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  1. For a short time only (I would guess), but very good right now at 2 Amys: Durham bread crostini with fava bean puree, olive oil and shaved pecorino. Bonus -- watching every member of staff variously set to skinning fresh favas at each lull in their other duties.
  2. 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.
  3. Had one of the best brunches I've eaten in a long, long time Sunday 2/5 morning. Wm. Mulherin's Sons is at the corner of Master and N. Front St in Fishtown in a historic building that was formerly the offices for a 19th century whiskey manufacturer. We were seated in a room behind the bar with a real (=wood) fireplace that was stoked continuously throughout the morning. Although seating was a little tight (18 inches between two-tops) you could still focus on your companion without too much distraction from the parties on either side of you. My bloody mary was mixed well with fresh horseradish, giving enough of a kick to pull me through my hangover. We started with the warm pound cake with banana, whipped ricotta, dark rum and cinnamon. I took a bite and just stared at it for a minute. My wife had to ask me if I was ok. I was, just stunned at how good it was. Although it had the potential to be treacly, it was the perfect amount of sweet. My wife got the frittata with truffled burrata, smoked pancetta, mushrooms and potato. She raved about the burrata, and the truffle flavor was perfect in its subtleness, unlike so many places where it overwhelms the rest of whatever you are eating. The rest of the fritatta balanced the ingredients nicely in a substantial portion. I ordered the Eggs on Volcano, their version of Uova al Purgatorio. Th two poached eggs come on top of a spicy tomato sauce (the heat coming from long hot peppers), guanciale and creamy polenta. Again, everything was in balance. The heat from the sauce was not insignificant, but also not overwhelming. Break the eggs and mix everything together and enjoy. The service was top-notch, with the whole team of servers responding to requests (more cream for the very good coffee, more water to quell the spice of the tomato sauce). A neighboring table had an infant and some formula leaked from the diaper bag onto the bench and coats of the family. The manager rushed over before the mother looked up, grabbed the coat and rinsed it off, while another server helped clean up the formula leak. They were on top of everything. When we return to Philly, we are definitely going to go back to try dinner. Or maybe bring some friends along for the family-style brunch which consists of a 24oz dry aged porterhouse, potatoes and a dozen eggs (scrambled or over easy).
  4. I've made a couple of lasagnas lately, and want to try a professional version to see how mine measures up. Anyone recommend a (local) place that has a good one? Not looking with one with excessive dairy, would like one balanced. I am especially interested to check out the texture of the noodle. Thanks.
  5. I finally got around to try Cinghiale near the harbor. It's an Italian restaurant that is part of Cindy Wolf's Charleston group in Baltimore. The place divided into 2 sections, the more casual bistro-like Osteria, and the fancy Enoteca. However, you can order off both menus no matter where you sit. Since we were more slobbed out, we ate in the Osteria, but I ended up ordering off the Enoteca menu, which is like a prix fixe that you can also add wine pairings with each course. The food was really delicious- I started with La Carne Cruda- a raw veal tenderloin topped with poached quail egg. My next course was some boar ravioli with a brown butter sauce. The main dish was amazing - Il Maiale- a roasted Berkshire pork rack with red wine sauce, grilled peaches and an arugula salad. My dining companions had a pretty amazing heirloom tomato salad with gorgonzola. All in all, it's definitely got the impressive food the Charleston group is known for. Pics
  6. Am I right that no one has written about Maple? Named after the big slab of maple wood that makes up the bar (not pancakes!), this place is right on 11th st. We went for the first time last weekend and were very happy we did. It's a small space and you can tell that the same designers who did Cork did Maple (although I found Maple more comfy/cozy). Lots of wood, grey, etc. and the bar ends in one of those peninsulas that can be a table for four. Outside tables too. The menu is small, and so is the kitchen. That said, everything was delicious. To start we had a summer special cocktail -- gin with limonata, blackberry juice, and blackberries. Refreshing and I am now totally addicted to this drink. We had two of the crostini (I don't remember the price for two, four were $10) and they were tasty -- one with white beans and anchovies and one with prosciutto, fontina, and fig. I give the edge to the white bean one though. I had the short rib panini, which was delicious. Hearty, rich, and just fantastic. My partner had the lamb bolognese, which was also great -- just gamey enough, but not too ripe. We shared a bottle of forgettable Montepulciano, but at $20 for a bottle, it was fine. There were plenty of other choices that were a little more expensive, but we went with the waitresses wine recommendation. We thought it was interesting she suggested the cheapest bottle! Dessert was a special -- cobbler with peaches and blackberries from the farmer's market with dolcezza vanilla gelato. YUM! A few things I loved -- first of all, it is not small plates. I am so tired of small plates! Second, the prices were great. For two cocktails, a bottle of wine, the crostini, two entrees and a dessert our bill was $100 for two people including tax and tip. Finally, they seem to have cool special events. We signed up for an upcoming Italian rare beer tasting. Only quibble was that the wine recommendation was not great from the server, but otherwise she was super nice, efficient, and good.
