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Dino, Dean Gold and Kay Zimmerman's Italian Enoteca in Cleveland Park with Beverage Director Fabian Malone - Closed

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Went to Dino on Saturday night with high expectations. Having traveled to Italy several times, we had visions of finally finding something in DC resembling a the typical osteria / trattoria... Overall, we found the place to be OK, but nothing special. Here are the details:

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THE GOOD

Rosato of Sangiovese -- as others have noted, this by-the-glass wine is excellent. More fruit and body than most roses. The 8 oz. "ombra" pour is enough for 2 glasses (it is served in a mini carafe for sharing).

Scamorza -- smoked mozzeralla broiled with tomato, garlic, and basil. Yummy.

Affetatti Misti -- mixed plate of cured meats and cheeses. Drizzle some of the olive oil on it to make it even more gooder (the olive oil provided on the table was outstanding - very fragrant & tasty)

Nutella Panini -- Panini of nutella and mascarpone made with Challa bread (I think). The scoop of hazlenut gelato was delicious too. Next time I'd ask for extra nutella.

THE BAD

Bigoi in Salsa -- Given that this is made with anchovies, capers, onions, and garlic, this dish isn't for everyone... I thought that it tasted pretty good, but that the proportions of the ingredients were out of whack -- for instance, it had about twice as many onions in the bowl as it did pasta. I bet this won't be on the menu very long...

Panna cotta -- Way overcooked. It had the texture of a hard-boiled egg white.

THE UGLY

They were out of Prosecco. At 6PM on a hot Saturday night.

They were out of heirloom tomatoes (so they couldn't serve the Pinci All'Aglione) -- supposedly the delivery they got was of inferior quality (which I respect), but it was early on a Saturday during the restaurant's 1st week... I'm surprised they didn't have a backup plan.

Pinci pasta -- The pici (note correct spelling) that I have eaten numerous times in Tuscany is hand-rolled and sort of like extra-thick spaghetti. Their "Pinci" al cinghiale seemed like plain-old ordinary spaghetti that I would find at the grocery store. Our server confirmed that they weren't using hand made pasta that night for some reason... Again, very disappointing - it's not like pasta is difficult to make.

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The staff, including Dean, who stopped by the tables to personally welcome all guests, was very friendly and helpful which was nice. Overall, I think that they need some time to work out the kinks, but the place definitely has potential.

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I also had the opportunity to check out Dino's last week. I think this place is much further along then I'd expect for a new restaurant and it makes me exicted about the potential once they get their sea-legs under them. I had dishes already described here. My standouts- the scamorza was a wonderful start to the meal and the warmed, but not-too-hot temperature brought out the best of the cheese, the lasagnette will be calling my name once the temperature drops with the generous portion of chunks of tender meat (not ground beef) rich sauce, and the crumbly just barely sweet pine nut tart was a great end.

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Pinci pasta -- The pici (note correct spelling) that I have eaten numerous times in Tuscany is hand-rolled and sort of like extra-thick spaghetti.  Their "Pinci" al cinghiale seemed like plain-old ordinary spaghetti that I would find at the grocery store.  Our server confirmed that they weren't using hand made pasta that night for some reason...  Again, very disappointing - it's not like pasta is difficult to make.

Curious...I just did a quick search and it seems like most spell it pinci and not pici, but I see it spelled both ways. What is the difference in meaning between the two?

Also, I wonder if the pinci I had Thursday night looks the same as what you had. Here's a slightly blurry pic.

cinghaile.jpg

What I had was more like a lasagne noodle than wide spagetti. It seemed homemade to me and was pretty perfectly cooked. Sounds like there are some kinks to be worked out.

I also did a complete writeup of both of my experiences at Dino and posted it last night on my web site. I hope I was accurate with everything.

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Wow - now it's getting really interesting! Mine looked nothing like that... I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it - I definitely thought that the sauce was tasty.

As for the correct spelling, all I remember seeing is "pici" -- the two most common preparations were all'anatra (duck sauce) and al cinghiale. Anyway, if they use good pasta and it tastes good, I suppose they can spell it however they want! :P

Edited by bigpinot

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Thanks for the pic of the pinci. Mine looked similar, but was significantly soupier which diluted the flavor as much as you'd expect.

I'll have to give it another try (if I can get a seat with y'all clogging the place!). Ha, ha!

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I'll fight you for a seat tonight -- I want to try the panini. Looks like nobody's gotten to those yet, save the Nutella version.

Jael

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I didn't know about Dino's pending arrival until I ran into my friend Chris Cunningham last month (he's formerly of Andale) who is the manager. He told me that their list is going to be substantial, especially a reserve list. Chris is a truly nice guy and worth getting to know.

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I didn't know about Dino's pending arrival until I ran into my friend Chris Cunningham last month (he's formerly of Andale) who is the manager. He told me that their list is going to be substantial, especially a reserve list.  Chris is a truly nice guy and worth getting to know.

Chris, the bar-dude from Andale who mixed up those great margaritas? He's got the whole floor now and not just the bar?

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Chris is the bar manager. Ask him to make you a Soprano, or something he made up the other day with Galliano. I can't remember what he called it.

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A few answes to some points raised so far...

Pinci and Pici are both spelling we have seen in Toscana. Pici is more likely the way its spelled in Siena. We ahve been struggling with our pinci making and have run out each night. THeservers are supposed to inform the guest when we have to make a switch. IF this is not happening, its a good thing for me to know.

