Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DINO's Grotto in Shaw is open for business and better than before (7-27-14)

Our friend Dean Gold who owned Dino's in Cleveland Park may have closed this winter, but he reopened with a bang at DINO's GROTTO in Shaw at 1914 Ninth Street, just below U St and it's even better than before.
We went with several friends and Samuel on Sunday night and everyone had a superb time with excellent service from Hope and the wonderful hospitality from the owners that everyone always experiences.
Downstairs is THE GROTTO or bar, and up a half flight of steps is a large airy dining room with composite/linoleum like tables, brick walls, Venetian watercolors and a beautiful encased quilt on the wall towards the rear.
It's simple, not too noisy, even when full, and very cozy.
Samuel was feeling uninspired and ordered the Garlic & Oil Spaghetti and really did not want to taste anything else. He did ask for some tomato sauce to put on the spaghetti, but I have to say I think our son is reverting into a bore when it comes to dining out!
We started with a Vignetti Massa herbaceous "Timorasso" 2010 from Piemonte which we loved wit all the varied starters we passed around:
CARCIOFI alla GIUDIA which were awesome deep fried baby artichokes with silk road spices, lemon & black salt.
SQUASH BLOSSOMS in season (yay) which are griddled with herbed ricotta, house summer tomato essence with a bit of a spicy kick
I had ordered PICKLED RAMPS & LOCAL GREEN BEANS along with my main coarse but am so happy that Hope brought them with the appetizers since they packed a real pickle punch and would have overwhelmed my entrée.
Will tried the half portion of CHECCA-a local heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, abundant garlic, black pepper, basil occhipinti, olio on spaghetti.
And I went the route of Charcuterie which was oh so rewarding with a plate of
PICKLED LAMB TOUNGUE (Border Springs) with Anchovy Salsa Verde which was tender and tasty
"CORNED BEEF" -19 day spice-brined beef (Shenandoah Valley Co-op) with horseradish, caper & mascarpone cream -your grandma never made it like this!
SHROOMS & PORK with Hazelnut, ginger mostarda that was also divine.
There are other meat and cheese options making this antipasto of protein a big plus on my menu choices every time.
By this time we had switched to a ZIDARICH "Teran" or Terrano grape KASRTS 2009 from Fruili near Slovenia which does indeed have that limestone characteristic from the karst topography, even though the wine is fairly light in depth.
For the main course we could not resist the SOFT SHELL CRABS which were grilled with summer tomato sauce and served with roasted new potatoes coated with yummy herbs. It made me glad to be back in DC as we have missed these treats so much.
For dessert Will went choco crazy for the TORTA AL CIOCCOLATO with walnut crumble, Valrhona chocolate ganache and whipped cream which he instantly asked to be switched for vanilla gelato!
I adored my less indulgent PEACH PARFAIT which had fresh baked spiced peaches with house granola and a dash of whipped mascarpone to hold it all together almost like a breakfast parfait. YUM!

It took us several months since Dino's Grotto opened in Shaw, but it won't take that long for us to go back!