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« BlackSalt | Main | Birreria Paradiso »

Wed, Feb 01 2006 at 08:15 AM

Dino

Posted by Jason, Feb 01, 2006

What can I say about Dino that hasn’t already been said on this site or elsewhere? Probably not much. However, my initial review of Dino was so glowing, just about anyone who reads it is bound to be disappointed after eating there. So here is a little follow up review with the highlights of the menu that’s a little more grounded. 

My favorite things to get at Dino by far are the wine, meat and cheese. While I wish Dino would put more cheese on the place and less fruit and accompaniments, the cheese selection is probably one of the best in the city. If you go you MUST order the Gorgonzola. It’s by far one of the best I’ve tasted. It’s not too salty, slightly creamy but also firm enough to eat by itself, and just pungent enough to require you to take a sip of Rosso as a finisher. The blue at the bottom of the list (I forget its name) is also a must have.

The giant wine list (that’s brought out on a clipboard of all things) is intimidating at times, but very reasonably priced with many incredible tasting wines in the $30 range. The owner Dean, who’s responsible for the wine list, has a $10 to $15 markup over market price policy, so you’re not going to get that 200% markup like you’ll get at most restaurants. I have to remind myself each time I go to Dino that ordering by glass is not the most economical of ways to order wine, but it’s hard not to order glasses with all the choices you have. I just want to try as many as possible.

One of our favorite things to order at Dino is the marinated grilled artichokes. Just try them, you’ll see why. At only $3.50, they’re probably the best bargain on the menu. Also, the braised baby octopus will always please. It’s very tender and flavorful. 

The pastas had a rough start at Dino. Every other time I visited when they first opened, I would go from loving my pasta course to wondering if the timer they were using to cook it was running on old batteries. But things have seemed to level out quite well, and I always order some pasta now. Recent trips, I’ve had the polenta (Ok, so that’s not really pasta) with herbs, butter, cheese and a wild mushroom ragu. We gave a tiny bit of this to Noah, and his eyes nearly popped out of his head! And I can’t forget to mention the lasagnette, which you can’t go wrong and might be the world’s most perfect pasta dish.

For entrees, you must order the whole roasted fish! It’s done very simply with olive oil and lemon and comes out nice and flakey. This is the way I like fish prepared. Other than that, the juicy rotisserie chicken and peppery pork tenderloin will also give you a memorable meal. Entrees are on the cheap side comparatively to other restaurants ranging from $16 to $24. 

I wouldn’t say that the desserts are the highlight of the menu at Dino. However, the recent addition of the biscotti with Vin Santo, a traditional Italian treat, is a nice warming end to a meal. The orange-flavored tiramisu doesn’t pander enough to my traditional taste buds I guess. Whenever I eat it, I find myself wishing it was just a regular tiramisu. And, while Amy loves the Nutella panini, I find it dry and bland. Many people I know go crazy when you mention the Nutella panini though, so I am probably in the minority on this one. I would rather order more of that wondrous gorgonzola for dessert!

I should also mention that Dino has an early bird menu that’s available from 5 PM to 6:30 PM, Sunday through Thursday. You get a choice of a selection of appetizers (which includes a few half portions of their pasta courses including the polenta), a choice of a selection of entrees, and a choice of  a selection of desserts, all for $24 a person. This is quite a deal if you ask me. The menu also contains a “Wine Madness” section that includes a selection of wines at up to 30% off their normal prices. 

Overall, Dino is a neighborhood gem in an area full of mediocra restaurants that are kept in business by the Uptown theater (except for the much more expensive Palena or Indique, which is very good as well, but that’s only if your in the mood for Indian food.) Unlike the other restaurants in the area, Dino is worth going out of your way to eat at, as I do so many times a month.

Noah_dino_1 Noah_dino2

Dino
3435 Connecticut Avenue
Washington DC 20008
Map
(202) 686-2966

Hours:
Dinner: 5 PM to a 10:15PM last seating Monday through Thursday, 10:30pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30pm Sunday.
Lunch:  Served Friday and Saturday, 12 PM to 3 PM, Sunday (brunch) 11 AM – 3 PM.

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: LOL!
Smoking: Not Allowed.
Closest Metro: Cleveland Park Metro
Reservations: Now taken for parties of all sizes.
Baby-Friendly Rating:
3 out of 4 diapers. They are quite baby friendly and the restaurant is loud enough to drown out any of your baby's crying. The downstairs bathroom is also quite large for diaper changing, although there’s no changing table (the reason it’s not a 4 out of 4).

Categories: Cleveland Park, Italian, Restaurant Reviews
Link To This Post

Dean

Diaper changing table on order!

Jason

LOL!

Shawn

I heard on Amalah.com that ya'll had a 9 course menu with wine last night. DO TELL! We want the details. By they way, I went to Acadiana and everything was good. For appetizer I had the trio of deviled eggs which was creative and delicious (if you like hard boiled eggs, of course). The beignets were so fluffy that I wanted to eat them with my hands, but it didn't seem like the right environment.

V.H.

We did the early bird special a couple weekends ago and were happily surprised that the 1/3 off wine special goes until 7pm, giving you time to finish the first round and order a second if you have a 6pm reservation.

Laura

on the topic of tiramisu....

i'll be making some for my boyfriend for valentine's day. which do YOU prefer...the kind made with Marsala and brandy, or the kind made with dark rum? also, which way is more traditional? thanks!! :)

Sara

Good lord, that is a cute baby!

Lisa

I MUST comment that if you have not tried the paparadelle ai cinghiale (wide housemade pasta ribbons with wild boar tomato sauce), you are REALLY missing out!! It's even better than the lasagnette! I order it every time I go to Dino. The grilled vegetable plate is really good too (and inexpensive). Even my b/f (who normally won't eat vegetables) loves them! I don't recall seeing beignets on Dino's menu. Is that at brunch only?

Dean

Biegnets were in a mantion of Acadiana, not Dino. Too Southern Italian for us! LOL

SB

I've been enjoying Dino for a while now, and love their food and enthusiastic service. However, this last time (Labor Day wkd) was different. The service was just not on par. Throughout the night, my husband actually had to get up and flag someone down whether it was for silverware or to order wine, etc...and other annoyances. What made it worse was that we were celebrating our friend's engagment. We asked our waiter what the reason was for the lack of service. He explained that he was new and very overwhelmed that evening and would bring over the owner. Shortly thereafter, Dean and his wife approached us to apologize, and to our surprise comped our wine, served us free dessert wines, and gave us (and the engaged couple )gift certificates for the future. This was beyond generous of them, in no way necessary, and shows they really do care about their patrons. We were not looking for this...we were just concerned that we weren't having the same experience as usual at one of our favorite restaurants.

On another note, we noticed that the food has changed. The crostinis were a bit smaller (but still tasty). The lasagna wasn't as meaty and velvety as previously :( The polenta still tasted amazing though. It appears from their website that they have a new chef...and a changing menu.

In any case, I'm excited to see what the menu evolves to...just hope it doesn't change too much.

Jason

hmm, I need to get back to Dino to check out their new chef...and a new t-shirt for Noah as he grew out of his old one. ;)

Jeanne

Thank you for writing this on Dino's! I just went there and it was FANTASTIC.

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