We have known Chef Amy Brandwein for decades since she started at Galileo with Roberto Donna and it is such a treat that after years with Roberto and at other fine establishments in the DC area, she is now in her own place. Osteria CENTROLINA opened just weeks ago at 974 Palmer Alley (centrolinadc.com) in the new elegant CityCenter DC complex which is gorgeous.
The fact that earlier in the week, the Zagat guide listed Centrolina as one of the 15 hottest new dining spots in the entire USA made the place booming and I am sure it will continue to do so, as the food is simply superb.
It's not huge and shares space with the Centrolina Market selling some excellent foods, drinks and treats. I will state up front, that the space is noisy, but I took three performers (a pianist and two opera singers) as well as two dear friends/clients (after a recital they gave at the Phillips Collection) and we were so involved in conversation all night, the noise didn't bother us.
We sat down and right away bumped into friends Wendy Rieger and Jim Handley from NBC dining at the next table! It's definitely a fun place for everyone.
I perused the not too big wine list and decided on two reds, a huge Barolo for later and a Bastioni Chianti to start. After a while our server, Steve returned to advise the Chianti was out, but that they had a superb Tascante, Ghiaia Nera 2012 from Sicily which we all agreed was superb with black cherry overtones and lush flavor.
The menu has starters/pastas/mains and is very simple and straightforward. I suggested we each choose a starter and main and split two pastas.
Steve began to scribble our choices:
Burrata came with Zucchini Scapece
Crudo was tune with yummy beets, first tomatoes and lemon
Pulpo was seasoned amazingly with paprika and came with potato confit, cotechino and celery salad.
We enjoyed the Tascante so much we asked for another bottle, but they were out of that, so we were offered a Zisola Nero di Avola from Sicily 2011 made by Mazzei that I said was like black chalk. Not bad chalk, yummy earthy, deep black wine, that was super with our pastas.
I had asked for one order of Reginette which is Quid ink with black cod, crab, morels and chanterelles, but they were out of that (already three down!) and I know I will have it next time and arrive earlier!
We ordered the table's choice of Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu (an old favorite of Roberto Donna) with black olive and Nebbiolo which was good, but the
Ceci e Tria was a spectacular buckwheat with chickpeas, anchovy and garlic that packed a superb spicy kick.
As I mentioned I ordered a Barolo earlier and you can imagine my face when the sommeileuse came over to say they were out of that. She offered up a divine Situ Moresco 2011 "Barolo-style" wine which ran much higher, but for the same price. I was a happy camper.
Almost all of us ordered the same main course, Tonno or rare tuna with a huge bone marrow (my FB page has a photo of the singers with the bones in their mouths--as well as the dish itself) on the plate, charred onion, snap pea and a rich pinot nero sauce.
Across from me, piled high so I could almost not see my guest, was Fritto Misto of chicken, lamb, veal, sausage, zucchini, onion and just about anything that can be fried. I don't see how one person could ever eat this. Veggies available as side dishes included my favorite Rapini with Garlic, Anchovy, Hot peppers and lemon zest. The Farro comes with wood roasted mushrooms, peas and peas shoots and is also quite filling and tasty and the Asparagus are roasted perfectly with green garbanzos and citrus zest.
We were all full, but could not resist dessert or cheese and agreed on two desserts to share as well as one cheese plate. It was a brilliant choice.
Torta di Limone is ricotta, pistachio, lemon and is scattered with black and red raspberries. The Pignoli is ike a pecan pie but richer with a pine-nut honey crostata and a parmesam puff as well as chocolate drizzle and gelato.
The cheeses were all tasty and varied and came with superb crisp fruited crackers that were very very thin as well as mostardo, pear jam/mostardo mix and some fresh currants.
Molaterno is a sheep cheese from Puglia that is akin to parmesan
Truffaldino is a British truffled cheddar
Jershire is a Pennsylvania cow
Gorgonzola Dolce (super with the pear jam/mostardo)
We were all thrilled with the food, the service and offer our sincerest congratulations to DC's newest hottest Chef Amy Brandwein and her entire staff.