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Ristorante Bonaroti, 428 Maple Avenue E. in Vienna - White-Tablecloth Northern Italian since 1982


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The Dining Guide does not contain an entry for Bonaroti's, so it appears. Yet, here is some of the finest 'burbs Italian around, ranking with Zeffirelli's in Herndon, Da Domenico's in Tysons, and A La Lucia in Old Town. It has the charm and visual appeal of Cafe Renaissance down the street, a deep connection to the community (with "Chris Cooley's Bresaola" and Spaghetti "Chris Cooley" on the dinner menu), walls of pictures of friends and local dignitaries, and a menu that really warms the Italian heart beating in all of us.

I had the veal osso buco for lunch yesterday and I was blown away. The large pieces of veal were fall-off-the-bone tender, and it was covered with a thick, brown almost stew-like sauce, and accompanied by risotto that was cooked to perfection. It was delectable. This is a hearty lunch, ruining my New Year's resolution on, like, day 3.

I had been here many times in the past and then I sort of forgot about it, but after yesterday, it's going into my rather spare McLean-Tyson's-Vienna-Fairfax Rt. 123 rotation.

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Went to Bonaroti for early Mother's Day dinner with the family.  I had never been before.  Wow I would never expect such a charming interior from that exterior.  MK's family used to live in Vienna and when his Dad worked for At&T they had a lot of business meals here.  We arrived and were offered the wine list (or cocktails) while they put olive tapenade and another spread on the table and poured olive, balsamic, offered parmasean and pepper for bread dipping.  Wine arrived, as well as, bread.  I wish the foccacio and baquette were a little softer, they were just a bit over baked.  Still good, but as someone who makes a good foccacia I was thinking I could have showed them a thing or two.

I had a caesar salad to start, it wasn't anything special, I would probably order differently if done again, not bad, but just not as good as some of those old school caesars you can find other places.  Mom and MIL and SIL had one of their specials, burrata with avocado and tomato.  It looked delicious.  For an entree I got the veal stuffed with ricotta and ground veal with risotto.  This was a lovely decadent dish.  I ended up taking about half home with me.  The risotto, I thought was very well done, not exactly soupy, but not firm.  The veal was very good.  I had some of Mom's grouper special which was good too.  The fish cooked perfectly, served with some polenta and broccoli. I didn't love the sauce on the fish iteself paired with the sides, but she seemed to really like it. I liked the broccoli too, didn't try the polenta.  For dessert she got the berries and I got the cappucino cake.  The berries were lovely, a big bowl with just enough but not too much sauce.  I stole much of hers.  My cake was ok, but not worth ordering, so if you go here get something else, maybe the berries.  It didn't taste like a homemade cake and just wasn't really special, ok, not special.  The biscotti were really hard, but the amaretto was a nice ending. We went here out of nostalgia, but it really was pretty good all in all.  I would go back for the veal or to try something else.  

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So, I just bought $100 worth of food credit here through restaurant.com for $20.  There's a limit of four $25 gift certificates, which retail for $10 each, but when you use the promo code "MENU" (sans quotations, expires today), it knocks an additional $5 off.  Even though they only let you use one per visit, that's still a hell of a value..  The better part?  According to the deal site I lifted this from, the gift certificates no longer have an expiration date, and the certificates specifically say "does not expire" on them.  I'm not including any link because the one at the deal site has some damned referral code attached to it, and I don't want to risk being accused of being the code's owner.

The *catch* is that there's a 'merchant restriction' that requires you to spend $37.50 minimum (so the check has to include $12.50 of uncovered 'stuff').  You're also limited to using one per party, per month (this might be difficult for them to check), and can't be combined with any other coupons (including these).

Zeffirelli's was listed as well, but their GCs are sold out.  I've never used this site before, but $20 isn't a lot to gamble with. *shrugs*

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Matt and I had a perfectly lovely dinner at Risorante Bonaroti last night because there was a 2.5-hour wait at Founding Farmers and Fishers at 6 PM on a Saturday evening 6 PM for walk-ins, and the bar was completely full. As a result, I had a hangry 18-year-old on my hands. Bonaroti's did the trick swimmingly; the only miss was the polenta on both plates - it wasn't bad, but it was the least well-executed, least-exciting item. For the record, we split a Bresaola and Mozzarella (Burratta?) appetizer, served in a bit too much oil, he got a well-made Crab-Stuffed Salmon, and I got a well-made Satimbocca di Vitello, both getting points subtracted by the somewhat dull pastry polenta. We were underdressed for Bonaroti's (because of this, we asked for a table in the rear), and the service made us feel like they were grateful to have us (isn't that what good service is all about?) I pointed out to him that these whitecloth Italian restaurants had become something of a dying breed (although they're having something of a rennaissance), and I thought that observation was somewhat sad. This is still one of the best restaurants in Vienna, and one which I rank higher than Founding Farmers and Fishers. 

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The service at Bonaroti is truly wonderful.  The bread/focaccia comes with a spread of sundries tomatoes, tapenade, olive oil, and butter.  Too bad the bread isn't as wonderful as the spreads (foccacia being a bit hard on the edge).

They also did a good job on the shrimp and clam apps,  both perfectly cooked.

The pastas were weak though, the ravioli with bolonese tasted like ravioli with marinara.  The sauce had none of the rich flavors associated with bolognese.  The linguine alla vongole had some great fresh clams but the sauce lacked flavor and the pasta itself was overcooked.  

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Had a really nice Christmas dinner here- the service really is great.  I also really like the spreads and dips for the breads.  I like the after dinner drink.  I had a very nice bocconcini with risotto.  The meat was good with the fillings, it was rich, but perfect for what was a Christmas dinner of sorts.  I was going to get a seafood pasta, but this just called my name and was very good on a cold winter night.  This place is great for the old school preparations you don't see in other restaurants.  It is kind of an old haunt for Hubby's family who used to live in Vienna, and we met friends there and were treated really nicely and it was just a fun night.

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