Sunday, December 7, 2008

Le cose che vivi

To commemorate S.'s newly-minted graduate degree, we decided to have a dinner party at Domaso, just over the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, inside the Hotel Palomar - Arlington. I've been to their wine tastings (sign up for the mailing list here), but had yet to eat a full meal. I had sneaked a peek at the dining room - a gorgeous space with an open kitchen, vaulted ceilings, views of Georgetown, and castle-like light fixtures - the place is celebratory by design. Bo Choe, the Private Dining Coordinator and the waitstaff took great care of us - the best laid plans of mice and men are certainly improved by information, a great table, amusements from the bar and kitchen, and early set up.

Domaso bills itself a modern trattoria, and its menu centers on Northern Italian cuisine. With a new winter menu and a focus on seasonal and local products, patrons will find that the dishes at Domaso aren't too "Italian", or rather, deviate from the culinary cliches that we have come to associate with Italian food - the familiar palette of tomato and basil. But reinvention is the essence of modernity, and great food can, and must, defy expectations.

After an amuse-bouche of crab and lobster (and a shot of squash soup for S., who is very allergic to crabs), we ordered a round of appetizers. S. had the braised pork belly, perfectly seared on top of sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe, glazed with star anise. The star anise was reminiscent of Chinese Five Spice, as was the use of the rabe/rapini, but it was a very well balanced dish. The rest of us had tasting portions of pasta (all available as entrees) except for A., who went for a mixed green salad. I had the squash gnocci - perfectly sculpted, with just a dab of fontina (called a fondue instead of a sauce), thyme, and a pesto made with pumpkin seeds. The ratio of filling to pasta was just right, and the pumpkin seed pesto gave it a very interesting texture. B. and F. had saffron scented pasta - pappardelle for B. and spaghettini for F., with a wild mushroom ragu, creamed fennel and parmesan cheese.

For our entrees, I decided to carry on with my comparative study of short ribs in the DC Metro Area, and these have Darlington House beat by a mile. I was happy to see a de-boned short rib, which makes eating them a much simpler task. These came with mashed potatoes, porcini mushrooms and a wonderfully deep and sweet marsala demi glace. S. and B. had the pork osso bucco, a great take on the traditional beef dish from Milan: a simmered pork shank served over polenta, sauteed greens, roasted tomatoes and orange gremolata for a touch of acid. F. and A. had the cedar-roasted artic char, a small trout of northern waters that has been catching on in other over-fishing conscious restaurants, such as Hook. The smoky trout was served on top of lemon risotto, salsify (a small root vegetable, similar to a turnip) and caper butter sauce. The taste was delicate, layered and balanced. We all had a full-bodied red wine from Italy, picked by F. from Domaso's extensive wine list. Our waiter gave us some great recommendations to guide us through the new menu, and was a magician of sorts - he produced two of my favorite things, chocolate-covered coffee beans and a pisco-based cocktails as soon as we were done with our entrees.

By special request, the kitchen prepared S.'s favorite dessert - bread pudding. They must have known that it was our last dinner together before the holidays as well, as they added some lovely golden raisins, effectively giving us a version of panatone, Italian Christmas cake. We all cleaned our plates, donned party hats, and even threatened to sing along to Laura Pausini and Eros Ramazotti, both featured in the music selections at Domaso. A fantastic meal, and a great start to the Christmas season.

Domaso Trattoria Moderna @ Hotel Palomar - Arlington
1121 North 19th Street
Arlington, VA 22209
Domaso Trattoria Moderna on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Capital Spice said...

sounds lovely. Domaso is one of my favorite locales for post-work drinks but I need to check out their winter menu. That cedar roasted char is making my mouth water.