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San Lorenzo Ristorante + Bar, Chef Massimo Fabbri's Homage to Tuscan Osterias - 9th Street in Shaw

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I figured I'd come out of hibernation for a quick post.

This is the best new restaurant in DC.  If you enjoyed Massimo's time at Tosca as much as I did, go here this week, try to elbow your way into a spot at the crowded bar and enjoy a fantastic plate of prosciutto, some Grilled Calamari, Massimo's signature Pappardelle with rabbit ragu, the best Seafood Risotto I have had outside of the Amalfi Coast, and the very homey Pork Ribs with broccoli rabe, a fantastically simple dish you will have you wondering why more restaurants don't cook food like this anymore.  I've been here 3 times already and haven't spent more than $120 for the 2 of us despite eating and drinking way too much each time.  All of this and the staff is great, very friendly and accommodating, which is unfortunately not as common as I'd like in this city.

Go.  

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53 minutes ago, DPop said:

Go.  

Yes, and I would go now. From their website:

"This newest chapter is the culmination of Chef Fabbri's dedication and love for his craft thus far. And San Lorenzo is just the beginning..."

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2 hours ago, DPop said:

I figured I'd come out of hibernation for a quick post.

This is the best new restaurant in DC.  If you enjoyed Massimo's time at Tosca as much as I did, go here this week, try to elbow your way into a spot at the crowded bar and enjoy a fantastic plate of prosciutto, some Grilled Calamari, Massimo's signature Pappardelle with rabbit ragu, the best Seafood Risotto I have had outside of the Amalfi Coast, and the very homey Pork Ribs with broccoli rabe, a fantastically simple dish you will have you wondering why more restaurants don't cook food like this anymore.  I've been here 3 times already and haven't spent more than $120 for the 2 of us despite eating and drinking way too much each time.  All of this and the staff is great, very friendly and accommodating, which is unfortunately not as common as I'd like in this city.

Go.  

This is exactly right -- I've had two excellent meals here this week, and the prices are very reasonable.  But they're already booked most nights, and a Sietsema review is on the way, so by Labor Day it might be virtually impossible to get in . . . .

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Steve and I hit San Lorenzo on Friday evening.  We had a 6 p.m. reservation and the restaurant was already full when we arrived.

We started with some barely roasted calamari and fried squash blossoms.  The calamari is notable for 2 reasons - first way too salty, second perfect texture.  We did our best to overlook the saltiness because the calamari was wonderfully cooked.  The fried squash blossoms were fine.

Our pastas included with rabbit ragu pappardelle and a bacalao ravioli.  The pappardelle is definitely worth gaining weight for.  On the other hand, the ravioli filling really lacked the taste of salt cod.  I like my bacalao to slap me around a bit.  Also, they did something @Waitman detests - putting bread crumbs on the pasta.

Our entrees were the scallops and pork ribs.  The pork ribs were somewhat disappointing.  They were tender and moist but all I can taste is the char,  I failed to detect any herbs.  I did enjoy the broccolini.  The scallops were fine.  

The prices were quite reasonable.  With tax, tip and booze, it was less than $100 pp.

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Agreed.  I might have given it one more half star, but I'm a longtime Fabbri fan so I might be a bit biased.

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Went for my birthday dinner and really enjoyed the experience.  I started with the calamari, which to me was cooked perfectly, the shaved brussel sprouts with it were tender and gave a nice texture balance and the sauce was very good.  I had the rabbit papparadelle, which was just in every way delicious.  I love the big floppy noodles, it was rich, but not over the top.  The summer gallette (I forget their name for this) was exceptionally fresh in terms of the fruit taste- peaches and blueberries were just so ripe.  I thought the dishes were simple, but extremely well executed.  Portions of the appetizer I thought were normal one person appetizer size, pastas I thought were appetizer or small entree size, and dessert I polished off without any help.  The three courses together for me were just enough, although I could have shared one more dish with Hubby and been ok too.  The rib dish from the entrees was big and you could share it (saw it on another table).  The prices I thought were reasonable and I liked the decor.  We had a very professional server who was just lovely.  Hubby had the square spaghetti and the carpaccio and gelato and really liked all his dishes too.  All in all very good meal.  I would like to go back and try more items off the menu.

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Last night's dinner at San Lorenzo gets a resounding "eh."  While everything tasted good enough, each course was missing something.  Even a little salt or pepper would have helped.  My wife enjoyed the squash blossoms but found them fairly average.  While you could notice the basil in her gnocchi, it definitely did not "scream" basil like it did for Tom.  Similarly, I would have loved the rabbit ragu on my papparadelle to be as "herby" as Tom's.  Mine was quite bland, as was my Branzino, although that could be because it did not have the promised olives, which would have helped immensely.  The crostata was good with flavorful peaches and blueberries, although the crust was a little heavy for the dish.

Service was generally good, perhaps a little too attentive at times, but quite rushed.  Our first courses arrived before the bread and dishes were whisked away the second utensils were put down.  The tables are very close, so it's difficult for the servers to maneuver.

It is quite loud, particularly as the bar fills up with people waiting for tables or dining because they could not get a table.  I am glad we were seated in the small room up the stairs.  I could see the tables in the bar area getting quite uncomfortable because of the noise and the bar crowd standing nearby.

