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Acqua al 2, Eastern Market - a Remote Outpost of a Florence Pizzeria on Capitol Hill SE - Closed


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So a place called Acqua al Due is coming to a space across 7th Street from Eastern Market formerly occupied by two clothing stores. (Just up the block from Montmartre.)

(Here is a blurb.)

Has anyone eaten at this place, the original of which is in Florence and an outpost of which is in San Diego? I can't imagine this is bad news, given that neither Dottie's nor A&A Athletic had attracted my disposable income while they occupied the space. But how good is the news?

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I just about jumped out of my chair at this post. I spent some time in Florence during college and this place was right down the street from my apartment. The Florence location (at the time at least) was out of this world! They do this amazing price fixed pasta "sampler." They adjust the price and portions based on your party size and then the chef sends out, one at a time, fresh house-made pastas with sauces and additions of whatever happens to be in season currently. You would think an entire meal of pastas would be boring or overwhelming, but on the contrary, it was a beautiful showcase of the chef's talents and the versatility of pristine ingredients. I still dream of this farfalle with fresh pumpkin and bit of cinnamon and nutmeg.

I am unsure of how the American location measures up, as I've never been. But if it's anything like the Florence locale, we are in for some excellent Italian food!

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Sounds exciting...although the "franchising" link on their website might give one pause. However, considering I also have never stepped foot in A&A or Dottie's...it can only be a (hopefully) positive development!
I've set foot in both but never bought anything in either :lol:.

It's interesting that the San Diego location appears to be in the neighborhood that appeared on the 2007 Great Places list with Eastern Market.

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So exciting!!! I studied in Florence in the fall of 2001 and this was one of our favorite restaurants when we were there. I'm blanking on a lot of what they offered, but I do remember sampler type things as mentioned above that were an awesome way to try a bunch of stuff. This is awesome.

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I ate at the one in Florence in 2002 and had an excellent meal. I too remember the pasta sampler in particular. I just hope the DC version can stand up to my memories of it. I'm sure my recollection of the place is impacted as much by the by the overall experience as by the food itself. Being on vacation in Florence paints everything in a different light than driving across town for dinner in SE DC on an average Friday night.

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I haven't read the paperwork on the outside carefully, but I'll guess they'll try to go for a sidewalk cafe. After dark (or, at least, in the summertime after dark), not much is open along there except Tunnicliffs, Ben and Jerrys, and Montmarte. It would really help the street scene along there to have another active restaurant open well into the night hours.

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I also spent time studying in Florence back in the late 90s and absolutely adored Acqua al Due. The five course sampler was amazing and always kept me wanting to go back and try new dishes. It was there that I was first introduced gnocchi and is probably the reason to this day that I'm a total snob about eating the dish in the U.S. :-)

I totally agree with Bags that being in Florence can taint your opinions since everything is amazing and inspiring, but for now I'm going to hold out hope that the D.C. version can be just as fantastic.

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We had an enjoyable dinner here last night. The space is beautiful. It's quite a transformation from the two businesses that occupied it before. I encountered a friend on the way in who had tried to get a table as a walk-in, but they were all booked. (This is the second person I've talked to who couldn't get in without a reservation in the days the restaurant has been open.) It wasn't packed full when we were there (except for the bar), but I gather the empty tables were being held for later reservations. In another words, a reservation is advisable if you're heading here for dinner, even on a Wednesday.

The food was wonderful (though not inexpensive). Service had some glitches, but they were handled well. For the most part, those issues were nothing exceptional for a place only open for a few days. We dealt briefly with one employee who was flat out rude, but maybe she was having a bad night. Everyone else was quite pleasant, especially our server. He handled every glitch/problem promptly and smoothly.

