Tag Archives: lobster

Galileo III: Third Time Is a Charm for Roberto Donna

19 Oct

Roberto Donna’s long-awaiting Galileo III recently opened in Downtown DC, and DMV Dining could not hold out another day without trying the Italian chef’s newest venture. Let’s just say we’re glad he’s back.

We were able to grab a last minute reservation for last Friday, and had less than 24 hours to process the notion we’d actually be spending our evening dining on fine Italian cuisine from one of the area’s most beloved chefs rather than catch up on hours of DVR from this past week (ah, married life!).

Located in the space previously occupied by Butterfield 9, Galileo III is situated in a prime location in Downtown Washington. Valet parking was our only option as it was still rush hour, but for $8, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Bread PlateThe hostess was very warm and friendly and immediately sat us near the front of the house. The space is very modern yet homey at the same time, but that could be because Roberto Donna’s wife Nancy, who was making the rounds at every table, makes you feel like you’re a part of the family. We struck up a nice conversation with her as she wholeheartedly approved of Rachel making the wine selection instead of myself.  Little touches like that go a long way.

Our waiter asked us if we wanted sparkling or still water, and when we had asked for still, he immediately brought over a bottle of water and poured it into both of our glasses before we had enough time to realize that we had really asked for simple tap water. We noticed other tables around us also had tap water, but because the waiter never even mentioned tap as an option, we had simply assumed that “still water” meant “tap” in this particular case.

The waiter not initially offering tap water as an option was obviously an error on the restaurant’s part, but we also did not act soon enough to deny the water before it was too late. Both of us were not vocal enough about the gaffe, but seeing how the restaurant was only in its second week of operation, we still probably should have said something.

Wine: Considering the price for the meal itself, it was refreshing to see a good number of wine bottles priced at $30. We chose a Bordeaux that had a very distinct taste to it. We were a little unsure of our choice and I noticed that other tables had a sommelier spend more time in helping other diners choose, but they were likely buying a bottle that was probably at least twice the price that ours was.

Carne Crude All' AbeseFirst course: I decided to order the Carne Crude All’ Abese, which was layered hand-chopped veal with slivers of rich Parmesan cheese, slices of mushroom, artichoke chips, and a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. As the beginning of my meal, it certainly raised the bar as to what was yet to come. I had no idea veal could taste this good, yet Chef Donna pulled it off with ease. It was an excellent first course as the succulent veal blended well with the dressing, not to mention its gorgeous presentation.

Tonno Delle IsoleRachel went with the Tonno Delle Isole which was tuna prepared three ways, but only two of the methods were easily distinguishable. One was more of a thinly sliced piece of smoked tuna, and the other was a tartar below that, with little balls of couscous holding it together. There were small pieces of lettuce on top and a hint of orange dressing. The tuna tasted delicious, but it didn’t stand out as a must-try dish.

Raviolini del PlinSecond course: I went with the Raviolini del Plin – small pinched ravioli stuffed with three meats and served with veal au jus. Another fine dish as the homemade pasta was simply delicious. For one reason or another, it just felt that there was a lot of dedication from the kitchen in concocting the pasta considering how authentic it tasted.

Rachel opted for the Porcini Mushroom Two Ways, which meant stuffed legs with fonduta cheese, breaded & sautéed, and roasted head with garlic & parsley, with black truffle sauce. This was a dish that looked much different than she thought it would when first reading it on the menu. Porcini Mushroom Two WaysIt seemed like the mushrooms would be displayed as the stem and legs as the star of the dish, but when Rachel received it, the main component was a fried tart stuffed with creamy cheese and mushroom stems. The second part was a thin piece that lay on the tart, accompanied by a truffle sauce. The flavors all mixed well together, but it was a little heavy and after eyeing someone else’s scallop dish, she wondered if that would have been a better choice.

Pappardelle Al CinghialeThird course: It is pretty amazing when the following pasta dish is able to top the previous one, but that turned out to be the case as the Pappardelle Al Cinghiale was simply divine. This was my favorite course of the meal as the fettuccine was perfectly cooked while the wild boar sauce was the best ragu I had ever tasted. Seriously, I wish I had a jar of this stuff to take home with me.

Mezzelune di Melanzane E GranchiRachel’s next pasta course was the Mezzelune di Melanzane E Granchi, and the flavor combination was very unique. The half moon shape pasta was filled with spinach and crab meat, with a light tomato sauce, finished with a hint of orange juice. There was a stark contrast between the tomato and the orange flavor, which was enjoyable but also overpowered the filling of the pasta. It was hard to taste the crabmeat, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a winning dish. It was certainly her favorite of the pasta dishes that night.

