Tosca Restaurant By Chef Massimo Fabbri D.C.

This Northern Italian restaurant still hits the right notes

A decade after the restaurant's opening, Tosca's dining room still brims with boldface political names and Washington bigwigs.

The dining room certainly offers an inoffensive muted elegance, and acoustics that buzz without interrupting normal conversation. These conveniences notwithstanding, the restaurant's true appeal is the inspired Northern Italian dishes prepared by chef Massimo Fabbri.

Appetizers tend toward light salads, including a handsome dish of chilled lobster and fregola under a spritz of Prosecco dressing ($20).

Heartier meals should start with pasta or risotto. Simple-sounding Parmesan risotto ($32) is made with Red Cow, a grassy, nutty variety from the rare Reggiana cow, and the caramel flavors of aged balsamic vinegar. Striking black tagliatelle ($25) swirls with lump-crab rag├╣, hot red peppers and artichoke hearts.

Steak prevails in this town as the choice power meal. Tosca's generous New York strip ($44) arrives over balsamic-baked radicchio with a dish of creamy spinach on the side. A portion large enough for two people to split, the grilled steak may nod at classic steakhouse combinations, but its peppery crust and bed of bitter greens are undeniably Italian.

Even 10 years in, Tosca is still a temptress.

Tosca, 1112 F St. NW (between 11th & 12th sts.); 202-367-1990 or toscadc.com