Al Dente

Al Dente

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.aldentedc.com/
  • Phone: 2022442223
  • Hours of Operation:
    11:30AM to 10:00PM Daily
  • Payment Options: AMEX,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Executive Chef: Roberto Donna
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Getting there

  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: Free Parking weeknights from 5:00PM and all day Saturday & Sunday.
    50% OFF weekdays before 5:00PM.

A word from Al Dente
Al Dente is serving Italian Cuisine by Chef Roberto Donna near American University.
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Al Dente reviews from OpenTable diners
86 reviews since May 23, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food4
    Service3.7
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelModerate
83% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (56)great for outdoor dining (46)fit for foodies (43)great for lunch (24)kid-friendly (16)notable wine list (15)great for brunch (14)special occasion (13)good for groups (8)romantic (5)late-night find (4)vibrant bar scene (4)hot spot (3)scenic view (1)Show More
  • Way to go, Roberto
    MortGVIP
    Dined on 1/19/2014
    Although he wasn't in the kitchen the night we were there, we enjoyed Mr. Donna's touch. We went for Restaurant Week. Once again, a restaurant that offered it's full menu. Way to go! I had the burrata with prosciutto and a few dates. Excellent! Followed by the steak, also excellent, and the chocolate salami for dessert. All excellent. If it were closer (we live in Virginia), we would go to this restaurant more frequently. By the way, we went to Roberto + 4 late last year and really enjoyed it. We decided to come back to try the "pedestrian" main dining room. As you can see, we weren't disappointed. Give Al Dente a try!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Second time, and it was during
    AMBehp7
    Dined on 1/19/2014
    Second time, and it was during restaurant week. A true bargain: I had the special Hazan recipe lemon chicken, a favorite of CHef Donna, and my companion had the lamb shank. All excellent...and especially at restaurant week prices.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • An excellent choice for a
    eddieVIP
    Dined on 1/18/2014
    An excellent choice for a Washington restaurant week meal. All three courses were what you would get on a non Restaurant Week day and our selections made for enjoyable dining. Service was a little ragged in getting a second glass of vino. The desserts were wonderful. FYI: If you don't want to sit at a high table and you prefer a table of normal height make you needs known when you make your reservation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 1/16/2014
    Superb! Roberto Donna made his entire menu available with no surcharges for Restaurant Week. Very generous portions of creative pastas, deliciously seared meats, and the best wild mushroom risotto I've ever tasted. Can't wait to go back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointing!
    CH1957VIP
    Dined on 1/15/2014
    We were very longtime followers of Roberto. While we didn't expect his past high end restaurant , we expected more. The service was very disinterested!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • We have only eaten lunch here
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 1/15/2014
    We have only eaten lunch here several times. The food and ambience are terrific, the service not so much. Our server was pleasant but not as attentive as we would have liked. I had to remind him that he had not brought my wine although, my husband had been served. He did tell us about the "Restaurant Week" special but we had to ask him for several things after our food was served. Although the food was excellent, as always, the rest of the experience was disappointing.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointed
    neighborVIP
    Dined on 1/13/2014
    I had wanted to try this restaurant because we live in the neighborhood, so we thought we would try it for Restaurant Week. First of all we had to ask about restaurant week--there was no mention of it on the menu or in the other cards we were given. They essentially opened up the whole menu, which was good. The lamb shank was disappointing--sauce too "tomato-ey" with no complexity. Some other dishes were quite good. Service was quite slow, which I could understand as it was very busy when we went in, but it got slower as tables emptied, not the reverse. We had a very long wait for dessert and eventually asked a manager for help. Tables are also very close together, and the decor has no noise-softening elements, so it was very noisy.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Standard of Excellence
    SuzyVIP
    Dined on 1/9/2014
    As usual - food really excellent. Wonderful meal accompanied by terrific bread.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Roberta Donna Greeted Us
    NUParent
    Dined on 12/31/2013
