Arlington / Italian / $$$
The slice of cake glistens. It gleams. It’s festooned with flower petals. Basically, it’s something that wouldn’t be out of place in the window of a jewelry store. And for a slice of cake, at least, it’s got a price tag to match. Meet the $16 Piemontese chocolate gianduja cake. It’s not huge, but it’s rich enough to share and worth every penny. The layers of chocolate cake melt with gianduja (the generic name for the chocolate-hazelnut spread most of us know as Nutella) and crackle with crunchy bits. The exterior of mirror-like ganache exists in a state somewhere between solid and liquid.
In summary, you really must try this cake. But it’s not easy to save room when confronted with a menu of pastas that will have you craving bite after al dente bite. The best way to approach this conundrum: Order the pasta tasting, and be prepared to haul home plenty of leftovers. That allows you to select three plates and share them family-style. The best includes tender white-and-green agnolotti stuffed with braised short ribs and baptized in sage brown butter. But the tasting allows you to avoid choosing a favorite that isn’t cake.
See this: The menus are faux newspapers with a young Sophia Loren on the front. A red-and-white theme pervades the sleek but homey dining room.
Eat this: Pasta tasting, Piemontese chocolate gianduja cake
Service: Expect the kind of care that includes someone pouring your olive oil for you when fresh bread arrives.
When to dine here: You and your date are carbo-loading and don’t mind spending a bit extra for quality.