Great for large family get-togethers as well as romantic dinners for two, Topo Gigio will please just about everyone that likes Italian food. The entrance through the circus-tent-like bar might strike some as strange, but once you get to the main dining room, with its tall ceilings, romantic Rat Pack tunes, and old ceramic ware and sheet music lined up on the walls, you know exactly where you are: a beloved neighborhood ristorante.
If the menu seems dense and overwhelming, stick to the salads (dressed the classic Italian way, in a simple and perfect balsamic vinaigrette) and pastas (the tortellini alla panna is unbelievably delicious, and the spaghetti with meatballs comes out in the pan it was cooked in, then transferred to a plate before your eyes). Fans of veal will have more options than they’ve seen anywhere else.
There are Italian eateries where vegetables are mighty scarce, but that isn’t the case here. You can order several kinds of greens on the side -- try the broccoli rabe. If you show up with one or two other people, ask to sit at one of the high tables next to the gorgeous big windows. From there, you’ll be able to watch Old Town’s lively foot traffic pass by. The servers can be brusque, but they get the job done.
Note that, unlike the vast majority of restaurants in the city, Topo Gigio does not close between lunch and dinner. This means that if you’ve always wondered where to get an excellent sit-down meal at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, you’ve found your answer.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Abigail Derecho