Saturday, August 16, 2008

Supeb SPEZIE rounds out Restaurant Week

While you can still grab one more night (tonight, Sunday) at restaurants that are open on Sundays, many DC dining spots have announced extensions of Restaurant Week specials, so check around and you may get a deal.

With Will and Samuel out of town for several days, I snuck off with "Uncle" Rick to SPEZIE last night ( where Chef Cesare Lanfranconi (late of Tosca and Galileo) has now been ensconced for some time. He has madea most homey place for himself with not only the atmosphere, but the food itself as it is truly ITALIAN fine dining at its best.

As soon as we arrived it was great to see our old friend LUCIANO who worked for umpteen years at Galileo and really deserves an award for best waiter in DC (so I hereby award him the FIRST "Phyllis-teenY" Restaurant Award, perhaps I shall start my own awards competition and ceremony!). His smile and welcome would make ANYONE feel at home, and it is indeed like being served in his home when you are at Spezie. All of the menu was available for restaurant week and it was hard to decide. Rick went for the TROFIE di CASTAGNE al PESTO all Genovese which I thought tasted more like WHOLE WHEAT Pasta than Chestnut flour (and when Chef Cesare came out, we were informed I was correct as they had run out of the chestnut!). The basil pesto sauce was superb and this truly traditional dish had green beans, potato and aged pecorino in the style of Genoa.

My CARPACCIO d'AGNELLO in SALSA VERDE e Insalatina ai Capperi was just perfect as I really was not in the mood for a super heavy meal (having just been to a baby shower where the food was yummy!). The light lamb carpaccio had a superb sauce and was served with pickled onion and mache.

We enjoyed a wonderful, light, refreshing and just slightly sweet on the tip of the tongue BARBOURSVILLE ROSE 2006 from Virginia. I tend to associate Chef Cesare with Barboursville as he has cooked there regularly and we have had the pleasure of being there a couple of times when he was!

We moved on to a full bodied, smooth and yummy MONTEPILCIANO d'ABREZZO 2205 from CATALDI MADONNA that works with heavier fish and meat as well.

Rick opted for the tasty SALMONE SCOTTATO con ASPARIGI al PORSCIUTTO e CIPOLLOTTI al BALSAMICO. The asparagus were wrapped in huge slices of fresh prosciutto and the seared Salmon Fillet was served in a tasty sauce with Balsamic braised cipolline onions.

My PETTO d'ANATRA Arrosto con TORTINO di RISO e ASPARAGI, Salsa di CILIGIE e GRAPPA was another dream dish with a huge number of roasted duck breast slices served in a magnificent cherry and grappa sauce with each of the several accompanying cherries having been soaked in the grappa as well! It was accompanied by a light risotto and asparagus cake which was a perfect combo.

Desserts are always a treat as I remember the Tiramisu at Tosca always having been one of the best around. Rick went for the traditional and well made CREME BRULEE, while I opted for the CROSTATA alle FRAGOLINE di BOSCO con CREMA di RICOTTA e MANDROLE, Salsa alla Vaniglia which was a flaky pastry filled with strawberries, ricotta and almond with a creme Anglaise sauce.

Due Limoncelli, or two small glasses of that miracle after dinner drink sent us home very satisfied and completely happy with this year's choices for Restaurant Week!