Eating at Etrusco only wetted our appetite for good homemade pasta. Rather than trying someplace new last weekend, we decided to go to an old faithful -- Spezie.
Just to give you a little background about my experience with Spezie...the restaurant opened 3 years ago by the same people (Enzo Livia and family) that own Il Pizzico in Rockville. When my wife and I lived in Gaithersburg, we would visit Il Pizzico at least twice a month. The waitstaff knew us by name (and still do). When we moved to the District, we were sad that it would not be convenient for us to eat Il Pizzico's delicious homemade pasta. When we found out that Enzo was opening a restaurant in DC, we were ecstatic (Yes, I know it is sad how excited my wife and I get about food).
In my opinion, there is no other place in DC to get Italian food. I've heard people talk about other places like Maggiano's, Etrusco (whatever) and Paulo's. These places just don't compare to Spezie.
To start with, there are several appetizers we love to order. On the top of the list is usually whatever soup they have. Last weekend it was a lentil and barley soup. Other appetizers I recommend are...well, I recommend all of them. Try the watercress salad or the roasted peppers with gorgonzola sauce and truffle oil.
At Spezie, ALL the pastas are homemade. You won't find any spaghetti here, though, unless you consider bucatini, spaghetti (bucatini is broad, hollow spaghetti). Spezie has two ravioli dishes. A "half moon"-shaped pasta with spinach and ricotta topped with a cream sauce (my wife ordered this last weekend and it was out of this world) and a regular ravioli with porcini mushrooms, ricotta cheese topped with pistachio cream sauce. If you are having trouble thinking how pistachio cream sauce tastes, just think of heaven mixed in with 3 or 4 tablespoons of cream sauce. Also on the pasta menu are maltagliati (big thumbs up on this dish), and pappardelle (I've actually never tried this one but it sounds good).
A great alternative to the pasta dishes are the fish and meat selections. Just about all of them are good, but the only time my wife and I (because we're such pasta freaks) order them is when there is a special that caches our fancy. Last weekend, I ordered the grilled mahi mahi topped with crab meat and served with potatoes. I remember another time that I ordered a veal chop that still makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The desserts at Spezie fall under the must-have section of this review. Just do yourself a favor and try one of them. Split one between you and your special someone or a friend. Even if you are full and can't eat another bite, once they put it in front of you, you'll find room.
Oh, and I totally forgot about my favorite thing about Spezie -- The olive spread and bread they bring out before the meal. Just remember to clean out your teeth afterwards. Otherwise you have a little black speck in your teeth all night that grosses everyone else out at your table.
One thing I was disappointed to see last weekend was that Spezie has raised their prices. Pasta dishes used to range from $12-$15 and now they all range from $15-$17. That being said, I figured that it would happen eventually -- the old prices were too low for a restaurant in that area . Now it is definitely a special occasion restaurant for us. The tab usually comes to anywhere from $120-130 before tip.
Spezie is located close to the Farragut North Metro station at Connecticut and L Streets NW. It is very convenient to Metro, or you can drive and use the valet for $5 (way cheaper than a cab ride).
What to wear: I would not recommend jeans, although they won't turn you away for wearing them. Sportcoat not required.
1736 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
I think every once in a while, I am going to post my top 5 favorite places to eat. Now keep in mind that I have not been to every restaurant in DC and I don't like to spend more than $100 on a meal (unless it is a special occasion). These are all places that my wife and I have been to at least 3 times. So here they are.
1) 2 Amys
2) Chef Geoffs
4) Heritage India
You missed it. Restaurant week ended today. Sorry I didn't post anything here about it when it would have been useful.
Chipotle for Lunch
Chicken Burritto with black beans, cheese, corn salsa and guacamole. I'd never get bored of this.
2 Amys for Dinner
Two glasses of wine, Polpetine and Suppli a Telefono to start and a Norcia for the main course. Did I say I love this place. Key Lime ice cream for dessert - not so good. :(
Qdoba for Lunch (see a trend here?)
Chicken tacos with X-tra hot salsa. Pretty solid.
Legal Seafood for Dinner
Yeah I know, this place is so overrated. But the chowder is usually soooo good. This time however, the clams were very gritty and both me and Amy ended up eating around them. Pretty dissappointing.
Skipped it. Too busy at work.
A tasty pork tenderloin that my wonderful wife cooked for me. Here is the recipe if you want it.
Anyway, I gotta go clean up after dinner. More to come soon.
A couple years ago, I discovered The Little Fountain Cafe in the WashingtonPost.com's entertainment guide. I was looking for a small, romantic place to take my wife for her birthday and everyone that had who posted a review had given it very positive ratings. Here is another one.
