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Maestro, in the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton - Closed.


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Finally had the occasion suitable enough to do the big splurge at Maestro last evening. My wife, daughter, brother and sister-in-law had one of our most memorable meals. Each of us had the seven course Creazione where we let Chef Trabocchi surprise us, and let the sommolier pick the wines that best suited. Most memorable plates were a potato soup in which chunks of fois gras were suffused, the carapacio -- three cubes of melt-in your -mouth raw beef topped a quail egg and the vitello - a piece of loin and a piece of osso buco, and of course the tiramisu. My brother, who picked up the tab, thought the whole experince was "very cool." The service was attentive without being intrusive. Wanted to thank Chef Fabio, but he had already retired to his office by the time we finished.

The only downside was discovering how to get to the Ritz Carlton through the maze of streets and lack of good signage that is the Mall!

Can't wait to organize a dinner for thirty... :lol:

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Not to take away from the other possibly more substantial and creative things that Maestro does so well, but they are, without a doubt, turning out the best pasta dishes I've ever had the opportunity to eat.

Between jenrus and me last night, we worked in five different pasta dishes - duck confit tortellini, goat cheese agnolotti with 100 year old balsamico, salt cod gnocchi, tagliolini with sweet Hawaiian shrimp and lobster and lobster ravioli with ginger bisque . All five were as good as I've had anywhere. And last night reminded me that the lobster ravioli is my favorite restaurant dish I've ever had.

Aside from one ill-conceived halibut dish in a red-wine sauce (and an overpoached egg yolk in the same dish) everything we had was nothing short of excellent, right down to the warm pot of madelines and half-dozen other petit-fours and mignardises we were given at the end.

I wasn't entirely convinced after our first visit a year ago, but last night made it clear to me that Maestro (along with Citronelle) is several steps above any other restaurant the area has to offer and as good as any I've been to, anywhere I've visited.

Edited by bilrus
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Was this after mdt's nine-hour pasta tasting??

You sound like me!

Unfortunately, I had to bail out of the pasta tasting after five hours - before the real cooking went down. I'm sure the pasta at Mike's was good, but I think I made the right choice. :lol:

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I am about to make reservations at Maestro...what was the price tag for the tasting menu + wine?

I wish it were, but it isn't cheap :lol: - five courses was $120 and seven was $145. We went with the seven course and had one $95 bottle of wine so the total before tip was about $400.

If I remember correctly the options are a little different and a little less expensive on weekdays.

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Some dishes at Maestro:

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Maine Lobster Ravioli with Freshly Grated Ginger Glaze and Bisque Jus.

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Rolled Beef Carpaccio in Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce with Seared Belle Farm Foie Gras, 50 Year old Condimento Balsamico, Maestro Style.

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Roasted Wild West Coast Sturgeon in Taroroot and Basil Waistcoast with Wilted Butter Lettuce in Sturgeon-Red Wine Jus.

Edited by Freaked
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Some more samples of the genius that is Fabio. From JoeH's blowout dinner in 2004.

post-46-1118119349_thumb.jpg scallop amuse bouche.............. post-46-1118119501_thumb.jpg Canape

post-46-1118119409_thumb.jpg Gli Scampi e le Castagne.... post-46-1118117297_thumb.jpg Il Bue Rossini XXI Secolo

post-46-1118117431_thumb.jpg Lychee panna cotta............ post-46-1118118838_thumb.jpg Il Tiramisu

post-46-1118119300_thumb.jpg chefs at work...................... post-46-1118119573_thumb.jpg Someone was enjoying himself!

Photo credit to Roe.

Edited by crackers
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Where have you gone, Joe H Formaggio

Our website turns it lonely eyes to you

woo woo woo

Fabio: "Mr. Andres, you're trying to seduce me."

Jose: <laughter>

Fabio: "Aren't you?"

Fabio: "Mr. Andres, I can't do this."

Jose: "You what?"

Fabio: "This is all terribly wrong."

Jose: "Do you find me undesirable?"

Fabio: "Look, maybe we could do something else together. Mr. Andres, would you like to go to a movie?"

A seared ahi amuse-gueule at Maestro last night was served with a test-tube of fennel-anise soup. I was instructed to eat the tuna, then remove the cork (yes, the cork) from the test tube, and drink the contents.

A larger version of said test tube appeared with the goat dish, containing consomme which the server poured around the bowl.

I'd mention that a ravioli dish was served with a foam on top, except that at this point, I'd be surprised if it hadn't been.

Okay, Jose, you win. You can stop now.

And by the way, dinner was consistently great from dish-to-dish, including the wine pairings: two amuse gueules, a mosaic of raw fish, goat-cheese stuffed ravioli, dorade served with a red-wine sauce, goat topped with foie gras served in its own consomme, wonderfully aged cheeses, mignardises, and of course the amicable Vincent Feraud elegantly realizing at the last minute <wink, smile> that, "I'm sorry, but a customer drank all my Taylor 20-year-old Tawny Port last night, so I'll pour you a glass of the 30-year-old instead."

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didn't I see that mosaic at Michel's place some time ago?

Nope! Michel's was a true mosaic, a carpaccio-like thing taking up the entire plate, whereas this (despite being named Il Mosaico) was three little cubes of raw fish and more like a traffic light in nature.

