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Ristorante La Perla, West West End - Chef Vittorio Testa on 26th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue


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I first noticed this place after my last visit to Nectar. We were walking to the Four Seasons for drinks, and passed by what looked like a beautiful dinning room with most of the tables filled. The menu looked interesting, and not too pricey. But I had never heard anything about this restaurant, and still have not found any mention of it on this or other boards. I figured I would have heard something about it if it were either good, or horrible. So should I take the absence of any mention as being a sign that it is painfully mediocre?

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The question about this restaurant was on Siesema's chat today and nobody responded. It is one of those restaurants that appearently staying in business although nobody you know has ever been there. It is close to Marshall's, another of those restaurants, where I used to love a dish called straw and hay and the new version doesn't have it.

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As I raised the point, I don't think that the answer is that obvious. We have a place in a pretty good location, one that seems to be at least occupied at dinner, but which nobody on this board has a clue about. It doesn't appear to be tourist trap or greasy spoon or one of those Mom and Pop places that you eat in because there is no alternative. The fact that nobody seems to have tried it is very very strange.

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I did a web search on Google just now and they actually have a web site which doesn't seem to have been updated in three years--at least the copyright is from 2005. It also mentions Mother's Day coming up. I clicked on the Make Reservations button and was led nowhere.

It appears to be a high end Northern Italian restaurant. Perhaps when my gnocchi-loving vegetarian friend shows up this Christmas, I will take her there.

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I've been there a few times, as it is near my office and we use it as a "nice" place to celebrate birthdays or other special occasions. The food is traditional Italian in a white tablecloth setting -- nothing cutting edge about it. I've always thought the food was pretty good, within the scope of what they are trying to do.

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Oh, and while we're on the subject, would you please try out La Perla and file a detailed critique? Thanks!

La Perla?

The mystery restaurant at 26th, L, and Pennsylvania, which has been in business for ages, but nobody has ever eaten there. I live one block away.

On La Perla, unlike you, I don't live in the neighborhood and already wrote way too much about a generic Chinese-American joint. I'd like to suggest you're now up to 'take one for the team.' Whaddya say?

La Perla is one of Italy's great gifts to the world.  NSFW

NB: this has nothing to do with the restaurant

Someone will now have to create a new La Perla topic. And, while it's probably a major faux pax to even mention that much larger, poor-quality restaurant site with highly-questionable business practices, I will make one reference.

Whereas Hersch calls the place a "mystery restaurant" and sneers that "nobody has ever eaten there," it does have more than 80 reviews there with an overall rating of Four Stars! The proprietor is one "Chef Testa."

I really think The Hersch needs to step up here, walk the four blocks and get all Rockwellians a proper evaluation.

I've tried, I've really tried. Coming off Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway onto the L Street Exit, I pass right by both Ristorante La Perla (which I recently ranked above Pita Pit) and One Fish, Two Fish (which I've seen dozens of times) ... on my way to Marcel's. :)

I'll give you credit, Dean - that was more tasteful than I thought it was going to be (my mind went straight to the gutter).

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This is great stuff. Had never seen this thread before. When I was half-teasing The Hersch to "take one for the team," it was with total ignorance that Rocks had been nudged to do the same seven years ago.

Still, there is that "other" review diet, full of questionable values and pablum. It does seem that They go there.

I feel compelled to point out that The Hersch lives only 4 blocks away by his own admission! Is this not a matter of Rockwellian pride and doing the right thing and all that?!

P.S., I don't wanna go. I had soup at the fishes place. Did my part.

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This is great stuff. Had never seen this thread before. When I was half-teasing The Hersch to "take one for the team," it was with total ignorance that Rocks had been nudged to do the same seven years ago.

Still, there is that "other" review diet, full of questionable values and pablum. It does seem that They go there.

I feel compelled to point out that The Hersch lives only 4 blocks away by his own admission! Is this not a matter of Rockwellian pride and doing the right thing and all that?!

P.S., I don't wanna go. I had soup at the fishes place. Did my part.

I deny that I live four blocks away from La Perla. I live one block away. I will also point out that the generally accepted line of demarcation between the West End and Foggy Bottom is Pennsylvania Avenue, which puts both my home and La Perla in Foggy Bottom, which, being a much cooler name than West End, I will defend at all costs.