  7. There's a Coming Soon sign at this building in Clarendon (near the corner of Wilson and Washington Blvd). The website says coming in early 2007 though, so I guess it's still a ways off from opening. Anyone know anything about this place?
  8. 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.
  9. Dal Grano is next to the former Bistro Vivant, now Masala. Bland is the key word here. I had fettuccine with seafood white wine sauce. The dish had some nicely cooked shrimp and calamari rings, and some mussels (not in shell). I think it was the mussels that made the dish fishy, otherwise it had little flavor. I also think the pasta is not firm enough.
  10. 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
  11. After a soft opening on Sunday afternoon for friends and neighbors The Red Hen officially opened last night. Menu is not on the website yet, but Washingtonian has a scan. We were hoping to walk down right around 5:00, but never made it out the door; it was apparently packed (as expected given the neighborhood excitement for this place). Early Comments I've read so far are very good on the food, so-so on the value (although no cocktail is over $10, so hooray?). Portions size comes up most, but there are lots of small plates. We're very much excited to try it out. Has anyone been yet?
  12. I rarely post in the Baltimore section, but I was surprised not to see Supano's with a write-up. It's a family-owned Rat Pack-themed Italian restuarant with gorgeous woodwork all over the interior, and pictures of Frankie and Dino and all of their buddies festooning the walls. A large projection screen in one corner dominates the dining room, with videos of Sinatra's concert events running non-stop. The menu also announces "Best Italian Restaurant in Baltimore" and "Best Steakhouse in Baltimore" by various sources, as well as many dishes such as "World's Best Eggplant Parmigiana" and "Baltimore's Best (this or that)"....superlatives aside, this is a restaurant with incredible decor and very good food. I had the shrimp cocktail and the "World's Best" Eggplant Parmigiana. The shrimp cocktail was pretty good, although not the "best" I've had. The eggplant was worthy of superlatives, but perhaps not "World's Best"....nonetheless, I would most definitely order that dish again. As you can imagine, the steaks and chops are also the stars of the show, and the pasta and other Italian selections look like they're from a competent kitchen. There's a whole lot of menu to be sampled here, and I will do my best every time I visit Baltimore.
  13. Mamma's Kitchen is 5 minutes away from me and pretty much what the OP describes Mamma's Kitchen has been our family spot for years. It's close by and they're very consistent. It's been run by the same Greek family since it opened. It's casual, family friendly comfort food. The menu is made up of various cliches like fettuccine alfredo and lasagna, but also a smattering of Greek dishes like mousakka. Nothing very adventurous, but the food is good, everything is made fresh and there's zero chance you'll leave hungry. And the gyros are great.
