Finding a restaurant with personality and charm can be difficult in cities like DC, where chain restaurants reign supreme. Stay strong, foodies. We’re here to tell you places like these do exist.
Darlington House is one such unique find. Located in Dupont Circle, this Italian restaurant is fashioned from a historic row home. Inside, patrons enjoy a Southern Italian–inspired menu with three different settings: Downstairs, a pub cantina with an outdoor patio. On the second floor, a main dining room with Old World appeal—white tablecloths, full silverware settings, chandeliers and all. This classic Baroque style is complemented by the full bay window facing Connecticut Ave., which adds a touch of drama at sunset. Finally, on the top floor: an elegant library reserved for private events.
Upon being seated, we were quickly given a short intro to their wine list, which has selections by the glass and bottle. After placing our drink order, we were provided lightly toasted slices of focaccia with rosemary olive oil for dipping.
We began with the fritto misto, a crispy calamari and shrimp combo served with a marinara sauce, which nicely rounded out the lemon citrus in the batter. Next up: The watermelon salad. A light balsamic vinaigrette is drizzled over juicy watermelon cubes on a bed of peppered arugula leaves—a perfect plate for fans of sweet and salty pairings.
For an entrée, we chose the Grilled Angus Strip Steak, tagliata style, served with peperonata della zia and rosemary potatoes. The marinara was not spicy (as described by the menu), but savory, with hints of lime. The steak was tender to the last bite and had very little fat. A tangy red wine jus topped the dish.
Of course, we couldn’t skip dessert. We initially ordered vanilla custard topped with sliced strawberries and powdered sugar, paired with biscotti cookies. However, after spying tiramisu at our neighbors’ table, we added a second dessert last minute.
No regrets here! The tiramisu tasted very authentic—much like traditional desserts we’ve tasted in Rome. The rich coffee flavor and creamy mascarpone was spot on. A generous layer of crushed coco added a decadent finishing touch to the dish, as well as our dining experience.