Vince and I celebrated Valentine's Day a little late this year (due to Joe and Terri's wedding festivities on the acual day (Congrats, guys!)) and in high style (thanks to DC restaurant week). With Todd Kilman as our guide, we decided on Ristorante Tosca in downtown DC. From the restrained elegance of the dining room to the attentive waitstaff, and of course chef Massimo Fabbri's excellent cuisine, we couldn't have made a better choice. After perusing the full menu (all of which was at our disposal for dinner), Vince chose the roasted veal and spinach ravioli with red wine reduction butter and parmesan cheese, and I opted for the Carolina shrimp and baby octopus warm salad with shaved fennel, sliced potatoes, and swiss chard. Both were excellently seasoned and incredibly flavorful. There's nothing quite like a handmade pasta for freshness, and the baby octopus provided a deliciously smoky surprise that paired well with the sweetness of the shrimp. For the main course, Vince and I swapped proteins. I savored every bite of the pancetta wrapped pheasant breast (My first pheasant! Kind of like chicken, except more gamy, I'm not really sure what that means exactly, but it feels like the right word). Vince tackled a hefty portion of roasted red snapper with braised artichokes. By the way, braising artichokes does amazing things to their flavor and texture; they taste almost like wild mushrooms. For dessert, we ordered the chocolate semi-freddo and the polenta crepes filled with Nutella and ricotta cheese. Everything was amazing. At one point, our waiter came by, noticed our empty plates and remarked, "Clean plates, that's what we like to see." Still trying to process the eruption of flavors in our mouth, we honestly replied, "Well, we would have licked the plates right now, if it wasn't socially inappropriate." He laughed and brought us our check. Although Tosca was incredibly crowded--our waiter estimated 300 tables turned-- we never felt rushed, harried, or ignored by the waitstaff. Restaurant week or not, we were treated like regulars.
* Enota: #411 on the Wine List, excellent dinner choice. A full-bodied read with just enough fruit to make it easy to drink with every course, and reasonably priced. If only I could remember the name!