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  1. I had dinner with friends at Osteria Morini this evening, the Italian joint at "Yard Park" on the right bank of the Eastern Branch between Nationals Park and the Navy Yard. I hadn't been down to that part of town since all of the development of the park and the ballpark, and it's really very interesting and pretty cool. The restaurant is sleek and appealing, though rather uncomfortably noisy. There's extensive outdoor seating, though, which during nice weather, such as we had tonight, is probably very nice, and much quieter than the restaurant indoors. While my friends and I were dining indoors, I was silently wishing we had taken seats outdoors; oh well, perhaps next time. I totally loved the food. My favorite bits: Exquisite, wonderful lardo, very thin slices in a curly tangle, with little slices of toasted bread, just fantastic. I asked the server where it came from, and she said Emilia Romagna, which is a pretty vague answer, but with every morsel I ate I felt closer to heaven (which my cardiologist might agree with, if he believes in an after-life). Charred octopus with "red rice salad": I was less crazy about the red rice salad, which I didn't quite understand, than the octopus itself, which was sumptuously excellent. The lardo and the octopus were the big winners of the evening, to me, but we had a lot of other things that were also smashing. Buttered spinach. Crostini with: smoked trout and goop, which was very nice; finely diced beets and goop, which was also very nice; and a melange of mushrooms and goop, which was rather strangely sweet, and the only dish of the night that I disliked. I had a dish of bucatini with crab and sea urchin, which I adored, and which of course ended up spackling my brand-new white dress shirt, as bucatini will do. There were some other things. Asparagus, which was nice. I forget what else. This place serves up some wonderful food, and the servers do their jobs very well. I recommend it.
  2. My son's baseball schedule has finally stopped, but had us traveling througout VA and beyond this summer. Last weekend saw us heading home from West VA via route 340. In an effort to avoid eating in West Virginia we headed into Berryville to try the rumored Neighborhood Italian Kitchen (NIK) offshoot. For those who are unfamiliar, NIK is probably the best restaurant in Winchester now that One Block West is going away. A strip-mall Italian-American joint that makes it's own mozzarella, cooks everything to order from scratch, and cuts no corners. NIK's Broiler room has opened just off the main strip in Berryville, conveniently located next to the ABC. In addition to the "regular" menu we have come to enjoy from NIK's Winchester, the Broiler room has added a selection of steaks, dry-aged in house. As with the NIK in Winchester, the prices are unbelieveable. $24 for a 20 oz bone in shell steak with your choice of side, and $13.95 for a chicken parm dinner large enough to serve two! While I can't comment on the ingredient sourcing other than to say that (a) mozz is made in house, and (b) suffice to say that the steak isn't wagyu and the chicken isn't green circle I can say that the dishes are made with care. We started with mushrooms oreganata and calamari, both of which were excellent - I prefer the sauteed calamari at NIK's Winchester, but was over-ruled on this order. The oreganata was well balanced between garlic, oregano and parsley - you'll often see versions leaning too heavily on the garlic, but not here. Mains were Rigatoni with Meatballs, Chicken Parm x2 and the 20 oz. shell steak with fries. The Rigatoni and meatballs were enjoyed - the bite i was able to steal impressed me with the brightness of the tomato sauce. The meatballs themselves were large but relatively light - I would guess a ground beef and pork sausage mix. The chickens parm were also excellent - the very same bright tomato sauce worked as well as a topping as it did in a more starring role with the rigatoni. Finally, my son inhaled the 20 oz shell steak, which came cooked to the requested medium rare, and with a generously charred exterior. The fries were potato wedges, and seemed to be made in house vs. the frozen variety. We were far too full to contemplate dessert, and left with basically an entire chicken parm dinner ready for the following day. The wine "list" is short and unremarkable, however they do have at least three offerings from Winchester's Escutcheon Brewing Co on tap, so I'd lean in that direction. We will be back.
