Each year a couple of places in town offer Passover "Style" menus, and while none of these are truly kosher, DINO's gets it pretty good(http://www.dino-dc.com). Just across from the Uptown theater, with indoor and outdoor seating, Chef/Owner Dean Gold melds Jewish and Italian cooking wonderfully for some truly great dishes.
While this special is now over, the $55 per person ($25 for kids) is literally a full seder meal with everything served family style so you don't have to choose between the items as well (although you can ask for more of something and less of another, etc).
Venetian, Egyptian and Ella's (Ashkenazi style) Harosets clearly show the difference between the tasty date inclusive of the first two and the traditional Ella's (Dean's mom) which sadly falls flat in comparison. Plenty of Aviv Matza is served and it tastes even better according to Samuel with olive oil and the coarse sea salt on the bowl at each table. I tasted the White Horseradish and deemed it the best ever. It was so fresh, it had to be with a great vinegary lemony taste. It was GOLD's! It was divine on the superb tasting JACK's FISH MARKET GEFILTE FISH which Dean prepares by hand each year from a recipe he got in Chicago. The SPRING SALAD has Zach's "bitter" and spicy greens from Virginia with lemon and old balsamico dressing that is superb on this tasty salad. We started to take down the dressing recipe, then gave up as it seemed just too much work!
Dean's "Better than Ella's" CHOPPED CHICKEN LIVER was a big hit with me, but the rest of the table was not wolfing it down, maybe it's cultural or an adult thing (we were three adults and two boys).
next came a peppery CHICKEN SOUP loaded with greens and Dean's "Better than Ella's" Duck Schmaltz MATZO BALLS. The balls disappeared as fast you could say "dayenu" and I really though the kids were going to ask for more. While the adults liked the soup as well, the peppery taste was a bit too much for the kids....more for us.
The main courses were
MANZO al VINO ROSSO-a slow cooked brisket with red wine, which was good, tender, but some pieces were a bit dryish
POLLO alla CACCIATORE-a traditional as it gets Chicken braised in tomato, wine and mushrooms
and the most delicious
HALIBUT AL MOSAICA-a wild Alaskan Halibut cooked perfectly with tomato, garlic, parsley, spices in the traditional Jewish tradition of Livorno.
There were sides too:
a tasty MATZO FARFEL which did not suffer from gumminess at all,
SAUTEED SPRING GREENS and
yummy al dente TZIMMES, which also often suffers from such overcooking it is mush.
Dean said he offered kosher wines one year and nobody wanted them. We gave in and ordered a bottle of "LE PUPILE" Traminer/Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from MAREMMA "Poggio Argentato" that we all loved as it was crispy and dry but full of flavor. Our red was a divine Occhipiniti NERO d'AVOLA "Siccagno" 2007 from Sicily that Dean described and lush and spicy like Sophia Loren. It was indeed just that.
It's asparagus season and the boys got some gorgeous fresh ones and Dino's even has WILD ASPARAGUS on their menus now!
There are also Passover desserts:
A TORETA di RE-dense, gooey almond cake with barberries
TORTA di CIOCOLATO-a flourless chocolate cake
and of course I always go for the cheese.
Last night I chose
GUFFANTI ROBIOLA Invecchiato in Foglia di Castagne- a cow cheese from Cuneo wrapped in chestnut leaves
GUFFANTI ERBORINATO di PECORA from Val Pusteria- ahoney drizzled sheep that is blue and peppery and intense and I ADORED despite its amazing intensity
Our friends had never been to Dino's before and could not wait to return AFTER Passover for the real menu of pasta and more...and us too!