Enzo At Teatro Goldoni's Chef's Table: D. C.'s Absolute New Standard
City Paper: "Simply stated, he’s turning out the most creative Italian dishes I’ve tasted since Fabio Trabocchi hightailed it to New York City."
Don Rockwell: "The Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni may be the greatest dining experience in Washington, DC right now."
John Mariani in Esquire, "Chefs to Watch in 2008"
Enzo Fargione is, at present, Washington's most imaginative and deliciously creative chef. Ten of us descended on Teatro Goldoni's expanded Chef's Table last night and found it impossible not to compare elements of the experience and his talent to Fabio at Maestro, Roberto at The Lab, Johnny Monis at Komi, even Minibar. Most of us agreed that Enzo's Chef's Table experience, is extraordinary theatre, topping the current D. C. favorite Komi, as the city's most satisfying and unique dining experience.
The comparisons to Fabio and even Massimilliano at Rubano's three Michelin star Le Calandre are inescapable. Cigar box branzino with smoke wafting out, an egg shell with the head of a prawn seemingly crawling out and a presentation of green tea soup incoporating foie gras and a depth of flavor that, for me, is my current choice as the single best dish in any restaurant in the Washington, D. C. area. With the escaping shrimp from the egg shell a very close second, served minutes apart. Factor in extraordinary gnocchi, exemplery sea bass along with excellent tomatoey lobster risotto, a "study in fennel" and 15 or more dishes (this dinner approaches a total of twenty tastes and courses which lasts over four hours) and it is remarkable that this is not a far more difficult reservation than the six seat Minibar.
Approximately half of the dishes are available in Teatro Goldoni's dining room as part of their regular menu. The Chef's Table is open to a minimum of four (up to six) people in a large booth adjacent to the open kitchen. For larger groups such as ours' tables can be arranged as a type of "stage" in the middle of the main dining room. (Quite appropriate really since Teatro Goldoni is a very real theatre of taste and presentation.) In both situations Enzo plays a primary role discussing and presenting the dinner with everyone at the table. Not only is he gifted in the kitchen but he is also a wonderful ambassador for the delicious glitz that he graces his tables with.
I did not take notes on the dinner. Technique for many of the dishes was complex, often with at least four people simultaneously laboring over the several trays that were being presented to us. The assemblage of several of these such as the eggshell were incredibly labor intensive. Rich, intense stock reductions, textural interplay as well as instructions for maximum crunch or most flavorful sip accompanied a number of dishes.
The $125 prix fixe (+$60 for the wine pairing) seemed to all ten of us an absolute bargain for the level of this extraordinary experience.
Chowhound.com/topics/518053 is the link to a post of mine raving about the ascension of Komi to D. C.'s top rung from May of this year. Today, Enzo stands alone at the top of Washington's ladder. His is the absolute destination to experience and judge for yourself.
Enzo's Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni: it is going to be talked about...
This is a representative menu for Enzo's Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni (Thank you, Chef, for supplying the list) The two that I have placed asterisks next to are mentioned by me above:
Deconstructed Sicilian green olives
Gorgonzola pannacotta wrapped in Parma prosciutto and black pepper
Anise dusted seared tuna lollipops
Cornets of vinegar cured salmon belly with crispy fennel and California Osetra caviar
Solid spicy bloody mary on a spoon with candied celery
Mix shellfish broth in an eggshell with basil gelatin infusion** ("escaping shrimp from the
eggshell mentioned above")
4 minutes smoked Branzino carpaccio in a cigar box
Cold Stone style veal filet carpaccio on a marble slab with cornet condiments and black truffles
Green pea cappuccino in an espresso cup with brule`fois gras custard and crispy leeks** (possibly the single best dish I've had in the D. C. area in the past year)
Wet/dry instant minestrone soup in a coffee press pot and pesto broth
Lobster risotto with cherry tomatoes confit served in a caviar tin and crispy basil and artichoke chips
Red beets pasta fagottini filled with fonduta cheese and running quail egg asparagus puree` black truffles parmesan shaves
Yukon potato gnocchi in roasted artichoke hearts ragu` braised veal cheeks in port wine and Castelrosso cheese "air"
Two colors miniature open raviolo filled with porcini ragu` creamy robiola cheese sage foam and white truffles
Baked chilean sea bass with 3 fennels and a saffron broth with solid extra virgin olive oil
Salt cured Moularde duck breast and a cube of chestnut puree`braised quince crispy spinach and balsamic chocolate sauce
Pre dessert bites
A study of chocolate and its dusts with chocolate sorbet
Panettone and warm chocolate/ pistachio cider sauce with Christmas ornaments
Cigar on an ashtray with lit spun sugar smoke
Fabulous post, Joe. I look forward to going.
It sounds like maybe one should at least skip lunch before undertaking this experience. What is your impression?
Chef Fargione's cooking transcends Italian, much like Chef Monis' cooking transcends Greek. Both are creating one of a kind feasts that are unmatached in DC. Go hungry so you can try every single course.