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Peter Pastan not only runs 2Amys, the District’s best pizzeria, but he also oversees what is, to my mind, the most underrated dining room in town. Perhaps that’s a hard argument to make, given the generally high marks that Obelisk earns from the city’s professional eaters, but I believe Pastan’s name should rank right up there with D.C.’s signature chefs, whether Michel Richard or Frank Ruta. The thing that prevents Pastan from entering the upper echelon is the critical world’s bias for sheer creativity over simple purity of expression. Course after course after course, Pastan and Esther Lee, his long-time head chef at Obelisk, turn out exquisite bites of rustic Italian cooking. Eggplant caponata on crostini with anchovy. Smoked duck breast with caramelized-onion sauce. Arugula ravioli with walnut butter sauce. Ravioli in brodo. Grilled mullet with asparagus. Nothing too fancy, but everything executed for maximum flavor. The most impressive thing about Obelisk, though, may be that Pastan and Lee design a new tasting menu each and every day.

2029 P St. NW, (202) 872-1180

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