    It was our first time at the famed Roberta Donna's restaurant near AU. Great food, great service, and the wonderful chef himself was there and came out to say hello. Fun decor. Many happy Italian patrons. I miss Galileo, but this is a good experience as well.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OK but not great
    MelissaThereseVIP
    Dined on 12/31/2013
    Came with high hopes given my esteem for Roberto Donna. But my party of four found the meal to be just ok. We started with the cold appetizer plate: tuna salad, ricotta spread and olives, which was fine. Then two of us had the gnocchi and found the tomato sauce thin and too sweet. The parpadelle was ok, as was the lamb shank, spinach and eggplant side dishes - just not stellar in any way. Service was also ok but not great. Our server forgot one side dish, brought one we had not ordered and disappeared for long stretches. On the plus side there's a good wine list of Italian and local Virginia wines. And did i mention it was New Year's Eve? Perhaps the manager and chef were off duty, but for the price it was a disappointing meal.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • From happy hour to dinner--
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002
    Dined on 12/31/2013
    From happy hour to dinner-- food, wine, service, and decor do not disappoint. The hard thing for us now will be to dine elsewhere when we are in the area.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sadly
    HorribleVIP
    Dined on 12/28/2013
    I was really excited about going to Al Dente for my birthday lunch! Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. Soup that was watery, pasta not cooked.. Ingredients on the menu were subsituted without us knowing. Ex..no Nutella and peaches for pancakes for an 8 yr old, they gave strawberries with no nutella. She was not happy. It took hour to get appetizers. We were are there for 3 hours. Then the menu...not clear, extra surcharges without being clearly explained in the beginning. Our waiter seemed confused but at least had a sense of humor. Sadly will not be returning..
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food not worth prices
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 12/26/2013
    I usually order pizza at this restaurant (which is quite good), but I decided to order pasta for a change. That was a mistake! It arrived cold and the portion was very small, considering the $22 price. The bread was delicious and the wine selection good.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Love Al Dente
    AndreagpnVIP
    Dined on 12/26/2013
    Our favorite neighborhood Italian eatery. Service and food never disappoint.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Gave it another chance...
    BorincanoVIP
    Dined on 12/22/2013
    After several months absence decided to give the place another chance. In short, the food is great, and the service ranges from confused to slow to indifferent. A little better this time, but only in comparison to the terrible service in previous visits.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Go early for lunch.
    Judy
    Dined on 12/17/2013
    We came back for lunch (at 12:30) after a wonderful recent late night dinner. Food was great. But it got very crowded. Service was great when we came in but then they seemed to forget about us as the place filled up. My companion has a hearing aid and said the noise became unbearable. We would have liked to stay for coffee or maybe dessert but it had become too unpleasant. Secret (if you don't like noise) is to go early for lunch and late for dinner. Food is worth it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Holiday Fish Dinner
    happyeaterVIP
    Dined on 12/15/2013
    I have lived in Italy and the many course fish dinner that is typical of the Italian holiday season was varied and excellent. It is wonderful to have real Italian food available of such high quality,
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Roberto Donna's Gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004VIP
    Dined on 12/14/2013
    Chef Donna serves a wide variety of extremely high quality Italian food like he did at his fabulous Galileo but in a less formal, trattoria-like ambiance. Bravo, Maestro Donna!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, notable wine list, kid-friendly, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • delicious!!!
    ilovetoeatVIP
    Dined on 12/13/2013
    beautiful contemporary decor. bustling energy. lots of people at the bar. every table full. food exceptional. we had the neapolitan pizza and added spinach and caramelized onions. excellent. stuffed dates were incredible. zucchini blossoms fried up light and airy. very large salad servings. cheese in the caesar an odd choice- i prefer shaved parmesan. meatballs better than mine (highest compliment i can give, lol). reputedly perfect veal chop, demolished b4 i could try it. service was excellent- water glasses consistently filled, wine poured inconspicuously. a little hard to hear the waitress- i couldnt tell if it was her soft-spokeness or the level of noise. but it didnt deter us from ordering. too full for dessert- now there's a first.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very disappointing lunch.
