The base model menu at Altura, chef Nathan Lockwood’s new temple of Italian cooking atop Capitol Hill, is a three-course meal. At $49, it includes an appetizer, pasta, and entrée. Or pasta, an entrée, and dessert. Or, if you’re feeling long in the sweet tooth, three desserts.
Altura—often more Italian in its passions than its ingredients—doesn’t micromanage its guests’ orders; the servers here won’t smirk if you wish to thrice summon beef to the table. But freedom begets curiosity, so diners tend to tack an order of sweetbreads to a meal’s start or make room for a cheese course at its close, ultimately fabricating five-, six- and seven-course feasts. Lockwood’s restaurant supplements the selections with niceties that have vanished from other restaurants of similar caliber: There’s a slosh of aperitif, an amuse-bouche, and a hunk of bread, perpetually replenished without reprobation.