You know when it's so hot outside that you feel like your brain is melting? It's one of those days. The last thing we wanted to do was come up with something to cook for dinner or turn on the oven, so we engaged our trusty discount friend Village Vines (now known as Savored - explained here) and made a reservation at Teatro Goldoni for 30% percent off.
Though we probably would've made a reservation at any place with air conditioning, we chose this Italian stalwart on K Street. Almost every time we're in the car we're driving down K Street, so it's safe to say we've passed Teatro Goldoni hundreds of times. Though I'd heard pretty decent reviews of their newish chef and his menu, nothing had ever drawn us in. Leave it to a discount to get us in the door.
The atmosphere is swanky and visually interesting with a wall of Venetian masks and rich fabrics and paint colors. It reminded me of a classier version of the Venetian in Vegas. While I'd read Yelp horror stories of bad service, the staff was very attentive and their water refiller was spot on. Thank goodness for the water guy on such a miserably hot day.
Teatro Goldoni has standard appetizer and entree offerings, but you can also order small plates if that's your jam. I'm taking a small plates break, so suggested to B that we go the standard route. For his starter, B ordered the beet salad with gorgeous yellow and red beets, goat cheese, greens, artichoke chips, and a citrus dressing. The dish was a winning combination of bold flavors, colors, and textures. The citrus dressing kicked you in the face with its tartness, but the earthy beets swooped in to mellow it out. A nice surprise to start things off.
I tried the buffalo mozzarella with baby eggplant, candied cherry tomatoes, and balsamic gelatin. First, for those who complain that we don't post pictures of ourselves on the blog, here's my arm!
Second, the mozzarella dish was more beautiful than it was tasty. The individual components of the dish were fun, but there were too many things going on that didn't quite play nicely together.
B ordered the red snapper which featured another gorgeous presentation. B loved the flavor, but it came up a little short on a couple of elements that would have made it an excellent dish. The fish was a little on the over-cooked side and a little on the under-sized side.
If there was any doubt about what kind of risotto I ordered, check out Larry the Lobster!
Can't say I've ever had a lobster head in my risotto before. Luckily, the lobster head was not the only trace of lobster in the dish. It had nice, big chunks of lobster meat and a very good creamy sauce. Like B's dish, it had one thing keeping it from excellence: the risotto was undercooked. Close to a home run but we had to settle for a triple. The portion was generous enough for me to have leftovers for an awesome lobster lunch at work. Score!
Second Thoughts From B
Sticking with the theatrical theme, I felt that Teatro Goldoni is like a young actress: pretty, full of potential, but lacking polish.
I don't know that I can remember a restaurant that had such consistently beautiful plates of food. Each one could have been mistaken for modern art. And yes, I know that modern art isn't always aesthetically beautiful but we're talking lobster heads here.
The dishes were also well conceived, and even when they missed the mark a little, you could tell where the chef was going. There seemed to always be depth to the complementary flavors and textures despite the minor technical flaws.
The bottom line is that a minute or two on or off the heat could have made good dishes into outstanding ones and that earns Teatro Goldoni a spot on our watch list . . . our coupon watch list.