Tagliata (beef rib eye)Fourth course: I ordered the Tagliata (beef rib eye) and it was perhaps the only misstep of the evening. I had asked for it to be prepared medium-rare, but when it arrived, the majority of it was more on the medium-well side. It was also a bit dry, but the sun-dried tomatoes it was topped with aided the overall flavor of the entree. I’m not one to send a dish back unless it is extremely necessary, so there was really no reason to ask the waiter to have it prepared again as it was still good overall. Out of all the courses thus far, this was the weakest in terms of execution.

Rachel was in a predicament as she was originally set on trying the Branzino, especially since it received rave reviews from those who have tried Galileo III during the first few weeks. Always a big fan of lobster, she had planned on getting the Taglierini Neri All’Aragosta with lobster tail as one of the earlier courses, and then the Branzino for the entree. However, there was a significant upcharge for the whole fish, and when spending so much for the meal to begin with, it just didn’t seem necessary when all the other entrees were most likely just as good.

Arogosta E CalamariIn the end, she went for the Arogosta E Calamari (lobster tail), which came with calamari stuffed with cabbage and pancetta, as well as cubed red beets and creamy polenta. The dish itself was delicious and very unique. The calamari side with the cabbage tasted very similar to a stuffed cabbage dish, and was perfect comfort food. She said she would eat more of that even just as a main dish! She wasn’t sure how well it went with the rest of the entree, but the lobster itself was perfectly cooked, and very delicate.

The only thing she noticed was, at the table next to us, that the person who ordered the lobster appetizer had a significantly larger portion of lobster than what she had for the main entree. It was hard to complain with so many courses, and considering the fact that if the portion was any larger she would have been completely stuffed. It just made her think that if we ever came back, that she would definitely try the lobster pasta starter dish.Torta di Cioccolato

Dessert: For dessert, the waiter recommended the Torta di Cioccolato. It proved to be a great suggestion as the tort was very rich while the small portions of basil and coconut gelato added some variety to the dish. Rachel went with the Crostata di Mele, which was essentially a small apple tart with caramel ice cream. It was a simple dessert and the apple combined with the caramel ice cream was a perfect way to end a delicious meal.

Crostata di MeleOverall, Galileo III turned out to be a great experience. It’s not the best meal we’ve ever had, but I can easily see it becoming one of the city’s best Italian restaurants once they work out the kinks both in the kitchen and on the floor.  The service was otherwise top-notch.

Let’s just hope that the waiter will actually offer us a third water option on our next visit…

Galileo III on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Mussel Bar

29 Sep

We’ve dined at Robert Wiedmaier’s Mussel Bar several times since we first ate there on opening night, and honestly, it’s instantly become our favorite restaurant in the entire Bethesda area.

Between the excellent selection of craft brews (Delirium Tremens on tap!) and high-quality yet reasonably-priced food, Mussel Bar has filled a niche that Bethesda residents such as us have craved for.

Sunday was no exception as we decided to venture over there and see how brunch would fare over our earlier dinner experiences.

I went with the Huevos Rancheros and they were, by far, the best I’ve ever had in regards to that particular egg dish.  Served atop a grilled tortilla, the poached eggs were accompanied with some very delicious spicy pork, spinach, peppers, and a creamy hollandaise sauce.

Huevos Rancheros

The combination of flavors was excellent as the pork added just enough kick to the eggs without having to ask for some hot sauce. Letting the yolk drizzle throughout the dish made it enjoyable to savor each bite. What’s left to say? It’ll be my go-to from hereon out for brunch at Mussel Bar.

Rachel was debating between a traditional breakfast dish, like an omelet with goat cheese, chicken, and spinach, and a mainstay on the menu, the highly-praised lobster roll. She had already heard good things about it from friends, and after the craze of the Red Hook Lobster Company food truck, lobster had been on her mind. So, lobster roll it was.

And what a great decision it turned out to be.

The giant size roll was overstuffed with huge chunks of lobster meat, bonded together with only a touch of mayo and spices. The dish was accompanied with the now infamous Mussel Bar sweet potatoes fries, which we have to say, are like crack. They are crispy, with a hint of vanilla and a tad of salt, and are very, very addictive. The plate also came with a side lettuce, of which we originally thought was garnish, but turned out to be a small salad as well.

Lobster Roll

While we’ve generally never had a problem with the service at Mussel Bar, I had to track down the hostess to ask for some sugar for my coffee since the waiter forgot to bring it out when our drinks arrived. I also had to ask another waitress for a refill since ours couldn’t be found for a brief period of time.

Rachel ordered a Diet Coke with her meal, and as soon as we saw the waiter bring it in a small glass bottle with a glass of ice, we knew what that meant – no free refills. That is always a pet peeve, as soda costs are generally low and if a restaurant is going to bring individual bottles and charge for each one, it should be stated upfront. But other than those minor issues, the service was generally very good.

Now the biggest question we will have to face when going back to Mussel Bar is… lobster roll, or mussels? Decisions, decisions.

Mussel Bar on Urbanspoon