  14. If I was a guy and wanted to impress a non-foodie hot girl, I would totally take her here. Because it is probably one of the most romantic restaurants in DC. Period. There are wonderful trees within a courtyard that canopy the outdoor eating area. There's a lovely walkway flanked by tables as a bar area. The interior is reminiscent of the lush lounge at the Tabard. But the two food items I sampled were some of the worst things I've had in a loong time. A goat cheese torte came out in a slab like pate, was pink and came out with roasted red pepper sauce. Not a nice little tart shape as we were expecting. And let me say again... PINK! It didn't taste of anything. The chicken liver pate with green peppercorns was extremely kicky, but was a scatological dark brown and not the unctuous deliciousness that I've had at other places. I'd maybe stroll over to enjoy the atmosphere after a dinner at the Tabard, but that's about it.
  15. Enjoyed a lovely meal at Etto last night, thrilled to have this restaurant in the neighborhood. It embodies so much of what neighborhood restaurants should be -- run by seasoned, local chefs and restaurateurs (Obelisk, Two Amys, Standard/soon-to-be-called Garden District)... relaxed and friendly... excellent food and drinks. On display at the bar are beautiful antipasti. Last night included: swordfish belly; squash blossoms stuffed with faro, raisins and pine nuts; Roman artichoke bottoms; cauliflower; a rabbit roulade; peas and pancetta; and more. Also on the bar is a big punch bowl of house made "adult" punch. The wood-burning oven for the pizza is going non-stop. We started at the bar (got there about 6:45pm and there was already a wait for tables, they don't take reservations), then were seated at a table for 6 to share with another couple. Not a problem for my friend and me -- spacious and we had enough privacy to enjoy our meal and conversation while making new friends. Peter Pastan was behind the counter all night, and kept a careful and close eye on everything going on, from bar to oven to kitchen to staff to diners. Our meal: Squash blossoms: By far the best of the antipasti we had; a wonderful blend of flavors and textures -- the first time I've enjoyed squash blossoms that weren't fried, scrumptious. Cauliflower: Tasty, but couldn't quite place what made the florets orange-red, very mild in flavor. Roman artichoke bottoms: A favorite, loved this version -- the bottoms were filled with what tasted like a blend of parsley, lemon and something savory, possibly anchovies (?). Pizza ala Romana: Tasty pizza crust, crispy where it should be, lovely and chewy where it should be. I understand they mill their own wheat and mix in spelt. Gives it great texture and taste. As for drinks, we kept things simple. A nice prosecco in retro glasses. We left around 9:30pm and the place was jammed. Noise level might be my only negative, but that's typical of most places now, so it is what it is. Will definitely be going back to Etto and, hopefully becoming a regular if I can get a seat. And I love the idea of having a place within a few easy blocks where I can order delicious and, in some cases, unique antipasti to bring home to enjoy as well. Interested to hear what others think of Etto...
  16. My wife and I stopped by last night to this bright, airy restaurant after spending 6 hours on I-95. It was our first time and we were really in the mood for some comfort food. We know Carlos and Erin from their time at Boundary Road, and we were overdue to say hi. Erin was behind the Passenger stick in its closing year, and the Bamboo cocktail ($10) I ordered was a very nice version, served with an olive. The glassware there is stylish, from the coupes to the 3 Stars snifter that contained my 3 Stars Farmhouse Ale. I closed with a glass of Touriga Nacionale rose, I haven't had one in a long time. For starters, we split a small Chef's Board ($16), featuring gigante beans, eggplant, marinated olives, house-made ricotta, and two other cheeses and two other meats I can't recall right now. Straightforward and delicious. We split a bowl of house-made pappardelle with pork sugo, parmesan and preserved lemon and moderately spicy ($15) along with a side of cauliflower ($6) and blistered shishito peppers ($7). The pasta was paper thin, delicate, and absolutely delicious -- exactly the comfort food we were looking for. I prefer this dish to the pasta that I've had at the Red Hen. My wife loved the cauliflower, and I FINALLY, after ordering the shishito peppers at a variety of places around town (I've had about 80 of them), ate a pepper that was actually spicy! For dessert, we split a pistachio custard topped with whipped cream and served with a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie. Nicely done! For folks who live in Brookland, Woodbridge, or Hyattsville, I can't imagine having a better local option. Atmosphere is unpretentious and cheerful, and looks to be family friendly. Downstairs is additional seating and another bar, for a quieter, more atmospheric couples night. Next time we will come with some friends and split the Tuscan-Style bone-in steak!
