The best thing about brunch is that you get to catch up with your girlfriends and recap the weekend over delicious food. Brunch is best when it’s in a pleasant but comfortable atmosphere (ideally upscale and posh but not unbearably so). No one wants to worry about having everyone turn and stare when you knock over their bread knife due to the hangover shakes.
Moreover, I need my brunch company (and my company in general) to be intelligent, interesting, captivating and comfortable. My girlfriends Christina and Alana are just that. Though I’ve known them for very different time periods (Christina for six years and Alana for six months)—and though they didn’t know each other—both these ladies are good friends for several reasons.
Intelligent, well-educated and well-traveled, these are two women who are comfortable in any situation. If I need a plus-one for a gala, or a friend to drag along to a concert at 9:30 Club, I can ask either of them—and I have. If I need advice on a career move, on texting a boy, or on back-packing destinations in obscure foreign nations, both these ladies can help.
It’s rare that you can find such well-rounded ladies, but when you do, you must invite them to brunch together.
So, I began with two perfect brunch partners and a killer hangover. Fortunately, the brunch locale was perfect.
Christina observed that the atmosphere at Floriana was a nice balance of chic but still homey enough for the brunch crowd. I say, if you’re the quintessential D.C. 20-something bruncher, you want a location where you can sport your sartorial prowess, yet still feel cozy, warm and nurtured into telling your stories from the night before. Because let’s face it, you went out last night.
It’s true. Floriana is a family-owned Italian restaurant built into a rowhouse in Dupont. In fact, it’s right in the center of the gayborhood at 17th and R Streets N.W.
We settled in to a white-tablecloth-cloaked table by the fireplace on the first floor, not far from the windows overlooking the street. The room was filled with 20-something brunchers and the decibel level was perfect for brunch—quiet but conversational and you didn’t have to worry about anyone hearing your morning-after gossip.
Our waiter was, expectedly, a handsome, convivial gay gentleman. The coffee was strong and he kept our mugs filled. Christina again provided a good summary, saying “the service was delightful—attentive yet hushed.”
We began with the bread bowl. When it arrived, it was so enormous it took up the entire table. The bowl contained a smattering of bagel quarters, croissants, focaccia and muffins (carrot, delicious), served with three types of house-made butter. A whipped butter, a citrus honey butter, and a strawberry concoction. We all tried to restrain ourselves.
The menu offered enough different, exciting options, but all those standards that you want to see at brunch plus Italian staples.
For appetizers, we shared the arugula salad, which I’ve had at dinner before and happens to be one of my favorite salads. The arugula was served with shaved parmigiano reggiano, proscuitto di parma, lemon, and olive oil.
The second appetizer, which is served at lunch and dinner, was heavenly. It was black squid ink gnocchi with chunky tomatoes, shrimp, sausage, roasted pepper, lobster cream sauce. With its house-made noodles and gnocchi, Floriana knows how to make good pasta, and this unique dish is was no exception.
Both Alana and Christina opted for the proscuitto di parma eggs benedict, a solid, Italian rendition on the Eggs Benny. The dish came well-prepared with well-poached eggs. I heard no complaints as the girls dug in.
As for me, as I was suffering from the previous evening, I opted for the breakfast bowl. This enormous bowl contained crispy potatoes, caramelized red onions, peppers, poached eggs, and topped with Hollandaise. It is typically served with sausage but was made without por moi. The potatoes were well-seasoned and flavorful, the eggs poached perfectly, and the dish flavorful.
We concluded with house-made tiramisu, served in a gigantic bowl. It was delicious. Then, we were off to see Anna Karenina and conclude a perfect Sunday.
The Bitches say: A+. Comfortable and cozy, yet upscale, with house-made Italian pastas, heavenly carbs, great menu options, and impeccable service.
1602 17th Street N.W.
Floriana serves brunch on Sundays.