Dino’s – A Cleveland Park treat

We have been planning to visit several restaurants in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of DC for several months, and we finally tried the first of three on our short list. Just reading the menus on-line for all of the restaurants made us realize that we needed to get started. Dino’s immediately caught our attention after reading the description for an appetizer of grilled fresh apricots wrapped in pancetta and topped with mascarpone. This seasonal dish is striking in appearance, and amazing to eat. Just think of the combination of slightly sweet, salty, and creamy tastes and textures coming together simultaneously – they are truly divine! We added to that a “reverse” frittata and some lovely calamari to make a wonderful light dinner. Fortunately this did allow room for dessert, and as we were looking over the delicious options, the owner/chef, Dean Gold, stopped at our table. He assured us that we had to try the plum dessert. Just picture a plate with two types of perfectly ripened plums split in half, broiled and topped with crushed amaretti and served with a scoop of black peppercorn gelato – wow!  We also tried the vanilla gelato (made in-house, of course) “drowned” in freshly brewed espresso.

This was not just another fantastic meal, it was the perfect combination of great food and ambiance plus the feel of a neighborhood restaurant that we know will quickly become a favorite.  Dean and his wife Kay have created something very special in Cleveland Park, and we enjoyed visiting as they were celebrating the restaurant’s fifth birthday.

And since we never miss an opportunity to try and recreate something we’ve enjoyed eating, we decided to work with the fruit we had available, some lovely peaches from one of the many DC farmers markets.  Ran next door to the wine store/deli for the pancetta and mascarpone, and scored one out of two.  No problem finding the pancetta, but creme fraiche was the product closest to mascarpone that was available.  A quick look on-line provided the information that by draining the creme fraiche in cheesecloth for three hours at room temperature and then refrigerating it, you have created masacarpone, or at least a first cousin.  The peaches were a bit of a challenge to pit since cling-free fruit isn’t available yet, but we pulled it together, and came up with a reasonable facsimile of the wonderful dish we enjoyed at Dino’s.  We did find some local apricots yesterday, so we will be trying this again with the correct fruit!  You have to love a city with so many fabulous restaurants, and many of them within walking distance of our building.

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