Tom Sietsema reviews Osteria Morini, the New York transplant that has found a home on the Capitol Riverfront. He calls it "the most fly reason to explore the emerging" neighborhood (outside of the trapeze school, anyway).
Morini's wood-fired grill is the source of some of my happiest meals at the restaurant, which also counts a sibling in New Jersey. There are a monster pork chop, sliced just before serving and mounted on shaved Brussels sprouts, and even better lamb chops, a main course made colorful with silky fried peppers. Cornish hen, roasted on the stove, emerges juicy from the heat and leaves the kitchen with an escort of soft butter beans laced with prosciutto. Short ribs pick up an Italian accent from their braise in sangiovese followed by a garnish of gremolata. The very good beef is paired with whipped potatoes that smack as much of butter as tuber. No complaints here.
The place doesn't taste like a chain, he says, awarding it two stars, even if service can be a little canned. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner reviews Thomas Foolery, the fun and goofy bar in Dupont Circle that forces D.C. residents to take themselves a little less seriously.
But the food and cocktails, even when they surprise you with their quality, are beside the point. They're so beside the point that the staff won't even tell you when they're out of chips to accompany the Midnight Moon sandwich (an excellent combo of goat cheese, Gouda and caramelized onions on muti-grain bread). They'll just give you extra gherkins instead. The only element here that a "Portlandia"-style trend-humper could endorse is the craft beer list, which runs 40-plus bottles, an oasis of cool in Legoland. [WaPo]
Capital File checks out Rialto in Georgetown.
But, while the cheese is an important piece of this Italian eatery, especially for classic Neapolitan pizza, vegetables are important as well—maybe even more so. They shine not only in salads and vegetarian dishes, but they even add an unexpected zap of fresh flavor to seafood and pasta plates. The capesante, for instance—seared diver scallops in a balsamic reduction served with fresh lentils and spinach—are perfection. [CF]
Todd Kliman has a quick take on Urban Butcher in Silver Spring. "What is the strategy for eating here? I haven't figured it out. I loved a lamb tartare, but the house-made pastrami was tough. A lamb shank with lentils was too fatty, though its flavors were complex; ox brisket was just as fatty, and just as flavorful. The last thing I'd expect to find is a chocolate soufflé, but it is one of the best items on the menu." [Washingtonian]
Stefanie Gans orders flounder au gratin at Cheng's Asian House. "I'm glad I did. The steamed, then baked, fish arrives in a silver fish-shaped platter and is utterly tender. It combines heavy cream and cheddar with Maggi Seasoning (like soy) and cilantro, mixing Continental cooking with Eastern flavors. It's a dish that owner Louis Cheng, 69, has kept on the menu at his various restaurants for the last 10 years after learning it from a Filipino employee." [Nova Mag]
Don Rockwell has a chill visit at Cowboy Cafe. "It was a quick, 45-minute in-and-out, and a well-cooked blue-plate-special sort-of dinner. I keep waiting for Cowboy Cafe to falter (it changed ownership awhile back), and maybe it's because I order well, but I seem to have pretty good luck here." [DR]
Osteria Morini [Photo: Facebook]