It was Friday afternoon and I had a contingent of Bitches waiting on my Saturday brunch direction. The clock was ticking, and I was frantically searching. Mission? Not serving brunch yet. Lupo Verde? Doesn’t serve on Saturdays. Le Dip? We’ll never get in this late.
Sidenote: The irony of being the city’s brunch website is that you’re supposed to have all the recommendations. What if you’ve left it to the last minute and your “To Brunch” list of spots to try just doesn’t seem that appealing that week?!
I fired off a few emails and collected responses. A restaurant mention got me curious: Alba Osteria. A little off the Chinatown beaten track, but they had a bottomless-endless deal, on a Saturday, no less. Two key facts that sealed the deal.
We arrived to an empty restaurant, which to some might be a deterrent, but I saw the opportunity to snoop around and check it out. The place is gorgeous: Stone floors, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, bright modern furniture, black lacquer chandeliers. The open kitchen even has a gorgeous red-glass-mosaic brick pizza oven.
We fell into a long banquet table and admired the menu: Saturday and Sunday brunch from 11 to 3 with totally bottomless food and drinks. There’s live music, too, apparently, though I didn’t hear it. It’s just $30 per person, a great deal, and the whole table has to be game.
I ordered a bloody mary, which was made with infused prosciutto vodka and was quite peppery. At one point I even choked on a whole peppercorn. There are massive beer-mosas for the boys (or girls, if you like ‘em), white peach bellinis, and regular mimosas, as well—all bottomless.
Our brunch tablemates were trickling in slowly, so we decided to get started on the ordering. It is endless, after all. They can catch up. Executive Chef Roberto Donna and Chef de Cuisine Amy Brandwein created an egg-fueled brunch menu here. Nearly every dish includes egg in some way or another.
I ordered Nonna’s fried eggs and meatballs, which, frankly, was a mistaken way to start. I was expecting a couple of tasty meatballs with a fried egg either on the side or on top. Instead, I got a dish of mush: two fried eggs, tomato sauce, fried house made meatballs and fried potato, seemingly all mixed together with French fries on top.
The fruit salad was also marginally disappointing. A few slices of strawberries and bananas on a bed of melon cubes, although it was a welcome respite from all the eggy options.
The buckwheat ricotta pancakes were served with lemon and blueberries baked into the batter. They were covered in powdered sugar and had a gorgeous jug of syrup on the side. They were decent. The poached eggs were like tiny little benedicts. Served on grilled ciabatta bread with burrata cheese, house cured salmon, and green sauce. Tasty and bite-sized.
The egg white frittata was the best of the bunch. It was made with spinach, mushrooms, onions, and parmigiano reggiano. Of all the egg dishes, this was probably the lightest. Perhaps that’s why I liked it the most. On the side, a mixed green salad.
The house-made steel-cut oatmeal with pistachio and banana was served alongside a press pot of cinnamon infused warm milk—sure, it seemed a bit gimmicky since there’s nothing to press, but it made for a handsome presentation.
The sausage pizza was the most substantial of the dishes—and the most sharable. It’s made with egg, provolone cheese and tomato sauce. We ordered a few of these, as along with the frittata, it was the best thing on the table.
Given all the egg options, it made sense that the one sandwich option was a Monte Cristo. It was interesting and delicious, but a bit on the side of greasy. The sautéed bread slices had melted fontina cheese, Italian ham, and fried eggs inside.
The food began in a bad state, but the more mimosas and Marys we had, the better it got. The brunch grew on us, and while nothing was exemplary, we ending up hanging out there and ordering different dishes and cocktails for hours.
The Bitches say: B. Alba Osteria is a solid option for a bottomless brunch if you find yourself north of Chinatown. If you like eggs, you’ll be happy.
425 I St NW
Washington, DC 20001
Alba Osteria serves bottomless brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.