The people who post reviews on that other web site are nobody, and I stand by my sneer.

Back to geography:

Coming off Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway onto the L Street Exit, I pass right by both Ristorante La Perla (which I recently ranked above Pita Pit) and One Fish, Two Fish (which I've seen dozens of times) ... on my way to Marcel's. :)

It's the Potomac River Freeway (I-66) northbound that has an exit that puts you on L Street, although the exit is marked Pennsylvania Avenue, reasonably enough. There's a stop sign at 26th and L, where, if you look to your left, you'll see La Perla standing in its mysterious glory. Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway southbound has a Pennsylvania Avenue exit that actually does put you on Pennsylvania Avenue, just on the Georgetown side of the bridge, which you need to cross to see La Perla on your right.

I suppose it really does fall to me to try La Perla on behalf of the team, although two blocks to the east and it's Marcel's; two blocks to the west it's La Chaumière. I feel pretty darned confident that I would eat better at either of those, but where's the sport in that?

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I'll give you credit, Dean - that was more tasteful than I thought it was going to be (my mind went straight to the gutter).

I take it as a complement that I shock people with my restraint of my dirty mind.  as Orson Bean used to say, "A sick mind is a sure comfort"  Or someone said it.

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I take it as a complement that I shock people with my restraint of my dirty mind.  as Orson Bean used to say, "A sick mind is a sure comfort"  Or someone said it.

Evidently Dean's La Perla (a questionable linkage in its own right) predates (by a few decades) the La Perla on which The Hersch now has his sights properly targeted. That's neither here nor there but possibly decent DC cocktail party trivia.

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I deny that I live four blocks away from La Perla. I live one block away. I will also point out that the generally accepted line of demarcation between the West End and Foggy Bottom is Pennsylvania Avenue, which puts both my home and La Perla in Foggy Bottom, which, being a much cooler name than West End, I will defend at all costs.

I use K Street as the boundary west of Washington Circle, and Pennsylvania Avenue southeast of Washington Circle - defend away if you must.

(Something tells me I'm not going to have the last word here.)

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Neither Google Maps nor Wikipedia can be taken as authoritative, but Wikipedia has it thus. There is actually no authority possible for this, because these two Washington neighborhood-names have no officially sanctioned existence, as far as I know. But I know Foggy Bottom when I see it. (The Foggy Bottom Historic District does have an official identity bestowed by the National Park Service, but it's nothing like the conventional understanding of Foggy Bottom, its eastern boundary being 25th Street.)

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Neither Google Maps nor Wikipedia can be taken as authoritative, but Wikipedia has it thus. There is actually no authority possible for this, because these two Washington neighborhood-names have no officially sanctioned existence, as far as I know. But I know Foggy Bottom when I see it. (The Foggy Bottom Historic District does have an official identity bestowed by the National Park Service, but it's nothing like the conventional understanding of Foggy Bottom, its eastern boundary being 25th Street.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the area in dispute involves the little triangle bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue on the north, Washington Circle on the east, K Street on the south, and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway on the west. This means the restaurants affected would be La Perla, Marshall's, Flavors of India, Thai Coast, and maybe a couple of other insignificant places.

2424 Pennsylvania Avenue (even numbers are on the south side) is called "West End Market."  ^_^

The Melrose Hotel at 2430 Pennsylvania Avenue considers themselves "Georgetown," but I'm sure we can both agree that's marketing to tourists. (I think we can also both agree this is a very esoteric, almost purely academic discussion.)

Don't you think this and this form a pretty imposing border? (These are photos of K Street west of Washington Circle)

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the area in dispute involves the little triangle bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue on the north, Washington Circle on the east, K Street on the south, and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway on the west. This means the restaurants affected would be La Perla, Marshall's, Flavors of India, Thai Coast, and maybe a couple of other insignificant places.

2424 Pennsylvania Avenue (even numbers are on the south side) is called "West End Market."  ^_^

The Melrose Hotel at 2430 Pennsylvania Avenue considers themselves "Georgetown," but I'm sure we can both agree that's marketing to tourists.