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Nope!  Michel's was a true mosaic, a carpaccio-like thing taking up the entire plate, whereas this (despite being named Il Mosaico) was three little cubes of raw fish and more like a traffic light in nature.

post-46-1118416639_thumb.jpg

Mosaic of Steel Head Wild Salmon, Blue Fin Tuna, Caribbean

Princess Conch Meat Jelly and Baja Stone Crab on "Saraceno" Potato

Edited by crackers
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Nope!  Michel's was a true mosaic, a carpaccio-like thing taking up the entire plate, whereas this (despite being named Il Mosaico) was three little cubes of raw fish and more like a traffic light in nature.

Il semaforo dei pesci su una piastra graziosa... vede il mio Earpies, lo sente ruggire

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Greetings! This is my first post, so bear with me.

My wife and I celebrated a special occasion tonight at Maestro. It was the first visit for both of us, and it certainly met our expectations. Indeed, I think that with restaurants that achieve the status of Maestro, expectations can get out of hand and become so lofty as to be out-of-reach. All this said, Maestro truly was what I expected it would be.

Let me begin with a bit of a caveat. Neither my wife nor I are big drinkers, so this review will be lacking in the wine department. I started with a nice glass of Bordeaux and later had a very good Willamette Valley pinot noir. My wife had a Napa Valley merlot. To our novice tongues, both we very good (and reasonably priced at about $15/glass).

We were seated (as requested) in the front of the kitchen (one table back) and enjoyed it immensely. I worked during college as a waiter in a fine dining restaurant (albeit nothing approaching Maestro) and was in awe of how quiet the kitchen was. Amazing. Also, it was wonderful to see Chef Trabocchi, not 10 feet away, expedite orders and make finishing touches immediately before each course met my table. Pretty cool in my book.

Both my wife and I opted for the 5-course menu. We toyed with the 7 course, but thought it would simply be too much food and that by the six and seventh course, we wouldn't enjoy it. Good call on our part as we both left full, but not feeling like a Thanksgiving turkey (i.e., stuffed).

Here is as good a place as any to mention service. All-in-all, it was very good. I'm generally not a big fan of the "platoon" type service (i.e., no waiter to call your own) but found it worked very well. The only constructive comment I had in the service department was the first half (through the pasta course) was bit rushed. Personally, I would have enjoyed a bit more time in between courses. I mentioned this to the staff, and they were very accommodating. A good example, I believe, of communication between diner and staff that aids both parties.

As for individual course selection, both my wife and I opted to make our own choices between the La Tradizione and L' Evoluzione. I began with an exquisite foie gras from the L' Evoluzione menu. It was perfectly done, nicely scored and seared on the outside, but creamy on the inside. Placed atop a toasted crostini and bathed in a cabernet-reduction sauce, it was wonderful. My wife opted for the La Mozzarella di Buffala with a red pepper puree-like accompaniment. The mozzarella was out of this world. Creamy and salty, it tasted just like that we've had in Italy.

Next, I enjoyed the Agnolotti filled with Goat Cheese and dressed with 100 Year Old Balsamic Vinegar. The pasta was tender and cloud-like, encasing a perfect portion of soft goat cheese. The balsamic condimento was interesting. Perhaps my expectations were off, but I anticipated an exceedingly sweet and condensed syrup, but what came was a thinner, and milder broth. Good nonetheless, but surprising. My wife enjoyed the Maine lobster ravioli and this course was one of the highlights of her evening. The ravioli perfectly protected a tender morsel of lobster, while being flanked by an enormous piece of lobster claw. The ginger broth was nice; not too gingery but an appropriate accompaniment.

Next, I tried the butter poached Halibut with egg ravilo and red-wine sauce and, big surprise, loved it. My wife, on the other hand, was less fond of her black cod topped with thinly sliced pancetta and placed atop wilted romaine. I thought her fish tasted quite good, but it was a bit too salty to her palate. I'm not sure if this was really a problem with the chefs over-salting the dish. My money is that between the fish itself, the pancetta and sauce, it just overwhelmed her relatively fickle taste buds when it comes to NaCl.

The meat course was one of the highlights of the evening. I opted for the "study" of lamb. Please forgive my vague recollection of exactly what this "study" involved, but it came in two portions. One was a relatively simple loin (I believe) and the other a far more complex portion of thinly sliced lamb layered over what almost appeared to be some sort of lamb cassoulet (if that is possible). Whatever it was, the latter portion was wonderful; the former good, but not great -- it was enhanced by the lamb au jus with barley (I think) that was served along side. My wife tried the veal duo -- veal cheeks (which were out of this world) and a veal loin (I believe) that was good, but clearly the junior varsity of this veal team. While my meat dish was a highlight of my evening, my wife was a bit (and I really must emphasize just a bit) disappointed that her veal was served at slightly below the temperature of my lamb. I'm not sure if her meal simply was ready sooner, but it was a bit too cool.

My wife ended her meal with a plate of gelato that came on a wonderful serving piece -- what looked like a painters palette. I opted for the cheese course and was very pleased. I don't remember each of the chesses, but they were a good variety of 5 cheeses, goat and cow (no sheep) both soft and semi-soft.

All-in-all, it was a fabulous evening. We have spent nearly as much money at other D.C.-area establishments and found this to be the pinnacle of our dining experience thus far. Here's waiting for the next memorable occasion to justify another expedition to Maestro.

