House-made pastas on the cheap, sleek surroundings, and table service—it’s a combination that makes Red White and Basil (1781 Florida Ave NW) an irresistible and potentially trendsetting newcomer in Adams Morgan. The saucy Italian restaurant from the team behind L’Enfant Cafe opened quietly in November off of Florida and U Street NW in the spot previously home to Hans Pedr Kaffe.
At Red White And Basil, your choice of noodle and sauce is $11, not much higher than a bowl of salad at Sweetgreen or grains and veggies at Beefsteak—except this food comes out on a real plate, and standing on line and bussing your own table is not required. In the minimalist space where mason jars of sauce line the wall and an oversized print of 1950s era showgirls slurping spaghetti overlooks the dining room, a waiter is part of the deal.
The man behind the noodles is Travis Hearne, who started at L’Enfant Café last summer after stints at The Inn at Little Washington and with Passion Food Group. “When I knew we were doing this place,” says Hearne, “the first thing I did was put homemade pastas on the menu over there [at L’Enfant]. The cooks love me now because we have this lovely machine that pushes the pasta out and it comes out in the shape. We were hand cranking over there.”
There are a few different pasta cuts to choose from which can be paired with a red tomato-based sauce, a white cream-based sauce, or a green pesto. Proteins such as meatballs or shrimp can be added for an extra charge. Since December—when the restaurant invited us over for an early taste—they have added a lunch menu that includes paninis and omelets for brunch.
The restaurant also touts an all-the-time three-course fixed price dinner for $16, which includes a small starter salad and a mini cannoli for dessert. The salad is a bit cursory, so you may be better served by passing on the prix-fixe and spending the money saved on an order of bruschetta with a warm loaf of ciabatta bread to start your meal.