Don't you think this and this form a pretty imposing border? (These are photos of K Street west of Washington Circle)

Charmthai, but no matter. You mistake my motivation. At the end of last year, I moved from beautiful Kalorama Triangle, my neighborhood for more than two decades, somewhat reluctantly to less-beautiful but very interesting Foggy Bottom, and you're trying to demote me to the West End, among the most characterless neighborhoods within the original city of Washington.

And I'll see your West End Market and raise you the Foggy Bottom Trader Joe's, not that I think it's in Foggy Bottom, but only to point out that shop names are clearly not dispositive.I imagine TJ's calls itself Foggy Bottom for the same reason the Melrose Hotel and the Glover Park Whole Foods call themselves Georgetown.

The K Street Superhighway between 21st Street and the Whitehurst Freeway is indeed an imposing division. I don't know when exactly it was built, but I'm pretty sure it was long after there was a Foggy Bottom. (Probably also before there was a West End. I think that name was invented by the real estate developers who moved into the area now so called in the 1970s, although I can't find a citation.)

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At the end of last year, I moved from beautiful Kalorama Triangle, my neighborhood for more than two decades, somewhat reluctantly to less-beautiful but very interesting Foggy Bottom, and you're trying to demote me to the West End, among the most characterless neighborhoods within the original city of Washington.

I promise you that I'm not trying to "demote" you. :rolleyes:

And that strip of L Street coming off the "Potomac River Freeway" is one serious eyesore! Do you *really* want to call that Foggy Bottom? That said, the dreaded "Marshall's" strip of restaurants actually lends credence to it being Foggy Bottom because they cater to the GWU crowd, although with all the property that land-grabbing city-wrecker owns now (I think they're second only to the federal government in DC land holdings - the Borg of DC real estate), who's to say that GWU is a "Foggy Bottom" university at this point?

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And that strip of L Street coming off the "Potomac River Freeway" is one serious eyesore! Do you *really* want to call that Foggy Bottom?

 

There are many eyesores in Foggy Bottom. The State Department, for a start. The OPM building isn't worse than State only because it's smaller. Hell, the Watergate is an eyesore, along with the whole dreadful tangle of freeways it's next to. That little bit of L Street is inoffensive in comparison, and I don't think you should pick on it.

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I ate at La perla once about 10 years ago. I live one block from there also. It was truly terrible. Food and service. Perhaps it has gotten better. A mural of Sandro Botticelli The Birth of Venus (popularly known as Venus on the half shell) dominates half the room. Very Las Vegas decor.

Edited by Mark Slater
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I ate at La perla once about 10 years ago. I live one block from there also. It was truly terrible. Food and service. Perhaps it has gotten better. A mural of Sandro Botticelli The Birth of Venus (popularly known as Venus on the half shell) dominates half the room. Very Las Vegas decor.

If any Yelpers are to be trusted, Chef Testa is supposedly a kind, grandfatherly type figure. But guess that doesn't compensate for the food and service.

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Might be early 2001. Right before I started at Corduroy. I was walking by and thought it looked like a nice place to work at. Stepped in to see if they were hiring and saw the waitstaff mopping, brooming and dusting. In their eyes I could feel the frustration. The person who was ordering everybody with a loud and strict voice gave me an application paper. I'm glad never returned it back.

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I happened to walk by La Perla recently, stopping to look at their menu displayed outside, and also to stop by their website, and I was astonished at the prices. I don't think they were quite so high when I was looking at their menu a few months back. You can see their menu here, although I should warn you that on Firefox I could not get the website to show me anything but the lunch menu. On IE, I could see the dinner menu as well. Their oysters on the half-shell cost more than Fiola Mare's ($20 to $18). They have no antipasto less than $13, with many well north of $20. Spaghetti alle vongole is $27. Mushroom risotto (with porcini and parmigiano) is $32. A sirloin steak is $55. If you believe, as I do, that La Perla is in Foggy Bottom and Marcel's is in the West End, then La Perla is easily the most expensive restaurant in Foggy Bottom, and it would indeed be easy enough, looking at the menu, to spend more on dinner at La Perla than dinner at Marcel's. I really don't think I'm going to dine at La Perla, no, not even for the team. It can't possibly be worth those prices.