I'd recommend pretty much everything we had. The strozzapreti al pomodoro were wonderfully delicate, not at all heavy. For our primi course, we ordered the Assagio di primi, which is the chef's selection of five vegetarian pastas. Our server told us that they would come out over the course of the meal. I should have taken him more literally than I did, since the first one arrived before our antipasti and the last when we were nearly done our secondi. For both the first and the last, we thought we were being delivered something we hadn't ordered, the first because we didn't expect it so quickly and the last because the meal was almost over and we'd already had what should have been all five pasta dishes.

As best I can recall, the pastas were a penne or ziti coated with a cheese sauce; bowties with zucchini; gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce; riso with tomato sauce; fusilii with a dark sauce of some kind; and rigatoni. (I was full and didn't eat any of the last two.) My favorite was the riso. It was one of the best risottos I've had in some time. I liked the idea of this course--a tasting menu of pastas--though I had begun to fill up by the time of dish number five. I stopped eating pasta in order to be able to enjoy my veal chop with porcini mushrooms, which was delicious and worth the $29.

The weirdest problem of the night was with the Tagliata alla Robespierre in Focaccia, which doesn't come with focaccia :lol:. My husband hadn't ordered this for the focaccia, but found it odd that a component given in both the name of the dish and its description wasn't included. Presumably they will change something in the future to make the menu and actual dish served line up. (One of the owners came over and apologized when the server brought this to his attention.) We'd already had plenty of bread, which comes with olive oil for dipping. The first batch of bread (served in a paper bag) was great but the refill was mostly stale. We didn't really need any more bread, though, so it wasn't a problem.

Overall: good experience, even with some oddities. I'm sure the glitches will get straightened out in time, but I'd happily go back soon...except for maybe the cost.

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Overall: good experience, even with some oddities. I'm sure the glitches will get straightened out in time, but I'd happily go back soon...except for maybe the cost.

If I may ask, what about the cost gave you pause? The only number I see is the $29 veal chop, which you thought was worth it (and seems more than reasonable). Just asking, as I rode by on my bike last night and didn't stop to look at the menu last night (stupid rain).

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Unfortunately, my review of Aqua al 2 is not quite as glowing as Pat's. I LOVED this restaurant when I studied abroad in Florence the fall of 2001. Maybe I just loved everything about Italy and this restaurant fell into that, but I definitely went a handful of times with friends and remember thinking it was one of my favorite restaurants there. Alas, this new DC outpost did not live up to expectations. And even my friend who had not been to the original and did not have many expectations left disappointed.

We didn't have any service problems, and one of the owners (can't remember his name) came by a couple times to check on us and was very enthusiastic about making sure everything was ok. We actually were able to walk in and get a table for two around 6:15 or so, but it was definitely filling up by the time we left, so I would agree that reservations are recommended, even on a rainy Wednesday.

I was really disappointed in the bread. Maybe we just got one of the stale bags, and a different bag would've been better, but even the olive oil couldn't really perk it up. I also think the bag is a bit obtrusive and would have preferred a smaller basket that would take up less room on the table. My Insalata Caprese (Sliced tomato and imported mozzarella di buffala topped with basil and drizzled with olive oil - $10) was good, but nothing really different or unusual. It was maybe 5-6 slices of tomato each with a thick slice of mozz and a sprig of basil on top (which I had to tear up myself to spread over the separate slices). My friend had the Antipasto ($14) plate which included a couple slices of salami, one slice of bresaola, a couple slices of prosciutto, two pieces of bread with bruschetta topping, a couple chunks of cheese and 3-4 grissini breadsticks. It was a fairly large serving of food, and the bites I had were good (although the bruschetta was overwhelmed with red onions).

