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Posted at 5:47 PM ET, 08/21/2007

News to Digest

By Erin

It's good for the conscience to donate to recovery efforts, so enjoy a few cocktails, eat some South American food and help Peru. Meanwhile, tomatoes are all the rage in local tapas and two new Italian restaurants are hoping to add some good red sauce to the local scene.

Eat and Drink a Lot to Help Peru
If you're looking to help survivors of last week's earthquake in Peru, the two locations of Ceviche are raising money. Every night through Sunday, both locations will donate 5 percent of sales to recovery efforts. In addition, there are donation boxes for patrons to contribute additional money.

Go Big Red
If tomatoes are your thing, Jaleo is celebrating the ripe fruits with La Tomatina, a menu of special tomato items. Through next Tuesday (Aug. 28), you can order dishes that include tomatoes with anchovies, blue cheese and sherry dressing, marinated tuna with seasonal tomatoes, tomato salad with pork cracklings, fried green tomatoes with Asturias blue cheese and seared watermelon with a salad of seasonal tomatoes. Sip up the seeded splendor with a cocktail of cherry tomatoes and lemons with Absolut Citron (it can also be made non-alcoholic) or a combination of gazpacho, spices and Absolut Citron.

Crystal Clear
This Saturday, Crystal City celebrates summer with a daylong extravaganza involving music, food and skating. From 8 a.m. until noon, Crystal Drive between 15th and 23rd streets are blocked off for roller skating or blading or whatever wheel-based action suits you. Once you've gotten the exercise out of your system, stick around for Crystal Block, a block party from 1 to 6 p.m. with live music and good food. Most restaurants will offer daylong food specials and have their ample patios open. Saturday also marks the grand openings for two new establishments along 23rd Street.

Cucina Vivace is an Italian trattoria creating classic dishes with local ingredients. The opening menu features pastas like the bucatini all'amatriciana, raw fish known as crudi and entrees like grilled salmon and a tuna in puttanesca sauce. The restaurant also offers two dinner specials for couples to share. The chef's menu for two can be ordered with meat or fish ($95) and features antipasti, primi, secondi, dessert and wine. Nearby, Tortoise & Hare Bar opens in the former Stars and Stripes space.

Coming Soon
In addition to Crystal City's new Cucina, there is another ray of hope on the horizon for the apparent dearth of good basic Italian food in the area. Il Fornaio, an Italy-based chain with more than a dozen locations out west, plans to open its first East Coast location in Reston Town Center next Monday. Italian for the baker, Il Fornaio is a carb-hound's dream. The chain bakes fabulous breads and wood-fired pizzas if you can tear yourself from the dozens of pastas. Growing up in Los Angeles, my mom would always take my sisters and I to Il Fornaio for lunch after our haircuts. I learned to recover from the misery of my drastic '80s hair decisions in bowls of al dente pasta and fresh minestrone soup. There is, of course, a wide array of protein items, including steaks, rotisserie chicken and fish, but I think the strengths lie in anything made with dough. I wish that the restaurant were closer to the District, but I'm not above retreating to Reston for some pasta therapy.

--Erin

By Erin  | August 21, 2007; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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