Executive chef Gian Piero Mazzi fell in love with food at a young age, when he was growing up in the Liguria region of Italy. His mother’s passion for cuisine planted the seeds for his infatuation, which he cultivated during formal culinary schooling in Florence as well as an internship in France. After honing his skills in the kitchen, Mazzi ventured across the pond, earning new fans stateside when he showcased his recipes at an event at the James Beard House in 2002.
But that was just the beginning. Today, at two locations of Piero's Corner, he and his team hand make an assortment of authentic pastas, including ravioli stuffed with Maine lobster or a blend of spinach and portobello mushrooms. The menu highlights Chef Mazzi's hometown cuisine, with a focus on fresh seafood. Entrees include blackened tilapia and shrimp served with fruit salsa as well as scallops wrapped in prosciutto and arranged on a bed of spaghetti carbonara. Pizzas are made to order and baked in a brick oven, as are calzones stuffed with ingredients such as ricotta, ham, spinach, and tomato sauce. A gluten-free menu features pastas and doughs imported from Italy, whose climate doesn’t support gluten.
Both of Piero's Corner’s locations facilitate mini European getaways, with brick arches framing murals of Italian landscapes, and columns reminiscent of classical architecture supporting their ceilings. In Fairfax, diners can eat or sip wine al fresco beneath red and white umbrellas.
In the words of owners Ali and Homerya Darugar, Russia House Restaurant aims to cultivate "the warm feeling that you are dining at your aristocratic grandmother's table." Indeed, Mrs. Darugar's years of professional chef experience are anchored in the childhood days she spent in her own grandmother's kitchen. So when the Darugars opened their restaurant in 1992, they naturally combined fine dining with a homey attention to detail and a commitment to addressing every guest as "Czar."
In the sun-flooded, linen-cloaked dining rooms, plates of French-influenced Russian, Continental, and Georgian cuisine rack up stellar reviews five stars at a time. Unfussy dishes of stuffed cabbage and lamb casserole share tables with elegant platters of filet mignon and other tender meats in rich, complex French sauces. Depending on what they order, guests may also witness Russia House's flair for culinary drama: many entrees are prepared tableside.
When flames leap out of the tabletops at Matsutake Sushi & Grill, diners applaud rather than dash to the exits. Skilled chefs carefully orchestrate each pyrotechnic display as they man tableside hibachi grills, flipping and searing buttery scallops or thick cuts of filet mignon in front of diners. As they douse platefuls of flame-kissed vegetables and meat with garlic butter, lemon, or their signature sauce, they dazzle guests with adroit knife skills and their ability to keep hoards of roving balloon animals at bay. For more delicate eats, the restaurant's sushi chefs roll tightly wrapped maki and slice orders of fresh sashimi behind the open-view sushi bar.
Framed artwork and Japanese-style silk screens lend a traditional feel to the red-walled dining room, although dangling pendant lights, a flat-screen television, and a holographic waitstaff imbue it with modern accents. Outside, guests chopstick into entrees al fresco on the open-air patio.
When creating their expansive menu of what the [Washingtonian] lauds as a "representative selection of the finer cookery of India," Harvest of India's chefs infuse each dish of northern Indian cuisine with their own personal styles. Meat-laden dishes include jumbo prawns steeped in a special chef's marinade before being cooked in the tandoor and lamb cooked in a blend of almonds and cream. Along with their solid lineup of entrees, croquettes of cottage cheese and raisins simmered in light cream sauce are among items that inspired the Washingtonian to name Harvest of India the "perfect restaurant" for vegetarians. Meals unfold in a newly renovated dining room where Indian music underscores the sound of skilled diners chewing in syncopation.
A charcoal clay oven roars to life every morning in Silk’s kitchen in preparation for a day full of roasting meats and vegetables and baking fresh breads including roti and naan. The authentic tandoor prepares a menu rich in traditional flavors derived from spices imported from all over India. A dash of pure saffron, wild black cardamom, and cinnamon enhances platters of long-grain basmati rice, a standard side dish that enhances lamb, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian dishes alike. Waiters shuttle chosen plates out to a regal dining room full of carved, throne-like dining chairs, gilded statues of deities, and napkins fancifully folded into fork-size saris.
By setting his restaurant at the less congested end of Atwells Avenue, Ken Turchetta has stayed under the radar in Federal Hill—a status he enjoys because it keeps his restaurant intimate. That’s why even after 12 years in business, it’s common to see him make a stop at every table.
Since the beginning, chef Hector Madrid has been Ken’s go-to artisan for creating authentic Italian dishes from fresh, local ingredients. The resultant spread is impressive: chicken and veal marsala, fish fillets, and rings-only calamari, all easily paired with red or white wine by the bottle or glass.