8.01.2006

A.V. Ristorante's Days Are Numbered

The rumor that A.V. Ristorante Italiano, the venerable Italian restaurant that opened in 1949 at 607 New York Ave. NW, is closing has been floating around for a while, but it appears to be official now. FreeRide draws our attention to an item buried at the bottom of a Washington Post column reporting that developer Douglas Jemal bought the lot occupied by A.V. with plans for offices and retail space.

The well-worn and well-loved restaurant won't close until October 2007, according the column, but it's sure to stir up some sentimental nostalgia. If ever there were a restaurant caught in time, this would be it. Their white pizza is damn good, but the creepy Gothic fireplace in the main dining room looks like it hasn't been dusted in 50 years. But that's part of the reason people, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (see DCist), love it so. It's old school Italian through and through.

This Washingtonian piece does a nice job with the history of A.V. Have any fond A.V. memories to share as we prepare to mourn the loss of a D.C. institution?

10 comments:

john of ne said...

The place itself is kind of neat in an old "American" Italian way, but I never liked the food there. And I love good Italian food (which is why I married Italian)!

Lucy and Charlie Cook said...

Sometime in the mid-80's during the Christmas season, we were having dinner at AV's, seated in the back of the main dining room. We heard a commotion in the front, a waiter and a male customer were in a fist fight! Every man in the place jumped up and ran forward while all the women stood but not one moved. The combatants were rolling through the nearly life sized nativity scene, knocking over the animals, Mary and baby Jesus! One of the truly funniest moments of our lives! We love AV's and are very sorry to see it go.

Barbara Kraft said...

My husband and I had our first date at AV, during the Christmas holidays of 1978. We were on our way to or from feeding a friend's cat on Capitol Hill. We ate the Christmas soup, listened to the jukebox opera selections, admired the creche, and enjoyed white pizza while watching the cockroaches on the wall near our table. Since then, we have celebrated our "anniversaries" there during the Christmas season. We've made sure our children have had a chance to get to know AV's white pizza and calamari. And my husband once had a job interview there--his choice of venue-- and it turned out the interviewer, who ended up hiring my husband and being a wonderful boss, had had his first date with his wife there, too.

Anonymous said...

Last time we were there the owner tried to stab someone in our party after he asked why one entree was an hour behind the other 7.

Good riddance.. mediocre food and terrible service.

Amanda said...

Lots of colorful accounts from A.V.! The image of the fight in the nativity scene is hilarious.

Anonymous: What do you mean by stab? I hope not as serious as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Jemal is a menace. First, he Disney-fies Chinatown, now he buys up the good cheap dives (Waffle Shop and now AV) to turn them into sterile cubes.

At this rate, downtown will be the exclusive realm of Starbucks, fastfood chains, overpriced tapas joints, and expense account dining.

Thanks, Doug. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

I won't miss it. The owner- a freaking psycho- called me a fag because I asked to be moved away from a large party.

I love Italian dive food, but I vowed never to go back. I'll go to Baltimore.

Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

I love the culture of it, but the food is so mediocre. And I'm an Italian from NY. I have never been impressed with anything they've made. But I appreciate their efforts.

Rash said...

Their pizza's the best -- crunchy and zesty. So Justice Scalia likes it too, eh? Among the ancient B&W celebrity photos on the wall, there's a signed tribute from Danny Kaye. The first time I noticed the place was with my parents and brothers, walking past their Neptune Fountain (back before it was sequestered behind chain-link fencing) en route to our near-by Mt. Vernon Place church -- this woulda been in the mid-1960s. But I didn't actually eat there until the mid-1980s, when I lived on Biltmore Street in Adams-Morgan. A little later, during one of my interminable business trips to NoVa (after I'd moved to LA) I phoned in a take-out pizza order, and was then waiting for a break in traffic, standing next to my rental car across the street on NY Ave, and a concerned yuppie female slowed down, lowered her window and asked if I was okay? (Standing there in that 'dangerous neighborhood'.) I laughed at her.

Anonymous said...

I've been eating at AV's for 30 years!! The pizza is the bomb and I will never eat a plate of clams with linguine or zuppa de pesce without thinking of this fine dining establishment.

I'm sad :-(