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Locanda v. Dino / Proof v. PS7s

I have a friend visiting next weekend and I am using it as a excuse to try another restaurant on the Washingtonian Top 100 List. I've narrowed it down to four restaurants for two nights: Locanda, Dino, Proof and PS7s. If I had to pick two based on food and atmosphere, what would your suggestions be? We are two early 30-somethings looking to catch up over some good food in a relaxed environment. Menu should include some not so crazy items for my friend (steak or chicken is usually a good bet).

Thanks!

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  1. I haven't been to Locando or Dino so skipping that.

    Proof v. PS7- I think PS7 is a little quieter, I think the food and wine are more interesting at Proof. If I was just going to the lounge PS7 would wine, but for dinner, I would go to Proof.

    1. PS7s and Proof are both modern American, so I would only choose one of them. Dino is definitely worth going to, and you will drink very well at all 3 - great, reasonably priced wine lists.

      I wouldn't put Locanda in the same class as the others.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DanielK

        Yes, to clarify it would be Dino or Locanda, Proof or PS7s.

        Thanks!

        1. re: DanielK

          I agree with Daniel and would give the edge to PS7s. Proof can get a bit sceney.

        2. i think proof has some of the best food in the city, hands-down. PS7 is very good but inconsistent in my experience. i've never once had a bad meal at proof.

          1. Between Proof and PS7 I would definitely chose PS7. I enjoyed Proof the last time I was there and would definitely go back again to try more menu items, but didn't feel that the food or service were quite up to the standards of PS7 overall (the veal sweetbreads at Proof were fantastic but other items were just so-so).

            1. I haven't been to Locanda yet so I can't really say which I prefer in the that match up (although I like Dino, especially as a reliable neighborhood restaurant.)

              In terms of Proof vs. PS7, I prefer PS7. I had a good meal at Proof but I feel their appetizers are far better then the entrees (they do have one of the better gnocchi dishes in town though. And the tuna tartar was good, but not better then PS7). Plus the service I had both times was only so-so.

              At PS7 I've always had excellent service and I find the food interesting and inventive without being too over the top. Your friend will be able to find normal items (the trout is simple and delicious, I also had a great steak dish before). I also found Proof pretty loud and crowded at times, where at PS7 the tables are more spaced out and are more comfortable for catching up.

              1. Maybe instead of Dino or Locando, why not try Posto in Logan. That's of you want to stay with an Italian twist. They have great wine and a good "scene" for 30-somethings.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Jacey

                  I'd love to try Posto, since it is just steps from my front door, but I've become anti-places that don't take reservations lately. Did you have to wait long? Plus, I was sticking to the Washingtonian Top 100 list, although I'm certainly not tied to it...

                  1. re: jcwexler

                    My vote goes to Proof- I agree w/ Elyssa's opinion on the gnocchi-I had it twice and loved it. (Gnocchi w/ pumpkin, sage, parmesan.) I also think Dino is very good.
                    I have not been to PS7 and Locando but would like to.

                    1. re: chicken kabob

                      Just so you know, the gnocchi changes with the seasons. The last time I had it, it had ramps in it (among other delicious things). :)

                      1. re: Elyssa

                        Thanks, Elyssa- I did not know that! What is "ramps?"

                        1. re: chicken kabob

                          Ramps are small leeks. They look just like spring onions (or according to Wikipedia they are the same thing, which I didn't know: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_t...)

                          They have a pretty strong taste but are delicious...especially when they were in the gnocchi dish. It was probably a spring/summer preparation. When ramps come in season (I believe in the Spring) you'll see them on a bunch of menus in the area---especially in restaurants that shop locally and feature seasonal cuisine.

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            oh so now you're an expert huh ;) hee hee hee sorry I couldn't help myself. Thank goodness I have wedding stuff to get me out of going to the Spring family ramp feed in WV this year. Love them all to death but don't want to smell them after all those ramps.

                2. I have been to all four...
                  I haven't been to Locanda in over a year but would definitely choose it over Dino. My parents are immigrants from Sicily and the food at Locanda is very close to my mom's cooking, which in my book, is saying a lot! Not sure if it's still on the menu, but the arancini is a must-try.
                  I'm also one of the few who doesn't really like Dino all that much.
                  Between Proof and PS7, I would choose Proof hands-down. Proof is one of my favorites right now. I've only ever had excellent food, wine, and service. I really like the atmosphere too. In all fairness, it's been a little while since I've been to PS7 but didn't feel the need to rush back.
                  I think Jacey suggested Posto...A friend and I went when it first opened and the food was good but the portions were tiny! We both had pasta dishes, didn't try the pizzas. Not sure if they've increased their portions recently?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: joann.hill12

                    Agree on Posto. Portions were small and not filling. Some food (beef tartare) was great, but other items were okay. Pizzas were wonderful, and probably the only thing I'd go back for, along with a glass (or bottle) of wine...

                    1. re: joann.hill12

                      The Locanda Dino debate depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. Dino is great for little plates, cheese, charcuterie, and a wide variety of wine. Also check out the drink menu. Locanda tends to run higher end, both in price point and dish selection. If I had to choose between the two for a special night out I'd go with Locanda.

                    2. In short, Locanda and Proof.

                      I recently ate at Dino and was shocked by the ambiance of the place. I may be in the minority, but I thought it felt like a glorified Don Pablos. The fake stucco walls with an odd brick sticking out and the brightly colored walls/artwork made it feel cheap and chintzy. The food that I had was okay, but that of my dining companion was lackluster bordering on bad. She had the meatball app which was beyond tasteless, and a pasta dish where half the papardelle had stuck to itself in one big completely undercooked blob. If I were in the same neighborhood, I'd rather spend my money in the bar at Palena.

                      Locanda is delicious - the cauliflower pasta is not to be missed.

                      I've thoroughly enjoyed my meals at PS7s, but my most recent venture to Proof was probably the best eating I'd had in a year. We ordered a very reasonable bottle of wine, and were blown away by each course that we had. I think it's one of DC's hottest spots right now.