(It’s all about your Network) Cafe Milano, DC.

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Cafe Milano
3251 Prospect St., NW
Washington, DC.

Playboy Magazines TOP  A-List Spots review….. 

Okay, so this popular Italian restaurant in the heart of D.C. doesn’t exactly qualify as a “lounge” but it has the VIP thing going for it — if you consider former President Bill Clinton and (future President?) Hillary Clinton, who are regulars, important. The authentic Italian fare isn’t the only thing worth coming in for; this is a power spot for diplomats, politicians, entertainers, journalists and sports figures who can be spied dining at the next table most nights. It’s also a hotbed for networking, especially at the bar where young lobbyists and congressional staffers stand shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s popular for private political affairs, too: Capitol File Magazine held a big afterparty here following the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and Fox News Sunday recently held its 10th anniversary party that had Rupert Murdoch, Mike and Chris Wallace, Dick Cheney, Bill O’Reilly, Jack Valenti, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and Katie Couric all jockeying for position. President Bush isn’t known to frequent, but First Lady Laura is, and so is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The beautiful people factor rises exponentially here as the night wears on. Café Milano has long been a magnet for Washington’s famous, attractive, and powerful — so much so that the restaurant was named “Power Spot of the Year” in 2005 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. But this restaurant/nightclub/bar also serves very good food. Salads are big, pasta servings are small, and fish and meat entrees are just the right size. We had the endive, radicchio, and arugula salad topped with thin sheets of Parmesan cheese; a panzanella salad of tomatoes, potatoes, red onion, celery, and cucumber basking in basil and olive oil; cappellacci (round ravioli) pockets of spinach and ricotta in cream sauce; sautéed sea bass on a bed of vegetables with lemon chive sauce; and the Santa Babila pizza, which has tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, oregano, and basil on a light pizza crust. All were delicious. At Café Milano, it’s the nonsmokers who are relegated to the back room, while the smoking section takes over the main part of the restaurant and bar, which opens to the sidewalk cafe. A bevy of good-humored waiters takes care of you.

Behind the velvet rope (or just inside the doors): In November 2005, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt walked in without a reservation and asked for a table, the same night Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were dining in a different room. When the Pitts heard the Douglases were there, they promptly walked over to say hello.

VIP privileges: When the restaurant is rented out for private affairs you need to be on a private guest list in order to get in and rub elbows with visiting dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher. Otherwise it’s open to the general public.

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