This place, on 19th between 6-7, is relatively new (about a year) and, as far as I know, the only moderately upscale Dominican retaurant in the city. Having dined Dominican extensively, both at restaurants and in homes, here and in the D.R., I really wanted to like IDT (Its a Dominican Thing).
First, it has some very likeable qualities. The dining room itself is quite attractive with exposed brick throughout, high ceiling, artsy bric-a-brac, and very flattering subdued lighting. The (Argentine) server couldn't have been more gracious.
The food, sorry to say, ranged from ok to terrible. The meal starts with a complimentary appetizer cup of nice creamy rice studded with various meats. A small eater could actually call it a night after downing this freebie. Then, along with a couple ice cold Presidente beers, we had the appetizer sampler. Everything was ordinary and mostly deep-fried. The lone stand-out was an ethereally light chicken tamale.
The mains (from a rather short list) were a disaster. Girlfriend had coconut shrimp which, while not bad, lacked vibrancy and piquancy. Just drab, though the large shrimp were nicely cooked. Even Cafe con Leche makes a far better coconut shrimp. Red beans and white rice was decent, though a little dull. My conch in creole sauce tasted like canned conch in a boring pepper-onion melange. The dish was maniacally over-salted and inedible. I didn't bother to send it back. The flavored rice with pigeon peas ("morro") was decent. A side avocado salad was barely edible after another over-salting and the maduros tasted like they'd been fried in oil that had been asked to cook one too many batches of maduros. We skipped dessert and coffee.
Its not that the food at IDT is inauthentic or overly fancy. In fact, everything was pretty straight-on. The problem was that it just wasn't any good. Dominican food is known for being simple and honest, with a home-cooked depth of flavor.