Thursday, December 27, 2012


Last year about this time, we were eating our way through Italy.  Ever since that trip, we've been searching for great Italian food in DC.  Dino in Cleveland Park was recommended to us as a way to fill the Italian culinary void.  When two of our buddies were visiting and staying at the nearby Marriott Wardman Park, we whisked them out of the Woodley Park Culinary Wasteland (that's WPCW . . . it's going to catch on like NoMa, just watch) and up the street to Dino.

The dish we came to Dino for was B's favorite dish in all of Italy: deep fried Roman-Jewish style artichokes.  We haven't found them on any other menu in DC and salivated at the thought of recreating such a great Roman memory.  Dino's version was close-ish, but not quite there.  These artichokes were baby-sized and had a different texture than the mammoth artichokes in Rome's Jewish quarter.  Still fun to try, but didn't hit the mark.

We have a hard time turning down burrata (mozzarella and cream) when we see it on any menu.  Dino's version was a little zippier than most thanks to the red pepper puree and tapenade served with it.

B's lasagna was the soul-warming homemade variety that is perfect on these cold winter nights.  It had a very powerful bacon flavor, which may be perfect for you if you're one of those "everything is better with bacon" folks.  If you're not, or if you have food allergies or gluten restrictions, Dino has a lot of helpful notes on the menu denoting special dishes.

The pappardelle with ground wild boar was more exciting on the menu than it was to eat.  The boar imparted a nearly overpowering sweetness that needed to be balanced out by something saltier or spicier.

We liked dessert more than the rest of our meal.  The chocolate torta with a buttery spiced walnut crust was ridiculously good and I couldn't keep my fork away from it.

B loved the apple pancake with spiced Tuscan batter and house-made vanilla bean gelato.

Dino did not transport us back to Rome, but it was a pleasant night on the town with great friends capped off with two of the more memorable desserts we've had in a while.

Second Thoughts From B

Of all the wonderful things we ate in Italy, fried artichoke is what I miss.  Was it the best thing?  Maybe.  Was it something that I've yet to find in the States?  Absolutely.

You can find great pasta, great pizza, great cheese, great wine, great most anything Italian around here.  We are certainly not wanting for many things.  Yet somehow, great fried artichoke remains elusive.

This is the second place that Google has identified (Bethesda's Food Wine & Co was the first) and the second one that only reminds me how good the artichoke was in Rome.

But enough nostalgia and unfair comparisons, and back to Dino.  I feel that there was a lot more excitement reading the menu than eating the food.  It wasn't bad, in fact, it was quite good.  Rather, the ideas on the page were excellent and raised expectations to unreasonably high levels.  Kind of like our trip to Italy...
Dino on Urbanspoon


Alix said...

District Kitchen in Woodley is delicious! And can any neighborhood with a Chipotle really be called a wasteland?

J said...

We'll give District Kitchen a try. And thank goodness for Chipotle for saving Woodley Parkians from starvation!