D.C.: I'd like to take my husband to I Ricchi for his birthday.

Haven't been there in years. What do you think?

Tom Sietsema: I think you might consider another upscale Italian restaurant.

Palena would be my first choice. Al Tiramisu would be my second. And while I like Dino in Cleveland Park --- which recently introduced a new chef, Stephan Boillon from Chef Allen's in Aventura, Florida -- its very good heirloom tomato salad, whole grilled fish and balsamic-drizzled steak are served in a loud environment that might not be conducive to a romantic birthday dinner.

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....walking up 19th street the other day on a blustery late afternoon, the thought occurred to me that i also miss i ricchi, though i am unsure how much. i haven't decided what to do about this. i don't want to spend a lot of money just to find out that thomas wolfe was right.

Oi.  Reading this thread reminds me of how old I am and how I moved to the DC area over 30 years ago.  Its really a remarkable thread with all these wonderful memories from long ago.

I ate at i ricchi a good bit when it was new and excellent.  Certainly my favorite "good" restaurant at that time.  One night always sticks out among many dinners in many restaurants.

It was January 17, 1991 the night Desert Storm started with an attack on Saddam Hussein and Iraq.   My ex and I were dining with our closest couple/friends.  A waiter came out to mention a few things and quickly the other guy and he started speaking Arabic.    Following a lot of conversation and smiles from both men the waiter left and the other guy started explaining the conversation....

He recognized the accent;  they were both from Beirut, both having left during the long interminable civil war.  Our friend "explained" that the two guys might have "shot at one another" as they were from opposing sects in nearby neighborhoods.  I did know that my neighbor/friend had been a kid in Beirut charged with often lying prone in a neighborhood ditch with a rifle responsible for protecting his neighborhood and shooting at the other side.

Shortly afterwards the waiter came out with staff from the back of the house, all evidently from Beirut...all eager to say hello to my friend.

On its own that interplay was remarkable....all these immigrants who used to try and maim or kill one another...all happy to be living in a country where they weren't forced to shoot at one another and all exchanging pleasantries.

A while later while we were dining the waiter came by to tell us Desert Storm had started with American and allied planes bombing the Iraqi's in Kuwait and launching attacks.  Our friend and the waiter were both happy this war had started and were both happy they no longer lived in the craziness that has defined the middle east for so many decades.   As there was a tv in the kitchen he kept coming back and giving us updates.

As I recall that dinner, during the period when i ricchi was terrific, was excellent..but truthfully I most strongly recall the interaction between my neighbor and folks whom he used to shoot at and who shot at him.  It was a remarkable evening of good food, good wine, and a strong symbol of the value of liberty and not being under the yolk of never ending violence.

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Only problem I have with this picture is, with my peeps in the kitchen, you shouldn't have been dining on Italian food. These guys should have whipped you up some righteous Lebanese fare. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing this story. Apparently, one of them was Christian and one of them was Muslim, squaring off across the "Green Line" that separated the factions in Beirut at the time. Very sad history in a neat little country....

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Only problem I have with this picture is, with my peeps in the kitchen, you shouldn't have been dining on Italian food. These guys should have whipped you up some righteous Lebanese fare. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing this story. Apparently, one of them was Christian and one of them was Muslim, squaring off across the "Green Line" that separated the factions in Beirut at the time. Very sad history in a neat little country....

KN, my memory of most events from the past is pretty hazy but I have a distinct recollection of that evening because of the powerful interaction between my friend and the waiter and then staff from the BOH coming out to meet and briefly chat w/ my friend.  My friend was Christian so the waiter must have been Muslim.  My friend had previously described to me in general terms conditions in Beirut while his family was still there.  I know that as a kid/teenager he was often in a trench/ditch "defending his neighborhood/ shooting "at the other side" as I recall him describing that experience.

Around that time as two couples we did dine at the original Lebanese Taverna in Arlington.  It was certainly on his recommendation.  I knew nothing about Lebanese food at the time.  We all lived in North Bethesda and frankly going to Arlington/Westover seemed like a trek for one good but not absolutely tremendous dinner.  I don't recall him highly recommending any other Lebanese restaurant at that time besides Lebanese Taverna.   I do recall going to a Lebanese/Arab market w/ my friend, either on or close to Rockville Pike...but I can't recall exactly where.

I met a good number of my friend's relatives besides his mother and sisters with whom he emigrated.  All the relatives were happy to have escaped a long and miserable civil war.   From what I know and directly heard from them...it fits your description...."very sad history in a neat little country"  I suppose that is why the interaction between the waiter and my friend was so memorable.

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On 3/25/2019 at 9:57 PM, Marty L. said:

Did anyone here realize that i Ricci even continued to exist?  (No reviews here in a dozen years.)  Apparently it's one of the very best places in D.C., just as it was in the 20th Century.

Hah.  that "just as it was in the 20th Century" comment grabbed me.  Then I glanced at the calendar and realized we are in the 19th year of the 21st Century.   Hah (again).  Time flies!!!

Roughly around the time it opened it was my favorite dining spot and was there on a not infrequent  (or at least more frequent than any other comparable restaurant) basis.   At some point the couple divorced, I Ricchi went to the wife, the husband opened Cesco in Bethesda, my ex was friendly with his significant other, and we ended up dining there fairly frequently with nary a visit to I Ricchi.  (Cesco was never as good as I Ricchi).   I've read how I Ricchi went "downhill".   I can't really comment on that.

