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Italian for a Small Birthday Dinner

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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 I originally made a reservation for Zentan (still thinking this might be a good idea) but now I'm leaning a little more towards Italian (seriously...who doesn't like yummy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?

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  1. 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

      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

        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!

    2. 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

        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

          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. 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

          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

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

            1. re: ktmoomau

              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

              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

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

              2. re: Elyssa

                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

                  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

                  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. 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

                  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

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

                2. 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.