    Used2luvezeplaceVIP
    Dined on 12/9/2013
    Very disappointing lunch. Both mixed salad and gnocchi with sausage ragu were nondescript. And prix fixed menu had this stern admonition that it would only be served for a minimum of 2, with sharing forbidden, and it featured only 2 varieties of ice cream as dessert--not particularly appealing at a time where the city is covered with snow. Mr Roberto Donna: you can do better than that!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • My husband and I ordered the
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 12/7/2013
    My husband and I ordered the 4-courese tasting menu and the food was superb but the service was dreadful. Our wine and first two courses came within a reasonable time but then we sat for over half an hour with no entree and no sign of our waiter. Finally my husband flagged down another waiter and asked that ours came by. After we talked to the waiter and waited some more, the food finally arrived. Somehow the manager learned of the problem, came to our table and apologized profusely. She took 20% off our bill. While she was trying to make amends, the full price of the meal would have been reasonable and I would have preferred to pay full price and have decent service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • The food is good. The room
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 12/6/2013
    The food is good. The room is cold and loud. Not easy to converse if that's your object.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing Pizza For Incredible Prices
    Erin
    Dined on 12/6/2013
    As a college student, I understand what it's like to be strapped for cash in the district, especially when it comes to dining out. Not only was the staff extremely accommodating with their prices (they were generous enough to let my friends and I take advantage of the happy hour special despite walking in a little past 5 PM,) but the pizza was truly delicious, authentic Italian food. All of that, in conjunction with the nifty pizza/hibachi layout in the center, made for a really nice evening.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pizza Looks Great, Tastes Good
    otberburVIP
    Dined on 12/5/2013
    We were running errands in the neighborhood around American University, so decided to dine at Al Dente, which occupies half of what was once the Sutton Place Gourmet grocery store. The decor and service are fairly nondescript. We started with a series of small cold plates of varying quality. Caponata was excellent; a tuna and bean salad merely serviceable. The menu offers a choice of relatively pricey entrees and relatively inexpensive pizzas; we chose the latter. My sausage pizza looked gorgeous when it was set in front of me. The taste was less impressive. While the toppings were generous and tasty, the crust itself lacked flavor and seemed under baked in spots.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food; uneven service
    JonS
    Dined on 12/1/2013
    Roberto Donna is a miracle worker when it comes to his recipes and preparation. Dinner can be noisy. Lunch is quiet. Brunch menu is very nice and a good deal. Waitstaff is hit or miss. And the meals do not always hit the table at or around the same time. But the food is delicious.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Restaurant needs to have a
    yashuVIP
    Dined on 11/30/2013
    Restaurant needs to have a curtain or some kind of partition at the entrance, It gets very cold when the door opens and closes constantly.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Al Dente--A Gem
    happyeaterVIP
    Dined on 11/30/2013
    Roberto Donna is back and it is great to have this fine restaurant that serves excellent Italian and creative cuisine. The brunches have interesting menus and are a great value.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    ItaliofilVIP
    Dined on 11/28/2013
    I want to like this place, since it is in my neighborhood and I love Italian food. Tried the Thanksgiving prix fix menu. Quality and taste were good, but portions way too large. Waiter said they were tastings, but we were full after the first course (salad, soup, and a full bowl of polenta with sausage and squash). Second course had full servings of two more pastas with squash/pumpkin. Third course salmon and turkey and pork cheeks. The turkey was delicious! Also place mats had food on them. No one was there at 1pm. 80 rock music played. And, part my fault, waiter upsold me on wine ($4/glass) but didn't mention price increase to me -- no cool on his part. All in all, not a festive meal. Probably won't return.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Al Don't
    FrequentDinerVIP
    Dined on 11/24/2013
    Unfortunately, Al Dente has become a place where average food is served at exorbitant prices. For example, our bill was $145 (pre-tip) for a family of 4. One dish, ricotta bruschetta (which is ricotta cheese spread on two pieces of bread with honey and nuts), stands out both for its banality and extravagance 13.95! The pappardelle with pork was a lot of pappardelle without much pork and the sauce was liquified and runny. The veal roll was incredibly dry. As bad as the food was, the service was worse. It took 30 minutes to receive the appetizers and an additional 45 minutes to receive the entrees. On our way out, we were witnesses to a fight (yes, really!) between a waiter and the chef. For now, Al Dente remains Al Don't.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great except too noisy
    annick
    Dined on 11/23/2013
    We had a wonderful dinner with lovely service and a bottle of wine at an excellent price. But like so many restaurants now, Al Dente was too noisy. It would be so nice to have a conversation during dinner without having to raise our voices!
