Saturday, January 20, 2007

Divine and Delicious Dinner at Dino

Don't you love when you have a really tasty dinner as well as a lovely evening, and it doesn't even end up being spendy? Such was the case last night when friends and I dined at Dino, self-described as a rustic Italian restaurant and enoteca featuring simply prepared dishes from local ingredients along with reasonably priced and really good wines. An apt description for sure. Warm lighting and romantic hues of brown and orange greet you upon entering the restaurant, which appears quite small but actually has an upstairs level which can seat around 100 or so. When you are seated, a large rustic style bowl filled with fleur de sel, or sea salt, as well as salt and pepper which come in large and pretty silver and copper dispensers respectively, greet you at the table. Dino offers diners two wine lists, one which reads like a book and includes all of the offerings, and another less-intimidating list which breaks down most of the selections by body style. I initially ordered a bottle of Sant’Antonio Valpolicella 2005, which they were out of, so I opted instead for a delicious sounding Cusumano (Nero) d’Avola Sicilia 2005, which also was in the food-friendly category described as "Delightful: Rich, Straightforward, Friendly, Gulpable." If you know me, the gulpable quality is a perfect match. The wine was well-balanced and fruit-forward but still slightly earthy. Others opted for more expensive selections, such as an Argiano Montetalcino, which was described a "delicious" and "superb." Currently, you can order off Dino's regular menu, or go with a three course extended Restaurant Week menu, which, if you eat all three courses, is a great deal as Dino is quite liberal with what is on offering for each course. I don't really eat dessert, and after the expensive Mie N Yu experience, I decided to order off of the regular menu. I started with Funghi e Gorgonzola, which is wild mushrooms sauteed to perfection with slightly melted and deliciously gooey Gorgonzola cheese. The mushrooms were lightly coated in oil and still fairly firm, and absolutely heavenly. Their earthy quality brought out the same note in the wine and was a lovely match. Amy had a cheese course, which comes with candied walnuts, a fruit paste and and raisin bread and which she raved about, and others had various salads, all of which looked delicious. The Timbale di Farro, a composed grain salad of farro with sliced veggies, artichoke and lemon olio herb dressing, had special eye appeal and was crisp and tasty. For my entree, I had Acciuga, a salad which features long and crisp leaves of romaine lettuce with black pepper and anchovy dressing and also comes with grilled Tuscan bread. The lettuce was super fresh, the dressing peppery, tangy and only slightly creamy. The chicken was moist and had an herb rub which included parsley and oregano and was delicious. A nice amount of Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the dish added a creamy and salty note. For $10, the salad is a deal, and perfect for dinner when paired with an appetizer or dessert. Several friends enjoyed Pappardelle ai Cinghiale, wild boar pasta with a traditional Tuscan sauce of boar, onions, herbs and Pecorino cheese. I had a small taste and the dish was meaty and had a nice kick. I especially enjoy wide, flat noodles such as pappardelle and with this dish in particular they worked well with the hearty and rich sauce. For dessert, I enjoyed my vino, and Amy, similarly inclined, sampled one of Dino's dessert wines, while several others had a cheese course. Two folks opted for Dolce Firenze, which is bread pudding with pumpkin spice and topped with crema and cranberry maple sauce, and which looked beautiful and as though the pudding was cooked in a very large muffin pan. Another friend had Tiramisu, which looked creamy and delicious. My neighbor had Crostata, a rustic fruit tart with a crumbly butter crust and served with gelato. Dino really is divine and delicious, and a perfect choice for a group or a romantic, cozy dinner for two. I hope you try it for yourself, be it for the first or nth time.

3435 Connecticut Avenue in NW DC

1 comment:

Scott McLean said...

Hi! Sounds like a great place to eat. I'm just trying to figure out how to make some Thai noodles. haha Take care.