The Pines of Rome was always my uncle’s favorite Italian restaurant in Bethesda. We used to meet there with him and his sons to celebrate big occasions like birthdays. The food is classic old school Italian cuisine that we all grew up with before Italian food became upscale in this country. If you want spaghetti with meatballs on a red and white checked tablecloth like Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, the Pines of Rome is the place for you!

The History of the Pines of Rome

The Pines of Rome opened in 1972 and is definitely an institution in Bethesda.  The restaurant first was located just a half block off Wisconsin Avenue south of Old Georgetown Road but it had to move several years ago to accommodate construction of the Purple Line and all the new high rises in Bethesda. Now it is located at 4918 Cordell Avenue, previously a very popular Japanese restaurant.  Fortunately, a loyal clientele followed the Pines of Rome to its new location just a half block from one of Bethesda’s few parking garages.

What to Eat Here?

The owner and Chef Marco Troiano brings together classic Italian foods from the small, peasant town in southern Italy where he grew up as well as from the many different Italian restaurants he worked in across Europe and the USA as a young man.  The Pines of Rome falls squarely into the category of red checked tablecloths and Chianti bottles that most of us grew up with and still remember fondly.  Not every night has to be a gourmet meal.  Sometimes, we want to savor a good plate of spaghetti with clam sauce or red peppers and anchovies.   The white pizza with fontina cheese will put a smile on almost everyone’s face – and if it doesn’t….. well, that probably says something about you rather than the pizza!  That white pizza is so popular that you can order it frozen and have it waiting for those late night moments when only a toasty hot pizza will do!

My favorites at The Pines of Rome are the appetizer of red peppers and anchovies, the white pizza with cheese, the fettucine carbonara and the shrimp fra diavalo.  Even though my uncle died several years ago, we still meet to celebrate his birthday.  He would have been 99 this year!  In honor of that auspicious event, I had dinner this week with my two cousins and my husband to celebrate not only the date of my uncle’s birthday but also my cousin’s.    It is wonderful that the Pines of Rome has been delivering on that promise of fresh real Italian food since 1972!

Why Choose the Pines of Rome?

Why choose Pines of Rome?  The portions are ample enough to take some home for lunch the next day.  The glasses of wine are probably 12 oz. – they are huge and the house wine is just fine!  No need for an expensive vintage.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  Kids fit in just fine – no worries about a tired toddler or a grumpy teenager – and who doesn’t like a good pizza – white cheese or tomato based.  It is a perfect family restaurant for a casual dinner that doesn’t break the bank.

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