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Washington DC Italian Prix Fixe

Masseria by Nicholas Stefanelli Italian near Union Station


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Masseria by Nicholas Stefanelli Italian near Union Station

Worldwide Diner | Oct 11, 2015 06:59 AM

This newcomer by the former chef of Bibiana came in as the third favorite in Tom Seitsema's 2015 fall dining guide. I love Italian food, and I love interesting menus, so not checking this place out was not an option.

The format is 3 ($62) or 5 ($84) courses, pick anything you want on the menu, although if you do all savory courses, there's a $10 surcharge. Certain dishes also have surcharges.

We went for the 5 courses, which meant we each tried 10 courses (but the last course was 5 cheeses, another $18 surcharge).

We started with (i) Trippa - tripe in lobster broth, (ii) Crudo of cobia, and (iii) Animalle - fried sweetbread. The trippa was the most interesting dish - the tripe basically absorbed the brininess and fishiness of the lobster. I've never had tripe cooked with seafood, but now that I googled it, it seems to be not so unique. In any case, it wasn't my favorite way to eat tripe. The basil seed that accompanied the crudo was another interesting touch. In contrast, I found nothing interesting about the rather bland sweetbread (other than the spiciness of the red chili pepper).

For pasta, we had (i) Linguine in XO sauce, and (ii) Tortellini in a pear sauce. The pastas were excellent in texture and I loved the XO sauce. It reminded me of the spaghetti with anchovy and bread crumbs that I had in Syracusa, Sicily. I didn't love the tortellini because the pear sauce was overpowering in smell and taste. To be fair, my friend enjoyed the pear sauce combo.

From the seafood selection, we had some (i) octopus with squid ink, and (ii) a massive prawn ($8 surcharge). Both dishes could've been executed better. The octopus wasn't tough or rubber but neither was it tender. The giant prawn suffered from being, well, too big. In order to cook the prawn all the way through, it was a little over on the outside.

From the meat selection, we had the (i) squab, and (ii) veal. I thought the squab was delicious, nicely cooked and flavored. I only had a small bite of veal which didn't leave me with a strong impression either way.

Masseria is a very good restaurant, which probably deserved the 3 stars awarded by Tom Seitsema. Tom also gave Fiola Mare 3 stars, which I think deserves maybe 3.5 stars because it is better than Masseria. Roberto Donna's 8 is also better (12+ courses for $85).

Osteria Bibiana Enoteca,
Fiola Mare
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