In Florence I remember the pasta sampler being one of my favorite things, so of course we split the Assaggio di Primi (Our Signature Dish w/ two person minimum - A sampler of five from the first course list. Chef's Choice. $13 per person). The first dish was decent and was called Riso Verde, but we couldn't find the actual dish on the menu. The rice was a little undercooked, but the sauce was a tasty broccoli cream type thing. Second was Maccheroni alla Vodka (Penne pasta with a milk and vodka sauce and a touch of tomato sauce) and since neither of us are huge fans of vodka sauce, this was probably our least favorite. But since this is all Chef's Choice and just depends on what is coming out of the kitchen at the time your dish is served it's sort of a crap shoot! Third was Rigatoni alle Melanzane (Tube shaped pasta with a tomato eggplant sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. “Martin’s favorite”), and from the description I would've expected a lot more of an eggplant flavor. This was disappointing in it's blandness. It basically tasted like pasta in a simple, underseasoned tomato sauce. Fourth we had a Fusilli in a Vegetable Sauce that is on the DC menu but not online. Again, just nothing special and definitely could've used some pepper or a little spice of some sort. The last dish was probably the best, and we both admitted maybe the only reason we'd give the place another shot. It was Cannelloni Mascarpone e Funghi (Cannelloni pasta filled with mascarpone and porcini mushrooms, baked in a bowl with our house tomato sauce and topped with parmesan cheese), and although quite a small serving size, the porcini flavor was very very good.

Maybe my expectations were too high based on my memories of Florence, but I was really unimpressed with Aqua al 2 last night. With so many other new places on the Hill and up in Trinidad to try, and other favorites to return to, this won't be too high on my list of dinner options in the area.

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If I may ask, what about the cost gave you pause? The only number I see is the $29 veal chop, which you thought was worth it (and seems more than reasonable). Just asking, as I rode by on my bike last night and didn't stop to look at the menu last night (stupid rain).

It's my own quirk more than anything, so maybe I shouldn't have said that. I wasn't trying to paint it as a super-expensive restaurant. Mentally, the farther I travel to go to a restaurant, the less the cost bothers me. When something is nearby, it's tempting to want to go frequently, which quickly becomes very expensive even for something that is fairly moderately priced. It's the same reason I don't go to Sonoma more often. Even something nearby and cheap gets costly with repeated visits.

If I were to order more frugally, the total would have been less, but at an Italian restaurant like this, I feel like I need to get three courses. The veal chop is at the top end of the price range. (We approached $115, after tax but before tip) for one glass of wine, one shared antipasti, primi for two, and two secondi). For a special occasion, that would seem quite reasonable, actually on the inexpensive side. For a Wednesday night trip to a neighborhood restaurant, it seems expensive.

This is the menu. Our costs were $9, $13, $13 x 2, $27 and $29.

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I was really disappointed in the bread. Maybe we just got one of the stale bags, and a different bag would've been better, but even the olive oil couldn't really perk it up. I also think the bag is a bit obtrusive and would have preferred a smaller basket that would take up less room on the table.

The discrepancy between the fresh and stale bread was quite significant. I'm not sure how they wound up with such variability there. I agree about the bags. Ours kept tilting over on the table. The server had trouble propping it up and keeping it upright. It's a quaint idea but doesn't work as well in practice.

In Florence I remember the pasta sampler being one of my favorite things, so of course we split the Assaggio di Primi (Our Signature Dish w/ two person minimum - A sampler of five from the first course list. Chef's Choice. $13 per person). The first dish was decent and was called Riso Verde, but we couldn't find the actual dish on the menu. The rice was a little undercooked, but the sauce was a tasty broccoli cream type thing. Second was Maccheroni alla Vodka (Penne pasta with a milk and vodka sauce and a touch of tomato sauce) and since neither of us are huge fans of vodka sauce, this was probably our least favorite. But since this is all Chef's Choice and just depends on what is coming out of the kitchen at the time your dish is served it's sort of a crap shoot! Third was Rigatoni alle Melanzane (Tube shaped pasta with a tomato eggplant sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. “Martin’s favorite”), and from the description I would've expected a lot more of an eggplant flavor. This was disappointing in it's blandness. It basically tasted like pasta in a simple, underseasoned tomato sauce. Fourth we had a Fusilli in a Vegetable Sauce that is on the DC menu but not online. Again, just nothing special and definitely could've used some pepper or a little spice of some sort. The last dish was probably the best, and we both admitted maybe the only reason we'd give the place another shot. It was Cannelloni Mascarpone e Funghi (Cannelloni pasta filled with mascarpone and porcini mushrooms, baked in a bowl with our house tomato sauce and topped with parmesan cheese), and although quite a small serving size, the porcini flavor was very very good.

