This being the week before Christmas, I’m sure we are all faced with the challenge of wanting to eat all-the-things. For me it’s all about picking and choosing – if I’m going to be meeting up with friends after work for a nice holiday dinner and drinks, I will skip over the free cheesecake that was sent to the office. If I’m going to enjoy a festive holiday lunch with coworkers, then maybe I don’t need a free muffin or bagel provided by my office building, and can skip the peppermint bark and sugar cookies waiting in the office kitchen. There are just so many holiday treats everywhere I turn, and for me it’s all about enjoying the ones I will truly enjoy (guilt free!) and passing by the ones that I feel like I should eat just because they’re there.
This week there were two fun foodie adventures that I just couldn’t pass up though, both of which happened to be at somewhat fancy Italian restaurants! Personally I’m a huge fan of Italian food, but weirdly enough I don’t actually eat it all that often (unless you count pizza, which I don’t). That’s why I was so excited when I looked at my calendar this week and realized I would get to try not one but TWO new-to-me Italian restaurants in the DC area. If any local readers are looking for a nice Italian restaurant to take your family to during the holidays, hopefully these reviews will help!
First up was Dante Ristorante, a cozy Italian restaurant located in the historic Leigh House, a beautifully renovated Victorian mansion in Great Falls, Virginia. I was kindly invited to a menu tasting at Dante Ristorante along with a handful of other DC bloggers in honor of the restaurant’s 25th anniversary. Luckily, I was allowed to bring a guest too, and since Fabio loves Italian food, I knew this would be right up our alley.
As soon as we pulled up to the house, I knew it was going to be a great place. Look how cute the holiday decorations are!
The house itself was built in 1890, and I think it’s so cool to think about all the history the house was withstood. Things were pretty different in Virginia in 1890, that’s for sure.
Here’s a picture of the old house! The owner explained how they renovated the house but kept all of the original structural elements. So cool!
The interior of the restaurant was really beautiful as well. The downstairs has traditional smaller tables, but the upstairs has rooms that can be rented out for larger parties and events. I already told my mom about this place because I think it would be perfect for family gatherings!
After a quick tour of the house, we were seated around one of the large tables upstairs with the rest of the DC bloggers, and were told we could order anything we wanted off the menu. What a treat! Being a bunch of foodies, our group of bloggers wasted no time ordering a bottle of wine and nearly one of everything on the menu.
First up was a pasta sampling, complete with four kinds of homemade pastas. I can’t remember what these all were but I remember the veal ravioli blew me away (the small round one, bottom right) and the pumpkin ravioli (to the left of the veal, bottom left) was a close second. All of these were amazing!
Then we shared a variety of other appetizers including calamari, caprese salad, and bacon-wrapped scallops. Those scallops were to die for!
I also ordered a beet salad, which was amazing (there were some fresh greens hiding under the beets, BTW). Our waiter explained that he doesn’t even like beets, but this salads is one of his favorite dishes.
For my entree I ordered the lobster linguine which came in a slightly spicy pink sauce. I was shocked when it came out with a whole lobster!! The lobster was cooked perfectly and was really sweet and fresh. There was so much food on my plate that I wound up taking more than half of this meal home, and you can bet I enjoyed it for leftovers later in the week.
Fabio ordered the lamb chops, which were similarly amazing. When he was done eating there wasn’t a drop of food left on his plate. I guess he was a big fan! 😉
Dessert was great too, and although my tira misu was good…
Fabio’s limoncello dessert totally stole the show. I don’t even know what this was or how to explain it, except to say that it reminded me a bit of sorbet but was light and airy. I have no idea how the chef made it, but our whole table was really impressed. It was so good!
Thanks again to Dante Ristorante for inviting us to this event. I was majorly impressed with both the atmosphere and the food, and Fabio and I are definitely planning to return for special occasions in the future. I know my mom and stepdad will love this place too, and I can’t wait to go back!
Fancy Italian restaurant number two was Floriana’s in Dupont Circle! Once again, as soon as I walked up to the house I knew it was going to be a festive night. Check out the tree!
I met my two friends Claire and Jojo at Floriana’s for a holiday dinner/gift exchange one night this week, and I was so impressed by the cute holiday decorations and decor. We had a seat right near the window that overlooked the lights, and it was such a pretty view.
The ladies chose a bottle of wine based on our waiter’s recommendations while I was still making my way over to Dupont Circle from Silver Spring. When I arrived at the restaurant, the wine was already on the table ready to go. Perfect! We then went with our waiter’s second recommendation to get the spaghetti with crab meat for our appetizer, since apparently the pasta is made fresh by the chef for each table that orders it. Awesome! We enjoyed the appetizer with some crusty bread, and it was all delicious.
As for entrees, Jojo and I couldn’t decide between the lamb and pork gnocchi, so I ordered the lamb, she got the pork, and we shared. The lamb gnocchis were so delicious, and they came with a big dollop of homemade ricotta cheese. Yes that’s right, I said homemade ricotta cheese. Ahh! So good.
The pork gnocchi was delicious too!!
After our plates were cleared away we did a fun little gift exchange, and I received a Rewined candle from Jojo that smells exactly like a Christmas tree, and cute knit ear warmer from Claire that perfectly matches my winter coat.
These ladies are such good friends, and I’m so lucky to have them in my life.
I know they both would be there for me in the good times and bad (and they have been!) and it was nice to have a little girl time together to celebrate the holidays and exchange gifts. 🙂
If you’re looking for a delicious Italian restaurant to take your family to this holiday season, I cannot recommend Dante Ristorante and Florianas enough!
Question of the day: What’s your favorite Italian dish?
*Disclosure: Dante Ristorante invited me to a free menu tasting in exchange for this review, however all opinions are my own.*