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Finemondo, 13th & F Streets NW - Rustic Italian from the Owners of Primi Piatti near Metro Center - Closed


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First post, so let me introduce myself.

I'm Chris and a refugee from EG where I was a refugee from C'hound. I've been in the DC area since 1993, lived in the city for 8 years, and now am out in Vienna/Tysons. Another Rockwellian, brr, turned my on to c'hound a couple of years ago and I've been following these forums ever since.

I work in Penn Quarter, so there is no dearth of restaurants around here. Our company often has lunch meetings so I've been lucky enough to try a handfull around here - Ceiba, Ten Penh, Zatinya (been before), Red Sage (never again), Butterfield 9, etc...as well as my more pedestrian moments at Ollies Trolley, etc.

These forums have been invaluable to me for personal dining as well. If not for EG, I never would have been to RTS and Dino's as early as I did, and have been fortunate enough to NOT dine at certain places I was planning on visiting.

Okay, now the on topic question:

So my admin coordinator booked a group of us for a going away lunch for a colleague at Finemondo at 13th and F. I work pretty much right there at the Columbia Square building and haven't even heard boo about this place. I'm a little worried as, to put it delicately, my AC has not the best taste in food.

Anyone have anything on this place? I'd like to go in with some idea what is passable.

Again, thanks in advance and I look forward to contributing.

BTW, I've had a fair amount of dining experience in Tysons and Vienna.

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I went about a year ago and found the place to be extremely underwhelming. I had some sort of ravioli with amaretto cookies for an appetizer, and it was really just a not-spectacular dessert which threw off my whole meal (I know, why did I order something with cookies in it and not expect it to taste like dessert?). I can't remember what I had, or much else about the experience but I never went back and dont really intend to. I would say order something that seems hard to mess up, and you should be fine. . . .but not great.

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Sietsema posts a blurb which was probably a Weekly Dish way back when:

The recent arrival downtown of Finemondo represents a homecoming for restaurateur Savino Recine, who patrolled the same floor as host when the space was known as El Catalan and the kitchen was headed by then-partner Yannick Cam.

"It's very exciting to be back," Recine, who also owns Washington's Primi Piatti, told us last week. And this round, "It's all mine," he points out. Always captivating, the large bar and dining room are more open now that the thick draperies and massive columns of their predecessor have been removed. Chef Stefano Frigerio has been hired to "get back to the basics," with Italian flavors and a refined touch; dishes such as roasted guinea hen with caramelized cauliflower and whole roasted fish and beef -- a dinnertime feature -- are among the results.

The Milan-born Frigerio was introduced to his new boss by Fabio Trabocchi of Maestro in McLean, under whom he cooked when the two chefs worked the restaurant scene in London. Dinner entrees $12-$22.

Good luck - let us know how it goes!

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Thanks for the update. I suspect I won't hear much more on this place. I'll go for the hard to screw up approach. Eh, I'm not paying for it so I can't be too disappointed. That was my attitude at Red Sage while trying to choke down the shoe leather "medium rare" bison. Shame too, because the mussels there were really good that day.

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I had a seat at the bar about a year ago and ordered a decent grilled lamb chop dish. I don't remember many details other than that it seemed to be decent quality if a bit overpriced. I do, however, recall a surly pr*ck of a bartender who begrudgingly served me.

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Dining today I did, indeed, ask what I had done to deserve this. Who had I wronged, and why were they so cruel.

Setting: Going away lunch for a support staffer today.

Six of us were seated in the back of the restaurant in an out of the way place, which was nice, because we were near the kitchen and would have been banged into if we were closer.

I ordered:

POLPO:

octopus served with fava beansalad, flavored with a light spicy red wine-enchovy-black olive vinaigrette.

In reality, this dish was underdone fava beans, overdone to the point of octo-jerky, octopus, and the saucing was essentially pureed anchovies from a can with little to no wine or olive character.

LINGUINI:

Linguini with mussels and clams flavored with garlic and olive oil

Simple to screw up unless the clams and mussels are bad, right. Wrong. Bad. Too oily, salty to the point of tongue numbing, with mushy overcooked pasta. Clams and mussels were plentiful, but of poor quality. Mussels were very gritty and clams were overcooked and tough.

FRUTTI DI BOSCO:

Mixed berries with balsamic vinegar served with vanilla ice cream

Surpisingly, the only good thing of the meal. Berries were sauteed with balsamic to create a warm berry and cold ice cream combination. This was the best dessert of the table.

Others had ravioli, canneloni, and plain pasta. Two diners had meat: 1 had the roasted chicken which actually looked like the safest bet. My boss had mutton, I mean lamb, which he was unable to cut through without great effort (and it was medium rare). Everyone at the table commented about the oversalting of every dish except dessert.

6 diners, no alcohol, 3 courses each = $250 for lunch. So not worth it.

Edited by Biotech
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Anyone have anything on this place? I'd like to go in with some idea what is passable.

I know I'm a bit late in responding, but:

Bread: warm, fresh, and good. Butter: cold and unsalted. Moretti ($5): fresh. Spaghetti con Polpette ($10 for a half-order) ... Pasta: homemade but way overcooked. Meatballs (two): small and dense. Sauce: decent. Bartender: professional and pleasant. Crowd: a mix of regulars and tourists. Atmosphere: comfortable.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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I have no idea how this restaurant stays in business, especially for 8+ years. They attracted a small to non-existent lunch crowd and the fact that they are probably the only restaurant I've ever seen offer a half price on bottles of wine special on a Saturday night makes me think they don't attract a weekend crowd either.

However, they have a decent happy hour, Mon-Fri 5-7.

The bar menu offers a selection of plates, let's call them medium size, for $5. We had good fried calamari, super tender, lightly battered, and the mussels with sausage and marinara and the mussels with pomodoro sauce were both good. Baskets of decent bread were handed out, perfect for sopping up the tomato sauce. Again $5 a plate.

Not sure what the deal is for drink specials...the beer selection is generic and the Stella on tap was full price.

So if you are looking to escape the clusterfuck that is Happy Hour at Chef Geoff's, or the crappy bar menu at M&S Grill, or have an hour to kill before a movie at E Street, or just want a quiet spot to meet a friend or your brother...you just might want to consider Finemondo.

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I have no idea how this restaurant stays in business, especially for 8+ years. They attracted a small to non-existent lunch crowd and the fact that they are probably the only restaurant I've ever seen offer a half price on bottles of wine special on a Saturday night makes me think they don't attract a weekend crowd either.

I don't know how they did it for so long either, but:

"Downtown Finemondo to become Noelia from First-Time Restaurateur" by Rebecca Cooper on bizjournals.com

Kaiser Gill will be the new owner, and Carmen Piazza, formerly Executive Chef at Cafe Milano and Sette Osteria, will be the Chef de Cuisine at Noelia.

---

This would all be a normal, everyday passing of the baton, except that in a remarkable display of how risky restaurants are, Noelia has just closed as well. (Thanks, MD)

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