Your meal did not overlap with ours, which might account, at least in part, for our different experiences. The only thing ordered in common was the pasta course. What's interesting to me is that you were there earlier on the same night we were and your pastas were completely different from ours (though the fusilli might have been the same). I, too, noticed that the pastas didn't seem to match up quite with the pastas offered on the menu, but I figured the variations were part of the chef's choice element.

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Your meal did not overlap with ours, which might account, at least in part, for our different experiences. The only thing ordered in common was the pasta course. What's interesting to me is that you were there earlier on the same night we were and your pastas were completely different from ours (though the fusilli might have been the same). I, too, noticed that the pastas didn't seem to match up quite with the pastas offered on the menu, but I figured the variations were part of the chef's choice element.

I could definitely see how we would've had a better experience if we had had a different set of pastas, and with 12-13 on the menu (along with the other variations the chef may send out) you could certainly have a different set of 5 on different trips. However, I'm not sure it is worth it to me to take that gamble and possibly not have a good meal. I think when/if I head back I'd be more likely just to order one of the primis on it's own (likely something with porcinis or gorgonzola) so I know I'll be more satisfied.

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Anyone been as of late have an updated report? Thinking of taking out-of-town family, thought it would be fun to show them the E. Market hood.

FWIW, I've spoken to someone who has been there multiple times (five at last count) and loves the steaks--even the one with blueberry sauce. (Other reactions I've gotten on the blueberry steak have been mixed, but everyone has raved about the quality of the steaks. I have no idea where they get them from.) The same person who is such a big partisan of the place advises against getting the pasta. The kitchen is too small to make it in-house, he says, and that's apparently the reason for so many comments about mediocre pasta.

Definitely take the family to the Eastern Market area, wherever you decide.

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Very excited to hear that Acqua al 2 has opened up in DC. I've eaten at the Florentine original a number of times and at its San Diego spin-off once while visiting my brother. Frankly, I think the restaurant is stalking my family... but I am happy to have such a delicious stalker. Hopefully, I'll get to our DC branch soon, but I tend to think you are better off using the pasta sampler as a means to identify which of their pastas you like, because some of them could be really good, but some were just mediocre. The star of the menu, though, is the filet in either the balsamic reduction or the blueberry sauce. I started out a firm believer in the superiority of the balsamic and came around over time to recognize the greatness of the blueberry. There's just nothing like it... and I can hardly wait to have it again now that it is in my backyard. (Not literally. That would make for a huge backyard.)

I'll put up a report on how this one compares to the original after I get a little firsthand experience with the new Acqua al 2.

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Very excited to hear that Acqua al 2 has opened up in DC. I've eaten at the Florentine original a number of times and at its San Diego spin-off once while visiting my brother. Frankly, I think the restaurant is stalking my family... but I am happy to have such a delicious stalker. Hopefully, I'll get to our DC branch soon, but I tend to think you are better off using the pasta sampler as a means to identify which of their pastas you like, because some of them could be really good, but some were just mediocre. The star of the menu, though, is the filet in either the balsamic reduction or the blueberry sauce. I started out a firm believer in the superiority of the balsamic and came around over time to recognize the greatness of the blueberry. There's just nothing like it... and I can hardly wait to have it again now that it is in my backyard. (Not literally. That would make for a huge backyard.)

I'll put up a report on how this one compares to the original after I get a little firsthand experience with the new Acqua al 2.

