Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dino does DC dining right

We returned to DINO ( in Cleveland Park the other day, but this time without Samuel, who adores the pasta there. Instead, we opted for a testing menu chosen by the chef and wines paired by wine-genius/owner Dean Gold. It was a memorable evening and we now know that DINO can be right for simple or fancy family dining, intimate meals, upscale food, or just about anything Italian you desire! And those wines are amazing as well.

We started with a BISOL "Cartizze" di Valdobbiadne or Prosecco that has a slight sweetness in the taste which went quite well with the fun fried Piatti Piccoli (or small plates) of FORMAGGI FUSO-Fried Bosina (Ribola) Cheese with Anchovy, Panko & Parsley Oil PIO TOSINI 400 GIORNI PROSCIUTTO di PARMA Crudo-an amazing prosciutto that anyone would want to die for and the unreal CROQUETTE di PATATE which were gorgeously fried potato croquettes with wondrous chunks of braised prosciutto, cheese and breadcrumbs inside!

"MONETE" di RICOTTA or ricotta "coins" with roasted tomato, spinach, parsley oil and chunks of chicken were served with a truly delicious ALTO ADIGE GEWURTZTRAMINER from ABBAZIA di NOVACELLA 2004 from the Valle Isarco in the far north near Austria. Was a dry wine with an intense lasting spice flavor in the mouth that was perfect for the warm weather (we WERE having!).

An INAMA "Classico du Lot" SOAVE 2003 from Veneto had intense fruit with nice linger hints of oak and paired to perfection with the GNOCCHI con ARAGOSTA e GAMBRETTI--magnificent gnocchi with lobster & rock shrimp in a lobster cream sauce with lovage. It could have been called LOBSTER with Gnocchi as each dish must have had a whole tail in it!

There were two entrees of MAIALE ARROSTO-slow roasted Niman Ranch Pork Ribs with Soffrito & Sweet Potato Puree which were smoky and intense and paired amazingly with a to die for (despite its youth) TOMASSO BUSSOLA "AMARONE BG" della Valpolicella 2002 Classico with 16% alcohol but the smoothest feeling in the mouth and no harshness on the tongue whatsoever. YUM! Also with the entree was an ALL NATURAL RACK of LAMB with Potatoes HERBS & Olio.

A trip to DINO is incomplete without CHEESE, and Dean is rightfully very proud of his "cart" which brought us: CORA ROBIOLA "CIABOT" from Cuneo- a Brie like cow & sheep cheese that is aged in straw and extremely rich (but not runny). MONTE TRENTINI VEZZENA-a raw cow from Trentino that was strong but not biting GUFFANTI PARMIGIANO REGGIANO 1999-a cave aged parmesan made from the cow's "winter" milk in Nov 1999 that has a crunchy feel (Sam seems to love this in cheese) and a taste to die for. The Amarone lasted through the cheese and was the perfect pairing again and the platter was decorated with fruity homemade MOSTARDO, fruit bread, candied walnuts and blackberries!

A GRAPPA UVAVIVA POLI Pinot Noir filled my glass and was smooth and not too intense, while some folks opted for the MARCHESI de GRESY MOSCATO that was fresh and yeasty. These accompanied a selection of desserts including TIRAMISU, CHOCOLATE CAKE and CROSTATA RASPBERRY ICE CREAM if I recall correctly.

This was a truly terrific meal and we mean to return to DINO VERY SOON!