Monday, August 22, 2011

CASA NONNA -perfect pasta and pizza and more (8-21-11)

Last night we took Samuel for an early Restaurant Week Dinner at CASA NONNA (1250 Connecticut Ave, which has been open for less than a year now, but has to have become one of the best mid-range priced places for Italian food in town. Add to this that the FOUR-course Restaurant Week Special of $35.11 is available through the end of August and you have even more reasons to head to this roomy, yet cozy spot a block from Dupont Circle.
Samuel did not want more than a Shirley Temple and a Pizza Margherita, but gobbled up plate after plate (along with us) of the best "focaccia" around. It is really a soft pizza-dough like flatbread that is stuffed (here and there) with a ricotta-like cheese called Stracchino that stretches and has wonderful earthy flavor, unlike Ricotta. The bread is topped with salt, pepper flakes, rosemary, sage and other spices making it a meal in itself.
For Restaurant Week (all of August) everyone starts with the ANTIPASTO sampler of the best Eggplant CAPONATA this side of Sicily; it is loaded with tasty eggplant and lots of caramelized onions that have sweetened the dish. Also on the plate are crunchy crostini to spread the caponata on as well as RICOTTA with Truffle Oil and slices of Prosciutto that are simply as light as air and oh so tasty.
Our server Zoe always had a smile and was a big help. She led us to the ORVIETO PALAZZONE "Terre Vineate" from Umbria 2010 that worked well with all our choices. We then moved on to a quartino (small carafe available in many wines that also come by the glass) of Masciarelli TREBBIANO 2010 from Abruzzo right next door to Umbria, but with a bit more perfume in the mouth.
The special $35.11 menu offers a choice of three pastas, main courses and desserts (as well as the yummy antipasti) and while it is limited...the choices are wide and superb. Will and I had the exact same items (yes, boring) and adored EVERY bite.
The SPAGHETTI alla CHITATA was a revelation using whole wheat pasta and adding little bits of cauliflower along with the garlic, enough hot peppers to fill the mouth with flavor (even Samuel gave it a hands up) and pecorino cheese. We could not stop talking about how great this dish was.
For the main course we chose the MERLUZOO al Forno, a tummy wood roasted COD with sweet and sour pepperonata topped with Arugula, another great creation and not a huge portion after all the other yummy food.
Dessert was the PANNA COTTA with fresh figs, Vin Cotto and Fleur de Sel ( a dash less of the salt would have made it perfect), which added a nice favor alternating between the wine, salt and figs!
Samuel ordered a selection of sorbets and got three monstrous scoops of Mixed Berry, Kiwi and Lemon loving every bite but declared at the end the best part was the accompanying cookie!
Bomboloni fried doughnuts arrived and were tasty as well, but I was feeling full so we gladly had some Limoncello (some of the best and strongest homemade around) and headed home full.
Looking forward to CASA NONNA again real soon, especially since I never had a Nonna that cooked like this!