Edited by David M.
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The meat course was one of the highlights of the evening. I opted for the "study" of lamb. Please forgive my vague recollection of exactly what this "study" involved, but it came in two portions. One was a relatively simple loin (I believe) and the other a far more complex portion of thinly sliced lamb layered over what almost appeared to be some sort of lamb cassoulet (if that is possible). Whatever it was, the latter portion was wonderful; the former good, but not great -- it was enhanced by the lamb au jus with barley (I think) that was served along side.

My husband and I were at Maestro back in April for my 30th birthday and I also ordered the study of lamb. My study was a little different than yours in that it was a lamb loin with the perfect piece of fat that had been seasoned and grilled until crispy and salty on top but still rich and fatty. This was served on a fried ravioli stuffed with lamb confit. It was served with the same au just w/ barley that you had, and also contained mint. I can almost taste it all as I write this. Thanks!

Edited by V.H.
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I was there in April and did the 7-course tasting. It was my second time there but I felt that both times the red meat dishes were the least impressive part of the meal. Maybe it's because the last time was probably the single best meal of my life and the preceding courses were simply unbelievable, but I think next time I go I'd be happy requesting a 5-course that substituted an additional fish or pasta course for the meat.

I'm still puzzled as to how they managed to get the chunks of octopus in the pea soup with mint foam to assume the taste and texture of ham.

Edited by brian
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So, I'm not a big fan of birthdays aside from the fact that they provide an excuse to go out and eat REALLY good food, which I had the opportunity to do last Wednesday at Maestro. This was the 2nd annual birthday outing there and I hope the tradition will continue :wub:

We were seated at one of the tables right in front of the kitchen, which was just fine with me, as I find the whole - near silent - 'performance' to be completely fascinating. Unfortunately, Chef Trabocchi wasn't in the kitchen, having been called away to a charity event at the last minute. I was pleasantly surprised to find a handwritten note from him on our table, apologizing that he couldn't meet us, but was sure he'd see us again (that's a given :P ).

After much mulling over the menu, we gave up trying to make our own decisions and turned ourselves over to the capable folks in kitchen (sous-chefs Stefano and ? didn't catch the other's name) and ordered the 7-course "Creazione" tasting menu.

We were treated to an amuse bouche similar to one described elsewhere - 2 tuile tubes, one filled with tuna tartare, the other with buffalo mozzarella, and both topped with little olive-shaped black olive tapenede morsels. This was followed by a perfectly seared scallop on the thinnest of crostini, accompanied by a little test tube that we were instructed to uncork and drink from after eating the scallop. It was filled with just a swallow of a lovely fennel soup. (I could spend days describing the presentation - for me, it 's a key component of the experience and makes me wish I had the digital means to have captured images of each dish)

Next we actually got the first course...the aforementioned

Il semaforo dei pesci su una piastra graziosa
or mosaic, of ahi, hamachi, and a third tuna that escapes (will update when I have the menu in front of me). Each cube was topped with a sliver of fresh lemon segment that just burst with citrus flavor. Hard to imagine such a tiny piece could be so powerful. There was a sorrel cream sauce underneath that provided just a hint of light flavor.

Next was CARPACCIO 2005....I really wish I had a picture of this one! It came out in a hollow glass tube, with 5 indentations in the top, imagine something that could hold votive candles. The waiter produced from inside the tube a giant pair of tweezers and a chopstick rest... we were told to use the tweezers to eat the dish. On either end were bite-sized pieces of seared foie gras - the other 3 sections held carpaccio wrapped around a tofu cube - two were topped with a little morsel of a mushroom mixture on a piece of aged parmesan, the center piece was topped by a poached quail egg atop a crispy parmesan wafer. All three were in a pool of 50 year old Balsamic.....this dish has haunted me since then - the perfect taste/texture combination....drool...

Next were seasoned shrimp (seared on the flattop) nestled on a corn cappucino. Very simple but really flavorful - the shrimp was just the right amount of underdone in the center and the 'cappucino' provided a hint of sweetness.

These 3 course were accompanied by a Riesling and then an Italian Sauvignon Blanc, as recommended by the amazing, helpful, and very friendly sommelier, Vincent Feraud. He obviously enjoys his work and was very pleasant to interact with - not at all intimidating.

Plate #4 was a duck confit tortellini in a delicate consomme with 'minestrone' of vegetables. The duck was tender and tasty and the flavor of the consomme was delicate but rich.

5th course was hay-smoked turbot with crushed fingerling potatoes, a glazed shallot and hay sauce (more like a foam). The hay really flavors the fish and gives it an unusual, but very tasty, flavor.

Next was the one thing I would never have ordered if I'd been choosing my own courses - the goat or

Il Capretto (2 ways) Charcoal Grilled Goat Chop, Pancetta and Salsa Verde, Terrine of Braised Legs, Goat Consommé, Spaetzle
It was FANTASTIC! The terrine was a 2 inch square of the braised leg meat layered with goat cheese - an amazing taste combination. The chop was tiny but tasty with the pancetta wrapped around it and the salsa verde reminded me of a chimichurri. This course was a close 2nd to the carpaccio.

These 3 courses were paired with a chianti (I'll fill in the names later) that was full of flavor and worked well with all of the dishes.

I opted for the cheese course - which included a robiola, gorgonzola piccante, and taleggio. Mr. GT was presented with the lychee panna cotta topped with basil grappa (Wow!) and a chocolate dish that included praline ice cream. THEN they brought out the birthday cake...the white chocolate raspberry confection someone else has mentioned...and split it into a plate for each of us. The never ending extravaganza finally ended with a plethora of mignardises...mini molten chocolate cake, white chocolate covered guavaberry sorbet bonbons, the teeniest, lemoniest little madeleines, and plate with grapefruit gelee, a praline truffle, and mini macaroons. [Groan] What a feast! And actually, due to the just-right portions, we really weren't overstuffed, just very pleasantly sated.

