To the People

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

A.V., R.I.P

The A.V. Ristorante, a DC landmark for nearly six decades, is closing up shop this week. The owners are earning a well-deserved reward for sticking with their fringes-of-downtown business, selling to a developer for untold sums.

Friends first took me to the A.V. in the early 1990s, when I was an undergrad here in town, and the restaurant's New York Ave. neighborhood was beginning to become less dodgy. (For those who remember, these were also the days of Mt. un-Pleasant, the un-Social Safeway, the old 930 Club, and the legendary DC Space.)

Though the city around it has changed, the A.V. -- to its credit -- never did. From today's WaPo:
In pinstriped, blow-dried, ever-ceremonial Washington, A.V.'s was unabashedly devoid of artifice, a place where a hardhat could sit next to a congressman, and both could end up sighing and looking at their watches as they waited for the famously surly waiters to bring their dishes.

In recent days, patrons have come for a last look at the marble fountain of Neptune astride three horses in the courtyard; at the suit of armor in the front window; at the golden porcupine fish inexplicably dangling over the cash register.
I made it to the A.V. one last time about ten days ago. The food was better than it had been the last time I dined there two or three years ago, though not as good as it had been a dozen or so years back.

My favorite A.V. memories were picking up a pizza there with my girlfriend on a hot summer night and bringing it down to the Mall for a quiet park-bench dinner at dusk -- with frisbees casting long shadows as they cut through thick pollen in the air -- or heading to the back bar after a gut-busting multi-course feast to sip one of the restaurant's signature liquers, or dining in the kitschy, fountained summer terrace.

Will the DC area ever seen anything like the A.V. again? Probably not. Just in case, though, I'll keep tabs on where A.V. regular Antonin Scalia ends up getting his inexpensive Italian grub.

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