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Washington, D.C. Restaurants

Obelisk

Updated 05/23/2014

Fodor's Review

You won't find the menu online or much buzz among locals, but this Italian stalwart has maintained a pull on special-occasion diners for nearly three decades thanks in large part to its under-the-radar reputation. The three-course prix-fixe, your only option, changes every day, combining traditional dishes with the innovations of founding chef Peter Pastan, also known for steering legendary pizzeria 2 Amys. Representative main courses are lamb with garlic and sage and

handmade ravioli with unexpected fillings. The dining room is tiny, but the warm and attentive service makes this feel like a hidden gem. Diners always walk away pleased with their portion sizes, even given the high price tag.

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Restaurant Information

Address:

2029 P St. NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20036, USA

Map It

Phone:

202-872–1180

Restaurant Details:

  • Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch
  • Reservations essential

Updated 05/23/2014

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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Paul

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Nov 2, 2003

Excellent but ...

Rated by Zagat's as the best Italian restaurant in the District of Columbia, Obelisk offers some of the citie's most imaginative dishes in town. However, the emphasis should be put in the word "some." While dishes such as grouper raviolini and squab with onion jam are superb, some are bland and nothing-to-write-home-about. These include what the menu calls "noodles with Chanterelle," which is as plain as Obelisk's decor. As a result, since Obelisk's

prix-fixe menu is changed daily, one's dining experience there easily depends on luck. Nevertheless, service is never inefficient, and the excellent bread sticks are always available. In addition, desserts (changed daily too) are heavenly. Although Obelisk offers familiar sweets such as panna cotta, it always has a number of imaginative "dolci," from red-wine-flavored pudding and dessert-wine Cardinal's hat to tasty hazelnut-chocolate tart.

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By Trish

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Dec 12, 2002

Don't Leave Obelisk Famenous!

My husband and I have dined at Obelisk twice in the past (we're from out of town) and found both experiences to be superb. It's our favorite retaurant in D.C. We're planning a trip next month and will try again. Reading earlier reader's ratings I was taken aback to read that Tony from Arlington "was ravished" after leaving Obelisk. Then I realized he almost certainly meant either ravenous or famished (i.e. hungry), but certainly not ravished (i.e.

raped, sexually assaulted - but perhaps "transported with joy" - another meaning for ravished).

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By Dean

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Dec 3, 2001

I don't get it

I brought a wine from my cellar, 1974 Chateau Montelena Cabernet. I asked that they be very careful in opeing it or that I would open it. Wine wisked away and returned in a decanter. I was told that they had broken the cork!!!! Given that there was not a speck of crumbled cork in the wine, I suspect they strained it. This is not the way to treat a bottle that someone has brought out of their cellar. Very tacky. Duck neck sausage with beans--

beans crunchy, really more of a pate in duck skin and the sauce so sweet as to be wine unfriendly. Crabcake-- a fried crabcake in a puddle of oil, on top of beets. Heavy, oily, miss. the crab cake itself was wonderful Stuffed Pasta with pasty cheese, bland. Porcini in sticky thick clear broth- poor porcini, never had a chance. Veal Chop ordered medium rare served mostly raw Nice piece of fish Cheese plate was a single piece of cheese, ok but I thought they were real supporters of cheese. Guess not now. Desserts fair, lemon tart was too lemony and sorbets were ok to good. Never offered after dinner drink menu and by then I had given up. All for $188.00. and they even charged me corkage after messing up my wine! Never going back, don't understand the fuss

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By nadya

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May 17, 2001

The Food Was Not Nearly as Good as Expected

Maybe they were having a bad day, but when my family and I dined at the Obelisk on a recent Saturday evening, we were very disappointed in the food. The appetizers and the pasta courses were delicious and prepared with high quality ingedients. The main course (we had grouper and duck), however, were absolutely tasteless and bland. The dessert was quite plain and unimaginative as well. The presentation of the food also left a lot to be desired.

For a restaurant that claims to serve top-quality Italian food (at a price to match), this dining experience was disappointing.

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By Sharon

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Apr 3, 2001

One of the best restaurants in Washington!

Obelisk was the most expensive meal I had in Washington, but was more than worth it It is a fixed-price menu ($55 when I was there) with an appetizer, pasta, main course, cheese, and dessert. This is definitely not your typical Italian restaurant with lots of tomato sauce, etc. I had sauteed fresh porcini muschrooms to start, then rapini ravioli with an anchovy butter, a Niman-Schell pork chop perfectly grilled with lentils on the side, a sheep's-milk

aged cheese with a little fig jam, and a delectable lemon tart for dessert. The service was perfectly timed and the food was uniformly excellent. Highest recommendation! This is a small restaurant with closely-spaced tables, but I never felt crowded.

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