  17. 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.
  18. The Washingtonian gave A la Lucia one of the their "Critic's Choice" awards in this year's Cheap Eats edition. They say it's owned by the longtime maitre d' at Galileo. Has anyone been? Is it deserving of attention? Older kid friendly? Thanks in advance.
  19. Just announced. If my googling is correct this will be in the new mixed development/apartment building along Connecticut Ave currently underconstruction. And given the size, 2,800 sq ft plus 1,000 sq ft patio, that's the only location that would make sense. The developers are going big on this one! Looks like it will be pasta focused with salads, antipasti, salumi, cheese, and meat/fish entrees. Bread Furst on one side of the street and the Trabocchis on the other. "Fabio and Maria Trabocchi are Opening a Van Ness Restaurant Devoted to Pasta" by Becky Krystal on washingtonpost.com
  20. Family dinner last night at Paulie's. A few things to know going in: It's counter-service, which is a surprising choice (to me) for a restaurant like this, but seems to be a fairly popular model in Houston. It is small and tables are first-come first-served. Portion sizes are mind-bogglingly big, and a half-portion of pasta will be enough for 2 meals. The panzanella salad in no way resembled any panzanella I have encountered before, and was essentially a spinach salad with a few croutons in it. Not bad, but not what we expected. Again, the portion size was crazy, and I would suggest a half portion to share between 2 or 3. The Caesar salad my in-laws got was the better choice, and perplexingly had a higher crouton to roughage ratio than the panzanella. The kids happily devoured spaghetti and meatballs. A couple small bites I had were good...a smooth, fairly sweet sauce with light and well-seasoned meatballs. At $8 for a "small" that 2 kids only finished half of, this is a ridiculous value. Cristina's creste di gallo was served with that same tomato sauce, kicked up with some red pepper, pickled onions and half moons of sweet Italian sausage. The sausage itself is nothing special, a finely ground and tightly packed version with a good dose of fennel and caraway (but not too much). My mother-in-law had the skirt steak served with a side of pesto gnocchi. The steak itself was described (by my MIL) as "a bit chewy, but hey, it's skirt steak," and the gnocchi I tasted were good - medium density and coated in a solid standard basil pesto. I think I won the night with my bucatini Amatriciana, which was smoky, and spicy, with a good amount of sweetness from the tomatoes. This is the must-order dish as far as I can tell. With prices that are $11 or less for "small" portions of pasta that are really enough for 2 people, the value at Paulie's can't be denied. The pastas are reportedly made in house, and were all decent, though I prefer a bit more al dente texture. Reasonable people may disagree though, as my wife thinks my "al dente" is too chewy. There are a number of well-priced beers by the bottle (local bottles priced at $5), and Italian wines by the glass ($10-15) and bottle (all in the $40 range). Paulie's is a neighborhood gem that I would compare favorably to Frank or Supper in NYC. Dinner isn't going to blow your mind, but it is solid, and perfect for a family-style night out.
  21. Continuing my theme of restaurants that I enjoy but that most would probably abhor, Anthony's Restaurant is an old standby when in F-Church and needing a good bite, cheap. Sure, you need to keep a blind eye to the décor, make it two blind eyes, but for my money, they churn out a number of quality items. Highlights include the Gyro, Chicken Suvlaki, and Steak & Cheese -- all piled high, well seasoned and appointed. A basket of crinkle cut fries (yes!) or rings will complement those items nicely. I've also had their pizza, which is good, tho it can come out with too much cheese at times. I think their tzatziki is pretty good too. **Waves good bye to whatever credibility existed** My next post will be on the delicious club sandwich that can be had at the Cheesecake Factory"¦
  22. Wife dearest was referred to Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown by a friend of hers. I searched the site, but I did not find any reviews of this place, except that they have excellent bread. How is the food? Is it any good? Thanks, Dan
  23. 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.