  3. You could have knocked me over with a feather. After an excellent meal at Ghibellina, I was strongly swayed that there may be a new king of the 14th Street Shuffle (the Dining Guide Shuffle, that is). Further proof that DC's Italian Renaissance is in full-swing. People are talking about this-and-that neighborhood, but the biggest change in DC's dining scene of late has been the explosion of high-quality, moderately upscale Italian restaurants. And Lupo Verde, at least downstairs at the bar, positively screams Italian. If you've never had a Na Biretta beer, get one, and if you like a lot of malt, get the Na Biretta Rossa ($9) - this is like Moretti La Rossa, but better, and on steroids. Excellent quality, and a very cool-looking bottle to boot. I would get this again in a heartbeat, but there are four Na Birettas on the menu, and I'm eager to try the other three. It took forever for me to get my appetizer, probably close to half an hour, but when it arrived, I knew what took so long: I cannot imagine the labor that went into the Torta di Cozze ($9), and they've got boulder-sized testicoli offering this on a 14th-Street menu. Nominally a "Mussels Cake," this was an incredibly elegant little plate of warm, shelled mussels, sandwiched between two small wafers, with a half-melted scoop of Burrata, a little Parmigiano, and a drizzle of leek sauce. While not a large dish, and perhaps more delightful than delicious, this was not a nine-dollar plate of food; get it now, or pay more later - assuming it can possibly remain on the menu. Lupo Verde has a nice little wines by the glass list, but I went straight for the house white: Pinot Grigio on Tap ($8) from Piemonte, and it was a solid (not perfect, but solid) match with the Torta di Cozze - ideally, you'd want something a bit fuller bodied and bone dry. I recently had a very good spaghetti carbonara at Rose's Luxury, so I thought I'd try Lupo Verde's Carbonara ($14) to compare - there was no comparison. Lupo Verde's is made with homemade paccheri, guanciale, eggs, and Pecorino(-Romano?), and the paccheri is a wonderful vehicle for this classic Roman dish. This was, without question, the finest carbonara I have ever eaten. Like the Mussels Cake, it was a fairly small portion, but it was also a fairly small price - my server came down and almost apologized that the dish, served in a metal bowl, is presented merely warm, not steaming hot, because "that's the way they eat it in Italy," he said. Maybe, but the dish was plenty hot enough for me, and I was entranced by its execution. Lupo Verde's house red is also from Piemonte: Sangiovese on Tap ($8), and while this was a perfectly nice wine, especially for the price, I would counsel having it with a less-delicate, perhaps tomato-based dish, or charcuterie, and I would again recommend a full-bodied, bone-dry white with the Carbonara. Although I was getting somewhat full, I knew I hadn't eaten very much - these were not large courses - and since it was early, I knew I'd be wanting something later. So I got a plate of Three Cheeses ($13) to go which came with slices of bread, walnuts, and apricots. I apologize for failing to note the cheeses, but if you'd like, you can piece the order together yourselves: Lupo Verde is currently offering a total of four DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta) cheeses, and I got the three that weren't Castelmagno. That was about the most non-helpful thing I've ever written, but the portions were fair, and although the cheeses are stored in plastic wrap, they were in perfect shape (on a similar note, my beer had gone several months past its expiration date, but it, too, was in perfect shape). It is important to recognize that I have now tried only two cooked courses at Lupo Verde, and I am not reviewing the restaurant; I am reviewing the individual meal. And I'm going to come right out and say that these were the two most refined dishes I can ever remember having on 14th Street. Needless to say, coverage is initiated, strongly, in Italic, and Lupo Verde, based on this one meal, is a legitimate contender for the 14th-Street crown. Yeah, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
  4. For all you Chris Bianco fans, here's an interesting article from the LA Times talking about his new LA project and book. As one of the folks who has made the Pizzeria Bianco pilgrimage, I'm super excited about the anticipated opening of a location in the ROW DTLA, a developing high-end, mixed-use area next to the Arts District. Excited enough, probably, to make the trip down with two kids under 3 (yeah, that excited)!