We just went to Acqua al 2 and it is just as good as the original, you won't be disappointed.

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Had a satisfactory meal at Acqua al 2 last night.

They have done a nice job with the space...the main dining room is a long room stretching to the back of the building, all exposed brick and pressed tin roof. we had an early reservation, but by 8pm the restaurant was around 80% full, (not bad for a Monday night!) The food, nothing was particularly bad, but nothing was particularly great.

Our first basket of bread was very stale, second basket was fine, they pour olive oil and balsamic for dipping. Started with the shaved fennel and radicchio salad, it was pleasent. Then had the penne with tomato and eggplant sauce. Again it was pleasent. Sampled the steak with balsamic sauce, which was tasty. we went with the dessert sampler platter - tiramisu (probably the best of the desserts), fruit tart, cheese cake, and a very rich chocolate cake.

So it was a fun night out to celebrate my friend's birthday. Restaurant was nice. The food was...fine.

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I was there a few weekends ago with the GF and an out of town friend. We tried the pasta sampler which gave us an idea of what the kitchen was capable of and priced at $13 was pretty good bargain. The restaurant was operating at or near full capacity on that Saturday night, but the wait staff did a good job of servicing our table. Acoustics for the restaurant was fairly bad at that capacity, but the atmosphere was jovial and the interior design was cute especially with the painted out scenes outside of the window.

Food-wise at that price point, I felt it was ok. Basically mirroring previous comments in the thread nothing great, nothing bad. I think it's a good restaurant for that area and would eat there again if in the mood and nearby. As a destination place, would skip. That being said, at their prices and the looking at the neighborhood, think it will be a popular place.

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Last night I went and interviewed the chefs at Acqua Al 2 for a food blog I just started (foodstaycation.wordpress.org). The place originally opened in Florence in 1978 and just opened in May in Eastern Market. With Chef Ari Gejdenson at the helm, Acqua Al 2 boasts pure Tuscan cuisine--highly recommend the Filetto al Mirtillo--steak with blueberry sauce. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting and includes a display of plates that DC "celeb" visitors--Rahm Emanual, Charles Mann, have signed.

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Had a very nice meal here over the weekend. I shared the pasta tasting menu and steak sampler and there were no misses that I can think of. The standouts were the pasta with broccoli, the pasta with spinach, the steak with blueberry sauce and the steak with the balsamic reduction. The blueberry sauce was actually really good, with it being really light with just a hint of blueberry and not some overwhelmingly sweet, gloopy sauce. A friend had the Strozzapreti al Pomodoro, and the red sauce it came in was delicious (I didn't taste the balls, as it were).

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Had an awesome lunch today at Acqua Al 2. There lunch deal is one of the best I have come across. Three courses for $20. Included in the deal is Salad, their balsamic steak and cheesecake. All dinner size portions. You can also get pasta if you are not into the steak, but I must say, I love that balsamic steak. It's actually a sirloin that is cut to look like a filet mignon. The steak is also organic and grass fed, fyi.

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Over the years my dinning out locations have become way too sterile, or just too far away. My wife and I like to eat in Philadelphia it seems more than our hometown of DC. Strange? Thats for another day I guess. We live in DelRay and while we do have our favorites and our 'go-to' spots on the avenue, we decided to venture into DC. I don't know why, well actually I do as a recommendation from a member that belongs to the Club that I help to manage suggested this place.

Well, I have to say that although the food wasn't revolutionary and why should it be, it was a good meal. I will have to say on 2 points pros and cons. Our server, Cherie I believe, was great. On point the whole night, in when we needed her, out when we wanted to talk. Knew the menu, as she should, but allowed us to explore. The portions sizes were spot on as well, just enough for a meal, not too much that you leave feeling overwhelmed, but not too small where you feel cheated. Something I am big fan of late when dinning out. The cons, noise... eh... yeah, its noisy, but its one thing when noise is dubbed in to make a place feel 'hot' or the place to be, or its simply poor construction layout, but this is simply a small, narrow space, that was packed at 930Pm, when we left, as well as when we showed up at 7PM. Other con, wine pricing. I am snobbish when it comes to it simply because when I know how much they pay, and how much they are up charging, its tough to swallow. Its a part of business, I know it, yet it doesn't mean I have to like it. As quickly as I make that remark, I did enjoy the bottle of Barbaresco that we picked out, a 2006.

