There was much ado over chef Enzo Fargione's return to fine dining in DC with the debut of Elisir three weeks ago. The former Teatro Goldoni chef was gambling on a restaurant with two tasting menus, a show kitchen and several of his old tricks such as the branzino carpaccio served in a cigar box. Though most of the diners who've made early pilgrimmages to the restaurant have noted some kinks to be worked out, the early word is overall great news for Elisir. Let's see what they have to say.
The Friends and Family News: From the Eater tipline: "Had the good fortune to be invited to Elisir this evening. It was delightful in all respects. The staff was on top of every detail, our lead waiter, Mikey supervised an impeccable delivery of food and drink. I had my doubts on the tasting menu, but by the end of the evening I became a believer in Chef Enzo. Chef's artistic presentation was rivaled only by the taste combinations of the seven courses. Got to get back soon, perhaps to try the lunch menu!" [Eater Tipline]
The Critic News: The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema stopped in at Elisir early on and wrote the following in a First Bite column: "It has been so long since a new restaurant opened with linens on its tables that the sight of cloth covering surface at Elisir is alone something to applaud. But the arrival of three house-made salts and a trio of Italian olive oils with a choice of multiple breads broadens my smile as well." [WaPo]
The Pretty Good News: The City Paper's Chris Shott was among the first diners in the door at Elisir and tried that branzino carpaccio: "Several bite-sized slices of seabass line the bottom of the serving tray, drizzled with a citrus dressing and topped with shaved mushrooms, pea tendrils and blood oranges. I enjoyed the combination of flavors—salty, sweet and a little peppery—but wondered whether the thing might be just a tad overdressed. The fish is really buried under all that stuff. It is altogether tasty, nonetheless." [WCP]
The Has Potential News: Another Eater tipster writes in: "I dined at Elisir on their second or third night open, and while there are some kinks to be worked out, I definitely see/taste potential there... even with the 29-cent water..." [Eater Tipline]
The Good News: TastingTable declared that Fargione is back and recommends this pasta: "Thick sheets of squid-ink pasta--looking like runaway lasagna layers--tangle with equally al dente saffron noodles ($29). Packed with sweet chunks of lobster, roasted tomatoes and basil, the dish is a simple but stellar reprieve." [TT]
The Great News: We Love DC filed a rave: "I headed to Elisir for its first dinner post soft-opening, and was pleasantly surprised there were no signs that the restaurant in Penn Quarter had literally just opened its doors that same week. The staff was beyond attentive without being intrusive and knew the menu cold. The lighting was bright and refreshing, and the open kitchen area was amazing. Basically, Elisir lived up to Italian fine dining as billed, without being pretentious or stuffy." [We Love DC]
The Fantastic News: One very enthusiastic diner (and likely a friend of the restaurant) took to Twitter to compare Elisir favorably with Komi, Rogue 24 and New York's Eleven Madison Park: "Sorry Komi Sorry 24 Had best tasting menu in DC Monday @Elisir_DC Service as good as EMP. Food more than memorable." [Twitter]