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Aggio, Chef Johnny Miele's "Restaurant Within A Restaurant" at Range in Friendship Heights (Also in Baltimore) - Closed

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Going to Aggio, the new Italian concept within RANGE, on Friday. (Hey Rocks: new thread?)

SOOPER excited.

Curious to hear about your experience. We went recently with some friends and had the feeling, all the wrinkles were still be ironed out.

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Source: Washington Post Food Section


Image: Yelp

Brian Voltaggio's newest restaurant, Aggio (located inside of his restaurant Range) has received the accolades of Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post. Sietsema gushes about Aggio's bread. "The bread baker threatens to sabotage your appetite with the first three bites from the kitchen, admirably watched over by chef de cuisine Johnny Miele." Starting off the meal strong you can expect to munch on fennel pollen breadsticks, miniature funnel cake dusted with Parmesan and warm focaccia served with mortadella Mornay sauce and ricotta. But the meal is just warming up. Courses such as their spinach pasta, lamb ragu and even spaghetti and meatballs deserve "oohs and ahhs" according to Sietsema. Though Aggio does not finish on a strong dessert note Sietsema gives Aggio three stars and said the restaurant has morphed into a "certified wow."

Read full article >>mf.gif

Get all the news at DCDiningGuide.com >>

Three stars for Aggio from Sietsema.

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Interesting. All of four of us at the dinner we had at Aggio had eaten before at Range and felt those meals were substantially better. I did feel like they were still ironing things out, so perhaps things had improved by the time Sietsema reviewed Aggio. One criticism which is a bit broader than opening difficulties would be the identity of the food, it lacked focus. It felt like American Italian versus more traditional Italian cuisine which has become more prevalent in the past decade in the DC area.

Need to read Sietsema's article now.

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We had dinner at Aggio on Friday night. There were last minute 8:30 pm tables for 2 available on Opentable, which was surprising given the review in WaPo earlier in the week. Range/Aggio is five minutes from our house. It wasn't a tough decision.

For me, service is a big deal. Range, in my opinion, has generally bad service. Aggio wasn't much better. They've been open about a month so you'd think the kinks had been worked out. But clearly not all of them- the service was inconsistent. Our waitress wasn't very helpful. It isn't clear how much food to order. She didn't offer up that information, we had to ask. Her response was effectively something from every section of the menu. I ordered the tuna and ravioli and the waitress said there would only be two "tiny ones" (referring to the ravioli) but then three normal sized ones arrived. I ordered an extra dish that we didn't really need as a result. I think what she meant to say, but her grasp of English prevented it, was that the other pasta dishes were larger. We had a runner drop off food and not be able to explain what he was dropping off. At another point the manager came over to ask if we'd had the parmesan funnel cake yet - evidently there was confusion in the kitchen, no one could remember delivering it to our table. He was nice about it- but it was weird. We should have lied and said we didn't get them because they're really good. At the end of the meal they dropped off two pieces of chocolate after dessert - a nice touch because they're really good - the table next to us had gotten salted caramels, we didn't. I asked about the caramels and a box was delivered to the table for us to take home.

Service issues aside the food is pretty great. Here's what we had:

Bread: As noted in the review and by others, the bread at Aggio is great. So are the spreads that come with it.

Antipasti: Tuna (generous portion and super fresh, delicious but not very exciting)

Salad: Caesar (perfect fried oysters were the best part of otherwise excellent salad) and Lentils (perfect octopus, lentils and wheat berries were a little too al dente for my taste, vinaigrette was really tasty)

Pasta: Ravioli (good, but not great)

Pesce: Monkfish Tail (beautifully cooked but small portion w minimal sides for an entree- seemed really expensive relative to the other menu categories)

Dessert: Chocolate Hazelnut box (like Range, desserts and ice cream are a standout)

Cocktails: We ordered two, can't remember what they were called. But we liked them.

FWIW: If you strategically order you can get an excellent meal that is reasonably priced for high end white table cloth. For example- if you got a Caesar Salad and the Spaghetti and Meatballs that would be a big meal for $35. Otherwise order as they recommend and you are in the $100+ per person range not including alcohol.

