I have missed Fabio. When he left Maestro last August I thought that it would be a long time before we would find a restaurant in the Washington area as personal, as excellent, as "worth a journey" as was his. We've enjoyed CityZen, Citronelle, Eve, Vidalia and Palena on recent visits yet there has not been anywhere that has stoked the passion we knew, the sense of anticipation, the unbridled hunger we had for a dinner at Maestro.
Until last night at Komi.
Over three and one half hours my wife and I sampled our way through over eighteen tastes and courses as well as nearly two bottles of wine before staggering appreciatively out the door, sated, satisfied and smiling.
Johnny Monis, as Fabio Trabocchi before him, is currently nominated for a James Beard award for national under 30 chef of the year in the United States. As Fabio was a gift to the D. C. area so is Johnny Monis. And he should win the award. Six years ago I compared Fabio to Massimiliano at Rubano's three Michelin star Le Calandre. Today, I respectfully compare Johnny Monis to Fabio. He, his staff and his restaurant are THAT good.
Unfortunately, I did not take notes. I remember an incredible six inch wide live diver scallop that was presented to us before the dinner; two black nettled softball bodied Sea Urchins on a similar platter; incredible tender, moist, succulent crispy skinned lamb that alone was worth a trip to Athens, "salad" with mesclun and goat cheese deep fried in a fragile, crispy crust, pea size morsels of fresh, raw nearly orgasmic lobster and a half dozen spoon size servings of exquisitely prepared raw seafood I would long for in Santorini: all on Seventeenth street in D. C. with the welcoming neighborhood outside of the front window.
And a staff stoked, honored and respectful of what their kitchen was preparing with service that was on par with any three Michelin star restaurant we have ever experienced in Europe. The antithesis of what we found two Saturdays ago in Baltimore at the affected Charleston. A discussion that my wife and I had at the table for how a chef suffers or prospers for the enthusiasm and presentation of those in their dining rooms. Komi prospers, is enhanced, embellished and complimented. Yet friendly, indulgent, enthusiastic and caring. As fine of service as we have found on either side of the Atlantic.
And a knowledgeable, passionate sommelier to equal Vincent or Mark. Worthy of their restaurants or his restaurant, Komi. With a respectfully priced wine list that allows indulgence and compliments what his Chef puts on the table.
Also, a dishwasher to respect since every single course introduced new silverware and new plates. The analogy with Fabio comes full circle, not just with age, food, taste and vision but also with the Sterling based wholesaler, Fortessa, who supplies most of the tableware. There are shapes, pedastals and platters unseen in most other restaurants that are on the center of the stage here.
Oohs and ahs have returned to the D. C. area, whether Tyson's or Seventeenth street.
To Johnny Monis: you honor D. C. with a wonderful, extraordinarily creative world class restaurant. Whether presented as Obelisk at the next level or a minimalist Maestro, your restaurant is one of the finest in America as well as one of the absolute best anywhere. Thank you for sharing your talent, vision and growth with us.