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
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.
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
Smoking: Not Allowed.
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).