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A foursome of us enjoyed dinner
    JudyVIP
    Dined on 11/21/2013
    A foursome of us enjoyed dinner at Al Dente. Their focaccia bread was especially good with a terrific olive oil. The fried squash blossoms were very tasty, not over-battered, and a little better than the polenta fries which could have used a little less sauce. The best entree was the agnolotti pasta cooked perfectly and lightly sauced. The osso bucco (sp?) was tender and tasty as was the veal stuffed with pork, though, again, a bit too much sauce overwhelming the diced potatoes. The big (it took all of us to eat it) tiramisu was ok but not as good as other restaurants we've been to. Kareem, our server, was very nice though we felt a bit neglected and maybe that was due to understaffing.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful Meal
    SeptemberVIP
    Dined on 11/21/2013
    The Carbonara was very good and the atmosphere was delightful. A very relaxing lunchtime experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • absolutely delicious
    ayceman
    Dined on 11/20/2013
    I can't say enough about my meal at al dente. my spouse and i invited friends to join us who routinely dine in the best restaurants of Italky and France. we were all overhwelmed by the creativity and quality of the dishes here. the home made pasta was light and perfect, the pizza was amazing, and the grilled fish was superb. all of this paired with rare and affordable italian wines. one of the best meals I have eaten anywhere.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful
    Greg
    Dined on 11/19/2013
    The food is outstanding - best minestrone soup I have ever had, the service is very good and the atmosphere is energetic yet comfortable.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Italian in DC
    Ellbee
    Dined on 11/16/2013
    This is an awesome restaurant serving true Italian fare. I've never had a bad meal here...in fact, I've only had outstanding meals here. My only negative is that in my last two experiences, the staff seemed well meaning, but not quite able to time food delivery. For instance, bringing one entree without the other, taking a long time before water glasses were filled, and then another long time before an order is taken....luckily, the meal more than makes up for it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • heart attack heaven
    PreoaksVIP
    Dined on 11/15/2013
    way too much salt! Overwhelmed the taste and showed no concern for well-being of customers. This was third time at Al Dente, and I might go back if the salt returns to more normal levels.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Roberto Donna-- at his best!
    GiGiVIP
    Dined on 11/5/2013
    My husband and I and two friends had among us enjoyed every restaurant Donna had been involved with. We were intrigued by the 4-person tasting table with the chef but decided to start with the four-course tasting option. Every course was superb-- I would shout out the scallops and stuffed zucchini flowers! We are planning our rendezvous with the 12-course tasting and a chance to chat with Donna and watch his amazing skills up close. The restaurant is airy with a striking color palette of pumpkin orange in decor and art work. What most pleased us about the ambiance at Al Dente is the quiet. One can enjoy conversation without shouting (an all too familiar problem in almost all of our local 14th Street favs.). Our server, Maja, was great.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not what we expected
    Mcgypsy
    Dined on 11/3/2013
    Very far out of the city and more like suburban Montgomery county atmosphere. Felt rushed by the waiter even though it was a quiet Sunday night and not crowded. Pizza was okay but nothing fabulous
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful meal!
    Goodfood123VIP
    Dined on 10/28/2013
    My husband and I shared the huge and delicious caesar salad, then he had the lamb shank which was astoundingly good. The meat was tender and beautifully seasoned, accompanied by delicious white means in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. I had a pizza with ham, olives, artichokes and mushrooms. It was just wonderful. The only rough part of the evening was the fact that a table of about 8 teenage girls was across the room and the acoustics made it impossible to hear anything except their shouting and laughing. It might have been nice for the management to make them aware that there were other people there.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Beautiful Sunday brunch
    DeliciousVIP
    Dined on 10/27/2013
    My husband was out of town, so my two little boys (both under 4) walked to Al Dente for brunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I'd been meaning to try Al Dente ever since it opened but hadn't had a chance. I was very impressed. They were accommodating to my two high chair request and the servers were friendly, quick, and kind. We just ordered very simply - a marguerite pizza and a beer (for me) - but both were exceptional! The pizza was perfectly balanced and the crust was heavenly. My beer arrived in a frosted glass, which was perfect on our sunny day. I am going back next weekend with another family for brunch! Everything that passed by us looked wonderful and I'm anxious to further explore both the food and wine menus!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.