I don't typically write food experiences simply based on the fact that I feel somewhat amateurish when expressing my thoughts on a dinning night out. Sure I could tell you my thoughts on the upcoming baseball season, who i think will be a sleeper team, who is over paying for talent, and why the Nats are a year away from being the 'it' team. As well as explain why Football players are acting like crybabies over the NFL lock-out, especially the ones who have a $5million dollar contract bonus and as well as a 5th grade reading level.

What I will say is this, the meal and service were great, and isn't that what it is all about.

Greek salad, and Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce for my wife.

Caprese salad, ugh tomato out of season..I know, I know, and Bronzino with mushroom risotto.

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My SO and I were taken for dinner here the other night by an out-of-town guest, our first visit despite living on Capitol Hill. Is it possible to say that a restaurant is middling in a good way? All of our food was fine--the burrata special was excellent--but not exceptional. The service was mostly prompt and friendly, if at times awkward. Sitting in the back room off the main, long dining room, did not improve acoustics by any means, and the window into the kitchen was more glaring than entertaining (I did like the mural on the wall outside the side window, however). A nice Zenato wine topped off our meal, and we left full and with a reasonable bill. As many have noted here already, it's a solid, even likable performer, but not a destination restaurant. I'm not surprised that most of the local critics have more or less ignored it; there's not enough "new" or different or exceptional here to warrant an extensive exploration for review. But I can see why it's become a popular neighborhood place; it's just enough above average for Capitol Hill and filled with enough energy that one can feel like you're both semi-hip but comfortable in typical DC fashion.

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I recall before trying to explain why this place was too expensive for just a regular weeknight meal. Well, case in point: 2 draught Dogfish head whatevers, Lumaconi al brocolli (pasta shells with broccoli), and Tagliata alla Robespierre (steak over salad), with tax and tip topped $70. There was also bread, which was okay. One person sitting alone at the bar. Perfectly fine food. Too much money.

Bartender and other staff were all great. Maybe I'm just too cheap...

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Just returned from their $20 3-course prix fixe lunch. Not a bad deal. I had a caprese that was perfectly delightful: two thick disks of red, meaty tomato topped with delicate and fresh mozzarella, judiciously seasoned with salt and pepper and olive oil and two large, fresh basil leaves. Simplicity itself, but that's how this should be, and it was very good. The 7 oz sirloin steak was done slightly above the requested medium but nonetheless quite tasty in a green peppercorn cream sauce. The bartender comped me a drink when he learned the steak was overdone, which was quite unnecessary but very much appreciated. Tiramisu was a good, house-made rendition of this seductive Italian cliché. And the espresso--so refreshingly bereft of all the pomposity with which Americans have burdened this beverage. It was, as Jason Robards' character says in "Once Upon a Time in the West " of the coffee served him by Claudia Cardinale, "Hot, strong, and good."

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Went here with a group for a special occasion dinner last week and we were seated in a semi-private room. We got so much food that I can't even remember most of what we had. There were a lot of different pastas, and I liked all that I tried. The person hosting gave some parameters and told them to bring food out, and they brought food out...lots and lots of it. It just kept coming. I finally tried the steak with blueberry sauce as a result, and I loved it. That is amazingly tender steak. The blueberry doesn't stand out and just enhances the flavor. It was absolutely delicious.

