A few weeks ago, we found ourselves back in our old stomping grounds at Mount Vernon Triangle. Several new restaurants have popped up in the area since we left in 2015, but the one we’ve been most eager to try is Michael Schlow’s Alta Strada.
We stopped in at the bar, just before the crowds settled in for what seemed to be a very popular neighborhood happy hour. I tend to gravitate towards Italian happy hours because the discounted wine is usually better than average. Alta Strada didn’t disappoint with $6 house wines – a choice between Prosecco, red, white or Lambrusco. We both had a red blend that was fruit-forward, light and versatile – an excellent value for the price.
We’d intended to only have a snack and then cook dinner at home, so we ordered the crunchy meatballs and wild mushroom bruschetta from the happy hour menu.
These may be some of the best meatballs I’ve ever had. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the “crunchy” texture, but it turned out to be a nice change from the typical meatball. The spicy tomato basil sauce was delectable. We kept scooping it up with leftover bits of bread from the bruschetta, which was tasty as well but not quite as photogenic.
As has happened many times in the past, after devouring those first happy hour dishes we really couldn’t see ourselves going home and making dinner. The wine was too good and the discounts were great, so we kept ordering. There were a few more minutes of happy hour left, so we took advantage and tried the truffle salad with mushrooms, lemon and shaved Parm.
I don’t always love the overwhelming flavor of truffle oil, but found this salad very palatable and a delicious way to get in some vegetables during an otherwise indulgent meal. While it’s nothing to rave about, if you like truffle and cheese this is an excellent option.
For our entrées, we couldn’t decide between pizza and pasta so we decided to have both. Also from the happy hour menu we chose the sausage and rabe pizza, which is perhaps one of the best deals the restaurant has on offer.
Loaded with spicy sausage, thick, chewy cheese and tender, buttery broccoli rabe this pie was on point. The crust held up well and had a nice chew to it. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t offered on the regular dinner menu and very glad we decided to order it before happy hour expired.
We took most of the pizza home so we could focus on our pasta dish, the chitarra with spicy pescatore sauce and oregano.
This was our only order from the regular dinner menu, but after seeing another couple at the bar devour a bowl of it we couldn’t help ourselves. I’ve never had pasta with a white fish sauce before, and although I was glad I stepped outside of my box it wasn’t quite my cup of tea. The pasta itself was cooked perfectly al dente and was as fresh as can be. I’d love to try the other fish-free pasta options on my next visit.
Alta Strada is a great addition to the City Vista development and on par with some of the best Italian restaurants in DC, at least from what we sampled. The happy hour is an incredible deal and offers enough food options that you can easily make a meal out of it. We’ll definitely be back.