  5. Alta Strada opened three weeks ago and MichaelBDC and I have already stopped in twice for two very good dinners. After returning from a quick trip to New York, starting a new job, and facing an empty refrigerator, I convinced MichaelBDC to go to Alta Strada for opening night. We were surprised that the restaurant was only half full, but one of the GMs told us it was by design in order to allow the restaurant to ease into business. Michael Schlow was on hand to expedite and do some quality control. We started with the grilled octopus with chickpeas, calabrian chiles, and parsley. About 80 percent of the chickpeas were blended with the chiles to form a hummus like consistency and spread in a crescent shape on the plate. This was topped with the perfectly cooked octopus (which was poached and then grilled) a few whole chickpeas, and parsley. MichaelBDC and I both enjoyed this dish, especially the spice from the chiles. We also had the crunchy meatballs to start. MichaelBDC enjoyed this dish a bit more than I did, though I thought it was very good. I agreed with him that the outside of the meatballs were very crisp but did not result in a dry meatball. The restaurant also gave us an order of whipped ricotta to start. This was a luscious and great dish MichaelBDC and I both enjoyed. The only downer was the gratis bread and olive oil. The Italian sesame bread was average and the olive oil needed some salt. But since MichaelBDC and I enjoyed the starters so much, it was easy to overlook this part of the meal. We were already pretty full after the appetizers but had already ordered the Maltagliati with rabbit, fresh fava beans, and pecorino. This was my favorite dish of the evening. I really enjoyed the bits of rabbit and the fava beans. The pasta was lightly sauced, enabling the ingredients to shine through. We also ordered the broccoli rabe and spicy sausage pizza. It was good but not great pizza. There was nothing wrong with the dish, I just felt that the other items on the menu were much better. However, the pizza is perfectly good for an Italian place trying to offer a bit of variety. MichaelBDC and I each had a slice and asked for the rest to go. Last weekend, my brother and cousin were in town to run the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler with me and we decided to have our pre-race dinner here. We ordered everything that MichaelBDC and I had at our previous dinner minus the ricotta and added an order of tagliatelle bolognese and local striped bass with rosemary, white beans, escarole, and lemon. I only had the tagliatelle and thought it was very good. For dessert the table split the lemon sorbet, which was delightfully tart, and the nutella tarte, which was delightfully rich. MichaelBDC and I had two very successful visits to Alta Strada and are looking forward to more. It's so great to finally have a solid and decently priced Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.
  6. Some more pix from a visit a couple of months ago: Porcini with blueberries and pecorino Grilled artichokes with lemon aioli Octopus with pesto Grilled asparagus, caprino cheese, pickled shallots Meatballs Green beans with pesto and pine nuts Chicken liver crostini Rather disappointing. Was dry and needed a bit more "oomph". Charred pork belly, served with sweet-and-sour onions Awesomesauce on a plate Raspberry crostata -- dry and crumbly. Not too bad though -- with two glasses of white wine, coffee and herb tea, came out to $120 pp (incl. tax and 20% tip).
  7. Next time you're looking for a great, civilized meal in the West Village, try i Sodi (Tuscan without frills).
  8. Situated on Lake Anne in Reston, Kalypso's Sports Tavern, with expansive outdoor seating across from the dock area and water. Plaza is dated due to the concrete theme of 1970s construction, but there are several recent additions to the area which all appear to be fairing well. Had not been here in some time but found ourselves there Sunday and decided to give it another shot. Outdoor seating area was nice, umbrellas are a little worn and could use a cleaning, but the open-air area was nice. They have improved their ordering system so it is automated and very efficient. From Humus appetizer to dinner salads, entrees and kids meals, everything was fresh, and nicely prepared. Service was efficient, and food came out quickly and hot. Lucky for us they had live music Saturday evening starting at 5:30 PM, which was great for atmosphere. Place was decently busy and when we departed around 7, there were people waiting to be seated.
  9. I received the following e-mail via a Silver Spring listserv this morning: Trattoria da Lina is a new Italian restaurant coming to Takoma Park in early 2017. The project will take over a former office space and add another option to Takoma Park's growing dining scene. Construction is well underway for this 55 seat restaurant in the heart of the Takoma Park commercial district. The restaurant's design is rustic and cozy with brick and wood and inspired by the casual eateries of the owner's motherland.The menu will offer a wide variety of pasta dishes, including traditional favorites and authentic creations, plus steak and fish options too. The restaurant will host a full bar. The owner is Marcello Minna, area restaurateur with 20 years experience and partner in Magico, the group behind Takoma Park's popular Dolci Gelati Cafe. Minna plans to staff the Trattoria with a team from Italy. Trattoria da Lina 7000 Carroll Ave Takoma Park, MD 20912 202-446-4167 Minnamarcello@yahoo.com
  10. I can't find an existing thread. If there is one, please merge. I did not go here, but my wife did, for lunch. Here's what she said 'And I had an absolutely AMAZEBALLS lunch today. AMAZEBALLS. Did you see the picture I texted you? It was horribly expensive for lunch though. But daaaaaamn!' You have to understand, she's in publications and just doesn't talk like this. Apparently, it was a really good lunch.