I even ate dessert :) . I had some kind of panna cotta, which was a nice way to end the meal, but couldn't help myself and also grabbed a mini cheesecake slice (with caramel sauce, maybe?) that was on the dessert sampler tray that came out.

Our table was not quite ready on time, but otherwise the service was excellent. I hadn't really thought about this as a place to go with a group of people for a special occasion, but it turns out to be great for that.

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I'm finding it amusing to look back at my first post in this thread, made more than five years ago.  We ordered a couple of the same items last night for my birthday dinner.  That veal chop with porcinis is still excellent but now $38 (up from $29).  My husband started his meal with strozzapreti al pomodoro ($13, previously $9) and polished it off straight away.

Having been eating out quite a bit lately (including lunch the same day), I refrained from ordering pasta and began instead with the ($9) Insalata di Rucola e Pera (arugula salad with pear).  The pear worked quite well in the salad.  It was very thinly sliced and crisp.  It was a refreshing salad for a brutally humid August day, though pears don't strike me as an August fruit.

I was happy to be wolfing down large amounts of arugula instead of bread.  I had a couple of slices of bread because I was hungry, but it wasn't as good as I recall it being in the past.  It was maybe too soft.  I can't quite pinpoint what it was that seemed different.  It looks like they've resolved the bag issue by pulling the bag down around the bottom of the basket (? I can't recall exactly what the vessel was) it's served in instead of packaging bread in paper bags and setting the bags on the table.  That's what it looked like, anyway.

My husband also got beef and porcinis for his main course, a New York strip ($32), which he enjoyed.  Both of our meat courses were well complemented by the wine we ordered, a Masseria Li Veli Orion Primitivo from Puglia ($42).  It was really smooth, with some nice spicing.

I hadn't planned on dessert, but I mentioned my birthday to our server (whom I know casually) at one point, and a dessert sampler and shots of limoncello appeared on the table at the end of our meal.   Perfect ending.

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My parents, brother, my boyfriend and i came here for my birthday dinner (my choice although it was my first time here). I ordered the  Filetto al Mirtillo-filet mignon in a blueberry reduction sauce. WOW! Do yourself a favor and order that! It was perfectly cooked medium rare per my request and the blueberry reduction was a flavorful tasty treat. There was a lot of it and I enjoyed dipping every bit of filet in it. My father ordered the same thing and had my sentiments as well. My brother approved of his steak, while my mother was slightly less impressed with her pork chops. She tried some of my steak and immediately said she should have ordered that. We also ordered  Asparagi Grigliati for th table. The asparagus spears were large and seasoned appropriately with complimenting lemon as well. We ordered two pastas as they are "family style"- the  Orecchiette ai Broccoli and the  Topini al Gorgonzola. The gnocchi with the gorgonzola cream sauce was the favorite of the table, not to say the orichette with broccoli was bad. Both were homemade and delicious. We had started off with the buratta which was a lovely appetizer. Even the bread pre-meal was good. This was not a cheap meal but it's perfect for a special occasion!

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Last year, a birthday dinner; this year, our anniversary.  I'm back to my original view that this restaurant is a bit steep for an ordinary neighborhood meal out, but it's wonderful to have nearby to celebrate special occasions.  

We split the strozzapreti al pomodoro to start. (Actually the server split it for us at the table since he knew we were sharing, a nice touch.)  These were delicious and beautifully formed. I'd had some pasta earlier in the day so decided not to order any at dinner, even though I would have loved to, and these ricotta spinach balls in tomato sauce satisfied my cravings in a pasta-less way with their deep, rich flavor.  

I followed this with a salad (or maybe the salad came out first?). The Insalata Mista, with its crisp white balsamic vinaigrette, was refreshing and a nice counterpunch to the comparative richness and heaviness of the rest of the meal.  My main course was the filet in blueberry sauce, Filetto al Mirtillo, for $33.  I'm not sure how I ate the entire steak, but I did.  Such an improbable combination but an inspired one.  My husband went with rib eye, Disossata alla Robespierre, with rosemary, garlic, and green peppercorn olive oil, for $39.  While mine was a la carte, his came with grape tomatoes and arugula.  He also ordered a side of grilled asparagus, which comes dressed with lemon oil and topped with thin slices of parmigiano.  The excess blueberry sauce turned out to be good spooned over some of the asparagus spears.  

