Why Joe and Jill Biden's Identical Rigatoni Order Has Gone Viral

On a recent dinner date to an Italian restaurant, the president and First Lady ordered identical entrées

Joe and Jill biden
From left: Joe and Jill Biden. Photo: KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty

A seemingly innocuous dinner date has gained buzz after both Joe and Jill Biden are said to have ordered the same exact dish at Washington, D.C. Italian eatery Red Hen earlier this month.

Outlets including The Washington Post and Washingtonian have seized on the Biden's order which, according to reports, consisted of two glasses of Barbera, a chicory salad, grilled bread with cultured butter, and for an entrée: two bowls of rigatoni.

It's the two bowls of rigatoni — and the fact that the couple each ordered the same dish — that's drawing criticism.

"Getting the same thing as the person you're eating dinner with is silly," 24-year-old Washington resident Hannah Madden told the Post. "The whole point of going out to eat is getting to try as many things as possible."

Journalist Matthew Yglesias offered a similar take on the order, acknowledging that the restaurant's rigatoni "is the best, but my wife and I could never just both order it."

Washingtonian Food editor Jessica Sidman summed up the controversy succinctly, tweeting: "There are 2 types of couples in this world: those who order the same dish at a restaurant and those who would never ever dare."

The Red Hen's chef and owner Michael Friedman told the outlet he was amused that so many are taking umbrage at the pasta order.

"It's such an honor to have a presidential visit, but it's funny that this is what came out of it," Friedman told the Post. "It's a fascinating thread people have chosen to follow, and I'm just really enjoying the banter."

And while some have criticized the Bidens for their identical orders, it's worth noting that the pasta in question—Mezzi Rigatoni—is the signature dish at The Red Hen.

Speaking to the Post, Friedman estimated that his restaurant sells between 50 and 70 orders of the rigatoni, which comes doused in tomato and fennel-sausage ragù and dusted with pecorino Romano.

The $24 pasta dish — a fixture on the restaurant's menu for a decade — has been described in a Washingtonian review as "the perfect dish if you're having a bad day" and one that "never failed to make us smile."

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So is it any wonder that both the president and fist lady would want to dig in to an entire bowl-full?

"When I worked the pasta line, I would dream about it," Friedman said. "But I'm still passionate about it because of the love it's gotten from around the world."

Biden himself is said to be passionate about pasta—at least, according to President Barack Obama, who once said the now-president's love of noodles with red sauce rivals his love of another culinary fave: ice cream.

Speaking to Vice President Kamala Harris in a 2020 interview, Obama said of Biden: "Pasta with red sauce, he can go deep on that."

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