Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dupont Favorite: Floriana

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From the time I moved to my Dupont neighborhood three and a half years ago, I wanted to dine at local Italian restaurant Floriana.  Don't worry; it didn't take me that long to give it a try! Thus far, I have been there three times and am excited to share my thoughts on their space, ambiance and food.  First off, the restaurant is located in a large townhouse on the corner of 17th St NW and Q St NW.  The dining rooms are actually former rooms that made up the living spaces of the townhouse, giving the restaurant a very intimate feeling.  There are various rooms to eat in, including a bar on the garden level.  I have never tried the bar, but it is on my list of things to do. (Does anyone else have a restaurant 'to do' list that seems to never stop growing no matter how many places you cross off?).  There is also a gorgeous outdoor patio, which leads to serious food envy when I walk by during the warmer months. 

Walking into Floriana always gives me the feeling that I am entering into a fancy, yet homey dining space - like a fabulous dinner party.  The tables are beautifully styled, the lights are dim, and the music is low enough to accommodate friendly or romantic chatter.  Also, the service at Floriana is impeccable.  Each time I have dined there my waiter has been attentive, helpful, and polite, without being overbearing. 

On my most recent trip, my friend, Curry, and I were anxious to sit down and get to ordering our food.  It was Curry's first time there, so I was pretty excited for her to try out one of my go-to spots for good Italian food in the city.  To start out with, we shared the Bruschetta Mussels, as recommended by our waiter.  The appetizer was fresh, flavorful, and delicious.  Both Curry and I loved the tomato-based sauce as well as the French bread croutons that were soaking in the broth.  A good sauce always gets major points with me! I also really appreciated the way this course was plated - it was in a deep dish, but not too deep that the sauce was inaccessible for dipping. We both liked that it was a really generous portion - plenty to share! 

The restaurant also provides pesto dipping sauce and fresh bread with all meals.  The last time I had this sauce, I literally could not stop eating it throughout the entire meal.  The combination of pesto, garlic and olive oil had me addicted.  This time, however, either my memory failed me or the recipe was altered in some way.  Unfortunately, the flavor was not as robust as I remembered it.  It was still good, don't get me wrong, but it just did not live up exactly to the way I had it built up in my mind.  Also, what happened to the cute mini-mason jar it used to be served in?  Did I imagine that, too?

For my entree, I had the Tortolloni Mignon.  Tortolloni is a larger version of the more commonly know tortollini.  The square-shaped pasta was stuffed with filet mignon and served in a tomato cream sauce.  This is a dish that I have tried before, and that was so good that I was literally fantasizing about it for the entire week leading up to our reservation.  The tomato cream sauce is rich in flavor, but not overwhelming, and the filet mignon literally melts in your mouth.  My only quips with this dish were that I would have loved more sauce (again, who is surprised?) and that it actually wasn't plated appropriately.  The tortolloni was served in a deep bowl, but was large enough that it needed to be cut prior to eating.  This combination made for a difficult eating experience.  Aside from these minor issues, that would be easily remedied, this dish is pretty much a people pleaser.

Curry decided to try the Gnocchi al Porcini.  She thought that the gnocchi was perfectly cooked - not too chewy or soft - and that the porcini mushrooms and cream sauce brought immense flavor to the dish.  The portion size was so great that she was able to take some home and enjoy it again the next day.  It was still just as incredible reheated!

Overall, Floriana is a place that everyone in the area should check out.  I particularly like the family-owned vibe the restaurant gives off.  I like to support local business owners, and if they're going provide me with delicious food in exchange, I am happy to partake!  

Have you been to Floriana?  What did you think?

What other Italian restaurants in the city should we check out?

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