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al Sospiro, Trattoria Romana & Wine Bar - Georgia Avenue and Buehler Road, Olney


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Last night my son and I were in Olney trying to decide where to eat when we noticed a new sign for al Sospiro Trottoria and Wine Bar. Being a major wine geek, I immediately turned the car around and stopped in. The restaurant is in the downstairs of the building that Domino's Pizza occupies at 18035 Georgia Avenue just before the intersection. The restaurant is small, probably 48 seats or so, but very nicely done and very much evokes memories of trotterias from Italy during my college years.

The menu is small, 6 Antipasti (all $8), three salads ($8), three soups ($7), three contorni ($6),4 Pastas ($14) and 9 Secondi, ($17-23). My son started with the Polipetti Affogati, baby ocopus sauteed in white wine, while I chose the Carciofini alla Griglia, baby artichokes marinated and grilled. Both were excellent, the octopus grilled to perfection with a wonderful sauce, it wasn't too chewy but it had enough firmness to be just right. The artichokes were long stemmed baby ones, lightly grilled and arranged on a very nice bed of greens. They were not over dressed and tasted wonderful.

I ordered the Bucatini alla Gricia in Pomodoro (tomato sauce with pancetta). The pasta was cooked perfectly, al dente, just firm to the tooth without being to soft. The tomato sauce was light, and could have used a little more of the pancetta, but very flavorful and just the right amount. My son had he Gamberi ala Griglia, grilled shrimp with polenta and asparagus. While I would have liked another shrimp for the price, the jumbo prawns were grilled perfectly and had a wonderful smokey flavor .

But the reason I went was because I am a wine geek as well as a foodie, and finding a good wine list in Montgomery County is rare, and still is. I was disappointed that a place that called itself a wine bar didn't have a better selection, though to be fair they just opened and it is Montgomery County that they have to buy from.

The wine list had offered a prosecco brut and a vin santo by the glass, along with 9 offerings of the "Sospiro" 250 ml carafes. The choices, 5 white, and 4 red, were also on the wine list, in fact they were the cheapest wines on the list, and all cost $9 except for the McManis CS which cost $10, mostly Italian (one CA Chard, one French CS and the McManus) The list was again primarily Italian, with the prosecco and 11 whites, ranging from $25 to $44 ('06 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio) and all from 2004-2006 vintage. There were 19 reds, ranging from $25 to $98 ('01 Da Vinci Brunello di Montalcino) with half under $30. There were no Rosso de Montalcinos however, and all but 3 were from the 2004 or 2005 vintage. A very reasonable wine list for MC, but I was hoping for more in a restaurant that has Wine bar in its name.

Service was very good, efficient, friendly, and not intrusive. So, bottom line, the food we had was very good, there is enough wine to match the food for most folks, and if the prices are alittle high, it is because MC jacks up the price of wine about 35% over what it should be as the wholesaler. I certainly will go back and I am hoping they do well. As Olney restaurants go, this isn't in the class of Mannequin Pis or Ricutti's, but it sure fills a nitch that wasn't there before. I recommend it to anyone who wants that trotteria feel.

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Almost nine years, over 2,000 views, and not a single follow-up post, dinwiddie - and I never even knew there had been a spelling error in the title. I'm slipping.

Here's the current menu of al Sospiro ("Sospiro" = Sigh), just one block south of Route 108:

Screenshot 2016-07-05 at 00.09.10.png Screenshot 2016-07-05 at 00.15.05.png Screenshot 2016-07-05 at 00.09.27.png

When you posted in 2007, they didn't have a website.

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Mea culpa  -- for not posting. I ate here 2 or 3 times a few years ago and never got around to writing about my experience. The owner/chef is from Rome and al Sospiro features dishes from the Lazio region. I remember the food being very good (2 stars on the Sietsema scale). The owner's wife worked the front of the house with the help of 2 other servers. Everyone was very nice. I haven't returned for various reasons, primarily because we could only patronize the restaurant during busy hours on the weekend which can make for an epically long dining experience. I suspect the kitchen is small, probably staffed by only two people, and gets into the weeds when all tables are occupied. But if I were in the area on a week night, I wouldn't hesitate to stop in for a hearty plate of trippa alla Romana.

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56 minutes ago, dwt said:

Mea culpa  -- for not posting. I ate here 2 or 3 times a few years ago and never got around to writing about my experience. The owner/chef is from Rome and al Sospiro features dishes from the Lazio region. I remember the food being very good (2 stars on the Sietsema scale). The owner's wife worked the front of the house with the help of 2 other servers. Everyone was very nice. I haven't returned for various reasons, primarily because we could only patronize the restaurant during busy hours on the weekend which can make for an epically long dining experience. I suspect the kitchen is small, probably staffed by only two people, and gets into the weeds when all tables are occupied. But if I were in the area on a week night, I wouldn't hesitate to stop in for a hearty plate of trippa alla Romana.

Your post just reminded of this funny story, which happened over 25 years ago at Sergio's in Silver Spring.

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