  11. Annnnd... The New Bridge has closed and re-re-opened as "Denim and Pearls", a nominally Italian restaurant. The New Bridge team is out (save for the building owner) and Chef John Payne is in. We stopped by for lunch on Monday, and see very little reason to return, sadly. DnP is not ready for prime time. We ordered fairly simply and were seated to the back of the sparsely populated dining room. Our group ordered a "housemade mozzarella" salad with heriloom tomatoes, basil and balsamic to start, two meatball subs, pasta with meatballs and fettuccine alfredo with flank steak. Our server took our order, brought us drinks, and we waited. And waited. And waited. At the twenty minute mark (for a salad, mind you) we asked our server if the salad would be forthcoming. At this point the lunch could have been rescued by a sympathetic word or an update - basically any interaction. However our server returned about ten minutes later with our full order. One of our group pointed out that we had asked for the salad to start, and was given a shrug in response. That aside, the mains were pretty solid, save the fettuccine. Meatball subs were a generous portion of pretty light meatballs in a bright tomato sauce, and the spaghetti and meatballs were basically the same, sans bread. Nothing groundbreaking, but acceptable. The fettuccine came topped with three slices of flank steak, cooked far beyond the requested medium rare. The alfredo sauce was fine, but the plate had a coating of balsamic vinegar around the rim and under the sauce. I now know why you rarely see alfredo sauce combined with a heavy dose of balsamic vinegar. Blech. The dish was a total failure. Between the overcooked steak, long wait and subpar fettuccine I don't see much reason to return until we hear that the ship has been righted, or this location has yet another iteration. Cafe Torino provides a reliable, if atmosphere-less option for Italian-American cuisine in Warrenton.
  12. I am surprised I haven't seen a thread on this place. Has anyone tried it? I checked out the space over the weekend (it is beautiful!) but have yet to eat here. My sister is working here (as a bartender) and went through *extensive* training along with all of the other staff. She is obviously biased but she raves about the food. I heard that Sietsema has a review coming out soon. What say you, DR.com community? Website (I think it would be helpful if they posted prices on their menu.)
  13. Former Liberty Tavern chef Liam LaCivita's new restaurant Bar Civita is now open, taking over the former Murphy's of DC space in Woodley Park. Menu is Italian-leaning with handcut pastas, homemade cheese, charcuterie, antipasti. Most dishes available in full and half-sized portions. Hoping for some good things, since Woodley Park could use some better restaurants! City Paper Post
  14. Surprised there hasn't been discussion of Batali's extravagant new venture - Eataly. I'm going to be in NYC next week and it'll be hard not to give this place a visit. This is so over the top but the success of the one in Venice makes one think this could actually work.
  15. 314 W. 11th Street (Greenwich Street) New York, NY 10014 Phone (212) 620-0393 Web: http://thespottedpig.com/ Menu: http://thespottedpig.com/food.php For my last meal on a (too) brief trip to New York, I went to The Spotted Pig in the West Village. It was my first time at April Bloomfield's much-hyped Gastropub (an overused term that actually applies here), and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I started with a Spotted Pig Bitter ($10) from one of their two beer engines, an excellent rendition of the style. Next I went with a Smoked Trout Salad with Creme Fresh and Pickled Onions ($16), an arguala salad with chunks of good, lightly-smoked fish that seemed too heavily dressed at first, but the dressing had such a balance an brightness it worked. I paired a La Formica Soave ($13) with it that was a nice match. For my main I had the special of the day, Pork Cheek Faggots (I swear that's how it was written on the board) with English Peas and Mustard, which were kind-of like football shaped sausages, kind-of like meatballs, and kind of like braised shortrib (except, obviously, cheek), and, though a bit over-salted, delicious. Despite the salt, I get them again without a second thought. I ordered a Domaine Jessiaume Pinot Noir with it that was also a good paring. All-in-all, for $90, it was not a bargain, but a nice meal in a place I'm eager to return to. Particularly for the burger, served with shoestring fries ($20), which many in the dining room ordered and which looks incredible.
  16. They're still delivering to Arlington from the Alexandria location, but the last time we got it, the pizza was undercooked. I don't know of other pizza/Italian places that deliver to the Courthouse area other than Papa John's and similar ilk, though picking up at Fireworks has worked (pizza ready in 15 minutes both times). Wish Faccia Luna had delivery!
  17. This place looks good - Capo Deli Pictures on Yelp look great, especially the bread, and prices are not obscene. $9 a lb for eggplant parm. $9 for smaller sandwich, and $11 for sandwiches that appear to feed two hungry people. Open til 3AM - 4AM on weekends. 2007 me would be so happy right now.