The service was excellent and I love the way the whole staff works as a team to create a flawless experience - cutlery appears from nowhere, plates are whisked away without even being noticed... Few places are able to provide an experience of this caliber...

Sorry for such a long post but I think this meal deserved the attention to detail! :P

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Goldenticket, thanks for the detailed review. I am going to Maestro in Sept for the first time and am looking forward to it. Does anybody know if there is a set fee for wine pairings based on a 5 or seven course (like the Lab) meal or does Vincent Feraud just select pairings for you based on your requests?

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Does anybody know if there is a set fee for wine pairings based on a 5 or seven course (like the Lab) meal or does Vincent Feraud just select pairings for you based on your requests?

Alan7147 - I'm pretty sure you can do a pairing for each course if you like - I don't know what the cost is for that. We opted to have fewer glasses of wine than courses - it was a work night :wub: Vincent picked a nice one to start with, noticed our glasses were about empty as we started the 3rd course and offered a half glass of something different - same for the later courses - and we switched from white to red. (I didn't see the bill so I don't know what the cost wound up being to compare to the cost of a wine pairing for each course). I'm adding the names of the wines to my post right now.

For some reason, I can't edit my lengthy post above, so here are the wines (I'm missing the name of the last red) we enjoyed:

Riesling 2003 Ehrhart, Grand Cru Schlossberg

Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Ronco Del Cero Venica - a nice change from the New Zealand Sauv. Blancs

Chianti Riserva 2001 St Vincenti Tuscany - yummm...

We did the matched pairing at Eve for the 9 course menu a few months back and it was great but that was A LOT of drinks! Esp. on a Monday night :P

Edited by goldenticket
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Last Saturday we had a 6:00 reservation at Maestro to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We like starting our meals there that early, because everyone is less rushed then. And, as Vincent pointed out, the chefs' palates are sharper then, too.

Vincent started us off with glasses of Tattinger Champagne.

Fernando took our order for the seven-course tasting menu, and we asked Vincent to pour wines by the glass to go with.

The amuse buches are fairly standard, and yet they're always a little different. The first was two bite-sized wafer tubes topped with olive tapenade. One contained a bite of Barrada Bufalo Mozarella, and the other Hamachi tartare. The second amuse was a bite-sized slice of seared nairagi resting on a lacy bread tuille, accompanied by a test tube of chilled fennel soup. Just perfect with the champaigne! The platings are beautiful, too. The first is on a plate that resembles a round slab of ice, with indentations that just fit the tubes on end, secured in place with a dab of tapenade. The second comes with the bread tuille balanced across a tiny china cup that sticks magnetically to its plate, with the test tube lying next to it.

Vincent next poured us an Alsatian Riesling: 2003 Grand Cru Schlossberg, Domaine Ehrhart, which beautifully complemented our appetizers. The first appetizer was a tribute to the last days of summer. The centerpiece of the dish was a puffy cloud of Bufallo Mozarella Barrada, with a wonderful texture and taste--soft, delicate, melt in the mouth, full of flavor. It was topped with two tiny fresh basil leaves, and flanked on one side by roasted hot red pepper compote and on the other by olive tapenade. There was a tiny glass of Fabio's sparkly tasting, summery gazpacho to wash it all down. Next came a salute to autumn and it's bounties: two perfectly seared crawfish resting on a bed of thinly sliced fingerling potatoes and smoky calabrese sausage, in a tiny (less than 3 inches across) cast-iron skillet. This was paired with a little mug of warm pumpkin soup that tasted equally of pumpkin and lobster bisque (I didn't try to ask what was in it, but that's how it tasted).

Our next dish presented a real challenge to Vincent. Usually he would pair foie gras with Sauternes, but other components in last week's version would not work with that sweet wine. He thought about possibilities and settled on a Miner Vionier (I didn't get the vintage). It was a perfect match for seared foie gras and Sunset Beach oysters in a leek "cappucino". The textures of the oysters and foie gras were similar, while the flavors were total contrasts. The green leek sauce provided enough camouflage that each bite could be a surprise of either buttery richness or the taste of the sea itself. Mr. S declared that it should be considered good manners to pick up the bowl and lick the last of the sauce off, but we settled for wiping it up with bread.

Next was Stinging Nettle Gnocchi with Oregon Chanterelles, diced pancetta and tarragon. Vincent paired that with a half-glass of 2003 Cameron Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. We loved every bite.

Vincent chose another red wine to match both our fish course and our meat course (he had worried at the start that we had an "all-white-wine" dinner and would tire of it, but he made sure that didn't happen): 2001 Chianti Classico San Vincenti. With that we enjoyed king salmon scabeche with fried squash blossoms, and rabbit with white polenta and fresh vegetables--actually pickled sliced onions and carrots, and what tasted to me like fresh edamame. I was getting pretty full by this point, and rabbit is not high on my list of favorites, but it was delicious and well-prepared.