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I happened to walk by La Perla recently, stopping to look at their menu displayed outside, and also to stop by their website, and I was astonished at the prices. I don't think they were quite so high when I was looking at their menu a few months back. You can see their menu here, although I should warn you that on Firefox I could not get the website to show me anything but the lunch menu. On IE, I could see the dinner menu as well. Their oysters on the half-shell cost more than Fiola Mare's ($20 to $18). They have no antipasto less than $13, with many well north of $20. Spaghetti alle vongole is $27. Mushroom risotto (with porcini and parmigiano) is $32. A sirloin steak is $55. If you believe, as I do, that La Perla is in Foggy Bottom and Marcel's is in the West End, then La Perla is easily the most expensive restaurant in Foggy Bottom, and it would indeed be easy enough, looking at the menu, to spend more on dinner at La Perla than dinner at Marcel's. I really don't think I'm going to dine at La Perla, no, not even for the team. It can't possibly be worth those prices.

La Perla should be pictured next to the term "Tourist Trap" in the dictionary.

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La Perla should be pictured next to the term "Tourist Trap" in the dictionary.

Yes, but it doesn't even seem to be in a very good location for a tourist trap, neither near the monumental core of the city, nor in Georgetown, nor near the mega-hotels in Woodley Park. Why would tourists walk into this particular trap?

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3 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I’ve been to La Perla a long time ago.  And I’m taking the kids this time.  They’ve never spent a night in DC so we’re spending a night at the Melrose and La Perla is within a short walk.  

The good news: Your kids will be too young to be long-term traumatized by the quality of either the restaurant or the hotel. :)

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5 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

The restaurant may haunt me but the hotel should be pretty swanky.  

Mark Slater can address this.

Does anyone know why there was the Melrose Hotel and Melrose Restaurant within a block of each other? Believe it or not, Melrose Restaurant (with Chef Brian McBride) had what was quite possibly the best wine list in the city if you consider "value" as well as "quality." Okay, Le Lion D'Or was better still, but Melrose was serving 1975 classified-growth Bordeaux by the glass in the early 2000s, and it wasn't all that expensive.

Hey, before the kids mess up the place, take a couple pictures of the room, and post on the Hotels Forum - I've never seen the interiors there.

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I was invited to Ristorante La Perla by a colleague who was picking up the tab, and having read all the foregoing comments, rest assured I would not have picked this place. He was staying at a nearby hotel and he has eaten here often, claiming that a non-chain that is run by an affable grandfatherly-type chef was right up his alley.

It was awful. How can an establishment survive 23 years at this location, at this price point, and with food that doesn't quite meet the quality standards of Olive Garden?

We ordered appetizers of calamari fritti and mozzarella caprese, neither of which were offensive but neither of which stood out in any way, except for the ridiculous price. But I wasn't paying and he was happy so what the heck.

On to the mains, and I focused on the list of daily specials. After all, the menu is as vast as Cheesecake Factory, and I never trust a kitchen that tries to master scores of dishes. On the list was soft shell crab linguine, and I wanted to order it. They didn't have it. So I went with the snapper stuffed with crab meat, and it was horrible. It came out rolled in a tube, but the center wasn't cooked. It was cold and raw in the center. The accompanying side of spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, topped with pre-grated parmigiano, was about as Olive Garden as it gets, right on down to the flaccid pasta.

The grandfatherly chef came out and made his rounds at the three tables with occupants, asking us how we enjoyed the meal -- we lied -- and telling us he's there 7 days a week and has been going for 23 years and his family will not be the beneficiaries of this place when he passes. Here's hoping that the next owners of the property put an actual restaurant there.

Two positives to add -- one, the place is quiet enough to carry on a conversation with table mates, and two, the kindly chef-owner comped us each a shot of lemoncello at the end of the meal. 

 

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2 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I have an idea.  My old law firm's HQ is at 2550 M St.  The only time I ever ate at La Perla was a client meal.  I suspect many client meals took place there since there aren't many restaurants within a short walk.

There also seems to be a lineup of VIP visits as well --> HERE <-- (scroll down) and I'm not sure what that says about the draw....

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