Dining

Fight or Flight

Pasta and steak flights at Italian restaurant Acqua al Due at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill

Wine flights, build-your-own salads and even gelato have taught us the benefit of multiple tastes in one order. But when it comes to fine restaurants, the indecisive diner is usually limited to a single item per course.

Acqua Al Due offers an alternative on its robust Italian menu: flight-like tastings of different courses. This new Capitol Hill restaurant--which originated in Florence and has an outpost in San Diego--offers a selection of assaggio, or samplers, that tackles salad, pasta, steak or dessert.

The assaggio di primi ($13) presents five different plates of the house-made pastas. Your quintet might include porcini mushroom fusilli (pictured), farfalline with zucchini and rosemary, and rigatoni in a roasted tomato and eggplant sauce. The pastas are served one at a time, so you try each when it's hot and al dente.

The assaggio di secondi ($32) is a threesome of petite steaks. Summer's best entrée could be the juicy New York strip that's grilled to medium-rare and served Tuscan-style, with peppery arugula and shaved Parmesan. Blueberry sauce may sound better suited to dessert, but the winelike reduction gives perfect acidity to a delicate filet mignon.

If the pastas taste particularly authentic, it's because the chef from the original Italian location has been here perfecting each dish.

Acqua Al Due, 212 Seventh St. SE, between North Carolina and C sts.; 202-525-4375 or acquaal2dc.com

Acqua al Due 212 7th St. SE Washington DC 20003 202-525-4375

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