Rione XIII is another Italian restaurant among the many on Capitol Hill. And while it’s not the best one in the immediate area, which makes sense since Spinasse (our highest-rated restaurant) is close by, it should be on your shortlist for an upscale pizza meal.
This corner spot on 15th is owned by the team behind Bar Cotto—which was the best place in town for pizza before they changed ownership in 2019. While Rione XIII isn’t quite the same as Bar Cotto, it is a fantastic consolation prize.
The oblong Roman-style pizzas here are delicious, complete with a tender chew and cracker-like bottom that taste better on each visit. To go with it, they serve platters of freshly-sliced salumi alongside puffy torta fritta, and if you haven’t wrapped a piece of pork fat around a hot shard of fried bread before, you’re missing out. You’ll find fresh Roman pastas too, like carbonara with cubed pancetta and egg yolk, semolina gnocchi baked until bubbling, and cacio e pepe—but you’ll want to focus primarily on pizza and salumi.
With greats like a margherita with buffalo mozzarella and a spicy pie topped with dollops of ‘nduja and pickled red onion, Rione XIII is a no-brainer if you’re looking for somewhere to have a date in a pinch on Capitol Hill involving cured meat, pizza, and wine. And the light fixtures that resemble salami links are a bonus.
The preparations of these arancini change (we’ve seen them laid on a fontina fonduta as well as in a ragu) but they’ve always been tasty. It’s never a bad idea to grab an order to snack on with some wine.
We appreciate a great roasted beet, and the ones at Rione XIII’s are great. They sit underneath some lemon-infused ricotta, along with some raw pistachio and orange segments. We just wish that the beets had a drizzle of olive oil, or that the pistachio were roasted or candied for better crunch, but this is a solid platter of root vegetables.
For $19, you’re presented with a wooden plank full of three different sliced cured meats, like speck, prosciutto, or finocchiona salami. The board also includes shaved parmesan, which adds a nutty bite between many mouthfuls of pork.
These are steamy fried bread rectangles that look like Totino’s Pizza Rolls and taste like shards of salted funnel cake. It’s absolutely required to order some for wrapping your salumi around, but if there’s just one thing to complain about, it’s that a single order costs $7. Still, it’s required, because we say so.
Globs of buffalo mozzarella, crushed tomato, grated pecorino, and basil. It’s simple, but that’s why it works. This is the best dish here, and a must-order.
The topping combination on this pie used to be a Bar Cotto standard, and it’s nearly as delicious here at Rione. There’s nice heat from the ‘nduja balanced with tangy pickled red onion to cut through the spice and cheese. If you’re with a group, order one margherita and one Calabrese.
Tonnarelli Cacio E Pepe
A bowl of silky, cheesy tonnarelli with cracked peppercorn confetti. Order this with confidence if you’re in a cacio e pepe kind of mood.
Gnocchi Alla Romana
If you’re a baked pasta fan, the gnocchi alla romana should hit your table. If you read “gnocchi” and immediately think these are potato-based, they’re not. They resemble pillowy semolina dumplings instead, covered in a rich marinara and bubbling mozzarella.
This bowl of red-sauced bucatini with guanciale shouldn’t be called a traditional amatriciana for two reasons: it has a lack of chili flake-induced heat, and there’s a lot of marjoram. Like, a lot. All that wouldn’t make a difference if this was a phenomenal plate of pasta, but the fresh bucatini tends to be a little deflated, and the marjoram truly is overkill. Stick with the cacio e pepe.