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Italian for a Small Birthday Dinner

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Elyssa Sep 7, 2009 07:28 PM

My birthday is at the beginning of October and I have started to brain storm some ideas for a small birthday dinner (no more than 4-6 people). I originally made a reservation for Zentan (still thinking this might be a good idea) but now I'm leaning a little more towards Italian (seriously...who doesn't like yummy Italian). There are so many new Italian restaurants in town that I haven't tried. But I was hoping perhaps I could get some recommendations or thoughts if any of these places would work.

On my list are the new Bibiana, Siroc, or Potenza. I really like Dino but thought we could try something new. I would like some place where 6 friends could get together, have a delicious meal, a few bottles of wine, and still not have to mortgage off the house in the process. (Ideally if we can keep it around $100/person or so that would be great).

Would any of these places work for a smaller, intimate birthday party? Any place I'm missing?

  1. d
    DCDOLL Sep 10, 2009 08:52 AM

    Elyssa, you know Obelisk is my all time fave and you would never forget it. if you go during the week its 65 PP but the wine list is very well priced so i think you could do it for around 100 PP and would have a very memorable meal. another possibility is Tosca, if you go before 7 they have a 3 course meal for 35 PP that is outstanding. it's kind of old world 'stuffy' (in a good way) which is kind of festive. good wine list too.

    1. b
      burgeoningfoodie Sep 9, 2009 07:38 AM

      After some of the recs you gave me.. I know it's not Italian but how is Palena on small intimate parties? Too bad the Chefs table at Teatro is above your mark as everyone who has been there seems to be impressed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie
        e
        Elyssa Sep 9, 2009 08:13 PM

        Both are way out of my price range. And Palena cafe doesn't take reservations...which I think is pretty necessary for a party of 5-6.

        1. re: Elyssa
          b
          burgeoningfoodie Sep 10, 2009 06:28 AM

          I guess I hadn't thought about including drinks and dessert..

      2. d
        dcandohio Sep 8, 2009 07:33 AM

        We had a very nice meal at Siroc, and the pasta, which is house-made, I believe, is lovely. You could absolutely do it for $100 per person with wine, especially if you choose pasta as a main. Service was smooth and efficient. We saw them set for two tables of 6 while we were there, so as long as you have a reservation it would not be a problem.

        8 Replies
        1. re: dcandohio
          e
          Elyssa Sep 8, 2009 09:50 AM

          Good to hear.

          I think Potenza is out of the running. I've heard too many mixed reviews to risk such an occasion.

          I think I also meant to write $100/couple...I'm sure it might go over that a little with wine etc. But I think it's too much to ask for 2 people to spend $200 for someone else's birthday. Do you think it's possible to do Siroc for $100 or $150/couple?

          1. re: Elyssa
            ktmoomau Sep 8, 2009 10:43 AM

            Go to Siroc because I want to go and then tell me all about it : )

            1. re: ktmoomau
              g
              Gigi007 Sep 10, 2009 09:24 AM

              LOL. I want to hear all about it too. I'm VERY curious about Siroc (and also Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca), so I hope Elyssa goes to one of them. :)

            2. re: Elyssa
              d
              dcandohio Sep 8, 2009 10:53 AM

              We spent $120 which included tax and tip for two salads, two pastas and a bottle of wine. I can't remember whether we splurged on the wine, or not...which could make a huge difference in the total bill.

              1. re: dcandohio
                e
                Elyssa Sep 8, 2009 10:57 AM

                Good to hear...seems about our price range.

              2. re: Elyssa
                littlew1ng Sep 8, 2009 03:31 PM

                I went to siroc for restaurant week and while it was good, i didn't find it to be quite as special as a place i'd want to celebrate my birthday. Everything good, it was just that nothing was like WOW...but, neither my dining companion nor I got any pasta, which is supposed to be the standout dish. I had endive salad, rockfish and tiramisu, she had scallops, rockfish and apple tart (which was not good.) The avocados in my salad weren't particularly fresh, had that kind of crayonish taste. The scallops were the best part, they were very good, and the rockfish was seasoned and cooked well, but just didn't wow me. too much liqueur in the tiramisu and the puff pastry in the tart was very soggy and raw-tasting.

                what about posto? (not to be confused with potenza). I've heard some good things about it.

                1. re: littlew1ng
                  e
                  Elyssa Sep 9, 2009 05:17 AM

                  I don't think Posto takes reservations. I don't want to risk the chance that 6 of us will be standing around waiting over an hour for a table.

                2. re: Elyssa
                  d
                  DCDeb Sep 9, 2009 05:04 PM

                  Your guests are paying? I would suggest going on the lower end of your range. Times are tough and most people are cutting back. Just my 2 cents.

              3. adrianak Sep 7, 2009 08:13 PM

                Zentan is amazing! Hong Kong Steamed fish is the best ive ever had, i highly recommend! Also, don't forget to check into Cafe Milano...good luck!

                2 Replies
                1. re: adrianak
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                  Jacey Sep 8, 2009 06:51 PM

                  I think Zentan was good but not amazing. I also has the steamed fish and found it a little oily for"steamed fish." Cafe Milano is sceney of you want that, but by no means top-notch Italian food in DC.

                  1. re: Jacey
                    e
                    Elyssa Sep 9, 2009 05:16 AM

                    Ya Cafe Milano is out of the question.

                    I liked Zentan quite a bit but am thinking I'm probably going to go to Siroc (until I change my mind again of course haha).

                2. f
                  Food Fiend Sep 7, 2009 08:00 PM

                  We went to Osteria Bibiana tonight for a birthday dinner (just the two of us), and it was wonderful. I'm sure it would work well for 4-6, too. Creative, but well grounded in true Italian cooking. When I let drop that if was my bf's b-day, the waiter came our with a beautifully plated special dessert with a chocolate sauce "Happy Birthday" message adorning the top. Service, especially considering they're still in a soft opening, was excellent, too. (Kudos to our server from Campania!) Great wine list, including numerous selections by the glass/quartino/half-liter, which allows you to judiciously sample more! (Living up to the "enoteca" in its name.) We're visitors from the SF Bay area, but we travel in grand part to eat, and I'd be happy to go back to Bibiana.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Food Fiend
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                    Elyssa Sep 7, 2009 08:42 PM

                    Thanks for the review Food Fiend. I've been hearing some pretty good reviews coming out of Bibiana. Considering they have only been open a few days, that's pretty impressive. What did you order btw?

                    1. re: Elyssa
                      f
                      Food Fiend Sep 7, 2009 09:40 PM

                      You encouraged me to describe the meal more fully, and I included some prices, since the Bibiana website is still under construction. (My bottom line on price/value: well worth it.) Here's the report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650770

                      Hope you have a festive birthday celebration, wherever you ultimately decide to go!

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