A bottle of rose instead.
When you want a table on the street, where is your Italian restaurant?
Pasta and pizza are my weeknight basics. I don't claim to cook special Italian, but I can turn almost any pantry into spaghetti sauce. Those nights make us look to other cuisines when we head out to a restaurant.
The Hoco360 blog just highlighted the three Trattoria restaurants -- Waverly, King's Contrivance, and Dorsey's Search. Strobist pushes the pizzas and the ravioli aurora. The King's Contrivance restaurant has served up some nice pizza for us, especially paired with a Rita's Italian ice.
(Update: As noted below, my original text omitted Portalli's in Ellicott City and Aida Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia. Both kitchens have the ambition to be one of the best around, and they're upscale menus -- often with local produce -- that get raves. I have to admit that we don't eat at that price point often. I think I omitted them because I started with Hoco360's post about casual Italian and got focused there. I'd love recommendations about what to order on a special night.)
Other Italian gets reader raves -- Pasta Plus in Laurel, Tino's Italian in Columbia, the Pasta Blitz on Rte 108. Other Pasta Blitz's have turned into Anthony's in Clarksville and Vittorio in Glenwood. Truly, Facci on Johns Hopkins Road is our local. We tend to split a pizza with either a salad or a pasta. They make several pastas in house, including ravioli and gnocchi. When I like blistered pizzas like the mushroom or even the clam pie, it's tough to drive past to try somewhere else.
So what do you recommend? I do want to try that ravioli aurora, and people should hear about the good Italian even if I haven't tried it. I need suggestions about what to order at the other places -- favorite dishes, anything off the menu.