One of the best meals I’ve had in DC recently was at an unlikely restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, D’Acqua. Other than a few good to great reviews on yelp, chowhound, and zagat.com, there is not very much publicity for this relatively small Italian seafood restaurant. However, D’Acqua came highly recommended from a couple of friends and I found myself there with a large group for dinner not long ago.
Although the Zagat guide describes D’Acqua as “glamorous,” “Modern,” and “likely bait for a lounge scene,” the space is not nearly as trendy and crowded as the review suggests. In fact, the restaurant was nearly empty throughout our long meal on a Saturday night. And yet everything we ordered was delicious. Why is D’Acqua so under the radar when it comes to great Italian food in DC while places like Café Milano are so well known?
When we first arrived to D’Acqua, we were presented with a very extensive wine list and an explanation of the menu. The menu offers a variety of classic Italian dishes including a variety of pastas, but it is clear that the restaurant is focused on simple, fresh seafood preparation. We began with fried calamari, zucchini and eggplant with parsley and garlic sauce and pan fried mozzarella and Tuscan bread in Italian tempura, both of which were great. For the main course, diners are invited to walk over to the case of fish and choose a whole fish for their dinner; there are fish available for one or for two people to share. The fish selection includes a variety of Mediterranean bass, flounder, and red snapper. These fish may be grilled, oven-roasted or, their specialty, salt-crusted and baked. The fish are then filleted at the table and served simply over arugula with olive oil and lemon.
One would think that encrusting a fish with a large amount of sea salt using egg to stick would make the fish taste unbearably salty. However, the salt-crusted fish was my favorite dish as it was flaky and perfectly salted. D’Acqua proves that less can be more when it comes to fish as it allows the freshness of the ingredients to shine. I would recommend D’Acqua to seafood lovers before many of the popular seafood specialty restaurants such as Hook in Georgetown and to those seeking a great Italian meal.
801 Pennsylvania Ave, NW