In any case I appreciate Sietsema and more relevantly the WashPo reviews which are numerous, informational and cover far more restaurants than I could ever visit.  Interesting to see not a review here for 12 years.  I Ricchi has plenty of reviews on other websites, and if a restaurant doesn't get mentioned here that is no reason to ignore it.  I was impressed by Sietsema's comments.  Meanwhile the menu looks to be priced roughly in the Fiola range, and all things considered Georgetown has a much better view. ;)   But I'd return --had many a great meal and enjoyable time there.

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On 3/25/2019 at 9:57 PM, Marty L. said:

Did anyone here realize that i Ricci even continued to exist?  (No reviews here in a dozen years.)  Apparently it's one of the very best places in D.C., just as it was in the 20th Century.

I've been twice in the last two years. Both times those bastards "poisoned" me, AKA exposed me to food allergens that I declared.  The food is forgetable and service old-school good. Expensive IMO, considering the bla-ness of the food. All that said, my review is skewed by the inability to swallow at the end of both meals. It sort of ruins an evening. 

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I Ricchi has been on Groupon for a long time, which may be why the prices are inflated.

Hah.  I get groupon solicitations.  I NEVER look at them.  I'd look for that deal.  Maybe I'll start perusing them, after not looking at one for years.

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I started going to I Ricchi about 10 years ago, when I started seeing their Groupons. At the time, it was a pretty good deal...a good price for a decent meal. But that was about it...decent. I never would have paid the menu prices for the food we got. 

But a few years back, (this is going to be vague) I remember seeing signs out front advertising a new chef, or maybe just a new menu concept. Whatever they did worked, and the food got significantly better. Luckily, they've kept the Groupons coming steadily, and it's gone from being a good price for a decent meal to a great price for a very good meal. 

Still wouldn't pay full price, but at least it's close. 

In fact, right now it looks like you can get a 3 course dinner for 2 with a glass of house wine for $91, (there were a few upcharges, but not many last I went) or a 2 course lunch for 2 for $38. 

https://www.groupon.com/deals/ristorante-i-ricchi-2

Screenshot 2019-04-03 at 12.07.14.png

Totally worth it at those prices. 

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i Ricchi does not get much attention. Perhaps because it is not a new restaurant, having served customers for thirty years? Perhaps because it serves traditional Tuscan dishes without 'a twist'? Probably 'yes' to both. If a restaurant has lasted for three decades they must be doing something right, given the half life of restaurants. And dishes which have been refined, improved, perfected for a couple of centuries can be really delicious. After, sadly, forgetting about i Ricchi for a decade or so we have had excellent lunches there recently. 

i Ricchi is a high end Italian restaurant: professional but friendly service; quiet, at least at lunch; large (by current standards) tables widely spaced, with tablecloths; good wine selection -- and wine by the glass which is in good shape; relatively comfortable seating. The food has been consistently very good -- the quality control is admirable and not universal.

From one recent lunch (pictured): a delicious bread service; rigatoni strascicate -- classic Tuscan sugo, parmigiano; tortelloni -- spinach, ricotta & sage butter; corvina (perhaps sautéed a moment longer than we would have preferred, but nevertheless delicious) with cannellini beans & zucchini and pine nut salsa; costoletta alla Milanese -- pan-fried veal chop, arugula, plum tomatoes. 

i Ricchi has become a go-to place for lunch with guests.

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Headed to i Ricchi for the first time since probably 2004 yesterday for Mothers' Day. My kids handled everything with regard to the reservation - picking the restaurant, selecting the time, etc. and reviewed a ton of menus in the process, so I was both proud of their effort and somewhat concerned about the outcome.

Turns out there was no reason for concern. While the restaurant still sticks to Tuscan classis our group had a very nice time. There was a special mother's day menu, though we stuck to the a la carte offerings. We split the polpette, calamari, and capesante to start, and our waiter did a very nice job dividing the dishes between the four of us. While the polpette were very good and the calamari fried perfectly, the capesante was the star here. Not a groundbreaking dish, but the scallops, mushrooms, and gnocchi all worked well together. Also a generous portion for an appetizer.

Entrees were the above pictured Rigatoni, which my daughter loved, the veal milanese, chicken parmigiana, and filet. The meats were cooked expertly, and while not groundbreaking, were satisfying. The kids had gelato for dessert.

I can understand why a Tuscan restaurant was groundbreaking in late 80s Washington, though the vast majority of those restaurants are long gone. That i Ricchi soldiers on is testament to a longstanding relationship with its clientele and solid execution.

We shared a bottle of 2015 Argiano Brunello, which was fine.

Two minor quibbles, neither of which should be taken so seriously during a pandemic - 1) the wine list is far from "extensive" as claimed on the website, but I can understand not tying up cash in inventory during these times, and 2) the room is a bit tired and could use a refresh, but also not a priority when so many restaurants are trying to survive.

Could we have chosen a different place? Sure. Are there restaurants which are a better "deal", whatever that means to an individual consumer? Sure. Was Mom happy? Yes! Were the kids excited that their pick turned out well? Yes! Mom = happy, and kids = proud? All that mattered.

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