I think we can all agree that Washington is awash with the bottomless brunch cocktails, however, there are not so many of the bottomless food options. At $30 for both, Alba Osteria has pretty much undercut the competition. A relatively new restaurant with a not-so-new chef, Roberto Donna of Al Dente and more famously, Galileo, helms the kitchen. I dined at Al Dente a year or so back and I have fond memories of the upper northwest establishment; Alba Osteria on the other hand is not quite the same caliber, however for an all-you-can-eat affair it can't be sniffed at.
I'd like to say you should choose carefully, but you really don't have to. Perhaps a wasteful attitude, but if you don't like a dish you can simply discard it. In the interest of full disclosure I was at a group brunch -- a dozen of us -- despite this our server was attentive and as efficient as you can be serving a party our size. Other than a borderline unacceptable wait for a second beermosa (beer, Prosecco and OJ) refill it was great. Our server lead the ordering and prompted us to order two of everything off the menu (smart move), enabling us to decide what we liked so we could order more of.
I was eager to try the Eggs and Meatballs, a half dozen or so mini-meatballs served with a couple of eggs in tomato sauce, topped with a handful of fries. If you like your eggs runny, I recommend cutting into the yolks as soon as the dish is presented, this will allow the yolk to bleed into the tomato sauce and enable you to get the full flavor of the egg and sauce with each bite.
The Oatmeal isn't one for sharing, a bowl of grains and pistachios with sliced banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon with a carafe of warm milk - although I have to say this was a nice change of pace from the abundance of eggs and carbs from the other dishes. The pistachios were a nice touch. I think the solid favorite from the table was the Buckwheat Ricotta Pancake, we may have gone through about seven of these.
There were definitely a couple of misses, the Tajarin with Egg and Ragu is the only pasta dish on the menu, which turned out to be a sad looking bowl of noodles in an under-seasoned broth that I can't quite describe. Another surprising fail was the Poached Eggs with toast and Salmon. The eggs were cooked fine, but they were presented with a couple of limp strips of salmon with a side of fries.
The menu at Alba Osteria is solid, affordable, and fun. With more than a dozen menu items to choose, from including a couple of stalwart breakfast pizzas, you'll leave feeling happy, glutinous, and very satisfied.
Alba Osteria, 425 I Street, NW, Washington, DC (closest metro: Chinatown or Mt Vernon Sq.)