We chose the cheese cart next, and Fernando did his usual fabulous job of picking wonderful examples of every type for us. I'm not sure what everything was, but we had a robiolla in fig leaves, a camembert that made me re-think that particular cheese (in a good way), a couple of blues, and a nice hard cheese. There was Humboldt Fog on the cart, and I didn't ask for it because I've had it several times lately, but in retrospect I wish I had tasted it there, knowing how well-cared-for the cheeses are. With the cheese we sipped a 2001 Gigondas Montirius.

We felt quite satisfied, and thought we were done at that point, but Fernando persuaded us to try a new dessert: peppermint souffle with lemon verbena ice cream. We "forced ourselves" to eat every bite of the chocolate-flecked souffle and the ice cream. I enjoyed it with a decaf espresso, which, of course, was excellent.

I can't forget to mention Mr. S's very favorite course: pre-dessert. He loves the lychee panna cotta with basil grappa (I do, too). And, of course, the petits fours after dessert are wonderful, but I was too full to do a lot of damage to those.

This is our favorite restaurant, and we love that it is out here in Virginia. We have eaten there enough times that Fernando and Vincent both remember a lot of our preferences, so we really feel pampered there. Now I have to decide whether to go back there for my birthday in November, or try another of the great restaurants in the DC metro area.

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[Mr. S and I celebrated my birthday with dinner at Maestro near the end of November. I started my writeup promptly, but had to set it aside as a major family illness demanded my full attention. I’m finally able to get back to it, with apologies for the delay in posting.]

I counted up and this was our fifth visit this calendar year--OK, we don’t go out to dinner much, this having been about the seventh dinner out this year (we tend to eat out for lunch more often), but we love Maestro! I am struggling to find words adequate to describe this most wonderful meal.

We had our usual two-top with a nice view of the kitchen. Fernando greeted us at the door, apologizing that he would not be serving us that night, but that we would be in good hands, and indeed we were. Stewart took very good care of us all evening, and even mentioned that Fernando had talked to him about our preferences ahead of time. Fernando did stop by a couple of times to check on us.

The menu is different every time we go! We ordered the seven-course menu with wine pairings, only ruling out two dishes on the amazing menu. I took notes, and Vincent was very gracious about making sure I accurately recorded the wines he poured for us.

We asked Stewart to start us with some sparkling wine, and he poured us Bella Vista Cuvee Brut, from Lombardy. That was some nice bubbly! That set off the first amuse buche, which was two crisp cylinders topped with olive tapenade. One contained the freshest Hamachi tuna tartare, so rich and buttery, and the other held a pillow of Buffalo mozarella--one bite each.

Our next wine was a Gruener Veltliner Grande Reserve 2003 by Anton Bauer. The oak aging was a subtle flavor note that enhanced our next amuse, which was a small square of marinated salmon and a test tube of fennel soup.

After that, our first appetizer was the Buffalo mozzarella with watermelon radish slices, a hot pepper coulis, and a very light olive oil. The olive oil was barely there, just a subtle note in a very fresh-tasting cheese. The radish slices were folded in half to look like watermelon slices--pink centers with a white outside and a very thin green edge. They weren’t as bitter or astringent as the radishes I’m used to, and they set off the cheese beautifully. This is not like any mozzarella cheese I’ve gotten anywhere else, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Vincent remarked that importing the cheese directly makes a huge difference in the quality.

Still sipping the Gruener Veltliner, we next enjoyed the Mosaico, which that night comprised 3 squares of Hamachi and 2 of Niaragi. Each square was placed atop a paper-thin potato layer, and topped with a bit of fresh lemon. The whole thing rested on a pool of green sorrel cream, surrounded by a circle of red flower petals, tiny green baby sorrel leaves, and some green buds that tasted very herbal--I didn’t get an identification on that. The fresh and herbal sorrel cream complimented the surf-fresh raw fish beautifully and the wine made all the flavors sparkle--especially the lemon.

The table was cleared, fresh silverware laid, and Vincent poured us a Domaine Ehrhart Riesling, Grand Cru Schlossing, vintage 2003. With that we were served port wine glasses containing 4 tiny fresh sunset beach oysters topped with a champagne sabayon. It tasted like the sea, in pillows of richness.

Vincent followed this with a 2003 Gary Farrell Chardonnay to accompany an amazing goat cheese risotto littered with paper-thin slices of white truffle. So that is what it’s supposed to taste like--fantastic!

Next we had a 2003 Cameron Pinot Noir and a small plate of seared foie gras dressed in chestnut “cappucino” and thin slices of black truffle. This was for me the single-best foie preparation I’ve ever tasted.

Chateau Penin Les Cailloux 2002 accompanied monkfish, wrapped in thin slices of potato, over white polenta and a port wine sauce, with a crisp slice of pancetta balanced on top. It's been a long time since I've had monkfish, and it was a wonderful preparation.

Continuing with that wine, we had a lovely seared duck breast,sliced andplated with slices of (braised?) apple and fennel, which came together in a wonderful flavor combination. The wine complemented each dish perfectly. By this time, however, I was reaching capacity, and had to stop a third of the way through the duck. The rest made wonderful leftovers later!

Stewart did a wonderful job of serving us from the cheese cart. Our shared plate contained: Robiola Rochetta, which is a combination of goat, sheep, and cow milk; Langres, a cow’s milk cheese from Champagne; Cheshire; Torta Del Casar, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, and Stilton. The cheeses were all dead-on ready, and went beautifully with the Taylor Fladgate 30 year Tawny Port Vincent poured.

We enjoyed the “pre-dessert” of panna cotta (one of Mr. S’s favorites) with a lemony twist, and then shared a special birthday dessert. We floated home on a pillowy cloud of flavor memories, feeling properly pampered.

