Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Ristorante Murali

Ristorante Murali, located in the courtyard of Pentagon Row, offers ambiance, flavorful food and casual italian dining. spotlightEDIT

Ristorante Murali, located in the courtyard of Pentagon Row, offers ambiance, flavorful food and casual italian dining.

spotlightEDIT

Ristorante Murali (Photo: News-Press)

The interior is straight out of of a Wes Anderson film – rich murals of waterways and gondolas, large windows and an open-air feel make for a colorful scene.

And what is an Italian “atmosfera” without a little wine? There are 20 whites and reds by the glass to choose from, all for less than $10. The list of bottles is even more comprehensive. For a versatile red, try the 2007 Barbera D’Alba Lodali ($8.25/$36.00). All of this is topped off by a fast, attentive staff.

Begin this Mediterranean feast with the Murali Vegetable and Goat Cheese Bake ($8.25), layers of eggplant, roasted bell peppers and fresh goat cheese over a light pesto sauce. For a cold selection, try the Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese appetizer ($7.25), tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette with red onions and toasted almonds. The spinach and dressing together complement the creaminess of the goat cheese and almond mix. Dense, homemade peasant bread and extra virgin olive oil is also table-side for those who haven’t sworn off carbohydrates.

Entrées include tasteful renditions of various Italian classics. The Pizza Al Murali ($12.95) is a homemade white pizza topped with mushrooms, garlic and a generous portion of lump crabmeat for the price. Fresh basil leaves top the thin-crust, individual-sized pies, a distinct scent sure to signal the dish’s arrival. For those looking to go meatless, try the Agnolotti di Formaggio ($14.50), ricotta cheese and spinach-filled ravioli or the Lasagna al Forno ($13.50) with vegetables in tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella.

And the magic doesn’t stop at the entrées.

Indulge in the Murali ($6.25) for dessert, poached pears in a red wine and cinnamon reduction served over Zabaione – Italian custard – with vanilla ice cream. Perfect for a cold winter’s night, the meal ends with the sweet fruit, served warm in nutty spices, combined with cool custard, then topped with frozen cream. Sorbetto ($5.25) is also offered, which comes in raspberry, mango and lemon flavors.

Ristorante Murali is also a superb choice for large-group dining. Head chef Luis Antonio has prepared a variety of three-course lunch and dinner menus, starting as low as $16.95 per guest. These dinner and lunch sets can be prepared family-style upon request.

Whether it is a romantic dinner for two or a holiday function, Ristorante Murali is an under-the-radar gem that won’t wreak havoc on a budget. When the weather outside is frightful, kick the winter doldrums and head to Murali’s for Italian delight.

Ristorante Murali

1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington, VA
www.muraliva.com • 703-415-0411

Hours
Lunch: Monday – Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday – Friday, 5:30 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.