I'm not sure I get all of the comments about value.  Sure, this is priced lower than fine dining establishments but that is not what it's trying to be.  The pastas, for example, are priced like full size portions although they are appetizer sized.  Mains are priced reasonably but are not bargains.  With no drinks and a reasonably priced ($45) Chianti, we came close to $200 after tax and tip.

The evening was enjoyable enough but with several really good options within a block or two, I can't see myself rushing back.

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Snatched a 5:45 p.m. reservation (for Saturday night) just a few nights ago.  I guess the crowd has moved onto newer places?

We arrived just after 5.  The staff is super friendly.  When my youngest spilled a bit of her drink (blood-orange juice) on herself and her chair, the bartender came out with some paper towel and club soda.  She kindly said not to worry about the chair.

We had some wild boar meatballs, pappardelle with rabbit ragu, duck confit ravioli, and grilled wagyu shortribs.  The meatballs had some funky herbs but were otherwise good.  The pappardelle was as good as usual.  The duck confit ravioli was strangely too acidic.  The shortribs were moist and tender but were not salted at all.  

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Alta Strada hasn't been cutting it for us lately and our one dinner at the recently opened Nicoletta Kitchen was expensive and disappointing, so we are venturing further away to sate our Italian food cravings. @MichaelBDC kept mentioning his desire to go to San Lorenzo so I booked his birthday dinner six weeks in advance so we could get a table at 7:45pm.

We arrived at the restaurant and it was packed, including three big parties: one in the private dining room, one table included the owners of Cork, and a third table included a former Obama Administration official celebrating his wife's birthday. At first, the hostess couldn't "find" my reservation and asked me if I had the right date, which for some reason enraged me more than it should have. I pulled out my phone and showed her the numerous text messages from San Lorenzo (a reminder the day before and a reminder 30 minutes before the reservation) and the reservation magically appeared when she put in my phone number. A manager came over and after some chatting, we were lead to a bar and offered a round of drinks and said our table would be ready soon. Just glancing around the small dining room, I knew that was not going to be the case (after several tables were pushed together for the two large parties in the dining room, there were only one or two two-tops available and they were not even close to finishing their dinners and there was no way the restaurant was going to give us a four top on a Friday night). I quickly figured out that the party with that Obama Administration bigwig was the culprit. 

As we finished our first round of drinks, I pressed the manager for when our table would be ready and she admitted it would still be awhile so we offered to just eat at the bar. Not ideal for a celebratory birthday dinner but not the worst either. We had planned on ordering the squash blossoms anyway, but the manager ended up sending out one singular squash blossom for each of us to start. We then ordered the wild boar meatballs, which came with polenta, charred green onions, and marinated tomatoes. The dish was very good and the tomatoes added a very nice acidity to the gamey meatballs. We also received an order of the prosciutto with la tur cheese, balsamic glaze and strawberries on the house. We were surprised by how much we loved this dish. The balsamic, strawberries, and cheese were a great addition to the already delicious dry ham. We would definitely order this on our own again.

For entrees I had the scallops with artichokes, fennel, and peas. The dish was a great representation of spring with for large perfectly cooked scallops but unless the artichoke were a part of the sauce, there wasn't any to be found on the dish. I used the bread which was otherwise mediocre to sop up the rest of the delicious sauce. @MichaelBDC ordered a special of veal bolognese. The pasta itself was fantastic, but @MichaelBDC said he likes the bolognese we make at home using Marcella Hazan's recipe better. I had a bite and I thought it was delicious as well and the pasta here is indeed amazing, inspiring us to take a cooking class during our trip to Italy this summer.

The birthday boy doesn't like sweets so he stuck with an americano for dessert while I had an affogato. Nothing too special about this but that is how we rounded out dinner. 

We really enjoy the food here, but the service was a miss. Management did take care of us for the seating problems but food was still very slow to come out and we kept having to flag down the bartender to order more drinks. We also didn't enjoy sitting at the end of the bar where waiters were coming in and out to pick up drinks, deliver empty drinks, and put in their table's orders. The restaurant was in the weeds, which is to be expected on a Friday night, but I was not in the mood to be witness to the chaos. We will be back because we love Italian food and pasta, and hopefully we won't be displaced by VIPs next time.

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5 hours ago, eatruneat said:

I quickly figured out that the party with that Obama Administration bigwig was the culprit. 

The culprit was the restaurant.  They threw you under the bus because they did not manage their reservations well and valued this party more than yours.  

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This paragraph in the Post article should win a prize for something. A spokeswoman for the restaurant is quoted anonymously because she's not authorized to speak and then says something that, if the lawyer hasn't cleared it to be said, could potentially damage his case.  IANAL, nor am I a professional journalist, but something seems very off.

Quote

When Fabbri, 40, was contacted by phone for comment, he replied, “It’s not a good moment right now.” A spokeswoman for San Lorenzo, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she’s not authorized to speak about the incident, called back. According to the spokeswoman, Fabbri said that he was not in possession of the drugs and that his lawyer expects the case to be dropped.

 

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191 grams of cocaine, with a street value of $19,100

When I was in college, "blow" was valued at $100/g.  Apparently prices haven't gone up in 30 years (or the real cost has gone down, taking inflation into account).  So cocaine is like pizza - I think we use to pay $7 for a medium Domino's in college, with a readily available coupon, you can still get a pizza for around $7.

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In these scenarios I always wonder about immigration consequences. If he's not a U.S. citizen and he's convicted of the drug charges he could be facing removal from the United States.

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