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Excellent, Reliable, Upscale Italian for 20th Anniversary

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eileend Oct 26, 2006 01:00 AM

We live in northern VA, about 8 miles out of D.C. We are celebrating our 20th, and mother and father-in-law are coming from Cape Cod to celebrate with us in mid-Nov. My daughter is vegetarian, so the safest way to go, after a few years experience with this, is Italian. We want upscale and very good service for this event. We thought we might get a limo and do a night tour of the monuments after dinner. My first thought was Galileo, but I see that it is closed, which is a big bummer. I have been to Tosca several times, and have not been impressed with the food, which has consistenly been too salty for us, and ok, but not great, service.

I do not want to leave this dinner disappointed in either food or service. I looked at Maestro at Ritz Tyson (which has a veg. option) but this will be a weekend night and we don't want to pay that price for a tasting menu. Help with other options?

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  1. Geoff RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 12:52 PM

    How about Obelisk on P St. in Dupont? I've had nothing but wonderful meals there.

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      eileend RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 01:43 PM

      Thank you Geoff, that is a great suggestion. I have not been there but just looked at the descriptions and reviews online and it looks great. I've never eaten in a dining room that small; I hope it isn't too clautrophobic, but the food sounds very good. Since the menu changes each day, I will call them to discuss vegetarian items.

      Any other suggestions?

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        BookGuy RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 03:56 PM

        Tosca is a reliable and expensive high class Italian restaurant. I was there last with a meat eater but asked the waiter if there was a vegetarian tasting menu. He said not specifically but a telephone call when making the reservation would show them to be qutie accommodating.

        1. Geoff RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 04:10 PM

          A couple more ideas. The only other higher end Italian that comes to mind is Notti Bianche in Foggy Bottom. I've been once and it was lovely. Many comments on this board you can read.

          For Italian, but perhaps not as high end as you're seeking, consider Dino in Cleveland Park. Loads of comments on this board. My experiences there have been good. it's more of a nice neighborhood rather than outright destination place, but if it's Italian you want, this could fit your bill.

          But.....you don't necessarily need Italian; you need good vegetarian options. Two places I suggest you consider, and I invite others to comment on vegetarian experiences: Corduroy and Blue Duck Tavern. I'm in the "Corduroy is still one of the most underrated places in town" camp; everything i've had there has been terrific, and i salivate with envy when i get the occasional "had lunch today at Corduroy" note from my wife. Blue Duck is over in the West End. I've really enjoyed my visits, and love the space as well.

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            BrianD RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 04:13 PM

            I would second the recommendation for Obelisk. If you can't get in the date you're looking for, another option is Teatro Goldoni on K Street -- though it's been a while since I've been there.

            1. jpschust RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 05:05 PM

              I'm going to second Dino. It's not as upscale as some of the ones named, but the food is great as is the wine selection.

              Alas, I'm in the Corduroy is overrated camp and should barely be over 21 in Zagat.

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                MakingSense RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 05:53 PM

                I'm firmly in the Corduroy as underated camp but the dining room is not knock-your-socks-off.
                Google Butterfield 9. Their Vegetarian Degustation could convert a carnivore. Ethereal gnocchi. Fabulous farro risotto. Pheasant with black mission figs. Their wine pairings are brilliant on the set menus. Excellent service.

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                  bensherman RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 09:59 PM

                  I recently had an incredible experience at Al Crostino on U st. They had several vegetarian options, which I've found hard to get at Italian restaurant (beyond fettuccine al fredo.)

                  The chef has some great ideas and we were VERY happy. The service was wonderful, but not formal.

                  The only thing I'd caution is that the specials at substantially more expensive than the regular menu ($25-30 vs $10-20).

                  Good luck, let us know how your meal goes.

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                    GregJ RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 10:30 PM

                    I think in the end Dino's is likely to be a destination place, though it may not be there yet. If wine is important to you when you have a "big night out," this could be a good option for you. I've been there twice (including New Year's Eve) and had great meals (and wine) both times. Check out the owner's web site, where he has posted, among other things, articles about his trips to Italy.

                    As to Notti Bianche, the food is very, very good and (based on one recent experience) so is the service. The problem there is the space. It's simply not especially charming.

                    One of these days you should try Maestro. We went there on our 25th wedding anniversary and thought it was one of the most wonderful meals we ever had. It's expensive, no doubt about it.

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                      eileend RE: eileend Oct 26, 2006 11:04 PM

                      I am checking back here at the end of the day and really appreciate all of the replies. I've been to Teatro Goldini three times and, to be honest, was underwhelmed by the service each time. Butterfield 9 is an option; I liked it the two times I was there but did not pay attn. to the vegetarian options, as my daughter wasn't veg. then. I have a luncheon engagement next week in that area and will book it at Butterfield to check it out. The others I have not been to, but I am going to look into each of them. I read some posts here about Notti Bainchi recently when we were trying to find a place to dine before the Kennedy Center, and I really wish I had gone there to check it out instead of the bistro at One Washington Circle (which had terrible service on a very slow Sun. night and the rissoto my daughter had was inedible).

                      Thanks so much for the recommendations. I will keep checking for further replies. And I will post back on where we end up and how it goes. I really am hoping for a nice night without any regrets for the special occasion.

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