Rating: 3 out of 5
Summary: A great deal without sacrificing classic Italian flavors
Paper Moon is a popular Georgetown restaurant tucked on a side street off of the main drag down M St NW. The warm summer weather opens up the front of the restaurant and its seating seems to spill out, reminiscent to open air eateries in some European neighborhoods. Its flavors are also familiar to those of the old world, the menu drawing upon classic recipes in the usual presentation. Paper Moon really offers nothing new or surprising beyond the great deal you get for the meal you pay for. For better or worse, it’s worth noting that we know of no one who has had to make a reservation in order to be seated when arriving. With good food, casual atmosphere and reasonable prices, Paper Moon offers an answer to that Italian hunger you have without making you feel like you just shelled out for a trip to Italy.
Our first order was a simple Caesar salad, a mix of iceberg lettuce, light salad dressing, cheese and croutons. The lettuce was crisp and the Caesar dressing light. What more can you say?
The second dish was one of the featured specials, Pollo Saltimbocca, chicken breast sautéed in white wine, prosciutto and herb sage. The chicken breast was pounded, forfeiting much of the tenderness of a whole breast. Likely this was necessary so the poultry could cook through quickly while wrapped in prosciutto. Some restaurants that use this technique produce an overly salty taste, but Paper Moon manages to break that trend. The butter and white wine sauce gives the plate a much needed savory finish, bringing out flavor from the chicken that even itself can’t provide on its own. The cooked prosciutto also adds more body to the dish, the Italian ham dried as a result of the cooking and bringing a welcomed taste to the whole dish. The accompanying vegetables were the perfect balance between soft and firm.
Next was Linguine with Salmon, an appropriately named dish that contained pieces of smoked salmon with linguini in creamy tomato vodka sauce. Although some may question the choice of using smoked salmon (it just didn’t match up right with the other flavors of the dish as other salmon may have), the vodka sauce absorbs every positive aspect of the fish and makes it its own. Even though the consistency is thick, it doesn’t weigh down the taste of the linguine and the integrity of the light pieces of salmon. This is simply one of the better vodka sauces we have had in DC and makes this dish alone a reason to return to Paper Moon.
Our final dish was their Tiramisu, lady fingers soaked in coffee, layered on whipped cream and topped with an espresso and cinnamon sprinkle. Our waiter boasted that the desert was homemade and tasting it gave us no reason to doubt him. Despite the large amount of cream and pastry, the desert is surprisingly light, making it the perfect finish to a meal where we already had leftovers. We’ve had better versions of this classic Italian desert, but the texture and flavors of this tiramisu was a perfect complement to the meal we enjoyed. While other Italian places force your stomach to its limits with a heavy pastry, this seemed more to be rounding out the whole dinner.
Is Paper Moon the best Italian we’ve had in DC? No, but it doesn’t have to be in order to be a great meal. Plenty of flavor and variety of dishes presents a quality meal without a gut punch to your purse, especially with a planned Living Social discount ($20 for $40). A reasonably priced menu that still give you robust, classic Italian dishes are what make this restaurant worth coming back to.