Guests can enjoy fresh house-made pasta, risotto, fresh fish and meat offerings along with Italian desserts and a selection of gelato. Al Dente also showcases Neapolitan pizza from the restaurant's centerpiece oven.
Executive Chef Roberto Donna
Washington's most famous Italian chef going back to 1984, Roberto Donna is a James Beard winner and twice DC "Chef of the Year". Owner of some 20 restaurants over the years, he is best known for his award-winning Galileo restaurants and I Matti, a ground-breaking trattoria in 1980’s Adams Morgan. From Torino (Turin) in Northern Italy, Chef Donna’s current cuisine spans Southern and all regions of his beloved country.
A boutique selection mostly Italian and also wines of other origins are available by the bottle along with various selections of wines by the glass. Prices range from $6 to $20 by the glass and $30 to $100 by the bottle. Additionally, eight draft beers are also available.
Eric Felten, the James Beard Foundation award-winning wine and spirits writer and author of How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well, created the cocktail list at Al Dente. This is the first time Felton has created a slate of original cocktails for a restaurant, and has done so because of his friendship with Owner Hakan Ilhan. Guests can anticipate a mix of Italian classics such as The Negroni and The Americano, as well as obscure classics with a great Washington angle such as The Fanciulli. Four original cocktails devised using distinctively Italian spirits, liqueurs and wines are also available.
Al Dente can accommodate up to 116-seated guests in the main dining room; 12 seats at the bar; 12 seats around the pizza oven and eight seats in the open exhibition kitchen complete with dining bar. An outdoor patio is also available during the spring and summer months (weather permitting) with seating for 30.
Matt Norris, of Norris Design in Atlanta, is responsible for transforming the 3,150-square-foot space into a modern, urban Italian trattoria like those found in Rome or Milan. Upon entering the restaurant, guests will note the stacked wood on steel shelving used in the restaurant's pizza oven. The exhibition kitchen is set apart from the main dining room by a sculptural wall of orange panels providing a nice transition while allowing diners to see the action in the open kitchen. Rustic steel is also used to create wine racks at the bar. The focal point of the restaurant is the 800-pound pizza oven, set off with black and white tiles. Carefully chosen materials such as custom Juno lighting, black chandeliers, charcoal dining tables with highly polished orange chairs from Italy, concrete countertops with fixed stools and stone accent wall complete the sleek space and create the Ferrari-like interior.
Caara Stoney is an Atlanta-based artist who created the 11-foot tall art insulations of the Mona Lisa and Leonardo portraits within the restaurant.
Owner/Operator: Hakan Ilhan
Executive Chef: Roberto Donna
Managers: Karen Audia Shannon and Batuhan Sen