I’ve been there a few times and my table is always perfect for the occasion. It’s a great place for celebrating a birthday at a big round table upstairs, catching up with a bunch of friends in a nook separated from other tables, or, as it was Saturday night, grabbing a good dinner with my husband, at a small table downstairs by the front windows. We started out at the bar where my husband, Eric, loved the white wine and I opted for a cocktail. I have heard good things about the drinks at Dino and wanted to try one. It did not disappoint. Just before every sip, I got a refreshing whiff of citrus which carried through as I drank. It wasn’t too sweet but also didn’t taste very strong.
After we were seated, I wanted red wine but Eric wanted to stick with white so we decided to get glasses instead of a bottle. The glasses actually come in 8 ounce (or 3 ounce) pours so it also seemed like an economical choice. I tried both Montepulcianos but liked the d’Aburzzo the best.
The waiter brought out a little treat to start us off – a shot of garlic soup. It smelled and tasted exactly what you would imagine garlic soup to taste like – creamy, a little salty, and delicious. We shared scallops wrapped in pancetta for an appetizer. The pancetta was perfectly crispy and the scallops on the inside were juicy but I’ve had other appetizers there that I would order again before this one.
I tried a new dish, as I usually do at Dino, the Gramignia all’Anatra (pasta with duck). When I first tasted it, it was a little bland. I felt a little bad for doing this but I added salt and crushed red pepper – wow, what an improvement. The pasta was perfectly cooked hollow noodles and the breadcrumbs added a nice texture. I would probably try something else next time but that’s really a testament to how many things are good on the menu, not how much I liked this dish. (It’s hard not to order the amazing Lasagnette al Ragu again but I do want to try a few more things…)
Eric, on the other hand, has ordered the same thing the past few times – the Maialino. There is really no other way to describe this besides “a big hunk of pig” but Eric will try:
Eric’s interjection: A big hunk of pig, huh? Is she talking about me or the food? Anyhoo, (I got that from four years in Wisconsin) this dish needs more than a few words from my dear wife.
What can I say? Is it called “suckling pig” because the scrumptious little piggy is so young, or because the first bite reduces a grown man (fine, that’s subjective) to the sheer joy of giddy child oblivious to the rest of the world? It’s the juiciest pork I’ve ever tasted, it eats like a steak and comes attached to the crispiest, most flavorful (for lack of a better term) pork rind ever created. It’s something you can’t get everywhere and is worth the trip in and of itself.
Some people think I tend to over exaggerate, but sometimes a little excessive passion is necessary to make things happen. So, all of you, stop what you’re doing, empty your mind (a la the advice of a wise sage in an eighties karate movie), switch your religion for a night (if necessary) and bask in moist, salty glory of the Maialino at Dino. It will change your life … and now, back to Lindsey.
Two small chocolate truffles came out with our check and were the perfect ending to our meal - I added a little sea salt to mine and could end every meal with a little taste like that.
3435 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington DC, 20008