Last Sunday I lamented the limited brunch options in charming Eastern Market. Shortly after, I said—and later Bitched about here—that I walked past people brunching outside on Acqua al Due’s patio.
It was a beautiful spring Sunday, and the woman I spoke to on the patio was digging into a frittata that looked simply delicious. I immediately called and made brunch reservations—requesting the patio—for the following weekend.
Now, let me be clear, I love Aqua al Due for dinner—and have ever since I studied abroad in Florence in 2006—but I did not want dinner for brunch at noon on a Saturday. We were all just a little perplexed when we turned to the brunch menu and saw paninis, frittatas, and whole lot of pasta.
“I was a little confused by the three-course menu that included pasta? I know this is a delicious dinner spot, but I don’t love pasta at brunch,” says Lauren, who joined me that day. “I feel like this restaurant hasn’t fully embraced the idea of brunch. There just weren’t enough items to choose from in my opinion.”
Determined to make the best of it, we each ordered coffee and a round blood orange mimosas, a great upgrade from the traditional mimosa, which can get old after a while. Sadly, Aqua al Due does not currently offer any bottomless deal on its mimosas.
The staff—both the waitress and the host, who had kindly dealt with our late party and changing reservation—were friendly and accommodating. “Our server was patient while we chatted away and was also knowledgeable about all items on the menu,” adds Lauren.
As mentioned before, we all opted for paninis or frittatas for brunch, since those were the only options. As both Lauren and I are vegetarians, we had a choice between a vegetable panini, or a spinach and pecorino frittata. We both had the frittata—breaking one of my rules of brunching (no one may order the same dish).
The frittata was delicious—light, fluffy, filled with spinach, and the delicious flavor of pecorino was prevalent. It was paired with a light salad of mixed greens, which complemented the heavier egg dish nicely. “Everything in the dish was well-prepared and went together well,” says Lauren.
The other three girls at the table had paninis (surprise, surprise). Two ladies opted for the steak filet and the third chose the caprese (tomato, basil, mozzarella). All the paninis came served in the same fashion—a pressed ciabatta sandwich served with a side of mixed greens.
Brittany and Dana give their consensus,
“We both really liked our paninis. We loved that there was chunky tomato sauce on it, instead of just tomatoes piled on with the cheese. I thought the sauce, and the panini as a whole, had a lot of flavor, and the bread was perfectly crispy.”
Determined to see if Aqua al Due had anything left in it for brunch, I ordered the dessert sampler, which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be the same sampler on their dinner menu. The sampler consisted of mini versions of chocolate cake, panna cotta, tiramisu, and cheesecake. The desserts were good, particularly the chocolate cake and the tiramisu, but nothing memorable or crave-able. Additionally, the samplings were teensy tiny, only about two bites each. I realize it is a sampler, but it was still kind of measly.
In sum, the the general consensus is that we would have liked brunch, rather than dinner masquerading as brunch, as it’s tough to enjoy such a limited menu.
The Bitches say: B. The quality of cuisine is impressive—one of the best Italian restaurants in town. The blood orange mimosas were delicious, as were the frittatas. Service is impeccable and ambiance is pleasant. But, go for dinner, and don’t bother with brunch.
Acqua Al 2 DC
212 7th St. S.E.