On our last splurge before the Passover regime, we headed around the corner to the newly opened LA FORCHETTA (http://www.laforchettadc.com/), located on New Mexico Ave, NW where Balducci's used to be (next to Chef Geoff). The clean open space is bright and airy with a huge pizza oven at the center where you can watch the team toss the dough in the air. Chef ROBERTO DONNA has taken over the kitchen here and since they only opened this week, I can say it looks like a promising venture for sure.
You should be warned that reservations are taken (starting in mid-April) until 630pm only. We had told the staff we would be 6 people at 7pm, but the place was heaving when we arrived. Leave it to manager Karen, who comes from Galileo III, who easily rearranged the outdoor tables inside to accommodate us with speed.
We sat down to a table with tasty bread that goes beautifully with the various "spread" starters such as Olives, Caponata, Gardiniera Piemontese (a pickled vegetable mix with basil and herbs), Ricotta Crostata and an interesting Prosciutto Spread made with pistachio and balsamic.
A LUIGI BAUDANA 2010 Chardonnay from Piemonte (Chef Donna's home region) is an excellent white for this season and goes very well with so many of the starters such as tasty SALTED COD "Matecato" as well as with the salads(Spinach,Pear & Walnut looked particularly tasty). My PORK BELLY was a large piece of meat (and yes, it has alot of fat, but you could easily separate what you did not want to eat and plenty of crispy meat remained) came with sauteed apples.
Samuel hankered down with the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese that is always a treat, and asked for extra fresh Parmesan grated at the table.
The decor, like the theme her, is simple with slate-like floors, yet the black crystal chandeliers add a nice touch of fine dining as do Chef Donna's main courses. The COD with OLIVES was special and quite tasty, while the whole BRANZINO seemed to have a bit too many bones, although the taste was reported as perfect.
Pizza is a hit here with large tasty pies such as the QUATTRO STAGIONE with the four "seasons" of artichoke, mushroom, ham and olive each occupying a 1/4 of the pie.
We moved on to a superb BARBERA d'ASTI ROCCHE COSTAMAGNA 2009 "Annunziata" that was full bodied enough to work with the meats in the pasta and pizza, but also pair with the fish as well.
My AGNELLOTTI "Gobbi" all'ASTIGIANA was a perfectly made pasta filled with roasted veal and pork in a divine butter-sage-parmesan sauce. Yes, Chef Donna is back and so is his pasta! YAY!
Desserts were nice, but not the stars here with COPPA PRIMAVERA having Chocolate & Coconut Ice Cream with Strawberrys and Savoirdi Cookie with Meringue and Cream. My COPPA RINFRESCANTI was less intense with Lemon and Apricot Sorbets over poached Apricots, almond cream & pizzetti wafer. Zuppa Inglese was a nice variation as well.
We look forward to returning to La Forchetta as it is truly close and a treat as well. Welcome back Chef Donna!