I can’t say that we have tried every fine dining venue in the area, but among those we have, Maestro remains our hands-down favorite. The food there is truly world-class, paired with just the right wines by Vincent. The open kitchen is clean, quiet, orderly, and very productive. Even when every table is filled and the kitchen is working at full capacity, the loudest sound is the occasional whir of a stick blender in a saucepan. The menu changes frequently, and even the menu “standards” like the Mosaico and the Buffalo Mozzarella appetizers are different every time we try them. The line works as a cohesive team, sending out tray after tray of the most clever presentations I’ve ever seen. The front of the house is equally cohesive, smoothly presenting each dish and clearing away the empty plates without missing a beat. Our every wish and need is attended to almost before we give it voice, not because we’ve been there before, but because that’s how they work. From our very first visit more than two years ago, we felt as though we were being welcomed by good friends into their happy home. That, plus the food, keeps pulling us back for just one more celebration, as our list of other restaurants we’d love to try steadily lengthens.

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Fernando greeted us at the door, apologizing that he would not be serving us that night, but that we would be in good hands, and indeed we were.  Stewart took very good care of us all evening, and even mentioned that Fernando had talked to him about our preferences ahead of time. Fernando did stop by a couple of times to check on us.

I'm glad others have noticed. It seems every time Miss J and I have eaten at Maestro we have had Fernando as our waiter, and I've not experienced a better waiter anywhere.

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I'm glad others have noticed.  It seems every time Miss J and I have eaten at Maestro we have had Fernando as our waiter, and I've not experienced a better waiter anywhere.

I agree about Fernando, but Stewart was our server again tonight, and he was fabulous. I think Fernando has taught him well! Fernando did stop by our table to say hello and ask where we were on New Years Eve (um, at home).

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Last night found us celebrating Mr. S's birthday (which is actually today) at Maestro. We arrived at 6, and the joint was jumping! We chose (again) the 7-course Creatione menu, only ruling out two dishes we'd had before. While we had enjoyed those dishes, we wanted to be sure to try some new things. We asked Vincent to pair wines by the glass with our meal.

Vincent started us out with glasses of Bella Vista Cuvee Brut. We had 2 amuses, both the same as last time. First the two rolls filled with tuna tartare and Buffalo mozzarella (really creamy) and topped with tiny quenelles of olive tapenade--one bite each. A few minutes later, the marinated salmon on a tiny skewer, accompanied by a test tube of cold fennel/anise soup. Those combinations are amazing, fresh, and cleansing to the palate.

Next we had the Buffalo Mozzarella with "salad" of watermelon radish slices, hot pepper coulis, and the olive tapenade. It was the same dish we had on our last visit in November, but I don't think I could get tired of eating it! I found myself mopping up the olive oil that barely coated the plate with tiny bits of their wonderful bread. With that we had the 2003 Grand Cru Schlossberg, Domaine Ehrhart.

As last time, we had Sunset Beach oysters in a small (port?) wine glass, but this time they were nestled in with a couple of Nantucket Bay scallops, and blanketed with a deep layer of champagne sabayon and osetra caviar. The oysters tasted fresh and briny, and the scallops were light, delicate, and very fresh. The glasses of Toros Pinot Grigio 2004 that Vincent poured were just right to set this dish off and make all of the ingredients shine.

I think that's when I noticed the flatware--I think it must be new. The spoons we were given for the oyster/scallop appetizer were small with a long, thin oval bowl that was just right for the glass holding the dish.

Our pasta dish was a beautiful tiny bowl of butternut squash risotto with parmesan shavings and black pepper foam. The risotto was al dente and perfect, and the butternut squash gave it a richness that we both declared to be the consummate comfort food. It was rich and buttery and creamy, and completely heavenly. Our glasses of Barbera d'Asti Cavale Cantina Sant'Agata 2001 again were a great match for the dish.

Our fish course was seared rare sturgeon topped with a foie gras terrine, with tiny wedges of beets on the side and a pretty red beet sauce on the plate. The earthiness of the fresh beets contrasted with the lightness of the sturgeon and the richness of the foie in an amazing play in the mouth. It's not surprising to me that Vincent selected the earthy Pinot Noir, Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast 2004, to pair with this dish--a big wine for a plate of big flavors.

If any of you are keeping track as you read this, you will notice, as we did several courses back, that we had just completed our fish course, but we'd only had fours courses total. Customarily the seven-course menu comprises three appetizers, a pasta/risotto, a fish, a meat, and dessert/cheese. We had noted the change, but felt confident that it was not an error, but simply Chef Trabocchi balancing the order of the courses he had selected for us.

After a palate cleanser of campari sorbet, which did just what it was supposed to, we received glasses of Bouquet de Monbrison Margaux 2000. My husband looked at the wine, looked at the flatware being laid out, and whispered two words: "pork belly."

Indeed, we then had our last "appetizer": a small square of pork belly, an equal-sized square of perfectly seared foie gras, a splash of apple puree painted on the plate, and a Liberty apple donut balanced on top. Once again, the sum of the whole was much greater than the parts. Together the pork belly and foie were rich and luxurious, but provided opposing flavor notes that balanced perfectly, lightened up by the apple donut and puree.