I thought the bread was closer to just right this time, a little soft but firm and fresh as well. I avoided pasta but ate three pieces of this dunked in olive oil :unsure:.

 

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We spent a month in Florence a couple of years ago & accidentally wound up eating at their place.  I say accidentally, as we were just wandering around the area aimlessly (very unusual for us not to have had reservations somewhere) and decided we were hungry while we were passing by.  The place looked very touristy, even for Florence, but we went in and were seated at a front communal table (my wife speaks Italian and probably fooled them enough for us not to be placed in the other room, where all the non-Italians seemed to be headed).  At any rate, we were next to an outgoing group of Alitalia staff, who very vocally urged us to try the "blueberry steak" and the "balsamic steak", 2 items that we wouldn't normally go near.  Seemed like tourist bait to us but we did as instructed and had 2 very good steaks with flavors that didn't detract from the meat and actually enhanced the meal.  The waitress was happy and informed us in English (yep, by then we were clearly known to be American) that they have a place in DC.

When we returned, I remember chatting with someone on this board who is (was?) the chef at the DC location.  Am I right... isn't he a DR.com member?

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My sister studied abroad in Florence through NYU's program and that was apparently their hangout spot. She went to the DC outpost a few times and said it was pretty good, and at least sort of hit the nostalgia spot. 

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1 hour ago, Steve R. said:

When we returned, I remember chatting with someone on this board who is (was?) the chef at the DC location.  Am I right... isn't he a DR.com member?

I was the chef at Ghibellina, which is owned by the same group that owns Acqua Al 2. Though I was never the chef at AA2, and I don't think any chef there is/was a member of DR.com.

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9 minutes ago, Jonathan said:

I was the chef at Ghibellina, which is owned by the same group that owns Acqua Al 2. Though I was never the chef at AA2, and I don't think any chef there is/was a member of DR.com.

Thanks.  It was you I was thinking of.

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Having not been back in 6 months, I treated myself to dinner here last night.  Craving steak, I tried the Controfiletto al Pepe Verde 32  Hand-carved New York strip steak sautéed in a green peppercorn and brandy cream sauce.  I don't think I'd tried that before, unless as part of a sampler at a group dinner.   Since that comes a la carte, I also ordered Patate al Forno 8 Roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic. Although I liked them, I really should have ordered something green instead of potatoes:unsure: (the peppercorns in the sauce don't count...).  Had 2 glasses of a nice 2014 Pinot Nero to drink.  

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Another 6 months and this time around was the least satisfactory service I've had here. Poor communication and, if I were to guess, our orders for mains weren't put in at the correct time.  The food--except for the squishy, what on earth is this white bread--was still solid.  The burrata, which I think was a special, was quite good.  That was my husband's but I got some. Whatever else was on the plate (I forget) was good with it.  I shared my cannelloni with ricotta and spinach with him. He liked it more than I did.  While I liked the pasta and filling, there was something about the tomato sauce that was too thin, or maybe it was just too hot when I tried to eat it. 

My husband enjoyed his steak with blueberry sauce, which is always a winner. I got a veal porterhouse over arugula - tomato salad, which I loved but couldn't finish. Their beef and veal are always excellent, and the combination with the sharpness of the arugula and the mellowed acidity of the warm tomatoes is fantastic. 

We got some top offs on our glasses of wine and a comped vanilla panna cotta, but I'm not sure if this was because we were kept waiting and seemed unhappy or because it was a special occasion visit.  I still love the place and will come back, but it was a somewhat disappointing experience.

 

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