When I tell people about Little Fountain, they rarely know what I am talking about. In fact, I was able to call at 6 and get a reservation for 8:30 PM the same day. I definitely recommend making a reservation because when we arrived, the place was full.
Once you come across The Little Fountain Cafe, it is easy to figure out why you've never noticed it. It's located in an English basement with only a small neon sign above it to let you know there is a restaurant there. As you walk down the stairs, there's a single outside table on the left before the entrance. Go in the door and the hostess area can fit two people at the most. There are probably 16 tables in the entire place. It's quiet, which is a good thing - Its the perfect place for a quiet, romantic dinner for two.
Now before you go thinking I've gotten soft in my middle 20's, let me just say that normally I could care less about ambiance and the little fru fru crap. The only things I care about are food and service, but on a special occasion like my wife's birthday, these things become important.
The chefs at Little Fountain Cafe here definitley have a European influence in their cooking. You see plenty of cheeses, fruits and sweets mixed with bitters. The every ingredient to each dish always has a purpose, right down to the garnish. The flavors of each are meant to compliment each other. Ingredients change to what is in season.
The wine list is very reasonable. There are wines that range from $20 to...well, more than I'd ever spend on a bottle of wine. We ordered a Louis Latour Chablis that was $28.
For starters there is a salad with dates, walnuts, gorgonzola and a light vinagrette - both times we have been here I have ordered this. When we went the other night, my wife had a Cream of Spinach with Artichoke soup that was delicious. All the appetizers are just the right size, none are a meal in themselves. I hate it when a restaurant will serve an appetizer that ruins the entree because you are too full to eat it.
As I stated earlier, the flavors in the entrees are all carefully planned. If you eat the ingredients together, the dishes will taste much better. It kind of kills the idea of having all the food on you plate separated. Last Saturday, the special sounded so good both my wife and I ordered it. It was Chicken Saltimboca with a side of orzo and rapini. We both enjoyed it very much. Other times, we have ordered the Pork Loin and Beef Tenderloin which were both great.
The dessert selection at Little Fountain is another highlight, so make sure you save room. They are not your everyday desserts. Selections range from a chocolate chip bread pudding to a apple cranberry torte. I had the apple cranberry torte - I think Homer Simpson put it best when he said, "aahhgggllllll."
Our average bill including tip has been about $100 which I find incredibly reasonable considering the quality of food and service.
The Little Fountain Cafe
2339 18th St. NW
We have a reservation at The Little Fountain Cafe tonight at 8:30. It is a quaint, romantic place in the heart of Adams Morgan that never fails to satisfy. I would say it has a maximum of 10 tables in the whole place. Make sure you make a reservation if you plan to go since it is such a small place. Dress is casual. Some people dress up and some go in jeans (like I am tonight, but I am wearing a sport coat). I'll post a full review tomorrow.
Taj of India
Indian food is my cuisine of choice. I could eat it every day and lucky for me, I live in one of the best cities in the US for it (not that I travel much). When I saw that a new Indian Restaurant had come to Georgetown, I had to try it.
Before I tell you about Taj, let me just say that Aditi used to be my favorite place to eat Indian in Georgetown. However, ever since they expanded their first floor, the restaurant has been very hit or miss. Why? Who knows? Maybe the best people on their staff left while they were closed for construction, or maybe to help pay for the expansion they started cutting back on the quality of the ingredients. Instead of dwelling on such inquisitive nonsense, (I know that does not make sense, but I am trying to sound smart) I tend to just go somewhere else to eat.
Upon entering Taj, you are instantly greeted by a friendly face. Depending on the time of day, the dining room can be crowded or empty. I have never waited for more than 5 minutes for a table. The décor was…eh, who gives a crap.
Each of people serving us was attentive and eager to please. This is what Taj is about – Service. I have not once left this restaurant complaining about the service.
The menu was typical for an Indian restaurant with selections of curries and tandoori dishes. One unusual dish is the Lamb Chops Masala, which the waiter recommended my first time there. Do yourself a huge favor and try this dish. The wine list is reasonable as it is at most Indian places, however, I have to say the wine list at Taj is above average. Not that I am a wine connoisseur or anything, but in my opinion, drinking white zin is a sin. (My apologies for the bad rhyming)
The one downfall of ALL Indian restaurants is the dessert selection. Sadly, this also describes Taj of India. However, it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the dessert is if you don’t have room in your stomach for it. My trips to Taj are never an exception.
To wrap up, Taj of India is a good, reliable, reasonably priced Indian Restaurant. I would not say it is the top Indian place in DC. That honor is deserved solely by Heritage India. My review of Heritage will be coming soon.
Taj of India
2809 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007