Last night two friends joined me at DINO's IN SHAW (www.dinoinshaw.com) for another superb dinner that seemed to go on forever and highlighted amazing local produce that is so excellent at this time of year.
I get Chef Dean's facebook feeds and just before arriving I got the one with the Blackberry Daiquiri and Grilled Apricots which both made my mouth water, so those were the first choices. The Daiquiri was tart with fresh blackberries and not cloying or sweet at all; the perfect summer drink. The apricots are served with Pancetta, filled with mascarpone and on a bed of saba (I tried to understand the difference between this and balsamic, but it went over my head) and red salt which brings out all the flavors of the fruit and just makes it so beyond excellent.
We started with a bottle of Santadi "Villa Solais" 2014 Vermentino which is also served by the glass and is a superb and reasonably priced white that goes with practically everything.
Our server Kelliann always had a smile, always checked on us and made sure all our requests were quickly satisfied, and she was funny as well.
Trio of Tapenades arrived and my favorite with the grilled crostini was the spicy Yogurt with Roasted Red Pepper, the Kalamata Olive was a huge hit and the Corona Bean seemed to be the least favorite, but it was still very tasty. Duck Fat Potatoes here are amazing and served with Parmesan Reggiano Cheese, Garlic, herbs and Black Truffle Salt. Indeed when the steak arrived during the main course, we craved to have this decadent version as the plain ones were just that.
A gorgeous plate of huge fresh Squash Blossoms arrived filled with Ricotta Cheese, Garlic & Herbs floating on a light summery Tomato Essence...OMG.
We switched wines to a silky superb Occhipinti "Frappato" 2013 from Sicilia and I kept wondering why the label had SP68 on it. Our server, Kerriann joked that it was the sunblock level (like SPF), but we soon discovered it is for the local street route number (Strada provincial in Italian)! No matter, this wine was indeed divine and nothing could detract from that.
Next came our pasta plate and we choose the Fettuccine with again those superb Local Squash Blossoms as well as Grilled Local Corn & Asparagus with a sauce of Prosecco, butter, veggie stock and a dash of cream; it was light refreshing and full of summer. The highlight of the meal for me was the Crab Royale Stuffed Artichoke which was a huge "crabcake" pile of lump & jumbo MD. Blue crab on a huge artichoke heart with house aioli and Silk Road Spice Butter which packed a kick making this a flavorful winner over any recent crabcake(photos on my FB page). Sauteed Red Chard on the side was flavorful and crunchy.
The main course which we all three shared (and you can see a photo of on my FB page) was a humongous Bistecca of Porterhouse steak that weighed in at 1 Kilo (that's 2.2 pounds for the conversion challenged) from Shenandoah Valley Beef Coop. It comes with Tuscan Potatoes (switch them for the Duck Fat if you can) and Sauteed Kale, but it is the meat that shines here. You know I am not a steak person, but this rare delight had that same silk road spice and tasted simply perfect. We were so full, about 1/4 had to go home for later. Stand aside Morton's here comes Dino's!
We split the Peach Parfait for dessert, another combination of fresh local ingredients of Peaches, more silk road spice in the yogurt with Bourbon and Maple Syrup over House made Granola. This is one superb treat and very light even after the biggest of meals; don't skip it!
Blueberrycello came in iced glasses and hinted of herbs and tasted so refreshing before we took our leave after way over 3 hours....what a delightful way to begin the Fourth of July weekend. Happy Holiday.