before good buddy of BOOF, toochi, shipped off to China for the summer we knew that we had to get together. we are always trying to find time in our hectic schedules to hang out but it is always tough to get us in the same place at the same time. i had a livingsocial deal to a new italian restaurant in georgetown, so we finally made a date and a time and we were on the books for dinner.
il canale is located on 31st in georgetown between M and K overlooking the canal. apparently before il canale came in, there was a pretty bad italian restaurant in the same location but let me tell you, il canale is definitely not the same place. il canale is traditional italian food highlighted by Neapolitan style pizzas (told you i was eating a lot of pizza!) and classic flavors. il canale is marked by its very warm and well lit interior but it also features a nice covered roof top deck which overlooks the "canale", perfect for a nice summer evening. the interior is modern with simple colors to not withdraw your attention from the food as it is nothing too spectacular.
we started off with the frittura di calamari e zucchine which is crispy tender calamari served with a spicy marinara sauce. the seasoning and flavor of these bad boys was quite delicious. the calamari essentially stood on its own, not necessarily needing the sauce because the seasoning was quite perfect...not too much but not bland. the zucchini was also a nice touch because as all of you may know, i'm a sucker for some seafood and veggies. especially, when they are fried. :-)
tn originally ordered the Pacch eri di Gragnano which is an artisan large tube pasta with classic neapolitan meat sauce, and a touch of imported bufala ricotta and mozzarella. unfortunately, tn was not quite in the mood for what she ordered so she ended up sending it back. however, it looked super delicious...i'm sure if the sauce did not have meat in it, i would have ate it and loved it. because this restaurant is very traditional, do not expect to find an alfredo sauce on the menu. as our moroccan (random, i know) waiter explained to us, alfredo sauce is not italian at all. so only expect true italian flavors and dishes to come out of il canale. the presentation was also still lovely, and the large tube pasta is not something that i am accustomed to seeing but it was also a pleasant surprise. additionally, be a little prepared for this to be cooked al dente, unless you ask them otherwise.
i ordered the Parmigana which is a neapolitan style pizza topped with a tomato sauce, parmesan shavings and the staple imported bufala mozzarella. the pizza was really good the parmesan added the perfect amount of sharp flavor to the pizza and the crust was cooked very well. if I were to do a little crust comparison from my most recent pizza ventures i would say il canale= 2 amys > Vapianos. however, they have all been tasty, the ingredients have all been fresh and I have been very pleased.
as a substitute for her pasta, tn switched to pizza and ordered La Regina which was just like my pizza accept minus the parmesan and plus proscuitto. she was much more pleased with this option and enjoyed it greatly. the flavors were simple but classically done so there were no complaints from our end.
il canale was good. was it the best italian meal i have ever had? probably not but it was definitely really tasty, well prepared, fresh and traditional italian food. the location is really great and with enough word of mouth, this place can definitely be put on the dc map for a really great authentic italian meal. supposedly, for happy hour from 4-7, you can get a pizza and a glass of red/white wine for $9.99. I think that is a steal and without even that deal, I would definitely come back here for a nice dinner.
Additional: There is plenty to do in the Georgetown area. You can shop, walk around georgetown and up the canal/down the river. You can also catch a movie which makes for a really great date night. I would definitely leave the kids or large groups at home because this restaurant definitely has more of the feel of a dinner with a good friend or couple of friends, or a date night with your schnookums.