It’s not necessary to go to Georgetown, downtown to the new CityCenter, or to trendy 14th Street in Washington to find a good restaurant, especially one where conversation is possible and where street parking is relatively easy. Here are a couple of relatively new ones where the food is good, the ambience pleasant, the prices reasonable, and the service friendly and efficient:
Bar Civita (2609 24th St.NW), recently opened in what was formerly Murphy’s of DC, between the Shoreham and Marriott Wardman Park hotels just off Connecticut Avenue, is a small bistro style restaurant with a flower adorned patio. Chef-owner Liam LaCivita prepares some original dishes with an Italian flair, many of which are available either in half or full portions.
A sensational starter is the grilled octopus — crispy, crunchy, slightly sweet. A summery salad of ripe tomatoes and juicy watermelon, or a house salad with a lovely tart lemony vinaigrette enhancing arugula, radishes and flecks of creamy goat cheese, also make excellent starters. Plump, tasty veal and pork sausage could serve as either a starter or main course.
Pastas include light, fennel scented meatballs with spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce and tiny, tender gnocchi bathed in a buttery mix of fresh spring vegetables and a dollop of goat cheese. Main courses include fish, chicken and steak
Chef LaCivita bakes his own bread and the donuts for Sunday brunch. The lunch menu includes several of the dinner selections, as well as an array of sandwiches. They too suggest a trip to Italy as, for example the PLT, made with pancetta, arugula and tomatoes.
Up Connecticut Avenue, just below Chevy Chase Circle in the Chevy Chase Arcade, is Macon Bistro & Larder (5520 Connecticut Ave.NW), named not for the town in France, but for Macon, Georgia, the city where owner Tony Brown grew up. The food, designed by executive chef Daniel Singhofen, reflects Mr. Brown’s origins combined with basic French cuisine.
One of the specialties is fried green tomatoes adorned with spicy pimento cheese. Grilled corn chowder, a “killed” salad (warm vinaigrette poured over the greens thereby “killing” them), country-fried goat, sides of Hoppin’ John and “mac” and cheese, and Essie’s biscuits with honey butter and pepper jelly are other Southern influenced dishes. The biscuits, made to Mr. Brown’s Aunt Essie’s recipe — her photo hangs on the wall – are delicious.
The restaurant offers a selection of gluten- free beers on its beverage list, as well as gluten-free menu options on the lunch and dinner menus including heirloom and seafood salad, Amish chicken breast and braised pork shoulder.
The “larder” part of the restaurant’s name is a display case at the entrance to the restaurant containing house-made pies, spreads (including the pepper jelly), chewy little caramels and other goodies are for sale.
There’s a paucity of good restaurants in the neighborhood, so Macon Bistro is a welcome addition. It’s a block from the Avalon Theater, making it convenient for a meal either before or after a movie. The restaurant serves a pre-theater (or “pre-homework”) three-course dinner for $35 from 5 to 6:30 daily. Weekly specials are shrimp & grits on Tuesday, fried chicken on Wednesday and Thursday is burger night.