Italian on Capitol Hill
OMG Spinasse was awesome!! We went spur of the moment on Friday and called ahead, but they were booked (the bar is open to first come, first served - about 8 seats). We only had to wait about 20 minutes. Yes, it is pricey but the food quality, service, wine list and atmosphere were all spot on. The wine list is all Italian - with great selections from Piedmont, by the glass, half liter or bottle for a lot of the choices. Service was casual and friendly, but efficient without a drop of pretension. The room reminded us a lot of one of our favorite Portland joints, Le Pigeon. Great small touches around the room and nice mood lighting.
OK, the food:
First they brought out an amuse bouche of crostini with ricotta and mint, and another of rabbit liver. These boded well for the meal to come. We started with the Marinated Beet and Farro Salad which was divine (and healthy, too!) and the Chicory with roasted rabbit loin, parmesan and balsamic vinegar - also a hit. Next, was pasta, what Justin Neidermeyer is known for, and they did not disappoint. Delicious delicate ravioli was filled with rapini and I think a bit of ricotta? bathed in sage butter with pinenuts. The tajarin was cooked to perfection served with a very satisfying meat ragu. For entree, my husband and I shared the lamb leg. Really good and accompanied by braised chickpea and peppers. We skipped dessert - they had a cheese and a poached peach with hazelnuts but I was craving chocolate so we hit the Q for Haagen Daaz instead. The server admitted they are still working on the dessert portion of the menu.
Overall, a fantastic experience and we can't wait to go back. I was completely satisfied even though I couldn't have any wine (I'm pregnant), because my taste buds were so happy! I hesitated writing a good review because I'm selfish and don't want it to be so hard to get into, but there is no avoiding that so go soon before the word is out to the masses!
We went to Spinasse very early on (three weeks ago?). The mistake we made was bringing vegans, though we were assured that there would be no problem with accomodating their dietary restrictions. We actually talked to the restaurant twice, and were assured that this would not be an issue. Maybe it was because it was early on in their life, but it turned into a huge hassle, with basically one thing on the menu that would accomodate them. We ordered additional vegetable sides to feed people and that ended up being pretty expensive. Also, we had a large group (8) and we're locked in to everyone agreeing on what to order. It seems like it works much better with smaller groups.
I would try again, with two to four people with no restrictions. It was sort of an unfair way to start, but the service was clumsy at that point, and we left feeling a little unsatisfied. The pasta, itself, was excellent. Just be careful going with people who are strict vegans.
Spinasse is open in the old 'Globe' space on 14th. Went this week with my better half - it was fantastic. Better than the meal the same chef (Justin Neidermeyer) did at the Corson Building in July.
Yes, the pasta is absurdly good.
The only downside in my book is the mostly communal tables which can be real hit or miss - not everyone is great company. We found sitting at the bar where we could watch the kitchen a more pleasant and intimate experience, reminding us both a bit of the old (pre-expansion) Matt's in the Market. The bar is also the only area where you can order a la carte - but seating there is first-come only, no reservations.
Are you thinking of Spinasse? If so, yes they are open. I haven't been yet but a neighbor of mine went...she seemed to enjoy it but said it was spendy. I've heard through the grapevine that they've modified their menu to have more reasonably priced items.