I was still working on my previous red wine, so Vincent poured my husband a glass of Rocche Costamagna Roccardo Langhe Nebbiolo 2002. I did get to taste that later and thought it was perfect with our last course: Rare veal ribeye, braised veal cheek, drizzled with osso buco sauce and toasted hazelnuts, a dash of potato puree, and a piece of hazelnut tuille on top. Oh luxury! Oh yum! Oh, please may I lick my plate? The contrasts, again, were perfectly balanced--the rare steak and the rich, meltingly tender braised cheek.

Stewart once again stepped up to the (cheese) plate and knocked one out of the park with a Peccorino Foglie di Noce (sheepsmilk, from Emilia Romagna), a goats milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves that my notes list as "caprino noche", Fleur des Lis (triple cream), Epoise, and Gorgonzola picante. Vincent poured us a 1981 Dow Port with that.

As always, we loved the lychee panna cotta with a splash of lemon, and we were served the lovely birthday desert, which we shared. Another desert, which escaped my notes, was a paper-thin chocolate cookie topping coffee mousse and coffee ice cream (this is just from memory). It was delicious, but we were so full by this time we had to wave the white flag and call for our check.

Emmanuelle met us at the door as we were leaving and tucked a paper-wrapped pannetone in my arms--birthday cake for tonight!

I just want to comment about the wine pairings. One does not have to have a different wine with each course, and one could even consult with Vincent before ordering so that he could advise on a menu that would pair one wine with more than one course, if desired. The diner sets the pace for the pairings, and needn't feel obligated to overindulge. It seems like we had a lot of wine with this dinner, and indeed we had quite a selection, but not all were full pours, and when I slowed down, I was allowed to decide whether to finish what I already had or change wines for the next course. I just don't want anyone considering this option to feel intimidated. You can work with Vincent to establish wine pairings according to your preferences.

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I had my first meal at Maestro this past Friday night. 3 of us had the 7 course tasting menu, and let the chef choose all the courses. We also opted for wine pairings with our courses.

The meal was phenomenal. While I don't have the notes we took in front of me, I felt like there wasn't a single dish that missed on the night. The oysters and champagne sabayon, in fact, contained the best oysters I've ever had.

The wine pairings were also exceptional, the glass of champagne I had to end the night was fantastic. I also had a glass of the only sauvignon blanc I've ever liked.

We opted for the dessert course instead of the cheese course to close the night (to the dismay of one of the people at the table!), but our server suggested that he would do different desserts for each person, only if we promised to share. That was the best idea anyone had of the entire night, as we were served 3 different plates of desserts, each with multiple desserts on them (for a total of 8!). The little serving of chocolate souffle sent me into spasms of ecstasy.

There was no question that this ranks as one of the best meals I've ever had.

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I have the good fortune to be going to maestro in a week and a half. I am sure it will be fantastic (was there once already in 2004), but was wondering if they would email/fax their winelist out. I've sent an email inquiring but thought I'd check and see if any of you know if they would do this.

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I don't know about them faxing their winelist.

Mr. S and I always just leave the libations up to Vincent. He's brilliant with the pairings!

He would be more than happy to discuss the winelist with you when you're there, of course.

Wondering why you want it before the fact.

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I have the good fortune to be going to maestro in a week and a half. I am sure it will be fantastic (was there once already in 2004), but was wondering if they would email/fax their winelist out. I've sent an email inquiring but thought I'd check and see if any of you know if they would do this.

I doubt it; I think it's a Ritz-Carlton policy. Anyway, it changes fairly regularly. Call and ask to speak to Vincent - he's helpful and enthusiastic about his list. You can also trust him to pair wines to your menu, and he'll be able to go whichever direction you like if you speak to him in advance.

BTW, if the Scottish langoustines are on the menu --- GO FOR IT!!! :)

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I doubt it; I think it's a Ritz-Carlton policy. Anyway, it changes fairly regularly. Call and ask to speak to Vincent - he's helpful and enthusiastic about his list. You can also trust him to pair wines to your menu, and he'll be able to go whichever direction you like if you speak to him in advance.

Totally agree. Both times we've been Vincent was a real highlight of the experience. He's very easy and pleasant to work with and he's willing to share good stories about the most and least expensive bottles on his extensive lists. One of my all time favorite evenings was a wine tasting class he did a year and a half ago. Let him work his magic for you and ENJOY!

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I have the good fortune to be going to maestro in a week and a half. I am sure it will be fantastic (was there once already in 2004), but was wondering if they would email/fax their winelist out. I've sent an email inquiring but thought I'd check and see if any of you know if they would do this.

That's a long winelist to be faxing. Maybe you could stop in beforehand and have a perusal in the lounge?

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Thanks for the suggestions of discussing things with Vincent the sommelier.

I emailed with Emanuele, and he said they do not fax or email their list, mainly because it changes too frequently. This is OK, as I can review the list when I get there, but, IIRC, the list is extensive and it may take some time.

I rarely have good experiences with pairings made per course (Babbo being a notable exception, fantastic!), and I am always leery of being suggested to have a given wine since I suspect the suggestion might be limited to what they have available by the glass (which is usually a much more limited universe than the complete wine list) as well as what they have open. Or, I might have issues with how short or how long a given bottle might have been opened and so forth. Yes, I am a wine geek.

I am sure that, in a perfect world, Vincent could craft some perfect pairings where the run of the list is available and bottles that are better to be opened fresh are and those that should have been open for a couple of hours have been and so on, but I am guessing this isn't likely.

