Go to Vento.
There was only one downside to my Saturday night visit to the new Italian trattoria: I couldn’t help but to chastise myself over the fact that it had taken me almost three months to head there in the first place.
From the second I walked in, Vento passed my first test: ambience. The Dupont Circle restaurant is unpretentious, beautiful, classy and chic. I absolutely love the lighting. The noise level is energetic, but somehow you don’t have to yell for your dining companions to hear you.
Second test is service. A lot of people disagree with me, but I’m a firm believer that service has to be up to par with the food in order for the establishment to be considered a good restaurant. Our server greeted me from the moment I sat down and my wine and water glasses stayed pleasantly full during the meal. Drinks-wise there is a nice selection of wine, but not the annoying “let me throw a phone book down on your table.”
The last test is obviously the food. I love Italian food, but lately I have gotten the feeling that in DC, Italian food means over-priced food. Not here. I, of course, started with the Grilled Jumbo Day Boat Scallops. A good choice, and a very creative dish with sauteed snow peas, crispy prosciutto and celery root. I’m more into “gritty” scallops, but if you like them soft and silky, get them at Vento. Another good starter is the Grilled House-made Lamb Sausage with Black Olive and Shiraz Puree served with Spinach Sautéed with Roasted Garlic and Chilies. The flavor is subtle and not overwhelming…quite a feat with sausage.
The server (who had the menu down cold) informed me that they do half portions of pasta as well, so of course I had to get two orders of pasta. My first recommendation is the Saffron Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms, Smoked Diced Duck Breast, Shallots and a Brandy Cream. The mushrooms were so good that they probably could have stood alone here, but it’s really the duck breast that is the star of the dish. Second rec is the Oregano Trenette served with a Ragu of Braised Lamb Shank with Carrots and Shaved Pecorino Romano. I found the Raviolini of Butternut Squash and Mascarpone with Sage Butter and Crumbled Sweet Pork Sausage a little too rich for my taste.
In addition to these handmade pastas (note that the table next to mine was raving about the gnocchi), Vento also has your regular entrees, so never fear if pasta isn’t really your thing.
I can’t even talk about dessert because my waistline is still mad at me. I had two, yes two, orders of the cannoli. I ordered two because I kept forgetting to take a picture…note that there is STILL no picture. Best in the city. The bread is a tad lackluster, but after eating so much, I’m actually GLAD. Anyway, thank you Siroc owners (Vento’s sister restaurant) for bring us this new gem. Next time I go I might check out a happy hour, or maybe brunch.
Vento is located at 2120 P Street NW. The closest metro is Dupont Circle (Red Line). For more information, call 202-833-1750.