Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

January 14, 2017 11:52 AM

Restaurant: Sfoglina


4445 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Lee, Whitney, Debbie and I went to Sfoglina on a Tuesday night a few days before Christmas, just a couple of weeks after it opened. We attempted to make a reservation online but the times we wanted, 7 or 7:30 p.m., were not available for several days. We contacted a friend who is connected to the restaurant and he arranged for a 7:30 p.m. reservation for four.

As you enter the restaurant, the reception desk is dead ahead. To the left, there is a small room with a table for up to 8 people. Interestingly, that table is available only at night. During the day that room is used for the preparation of various pastas that will be used throughout the day.

The general décor of the restaurant is white with a variety of red and black accents. The restaurant seats up to 80 people.

To the right of the reception desk is the balance of the relatively narrow restaurant. First, there is a long bar with high chairs that fronts the open kitchen. There are a number of seating areas at the bar. Initially, there is seating for two people at the bar. A few feet further on, past a column there is seating for eight people at the bar than a few feet further on there is seating for two people. Finally, a few feet further on, there is seating for four people at the bar.

The chef directs the kitchen from a position that is in the restaurant proper, in front of the bar.

In the balance of the restaurant there are tables on both sides of a narrow aisle that runs the length of the restaurant. There are a series of banquettes on each side of the restaurant as well as at the far end. There are also areas where there are no banquettes. There are table tops of 2s, 4s and a couple of 6 and 8 seat tables. A number of the 2s and 4s can easily be converted into larger tables.

We were seated at a table for 4 at the far end of the restaurant. On each side of our table there were 2 tops. At our end of the restaurant along the back wall and extending overhead is a kind of padding that may well be decorative but it keeps the area quiet. For a fairly crowded restaurant the sounds are quite muted. This is aided by cloth panels on the columns and sections of fabric overhead.

Our server was Kristina. She was very attentive and able to describe each dish on the menu. She was helpful throughout our dinner and we had several opportunities to chat.

She asked whether we wanted sparkling or flat water. When we selected sparkling she proceeded to replace the clear water glasses on the table with blue glasses. When I asked why the change of glasses she told us it was so the servers would know that we preferred sparkling rather than flat water. That was something I had never seen before.

The other thing of note was the silverware. Each place setting had a fork, a knife and a very large spoon to be used in twirling the pasta. Our individual plates, changed on a regular basis, were mid-sized and used throughout the meal.

The menu is broken down into the following categories: Nibbles, Small Plates, Soup, Classic Pastas, Seasonal Pastas, Not Pasta, Sides, and Desserts. Of course there are a variety of wines. (While the menu changes daily you can get an idea by looking at the menu online.)

We were given the option of ordering our Nibbles and Small Plates and enjoying them before we ordered our primary courses. We chose to order them all at once. Even though the place was crowded, service was very quick and the main courses arrived just as we were finishing the first course items. Next time we will probably take the option of ordering and enjoying the first course before ordering the second.

We decided to share all of the dishes we ordered. So here they are: From Nibbles we ordered Grilled Wild Calamari with Romesco Sauce. From Small Plates we ordered Arugula Salad with Blood Orange, Pomegranate, LaTur, Cheese; 20-Month Aged Prosciutto, Manodori Balsamico, Persimmon; and Spicy Charred Octopus, Italian Heirloom Radicchio.

For our main courses we chose Rigatoni Amatriciana, Roasted Tomatoes, Pancetta, Pecorino; Ligurian Corzetti, with foraged mushrooms, Olive oil, parsley; Squid Ink Casarecce with lobster, octopus, Amalfi Style; Spaghetti Chitarra with Guanciale and Pecorino, Carbonara Style. We did not try any of the Not Pasta dishes but I have heard that the Beef Short Ribs are particularly tasty. We did not order any sides.

For dessert we ordered Carmelized White Chocolate Custard with Warm Chocolate Sauce and Tahitian Vanilla & Chocolate Soft Serve with Chocolate Pearls. The only dish I would not likely order again is the Custard. The Soft Serve was eaten to the last little swirl but more than half the Custard was left.

I ordered a double espresso from a person who was not our regular server. It came and then our server having heard from one of her colleagues that I wanted espresso also brought me a single espresso, both with caffeine and I slept just fine.

As usual I cannot comment on the wine selections although I did drink a half glass for the first time in many years. Whitney finished it for me.

And now for the restrooms which are gender neutral. Near the front door, around a corner there is a door marked “Toilette”. When you go through that door there is a small area with two additional doors each marked “Toilette.” This small area is decorated somewhat differently than the individual “Toilettes”.

I am assuming the “toilette” that I did not use is identical to the one I did use. There is a single white ceramic commode that is so new that it is hard to raise the seat. (Gentlemen, remember to put the seat down.) Appropriately placed near the commode are two metal bars, one horizontal and the other vertical to provide assistance for those who may need a little help. There is also an interesting stand-alone black metal gizmo for holding toilet paper.

There is a thin black marble counter with metal legs on which stands a fancy white ceramic wash basin with an unusual black metal faucet and handle. There is a wall hanging mirror above it. There is also room on the counter for a fancy soap dish and appropriate paper towels.

There is an appropriately placed metal waste receptacle and a bunch of large artificial flowers in a bowl on the floor. The floor is covered with mid-size grey tiles. The walls are split at about waste height. The lower half is a series of white diamond shape designs. The upper half is also white but includes a series of different size red and white diamond shaped designs.

The hours of the restaurant are Mon/3:00 -10pm; Tue-Thurs/11:30 am-10 pm; Fri/11:30 am – 10:30 pm; Sat/10:30 am – 11:30 pm (Brunch served ‘till 2:30 pm); Sun/10:30 am – 9 pm (Brunch served till 2:30 pm).

We will dine here again in the future.

This is the fourth restaurant in the ever growing Washington-based chain of restaurants created by Fabio and Maria Trabocchi which include Fiola, Fiola Mare and Casa Luca. (All of which we have enjoyed.)

There is no valet parking but after 7 p.m. when the rush hour parking ban is over there seems to be ample street parking.

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