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No, it's a totally separate restaurant inside of Range.  Oddly, it even has a different draft beer list than the bar you pass on the way in.

You're correct. I also heard back from the restaurant, who confirmed that Range's menu is not offered inside of Aggio.

[Thus: separate thread. :)]

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Separate menus and winelists; however we had no issues ordering a wine we knew was on Range's list that didn't appear on Aggio's list.  I failed to report on a first visit a few weeks ago.  The service was MUCH better than what we've experienced at Range.  The space is actually quite nice, and as it's a bit tucked away...you don't get that "I'm eating in a mall" vibe that carries into Range.  That said, the food was mostly just "okay".  The best dish of our night was the lamb ragu.  All the dishes are fairly small (the servers do tell you this), so it winds up being more expensive than Range. 

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Had a parents night out last Friday at our son's daycare so we decided to take advantage with dinner for just the two of us. Wanted to do Crane and Turtle but arrived minutes after the last seats at the counter had been taken so a search on Opentable yielded two seats at Aggio at 7:30. We even lucked out on parking and got a great street space around the corner.

First, service has definitely taken a nosedive since the last reviews here. After being seated it took nearly 15 minutes to get our drink orders and a menu. At this point we informed our waiter we needed to be out of the restaurant by 9:00 to pick up the kids on time. We did not make that deadline...

We ordered 3 courses, antipasti,  primi, and secondi, and the waiter did not seem to think that would be a problem and it wouldn't have been if we were the table next to us or the one that came in just after us.

The food was good. Not great, but good. My biggest impression was a very heavy hand with the salt. I tend to be light on salt, but this was especially noticeable and I required several refills on the water.

First with our wine, I asked about a couple whites, one a gewurtztraminer, and noted that we normally really like rieslings. The sommelier recommended a totally different bottle saying we would like that one, it turned out to actually be a RIESLING. Would it have killed himto just say, "oh, this one actually is a riesling." Would be helpful to include that important piece of info on the winelist too.

For my appetizer I had the bay scallops with tomato puree and meyer lemon and watercress. It was a nice little salad though the scallops were a little overpowered by the citrus. Matched nicely with the riesling. Wife got radish and olive salad neither of which I'm a big fan so didn't try it.

For second course I ordered the pappardelle shrimp bolognese, but I think I actually received the lasagna lamb ragu. I noted that it was almost exactly like the pasta we had a Volt last time we were there and it was weird how the shrimp didn't taste anything like shrimp. Thought maybe I had read the menu wrong or something and it came with a meat sauce instead. Now as I look at the menu again, I realize what happened... Anyway, it was good, but not what I had ordered. Wife had ravioli which was nice but nothing memorable to me. At this point we were on schedule as it was about 20 after when we were eating the second course and I figured last course should be out in 15 minutes or so...

Finally our last course came out just past quarter of 9. We basically wolfed it down, I think it was good, but it didn't really touch my taste buds enough to really tell. I had the lobster on the waiter's recommendation. This like the pasta was loaded with salt. The buckwheat polenta was interesting, but kind of pasty. Would have preferred regular polenta. The lobster was a small strip of tail and overcooked and chewy. Wife had the cod which was very nicely seasoned, thankfully she was getting full so I got to eat about half her fish. It was an interesting presentation with the carrots placed on the plate like a bunch of little carrot tree stumps.

Didn't have time for dessert as I had to flag the waiter down at 9 for or check though the table next to us seemed to enjoy theirs.

I would describe Aggio mostly as a shadow of Volt. It definitely has a lot of the influences of some of the dishes from Volt, but not executed with nearly the finesse or perfection expected there. At $215 including tax and tip for two, it wasn't ridiculously expensive, but not really worth it for the experience. I realize an hour and half is a quick dinner for 3 courses, but the table next to us got through 3 courses quicker than us, though one of their courses was dessert. Either way, our waiter knew our constraint and did not meet the expectation nor tell us it was unreasonable and that to me is unacceptable.

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