On the tomato front... we will be introducing our "Al Mercato" page to the menu in a week or so. It will be where we show off our daily vegetables, fresh fish etc. Without it when we run out of something it leaves a big hole in the menu. We decided to wait to bring it out as we wanted to focus on the regular menu and keep the quality high. The one and a half nights we were out of heirlooms, the supplier told us we would be getting them. RIght now it will be day to day, as the locals are not yet in. In a week or two, we should be awash in local heirlooms. Yum!

The prosecco is finally on its way. We forgot to order it. We ahve 3 cases in tomorrow and tonight we are serving it by the flute only as we have a few bottles on hand.

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A few answes to some points raised so far...

Pinci and Pici are both spelling we have seen in Toscana.  Pici is more likely the way its spelled in Siena.  We ahve been struggling with our pinci making and have run out each night.  THeservers are supposed to inform the guest when we have to make a switch.  IF this is not happening, its a good thing for me to know.

On the tomato front... we will be introducing our "Al Mercato" page to the menu in a week or so.  It will be where we show off our daily vegetables, fresh fish etc.  Without it when we run out of something it leaves a big hole in the menu.  We decided to wait to bring it out as we wanted to focus on the regular menu and keep the quality high.  The one and a half nights we were out of heirlooms, the supplier told us we would be getting them.  RIght now it will be day to day, as the locals are not yet in.  In a week or two, we should be awash in local heirlooms.  Yum!

The prosecco is finally on its way.  We forgot to order it.  We ahve 3 cases in tomorrow and tonight we are serving it by the flute only as we have a few bottles on hand.

Thanks for the updates Dean. And thanks for the links on your reviews page. :P

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I might be interested. We may give it a preview tonight too.

Love, Heather the DR.com dominatrix. :P OK, you can change my screen name back now.

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Sorry I'll miss the fun on Friday. On the other hand, I can now happily recommend the salumi e provolone panini, the pine nut tart, whatever Argentinean Malbec they're serving by the glass, and the still-nameless drink made with Galliano, orange and cranberry juice, and blood orange vodka. Although you might not want to do it in that order.

The tart wasn't quite what I was expecting -- for some reason I had it in my head that it would be more like a pecan pie, all nuts with a little binder. But it was much better than that. Kind of a cakey, crumbly thing with a subtle orange flavor and a big dollop of mascarpone on the side.

This restaurant is going to make me fat.

Jael

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I think they're closed Tuesdays. We visited last night and the place was full again. Very nice food, wine and service. We tasted some crostini, the baby octopus, calamari fritti, lasagnette and the nutella dessert - IMO, too dry to be delicious. Everything else was good, as was the bread and olive oil!

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whatever Argentinean Malbec they're serving by the glass

Jael

The wonderful Tera Rosa Malbec made by Patrick Campbell and Company at Laurel Glen.

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I think they're closed Tuesdays.

Yep.

Dinner only Wednesday thru Monday. Lunch begins sometime in August.

Edited by deangold

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I was at Dino's Sunday night...

My dinner consisted of:

Crostini: Baccala; dall'orto, carciofi, salsa asiago and toscano.

I loooooved the toscano (chicken livers) I could eat buckets of it.

Chicetti: Baby octopus

Maybe it's just me...I thought the octopus was tough.

Antipasti: Calamari Fritti

Our calamari is bunched together...probably the coating stuck together in the fryer. The pomodoro sauce on the side was so good...i asked for more and ate it with everything!!

Salumi: Affetatti Misti

Nothing spectacular....I should have had the proscutto instead.

Primi: Mussels

The best part was the grilled bread soaked with heavenly sauce from steamed mussels and clams.

Secondi: Branzino

I thought it topped the grilled whole fish at Pesce. I love it whole...with the head and all! YUM.

Insalata: Insalatona Tricolore

And the wine: 2 bottles of Sangiovese

This was shared amongs "3" of us...imagine how I was feeling at work the next day.

Edited by crazeegirl

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Well, Sietsema's been by already... The Weekly Dish.

Likes the octopus, doesn't like one of the pastas, likes the wine list and the tiramisu. Overall a friendly little piece.

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Dropped by last night to check it out, but they were closed for a press party :P

Went to Ardeo instead and had a decent meal.

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Dropped by last night to check it out, but they were closed for a press party  :P

Went to Ardeo instead and had a decent meal.

They're always closed Tuesdays...weird. Same thing happened to me. They're web site said that they were open for lunch on Sundays, and I stopped by only to be very dissappointed that they were only actually open for dinner. :wub: They've since updated the web site.

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Having misjudged the opening time for Palena (it's 5:30 v. 5:00) I wandered over to Dino which was up and running. Spent a very pleasant evening at the bar. Although they have a good wine list, only a few are available by the glass, but they all appeared interesting. Chris, the bartender says his aim is to run an "artisinal" bar. Thus when one of my buddies ordered a Tanqueray & tonic he was told no Tanqueray but he had some other kind of non-mass produced fermented juniper berry juice (sorry, not a gin drinker and the name didn't stick in my memory bank) instead. I had several glasses of various wines -- both colors and a plate of the prosciuto crudo. Our delightful Membership Director & Calendar Diva made an appearance after I had finished the dish and strongly recommended that I try the prosciuto -- great minds... :P

Never did get to Palena eusa_dance.gif

Edited by FunnyJohn

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