Roberto Donna, executive chef of Al Dente located at 3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C., was recently named “Chef of the Year” by Esquire magazine in their annual list of “Best New Restaurants in America 2012.” Al Dente was also named one of the 20 “Best New Restaurants in America 2012.” To celebrate this achievement, Donna has added an assortment of new seasonal dishes to the fall lineup.
Standout starters, or delicious Cicchetti Freddi, (cold small plates) off the new menu include Sicilian Caponata Eggplant Salad with raisins, pinenuts, olives, and capers; Zucchini Scapece with garlic, mint, vinegar, and Stracciatella cheese; White Bean & Tuna with red onions. Seasonal Cicchetti Caldi, (hot small plates) include a Hard Boiled Eggs served in tomato sauce with garlic and anchovies; Prosciutto Wrapped Gorgonzola Stuffed Imported Dates with a honey-balsamic drizzle; Meatballs “Al Dente Style” and Sautéed Shrimp with Pizzaiola sauce, spicy pepper and served over polenta. Prices range from $5.95 to $9.95 each and guests can choose three cold plates off the selected menu for $15, or enjoy six for $28. Three hot small plates can also be ordered for just $23.
Cold weather brings the need for warm, hearty soups. Highlights include the Minestrone with seasonal vegetables, prosciutto, basil pesto, and rice and Umbrian Lentil with sundried tomatoes and spinach, as well as salads such as Baby Spinach with pancetta, pears, walnuts, and ricotta salata, and Buffalo Mozzarella with toasted beets, arugula, olive oil, and lemon. Prices range from $7.95 to $13.95 each.
Guests can also enjoy items from the Housemade Pasta section of the menu such as Gnocchi with cream and Fontina Val d’Aosta; Agnolotti “Gobbi” all’Astigiana filled with roasted veal and pork sausage and tossed in butter, sage, roast jus, and parmesan cheese; Squid Ink Fettuccine with one pound of Maine lobster and tomato lobster sauce, as well as Cappellacci Stuffed with Kabocha Squash with mostarda di cremona, brown butter, and Amaretti. Prices range from $14.95 to $19.95.
Risotto made in-house using aged rice from the Piedmont region of Italy is another tempting option. Choices for fall include Risotto with spinach puree, Fonduta Val d’Aosta, as well as Risotto with pork sausage, porcini mushrooms, rosemary, and tomato. Prices range from $16.95 to $19.95 each.
Tempting Mains include Virginia Raised Rabbit marinated and stewed in Barbera wine and served over polenta; Montana Beef Short Ribs (slow cooked 48 hours) and served with potato puree and beef jus; Roasted Rockfish with pizzaiola sauce, black olives, capers, basil, and polenta, as well as Sauteed Deboned Quails with pomegranate orange sauce served with spinach. Prices range from $16.95 to $27.95. Additionally, a selection of house-made Italian sausage is also available daily with prices ranging from $15.95 to $17.95 each.
Twelve varieties of Pizzas and three Calzones will also be available daily and include the Margherita D.O.C. with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil; Quattro Stagioni with tomato, mozzarella, basil, oregano, olives, mushrooms, artichokes, and ham; Rolli Bianca Neve with mozzarella, anchovies, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil, as well as Salsiccia E Broccoli with tomato, smoked mozzarella, pork sausage, broccoli rabe, and garlic. Prices range from $7.95 to $13.95.
For the perfect ending, an assortment of house-made Italian Desserts is also available daily and includes Nutulla & Banana-filled Calzone; Hemisphere Tiramisu, as well as Bombolini: fried dough rolled in lemon sugar served with hot chocolate sauce. Desserts are priced at $12.95 and serve two to four people.
Al Dente is located a few short blocks from American University at 3201 New Mexico Ave. Suite E, NW, Washington, DC, 20016.