Young and Hungry

Young & Hungry Dining Guide by the Day: Teatro Goldoni

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One by one, we’re running through the 50 restaurants that made the cut on this year’s Young & Hungry Dining Guide. If you have visited the day’s featured restaurant, let us know what you think. If you’re planning to visit for the first time, tell us about your meal when you return.

Before he was installed as chef at Teatro Goldoni, that once-fading K Street institution, Enzo Fargione was perhaps best known as a Roberto Donna acolyte. Isn’t it funny how things have changed? These days, chef Donna, once lord over a vast empire, has no working restaurant to his name, while Fargione leads a kitchen that’s cooking up the most inventive Italian dishes I’ve tasted around these parts since Fabio Trabocchi left McLean for the hollow promise of New York City.

Addendum: Read Young & Hungry's full review of Teatro Goldoni.

 Teatro Goldoni, 1909 K St. NW, (202) 955-9494

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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    Three months ago, my husband Parry and I moved to Washington, DC from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Self-professed foodies, we anxiously anticiapted Restaurant Week so that we could sample the finest dining Washington has to offer.

    We hit Teatro Goldoni on day two of our adventure and fell in love. You can read our review of this restaurant below.

    Day 2: Teatro Goldoni (www.teatrogoldoni.com)
    Overall Rating: RRRR 1/2 (out of 5)

    In 2009, Teatro Goldoni won the prestigious RAMMYS Award for Favorite Restaurant and after dining there last night, Parry and I understand why. Chef Enzo Fargione isn’t just a chef to watch, he is a chef to experience – over and over again.

    We started our culinary journey with seared potato-leeks-pancetta and crab cakes over cream of basil and a chickpea powder texture. The savory cakes were moist and flavorful and Parry felt the chickpea powder added a welcomed crunch to the dish.

    Next, we dug into roasted cauliflowers dressed with bread crumbs, capers, roasted garlic, basil and Ligurian black olives over a carpaccio of roasted red and yellow peppers with polenta crackers and red beet chips. We expected this dish to be less savory and blander than the first because it is comprised solely of vegetables. We couldn’t have been more mistaken. The dish sang with flavor and as a self-confessed hater of beets I must acknowledge that the even the beet chips warranted a thumbs up.

    As good as the appetizer experience was we were unprepared for the delicacy and scrumptiousness of our main course. Parry’s dish of roasted monkfish wrapped in pancetta and served over a reduction of Merlot red wine and oven baked artichoke hearts was awe-worthy. The monkfish was succulent, the artichokes delightfully seasoned and the reduction made Parry want to lick the plate.

    After sampling Parry’s dinner and swooning I eyed my own plate of Teatro lithograph saffron pasta sheet cannellone filled with smoked and buffalo mozzarella, porcini mushrooms and served with arucola pesto and parmesan cheese foam. I commented that branding pasta can be deemed pretentious unless it is truly the most phenomenal pasta in existence. The first mouthful of the cannellone convinced me. Chef Fargione has every right to place his mark on this dish. The stuffing was culinary genius. The cheese was rich, creamy and smoky, the mushrooms delicate and the pesto intensely flavorful.

    Parry and I wondered if a kitchen skilled in creating and producing savory dishes could deliver a sweet ending to an almost perfect meal. Fortunately for us, Teatro Goldoni ends the way they begin – with a bang.
    The orange chocolate torte was a dreamy mix of quality dark chocolate and cocoa, zesty orange caramel and fresh pistachios. Parry, who normally rejects anything that combines orange and chocolate scraped the plate clean.

    My dish of chilled strawberries and sweet rhubarb macerated minestrone with basil sorbet, poppy seeds and crunchy meringue was a refreshing surprise. The minestrone was sweet but not syrupy and the strawberries soft and tangy. The basil ice cream however, stole the show. The flavor was delicate and opulent and I must admit that I desperately wanted another scoop.

    At this point, you get that Chef Fargione and his culinary team delivers innovative menus comprised of award-worthy dishes. But there is more to this story. From the second Parry and I walked in to our final moments in the restaurant, we were treated to exemplarity service. The Manager took the time to greet us personally, the bartender provided helpful suggestions regarding the wine list and our server Sayid was warm, skilled and attentive. It was obvious to Parry and I that everyone employed at Teatro Goldoni take pride in their job and their place of employment.

    If the purpose of Restaurant Week is to introduce the masses to the finest food Washington has to offer, then Teatro Goldoni succeeded. Without question, Parry and I will return – over and over again.

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    [...] dining — well before Potenza, Posto, and Siroc open their doors or even before Enzo Fargione transformed Teatro Goldoni into a mandatory destination. The owner has invested a ton of money into the project, both for talent and for the [...]

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