  18. I was walking around at lunch today and passed by 100 King St (vacant for awhile) and notice a bunch of permits on the windows and obvious demolition going on. Went back to the office and did a bit of digging and found a submission by Carluccios on the upcoming docket of the Board of Architectural Reviews. Apparently a UK based Italian chain. Carluccios.pdf
  19. Pretty slick looking (Washingtonian) City Paper Soft opening July 21, debut August 4. Three, five, and eventually eight course prix-fixe tasting menu format. Masseria. 1430 Fourth St., NE; 202-608-5959 "Masseria combines the raw and simple look of an Italian country estate, the industrial grit of the Union Market district, and the undeniable contemporary chic of its fashion-savvy chef-owner."
  20. I'm driving to Douthat State Park this evening (I-66 to I-81) in advance of a half-marathon tomorrow. Will want to stop for a bite on the way - something Italian if possible (pre-race carbs). Any suggestions? Thanks!
  21. Just received this from a colleague at work: Get ready for DC's newest restaurant from Bob Kinkead! View this email in your browser Coming soon from Bob Kinkead! Washington DC's James Beard Award Winning Chef Bob Kinkead announces the opening of his newest Italian seafood concept, Ancora. The pop-up concept located in the Watergate complex at 600 New Hampshire Ave NW, Ancora is Chef Kinkead's vision of an Italian Trattoria. Boasting house made pastas along with Chef Kinkead's famous seafood delicacies, Ancora will offer antipasti and sharing platters of salumi and crudo. While featuring the fresh fish and shellfish Kinkead has become famous for, Ancora will also include preparations with an Italian/Mediterranean flavor. Ancora is certain to become a destination not to be missed in the capital's dining scene. Ancora's menu will change frequently to reflect seasonal, locally sourced, impeccably fresh seafood and produce. Executive Chef Jeffery Gaetjen, formerly of Kinkead's, will be at the helm of this kitchen, assuring the same attention to quality and consistency that made Kinkead's a Washington DC landmark for 20 years. Ancora's bar program will focus on classic cocktails and will feature modern interpretations of libations utilizing Italian aperitifs, wines and spirits. The wine list will consist of mostly Italian wines, featuring varietals from some lesser-known Italian wine producing areas and selections from Europe and the United States. With it's unique location directly across from the Kennedy Center, Ancora will be the perfect place for pre and post theater dining. As the weather warms, the expansive patio overlooking the Potomac River will be the perfect spot for happy hour with friends, or to catch up over a lovely dinner with a beautiful view. Stay tuned for an opening date coming in February. We can't wait to see you at Ancora! 202.333.1600 info@ancoradc.com www.ancoradc.com (coming soon!) Copyright © *2013* *|Ancora|*, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you are a loyal fan of Chef Bob Kinkead! Our mailing address is: *|info@ancoradc.com|* unsubscribe from this list update subscription preferences
  22. Recently, I had a very bad experience with a professional group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington. Despite repeated attempts to address the issues during dinner, there was poor to simply inadequate service. We had pre-set menus. In theory, everything should have been seamless. However, it was miserable! Some people received salads; some people didn't. A bread basket was placed on only one side of a very large table when there should have been one bread basket on each side of a round table. Servers were surly at best and seemed as though our party was an after thought despite the fact that our dinner had been planned months in advance. Oh, and the worst of all, a guest at one of our tables was a mindful eater. Rather than ask if the guest was finished with their plate, the server picked up the guest's plate - still half full of food - and promptly placed another plate on top mashing the food down. This act prevented the guest from asking for a 'doggie bag'. The first time my organization had a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington, all aspects of the dinner from service to food were outstanding. Therefore, we made plans to return a few months later. Needless to say, we will not be booking a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla again and will definitely advise others not to think of dining there. Does anyone know if there is a problem between the FOH and the Chef/Owner? It seems as though there are signs of a major calamity in progress. The decline in service, in less than 6 months time, is stunning. There are many other options, but we like to develop a rapport with restaurants and become regular customers. The location of La Perla is very convenient, but we will travel to experience good service and food. Washington has plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from and we are giving up on this old guard restaurant. Does anyone have recommendations for Italian restaurants in DC where group dining is a wonderful experience? Thanks for all recommendations.
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