Neighborhood: 14th Street/Logan Circle
Needing both a high-class place to celebrate, and a pasta-oriented dinner to carb up for the Nation's Triathlon two days afterwards, Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas and I headed over to 14th Street's Posto.
Posto is the sister restaurant to Tosca, and rumored to be a favorite of Obama administration officials, and its decor is likely the reason; it's cushy and white-cloth, but not at the expense of being repressive. Out front is a sizable patio, which seems to be open whenever the restaurant feels like it, rather than by the weather (at least that's what it seems like on my daily walk past it to and from work). Inside is a stone bar to your left as you walk in, set behind glass screens of bright photos of the mood-setting things, like wine barrels or the Italian countryside. Behind the bar is a set of oenomatic machines (which I hadn't seen since The Tasting Room), and whole walls are set in bright honey-colored wood paneling. Separating the bar from the main dining area is a bar-height community table and a brick oven in the back. The main space is a series of fours with a line of larger tables by the curtained front wnidows, and a row of leather half-booths along the right wall. This side is covered with a panel series of sunflower paintings and some photos of leaves. Lighting is dim, especially as the night moves on.
The true nice part about Posto was the service. Our server on this occasion was named Ann-Marie, and she was absolutely a joy (Texas called her the best service that she's ever had in DC). Friendly and definitely knew very well the fine line between being a good part of the experience and being overbearing. She even sold us on an Italian red wine (despite both of us being avowed not into Italian wine). I don't remember many servers, and I've almost never asked for a particular one when going to a restaurant again, but this might be a first.
With our champagne at the bar, Texas and I shared the polipetti: a mix of tiny pieces of grilled baby octopus, saffron potatoes, and chickpeas on a frisee salad. This dish was fine, which is to say that it was texturally fun, but still sort of bland. This is strange to say in retrospect, since the words "octopus" and "saffron" don't usually coincide with a lack of flavors, but it was just that: an interesting bite, but nothing that was mind-blowing.
When we sat at the table, I talked Texas into trying something she never had had before: burrata. I've waxed poetic about burrata before, and with good reason. Mozzarella stuffed with more mozzarella and cream? Sign me up. Coated with some olive oil and salt and pepper and served with cherry tomatoes, olives, and cucumber noodles, it was an absolute delight (though in honesty, how could you possibly mess that up?).
Texas went with the Bismarck, a tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza topped with ricotta, spinach, and a large organic egg; she also opted to add truffle oil for an upcharge. I like breakfast pizzas a lot so I liked this very much, whereas Texas did not enjoy the egg combination. That being said, it was still a solidly made pizza, and the truffle oil (though a bit like cheating) really did change the pizza up a lot. At the least, we both agreed this was a comparably good pizza to others we've had around the city.
For dessert, we had what Ann-Marie described as a "deconstructed tiramisu." In place of the traditional cake was a shot of hot chocolate, scoops of mascarpone cream and espresso ice cream and a chocolate cookie. Despite its presentation, it actually blended well together. And honestly? It was better than some of the regular tiramisus I've had otherwise: light instead of heavy, multiple flavors instead of the one note of cream. Lovely.
Maybe not the best Italian food in the city, but definitely good, and with some of the best service we've had in the city. We're definitely going back for our next special occasion.
Food Rating: **** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd to Suits Scene
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing: This might be a bit of cheating, since I've used Studio Theatre once before, but I mean it's right next door. See there new 2011-2012 season here.