So, unless I get swept up in the experience (which is entirely possible!), I am hoping to find a half bottle of a delicious white, a bottle of red (probably a Brunello or Amarone) and maybe a glass of Champagne to start. But maybe Vincent will convince me otherwise.

I'll certainly report back whatever I decide to do and how things went with what we're served for dinner. :)

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Huh? Not sure I understand what you mean by this. :angry::)
While dining the first time at Maestro Beau and I were asked by the sommelier if we liked Riesling as we discussed our wine selections for the tasting menu. We said 'yes' and ended up with a Riesling -- the same one -- for each of the first 4 courses. Seems to have been an oversight on their part which we brought to their attention once we realized what was happening. Other than that issue, the dinner was lovely.
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The other morning I awoke from a beautiful dream: I was at Maestro, at a large table populated by folks I love. It was the only table occupied, and we were basking in the glow of the food and attention. We were enjoying a beautifully roasted suckling pig.

The suckling pig is a happy memory of an actual dinner there two weeks ago. The reality was just my husband and myself at a table with a view of the kitchen. The restaurant was busy, but the service made us feel as if we were their only patrons. From Fernando's warm greeting and look of concern when Pilar led us to a different table than our usual (but a very nice table), to Jean's caring and patient service (we like to take our time), to Vincent's deft wine pairings and cheerful conversation, to Emanuele's happy chat about the World Cup game just ended (US v Italy), we were treated like good friends visiting their home.

We decided to let Fabio lead the way up the mountain that night, with no restrictions or preferences expressed. The result was truly an epiphany for us both. Items that we might not have chosen ourselves revealed the strengths of this kitchen: the dedication to fresh, high-quality ingredients, precise cooking, and appropriate order and pacing of courses.

We started with an appetizer that was not on the menu: two large Scottish prawns, grilled on the outside and very rare inside, sprinkled with chives, chive blossoms, and baby lettuce, finished with a shot of chili-spiked prawn broth from a test tube. My scribbled notes say "out of body experience," which it was. That set the tone for the rest of the meal: clean, fresh, often raw ingredients and lots of surprising twists.

The signature "Mosaico" has been transformed, and appears now on the menu as a Crudo: ours was 3 cubes of Ahi tuna & Niaragi, each topped with Sorrento lemon, set in sorrel (?) sauce with baby herbs and chive blossoms. The lemon was just enough tartness to accentuate the soft sweetness of the pristine raw fish. I think the wine in our glasses was the 2004 Domaine Weinbach Alsace Riesling from Collette Faller.

Beef carpaccio followed, wrapped around tofu, topped with duxelles quenelles and poached quail egg, set in puddles of aged balsamic vinegar, with parmesan tuille. Normally we rule this dish out, figuring we've had it before and there's so much more to try, but we had it tonight, and it was unbelievably good. Vincent paired this with glasses of 2004 Gruener Veltleiner Antone Bauer Grande Reserve, a white wine with an undertone of white pepper--a great match! We continued with that wine as we enjoyed scallop tartare topped with champagne sabayon. This is another dish that is never the same twice and is always a delight. It has taken me a long time to truly appreciate scallops, and Fabio has allowed me to embrace raw scallops now as a favorite fish.

Soft-shell crab tempura, squash blossom tempura, green garlic "cappucino", "Rasti" (?) sauce. Wow--a whole crab, perfectly fried, cut in half and set on end, legs waving. [Hmmm: prawns, crudo, carpaccio, scallop . . . we must have missed the pasta course because the crab surely is our fish course.] Even though I have made squash blossoms following Fabio's recipe, his are so much better. Vincent paired this course with a half-bottle of 2001 J. Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches (white). That was a very special wine.

When sauternes glasses were set on the table, we guessed the next course would be foie gras--OK, out of order on the menu, but reasonable to follow the previous courses because of its richness. Seared foie gras on a fried ravioli stuffed with duck confit, cherry sauce and pitted fresh cherries, paired with 1999 Bastar-Lamontaigne Sauternes. I felt myself sinking into a happy food coma.

Vincent next poured 2000 Montbrison Bousquet Margaux. [That surely signalled the coming of the meat course, right? Not!] With that, we enjoyed Marubini with toasted almonds, morels, & truffle shavings, a refreshing and rich counterpoint to the foie.

Our waiter, Jean, next set the table not with the dessert spoons we expected but with fish knife and fork. Vincent came by and poured 2004 Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir, and when we said that didn't look like preparations for dessert, he laughed wickedly and said, "You have a long way to go before dessert." Jean served us wild-caught turbot, topped with chanterelles, with a red wine sauce. A good-sized portion of perfect, moist fish and earthy mushrooms, we basked in the luxuriousness of this dish.

Jean refreshed our palates with a spoonful of grapefruit sorbet and then set the meat course in front of us: 36-hour roasted suckling pig & head cheese, garnished with lovely purple sage blossoms. The tiny rib chops were at once golden and crisp, and moist and pink, and the head cheese, our first, was richly soothing--more comfort food. Vincent matched that with 2003 LaHaute Combe Gigondas.

Of course we had the pre-dessert of lychee pannacotta, this time with a limoncella gelee on top. Then for dessert I had an artist's palette of sorbets: mango, pear, coconut, tangerine, and berry, and husband had Sicillian cannoli & vanilla milkshake.

It's not only the excellence of the food, but also the ordering of the courses, that moves from lighter to richer, gently leading us up the trail to the top of the mountain.

Grazie, Fabio!

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