Photos by Laura Hayes

This is Simonetta Capotondo. Over the next week you can find her in the pasta room at Van Ness newcomer Sfoglina from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi of Fiola, Fiola Mare, and Casa Luca fame.

With his Michelin star, Fabio Trabocchi is no slouch in the kitchen, but Capotondois his secret weapon. She’s the reason Sfoglina‘s warm, comforting bowls of pasta, like squid ink casarecce or ricotta tortelloni, taste so good. They could even be described as authentic, though that word can cause some to wrinkle their nose. 

Capotondo was recruited from Italy’s Le Marche region to help train staff in the Sfoglina kitchen. Her résumé is in Italian, so we can’t take you from birth to the present, but Capotondo was the runner-up in the 2011 Sfoglina d’Oro international pasta-making competition in Bologna. Sfoglina, after all, translates to “pasta maker” in Italian.

She has only committed to spending the first 10 days at the restaurant, which opened Tuesday, but during lunch yesterday she was busy both rolling pasta and training staff on techniques.

Sfoglinas pappardelles pappardelle

Sfoglina offers seven pastas split into “classic” and “seasonal” categories and priced from $22 to $25, putting it more in line with the Trabocchi’s more affordable restaurant, Casa Luca.

In addition to pasta, the menu inspired by the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy includes small plates ($14) like 20-month aged prosciutto garnished with persimmons; a warming Roman-style stracciatella soup that most closely resembles egg drop soup ($13); and entrees ($26) like beef short ribs “cacciatore” with pancetta, cipolline onions, soft polenta, and fried bread.

The accompanying 60-label wine list is dominated by Italian selections and has 13 by-the-glass offerings ($10-$19). There are also cocktails ($12) to sip, including a Negroni that’s been aged for 40 days in an oak barrel or a much lighter “Fabio Spritzer” with Cappelletti (an aperitif), Prosecco, and yuzu.

The cozy, 2,800-square-foot restaurant has 78 seats in the dining room, 16 bars seats, and an additional 50 seats on the patio for when warm weather arrives.

Sfoglina is open Mondays from 3-10 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays from 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Fridays from 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m. (brunch served until 2:30 p.m.); and Sundays from 10:30 a.m.– 9:00 p.m. (brunch served until 2:30 p.m.).

Sfoglina, 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 450-1312; sfoglinadc.com