Obelisk or Tosca
We are going to be in DC for three days in October. We would like one Italian meal and have narrowed down the list to Obelisk or Tosca. Both get good reviews and seem to be about the same price point. Anyone able to compare and contrast these restaurants for me to help me decide which one.
Thanks for any opinions.
I haven't been to Tosca, but I do recommend Obelisk. Here are my thoughts on Obelisk from my recent trip to D.C.:
[At Obelisk] I opted for the gnocchi as my first course, squab with chanterelles for the main dish, and a chocolate/hazelnut cake for dessert. Obelisk is not content with serving just three courses, however. The antipasti consisted of a marinated sardine, fried squash blossom, bruschetta, pork on a stick (much tastier than it sounds), and a healthy portion of creamy burrata. I could have made a meal from the antipasti course alone. Before dessert we were also treated to a cheese course, and then a few sweet bites following dessert. The main course was actually the least impressive dish of the entire meal. The squab was tasty, but a little tough. To be fair, I haven't had much experience with squab, so it might just be a traditionally tough bird. This is a minor complaint, however, as the entire meal was fantastic. The $70 price tag actually seemed like a steal for as much great food as we were served. Obelisk is highly recommended.
The food is great at both, so in that respect you really can't go wrong with either one. Obelisk is a tiny restaurant. It is quieter and a bit more casual than Tosca. The service at Obelisk is more personal too.
i just did a post on Obelisk the other day ("another stellar dining experience" it was called) so you can look at that for detail. I love Tosca too though. It just depends on what you are looking for. Tosca is more elegant...a dress/suit and tie for men are sort of expected. They do have a 3 course meal before 7 each night for $35 which is a steal for such good food/service/atmosphere.
But there is truly noplace like Obelisk anywhere that i've ever been (outside Italy that is). Maybe you could go to one the first night and the other one the last night?? Truly, you could do that and not feel like you had the same meal both nights. Obelisk is more northern italian (not big red sauce) and Tosca was more red sauce-like although in a very elegant way.
Make sure you post back and tell us what you decided to do!
Agree with what everyone has said about the ambience at both restaurants. To me Obelisk is more of a special occasion restaurant. I usually have my birthday dinners or anniversaries there, but Tosca is a more an everyday kind of place, if that makes sense. Both make delicious food. My family is Italian, and I've been very happy with what I've had at both places. At Obelisk, I had a delcious meal a while back with John Dory as my main course, delcious garlicky periwinkles mixed with homemade pasta and a sorbetto/gelato dessert made with fresh fruits. Everything tasted wonderful. At Tosca, I love the salads and my mouth still waters when I think of the rabbit ragu I had with tagliatelle. It reminded me of my grandmother Venturella's cooking - so it was pretty great!