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Dining in DC Does Dino

Sitting outside on Dino’s outdoor patio, along Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, on a sunny warm Saturday a few weeks ago, my husband and I enjoyed the evening in the best way possible – sipping a fabulous Pinot Noir and eating excellent fresh seasonal Italian fare.

Dino offers several menu options including their “Restaurant Week” menu of three courses of select menu items for $35.09. The “Menu della Sera” also offers 3 courses for just $25! One caveat – orders must be placed by 7 p.m. Diners may choose from a selection of antipasti, selected pasta & entrees & dolci. Still a great deal, especially in today’s economy.

For the first course I tried the Saltimbocca, described on the menu as veal and pork Meatballs with onions, garlic, herbs, egg & bread crumb, with spicy tomato oregano sauce (see photo on left). The dish comes as three small meatballs.  They were tender, moist ,and delicious, however, I did not find the tomato sauce to be spicy at all. I imagine that the meatballs would have been delicious atop some house-made pasta. I used a slice of fresh bread from our bread basket that was provided to sop up the remainder of the sauce.

Our favorite dish of the evening was the very fresh and seasonal Asparagi in Camicia – Prosciutto wrapped asparagus – described on the menu as local ‘grass, Pio Tosini prosciutto, grilled; drizzled with saba (see photo above). This was quite memorable. Saba, according to our server, is a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction. It was delicious. I would be willing to put some energy into trying to recreate this dish at home. Dean informed his e-newsletter subscribers on Friday that he snagged a batch of local organic asparagus – most likely the last of the summer. This is a hint to get it while you can, folks.

For my main course I ordered the Tagliolini al Asparagi “Felicietta”, which is offered on the regular menau as half or whole portion. The dish was made with fresh seasonal asparagus in cream and grana cheese served atop of house made thin fettuccini. I thought that the cream sauce wasn’t too heavy for a summer dish, but I think that I would have liked it better as a side dish along side of some chicken piccata.

I also tried the Linguine alla Pescatore, described on the menu as Mussels & Mahogany Clams – house made pasta, garlic, tomatoes, wine & parsley. The dish is beautifully presented as natural as it can be – with the mussels and clams still in their shells. The house-made pasta was delicious with the tomato based sauce. I only had a few bites of this dish as it was not my main course; however, I thought it was delicious and I usually don’t care for seafood pasta dishes.  

The desserts were just as interesting as the other dishes on the menu. Because I enjoyed the saba so much with the Prosciutto wrapped asparagus, I decided to try the Manodori Balsamico con Gelato which was desribed on the menu as a very rich, sweet and naturally thick Villa Manodori Aged Balsamico atop house made vanilla gelato. The gelato was delicious yet after a full meal, it’s hard to eat more than just a few bites with the sweet syrup. I also tried the Gianduia “Nico”, inspired by Gelateria Nico in Venezia, which had bittersweet chocolate gelato with chopped chocolate atop hazelnut gelato, with toasted hazelnuts.  Atop, chocolate sauce whipped cream. I thought that the chocolate sauce that spelled at D-I-N-O was pretty neat. 

We really enjoyed our dinner at Dino and can’t wait to go back! The service was excellent and I will never forget that it was because of our waitor that recommended the Adelsheim Vineyards Pinot Noir from the Williamette Valley, Orgeon that now I have a favorite Pinot Noir! Dean Gold and Kay Zimmerman have done a superb job keeping the menu authentic with very good quality ingredients. If you don’t already subscribe to the e-newsletter, you should! I look forward to hearing about his travels, mostly to Italy and all of the new seasonal dishes that they are trying out on the menu.

To celebrate Dino’s 4th Anniversary of their opening, Dino is offering a 4 course tasting menu from Venice & Montalcino beginning July 1 thru July 15 for $39.  Start with a selection of small Venetian snacks known as Cicchetti, followed by a choice of Risotto all’Amarone or Pasta in Salsa (a pungent onion, anchovy & caper sauce).  Entree choices are Whole Fish or Coneglio in Prosecco (braised rabbit in prosecco sauce which is sparkling wine sauce with herbs).  For dessert chose between either the Tiramisu or a Veneto cheese plate: Monte Veronese and Asiago Vecchio.  Wine pairings to go along with your dinner include 4 pours for $20.

For more info: See Dino’s Venetian Menu ; 3435 Connecticut Avenue NW, Phone: 202-686-2966; e-mail Dean Gold: eat@dino-dc.com


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