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Concept is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the restaurant world. I’m not convinced it means squat to the average diner, but without a solid concept, or operating philosophy, a restaurant would remain rudderless, adrift to shift from idea to idea as desperation and past-due bills become a routine part of daily business. Liberty Tavern has one of the tightest concepts I’ve ever seen. It’s regional American as filtered through chef Liam LaCivita’s Italian prism. The concept plays out up and down the menu, from the superb bread basket (which combines New England anadama with Italian feather loaf) to terrific wood-fired pizzas (including one with Vermont white cheddar) to the homemade fettucine with Maine lobster. This guiding philosophy can even be felt in the very space, erected a century ago as a Masonic building, which gives off the friendly neighborhood vibe of a classic Italian trattoria.

3195 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, (703) 465-9360

Next up: Makoto